Rambling The Outback – Day 4 – MUNGO!

Day four of our outback travels had arrived…

For me… this was the highlight of the trip.. remote, isolated, heritage listed and with a landscape unlike anything I had seen before.  Mungo National Park

Aboriginal artefacts and remains dating back 50,000 years had been found here… making it one of the oldest places occupied by humans since ancient times.. the remains of a 40,000 year old female found in the dunes of Lake Mungo are believed to be the oldest ritual cremation site in the world.  Back then it was a lush lake area, part of the Willandra Lakes region, teaming with life.  As the lake tried up, the tribes moved on.

To get there we left Broken Hill around 7.30am and headed towards Menindee. Mobile reception became almost non existent at 7.32am (telstra only and then even that eventually gave up).  Good bitumen roads to start us on the way… though we knew that wouldn’t last long.  Menindee lakes had been empty for a couple of years, but now had water in them again… something we wanted to see.  While not the best time of day to see them, (sunrise and sunset are superb) the lakes were pretty and worth the stop.

Menindee

Menindee Lakes – mid morning

Menindee Lakes – mid morning

Menindee Lakes – mid morning

if you ever get a chance to go to the Menindee Lakes – go for a sunrise or sunset… it’s just beautiful… the birds are active.. it has a much different feel at sunset… serene.. tranquil..

Lake Menindee at Sunset 2013

Pooncarie

From Menindee we headed out of town towards Wentworth…destination Pooncarie.    The only town between Menindee and the Mungo turnoff.  About 10kms out we hit the dirt roads… apart from bitumen on the cattle grids we had dirt roads for about the next 40kms.  There was no petrol at Mungo so we refueled the cars and headed to Pooncarie’s Telegraph Hotel for lunch.  Not the best choice .. though it was the only game in town.  Onions on burgers were cold, the burger pattie was burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.  Lady behind the bar just shrugged her shoulders when we complained.  Luckily none of us came down with food poisoning.  Leaving Pooncarie behind we headed off again toward Mungo… stopped for a photo-op at the car on the pole……….

Pooncarie Road

… and continued on until we hit Top Hut Road.  From here it was around 60kms of dirt road to Mungo Lodge just outside the park.  All roads leading into Mungo are dirt roads… and they get closed in bad weather….did I mention it was isolated?

Mungo National Park

Top Hut Road to Mungo – forever following the cloud of dust

The road to Mungo

Mungo Lodge

Booking in we met the lovely John who had been chatting back and forth with me in the preceding weeks organising everything for us. The accommodation was all cabins set in a circle around a central park area.  Rooms were fantastic, king beds, lovely clean ensuites, back porches on each cabin… touch of luxury in the middle of nowhere!  Around 5pm we met our guides at reception and we followed them off into the national park itself.  First stop was the Great Walls of China lookout

Walls Lookout

After a brief stop there we were back in the cars and heading down onto the great walls of china.  Access to the great walls is strictly by guide only to ensure the area is protected.    The guides carried our packed dinner for us (provided by Mungo Lodge) as we planned to shoot then eat dinner as the sun set.

Our wonderful guides carrying the dinner out to the Great Walls

Nomadic Photographers from the VPC tribe emerging from sunset

Great Walls of China – Mungo

Great Walls of China – Mungo

As it got darker we started shooting the stars.. and I ticked off a second bucket list.. .an orb at Mungo.

LightPainting at Great Walls of China – Mungo

Night at the Great Walls of China – Mungo

by the time we headed back to the cars it was pitch black… bobbing torches in a convoy followed the guides back to the cars.. then the hair-raising drive back to the lodge.. in the dark…following clouds of dust from the car in front reducing visibility to about 3 feet.. if any roo had jumped out he would have been on our laps… we’d have no chance of seeing him in time to stop.  We had planned to do some more lightpainting back at the lodge, but after all the walking and driving, everyone just headed for their rooms and crashed out.

 

Next Day: Mungo to Swan Hill

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