|Travelling Australia - Journal 2009|
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|20 April 2009 - Mildura to Lake Mungo (not towing)|
Another sunny day. In the morning we packed the Pathfinder for a few days away from the caravan at Mungo Lodge; this was difficult as we have spent many months living in the caravan and towing vehicle together and have put items in each as convenient depending on weight distribution and volume needed to store the item. Now we had to re-arrange to spend time away from the caravan. When we finished packing what we hoped was enough we headed off to Mungo National Park.
After refuelling at Woolworths in central Mildura we headed north on the Silver City Highway then turned off on the road to Mungo. The road initially passed through scrub and scattered wheat fields; soil was reddish sand. After about 40 kilometres the natural vegetation looked drier; attempts to grow wheat stopped and pastoral properties grazing sheep or cattle lined the road. The road was good bitumen at first but about 20 kilometres from Mildura became gravel; for the rest of the way (79 kilometres) to Mungo Lodge we were on gravel or dirt, quite wide mostly and varied in quality from sections where limestone had been laid and compacted to a hard and flat surface, to quite severely corrugated stretches of reddish gravel. Some stretches of road across dried lake beds were still the clay/silt of the original lake bed; this had corrugated under the wheels of passing traffic. This road between Mildura and Lake Mungo is notorious for being closed after rain; these lake bed sections would readily become impassible clay after rain.
Mungo National Park is part of the Willandra Lakes System of 17 lakes formed several hundred thousand years ago but which finally dried up 14,000 years ago and are now covered by bluebush. Despite being dry for thousands of years, the Willandra Lakes are shown on maps as bodies of water and our GPS showed us tracking over blue water as we made our way to the National Park.
Arriving at the Lodge, situated just outside the National Park boundary, we checked in and unpacked at Unit 15. The buildings were arranged in a circle, each building containing two motel units. Standard of the units was high (five stars) internally. Outside was the local scrub. From our unit we could see the airfield advertised as one way of getting to the Lodge.
|Lake Mungo has been a dry lake-bed for thousands of years.|
|Limestone laid on the road across Lake Mungo
readily forms dust and corrugations. The dry lake bed is on both sides
of the road.|
Along the eastern side of Lake Mungo is a 30 metre high hill formed over tens of thousands of years from particles blown from the lake-shore when it was full of water and from the dry lake-bed during several dry periods. This long hill, known as the "lunette" because the plan-view is a crescent moon, has eroding into pinnacles and mounds of red, grey and white layers (the Walls of China) which are one of the attractions of Mungo.
As an additional attraction, erosion of the lunette has exposed the bones of numerous now-extinct animals which lived around the lake when it was full of water and the area was more fertile. Two aboriginal skeletons tens of thousands of years old have also been exposed.
When I checked in the manager strongly recommended we go to the Walls of China shortly after 5 o'clock to watch the effect of the setting sun. This we did and joined a small group of photographers at the lookout platform. The colours were interesting but not sensational then the sun dipped behind some clouds on the horizon and the colour faded. So we drove back to the Lodge for dinner in the dining room. We found the Lodge was staffed by French people, the French couple managing the Lodge planned to stay for years while the waiters and cleaners were young French people on twelve month working stays in Australia.