Mungo Outback Journey
4 days in the desert
Mungo National Park
Experienced Wildlife Guides reveal an arid land, rich in wildlife and ancient Aboriginal Heritage. (Optional extensions to Mallee parks, Grampians & Great Ocean Road are available, please ask us about these)
Rain in late 2020 is preparing the way for a good season starting March 2021 at Mungo.
Come and join us on one of the best Outback widlife experiences in Australia
Discover the animals and history of the Australian Outback at Lake Mungo in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area. Track majestic wildlife and travel expansive red sand plains sprinkled with Kangaroos, Emus, and Pink Cockatoos.
Your private nature tour is conducted by an experienced Wildlife Guide who reveals Mungo’s arid land, wildlife and ancient Aboriginal Heritage.
Walk in the shade of Desert Pines searching for brilliant parrots and sleepy lizards. Climb mighty sand dunes for expansive views over the desert.
Experience the peace of the Australian Outback whilst staying in 4 star accommodation at remote Mungo Lodge beside Lake Mungo.
*This is a Private Tour and will be quoted based on your interests and group size, so can not be booked immediately on our website. Please contact us for details. If you do not wish to share your room with another person: add $400. Prices shown are valid from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2022.
Location: North-west of Melbourne, including Murray River, Mungo National Park and Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area.
Duration: 4 Days. Full Itinerary and Optional Add-ons here
Departs: PRIVATE TOUR on request – March to November every year. Departs from Mildura Airport – to meet scheduled flight.
Returns: to Mildura Airport to meet scheduled flight.
Wildlife of Mungo
Many native Australian birds & animals inhabit the beautiful dune fields and saltbush plains of Mungo. At dawn and dusk Red and Western Grey Kangaroos graze together in the low vegetation – heads raising and lowering silently in the solitude of the vast dry lake-bed. This is one of the best places to see wildlife in Australia.
Bird life at Mungo is both rich and rare – resident Wedge-tailed Eagles soar overhead and nest in the few desert trees, giant flightless Emus swagger about the plains in small bands. Brown Falcons & Nankeen Kestrels hunt low flying birds and insects.
Most beautiful of all is the Pink (Major Mitchell’s) Cockatoo with its fabulous multicoloured crest. Galahs and Little Corellas are a common sight. Some of Australia’s most vividly colourful parrots are seen at Mungo, including Mulga Parrots, Mallee Ringnecks, Blue-bonnets and Red-rumped Parrots, often in the desert pines where noisy Chestnut-crowned Babblers also live & make their large communal nests.
Splendid and White-winged Fairy-wrens regularly pop up on top of saltbushes, a sudden, brilliant flash of blue, and Red-backed Kingfishers dart past.
Shingleback & Central Bearded Dragon lizards are often seen basking in the sun in these delicate arid ecosystems.
Our Wildlife Guide will place you in locations at the right time to see many of these creatures.
It is a land of boom and bust, with dramatic variation from season to season and year to year. In boom times (after rain) the wildlife here is some of the best wildlife viewing in Australia. In bust (during drought) the wildlife concentrates on the last remaining water and green feed, which also makes for excellent viewing.
This nature tour in Australia is perfect for birdwatching and wildlife photography.
See below for our Wildlife Species Lists from recent trips, or click here to see past Mungo Outback Journeys
Our conservation action for this tour is to record and submit all significant native animal sightings from this trip to online atlasses for the benefit of science, education and conservation. Tour guests are encouraged to participate whilst on the tour, by locating animals, photographing or mentioning them to the Guide. We also encourage guests to submit their own sightings to eBird.org and ala.org.au
Your trip will help conserve wildlife
You will be involved in Echidna Walkabout’s “Citizen Science” conservation efforts in the following ways on this journey:
- During each day you will help record all the species of birds, reptiles, mammals and other wildlife we encounter. We provide you with the tools to help with this work including a comprehensive list of previous sightings and a library of books to help with identification.
- At the end of the tour the recorded sightings are “atlassed” ie. recorded on a number of internationally available ID lists. These lists enable scientists to determine the movements and conservation status of species over time and help with ongoing conservation efforts. We can give you access to some of these lists after the tour if you wish OR you may like to create and share your own lists (many of our guests do this as a matter of course)
- We also monitor the impacts of climate change and feral species intrusion on native species diversity, this is extremely important work especially as we see longer and hotter droughts in the arid regions of Australia
- Due to the constant erosion of the sand dunes in Mungo we often find exposed examples of unusual or extinct fauna. We record these sightings and, if they are significant, we report them to the relevant authorities. We do not share this information publicly.
Your involvement is crucial to the success of these projects. Over many years Echidna Walkabout’s wildlife monitoring efforts have enabled a number of scientific projects to gather important long term insights into the conservation status of wildlife in the regions that we travel to.
What to bring
Strong walking shoes or boots, clothing to suit variable weather conditions (please check weather forecasts for expected temperatures or call us), sun hat, rain proof coat, small torch, insect repellent, sunscreen, day pack and 1 litre re-usable water bottle.
Weather: Be prepared for extremes in both seasonal and daily temperatures in Outback Australia. Winter days are cool to warm and nights cold to frosty. Spring and Autumn days are warm to very hot. Desert winds can be penetrating, very cold in Winter and hot and dusty at other times of year. Shelter from the elements is minimal.
Tour includes: Full interpretation by experienced Guides, meals and accommodation as described below, entry fees and on ground transport ex Mildura Airport.
Expert Wildlife Guides: Echidna Walkabout’s Wildlife Guides are recognised as some of the best in Australia. Our Wildlife Guide training program ensures that all Guides have an in-depth knowledge of the wildlife and environments you will see. They are friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about wildlife – some of them have over 20 years experience working with wild animals, several are volunteer wildlife carers and rescuers and most have travelled extensively throughout Australia and the world.
Many hours of wildlife research work precede the tour to ensure that you see and learn about native wildlife in its natural environment. Guides carry two way radios and mobile phones which link them to other Wildlife Guides and to emergency services. Guest safety is of paramount importance to us.
Meals on tour: Meals are provided as noted in the itinerary. Dinners are 2 courses. Weather permitting, dinner on Day 2 may be a ‘bivouac’ meal in the desert. Picnic lunches are provided on tour. NB Vegetarian, gluten-free, pork-free or other food preferences must be provided at the time of booking. We will always do our best to cater for special needs but please keep in mind that we are operating in a very remote environment. Some meals are carried on board the vehicle, others are ordered in advance.
Transport: In comfortable air conditioned vehicle
Drinking Water: Tap water is completely safe and drinkable and available at the accommodation, and a large storage is carried on board the vehicle each day. We recommend you bring a re-usable water bottle which we can refill during the day. If you don’t like to drink tap water we highly recommend you bring a filter to reduce plastic waste.
Relax without re packing every day! All three nights are at Mungo Lodge set deep inside the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area near Lake Mungo. The Lodge provides 4 star modern accommodation in a remote environment. You can walk directly from the Lodge into the desert sands and return to excellent meals in the classy dining room or enjoy your meal on the deck. All meals are traditional Australian bush fare – a genuine taste of Australia. (NB: depending on weather and wildlife movements we sometimes have meals out in the bush)
The dramatically contrasting interface between the riverine ecosystems of the Murray River and the arid land ecosystems around Lake Mungo means we see many different types of animals – from waterbirds one day to desert parrots the next. Every day is different. Because of this – although our journey focuses on Lake Mungo – we may also visit other important wildlife and Aboriginal sites in the region.
Before the tour – On the occasions when rain does fall at Mungo, dirt roads into the area may become waterlogged and impassable meaning that the tour may be modified or cancelled.
If you have booked and paid for a tour that is cancelled by us due to rain prior to the departure date we may do one only of the following:
- Offer you the tour on another occasion
- Offer an alternative tour
If neither of the above is possible we will refund the amount you have paid us for the tour (this amount does not include flight).
During the tour – Echidna Walkabout will always attempt to run your tour as per our itinerary. However Outback travel can be influenced by a wide range of conditions and factors that are often out of our control and which may cause us to disrupt of change the tour.
On some occasions we may have to modify the itinerary due to extreme heat or wet weather or poor road conditions. We will always try to get you back for your flight out. However you must be aware that we will not compensate you in any way whatsoever for any losses or liabilities you may incur.
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Rivers and Lakes of the Outback
Take a short flight (flight by others) to Mildura on the edge of the Outback. Upon arrival at Mildura Airport you will meet your Echidna Walkabout Wildlife Guide and begin your private Outback journey. (NB. Instead of flying you may like to join one of our optional add-ons to the Mallee parks, Grampians and/or the Great Ocean Road. Ask us about these when you enquire)
Mildura is located near the junction of Australia’s two greatest rivers – the Murray and the Darling. It can be surprising to see so much water flowing through this semi-arid region. Before we head outback we explore the Murray River and associated billabongs (water holes). Sometimes large numbers of parrots, cockatoos and other birds are seen here as they arrive out of the desert looking for food and water near the rivers. In the afternoon we depart the Murray and head out into arid lands towards Lake Mungo. Enroute we enter the vast – 2,400 km2 – Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area (WHA) and walk along an ancient ‘fossilised’ watercourse that gave its name to this gigantic lake system. This is the Willandra Creek that, like the entire system, has been dry for 18,000 years. Later we enter Lake Mungo National Park – within the WHA – and watch the sunset over the dry bed of Lake Mungo, a magical experience. Here you will learn how the Willandra Lakes System dried out over thousands of years as the climate warmed. Because the country is flat, any rise places you on top of a world that stretches from you direct to an endless 360 degree horizon. We often have our first sightings of desert parrots and cockatoos and the marvellous macropods: Western-grey kangaroos and Red Kangaroos.
O/n Mungo Lodge, located on the edge of the national park near Lake Mungo (L,D included – we stay here for 3 nights).
Magnificent Lake Mungo – Wildlife & Culture – a 50,000 year journey
Over the next two days we will explore the famous Mungo National Park in detail on a journey that will help you appreciate the enormous significance of this region to human and wildlife history. The park itself covers over 1,110 km² surrounding the ancient bed of Lake Mungo.
Now dry, Lake Mungo has been a living place for Aboriginal people for at least 50,000 years. The dunes beside the lake have eroded to expose the oldest human living site on earth which is the main reason for the creation of the World Heritage Area. Another reason for WHA status is a unique layer of exposed megafauna skeletal remains that tell of a cooler, wetter time in Australia when giant marsupials and Aboriginal people coexisted beside a magnificent freshwater lake system. Lake Mungo was a massive overflow from the Willandra Lakes system which, before the system dried, had an inlet but no outlet.
On a series of walks and drives we’ll investigate the wildlife of this place including an amazing number of birds (including emus), two species of kangaroos, reptiles and a remarkable variety of desert vegetation.
We travel through a diverse array of habitats varying from dense mallee woodlands, cypress pine/buloke woodlands, mulga scrub and vast expanses of saltbush. Huge white sand dunes rise high above the dry lake beds and have been eroded in some areas allowing burrowing birds like the White-backed Swallow to build their nests. We often see Major Mitchell Cockatoos and occasional Cockatiels in this region along with chats and arid land fairy wrens. The Crested Bellbird is often heard and sometimes seen. Raptors including the Spotted Harrier, Black Falcon, Grey Falcon and Wedge-tailed Eagle are known to nest in the area. There is a possibility of seeing Mallee Fowl but they are extremely rare. Emus are abundant.
During our journey we drive across the dry bed of Lake Mungo to lunettes (wind-curved sand dunes) to begin a “story line” through 50,000 years of Aboriginal History beginning at the lake bed and rising high into the eroded dunes. You will learn about the people who lived at this place, see evidence of their campsites, view the remains of their cooking fires and, depending on the movement of the sand and soil, you may even help with the discovery of new sites! Your Guide will also point out evidence of extinct fauna. It will become obvious that this now dry arid area was once a thriving wetland where large numbers of waterbirds and animals co-existed beside a vibrant population of Aboriginal People for tens of thousands of years. Where people lived they also died and not far from where you will be walking is the oldest recorded human cremation in the world. Burial sites continue to be exposed throughout the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area and are monitored carefully by Traditional Owners to minimise disturbance and engender respect for their ancestors. Due to the sacred nature of these burial sites they are not accessible to the general public. As we travel we’ll stop often to search for birds and other animals and learn about the vegetation in this constantly changing landscape. You have the opportunity to climb high into the huge Mungo dunefield for stunning views across the desert.
O/n Mungo Lodge (B,L,D included).
Return to civilisation and transfer onwards…
After an optional early morning bird walk we enjoy a final breakfast at Mungo Lodge before driving out of the desert to Mildura Airport where you fly out to your next adventure. (flight by others). (B included).
Why the Mungo Outback is special
Australian Aboriginal People have lived and hunted beside Lake Mungo for 50,000 years. Mungo National Park is the site of the oldest cremation of any human – dating back 50,000 years. The region has been continuously occupied by Aboriginal People since that time – the longest known occupation of any land by any people on earth. Ongoing research found the area to be so important it was listed as a World Heritage Area in 1981. Mungo National Park also offers a unique insight into climate change, its effect on human habitation and the environment over many thousands of years. Mungo National Park is also home to many arid land animals and birds including kangaroos, rare parrots and cockatoos, birds of prey, reptiles and many others. Skeletal remains of extinct marsupials, the forebears of Australia’s unique suite of wildlife, are still found around Lake Mungo. Today the land boasts 2 of Australia’s 5 species of great kangaroos, many rare and beautiful parrots, birds of prey, reptiles and a rich arid land flora. Read more on our Wildlife of Mungo tab above.
Exciting conservation and wildlife add-ons to enhance your Mungo Outback Journey…
If you’d prefer not to fly to Mildura from Melbourne you may wish to join one of our Wildlife Guides on a Wildlife and Conservation road trip en-route to Mungo. We have a whole suite of tour options throughout north-west Victoria and the Mallee – here are a few ideas but please ask us for more including a full 11 day wildlife journey through the Great Ocean Road, the Grampians, north-western Victoria (Mallee) and on to Mungo:
Patchewollock Private Reserve and Wyperfeld NP
Overnights: Patchewollock Conservation Retreat
Get involved in important arid land bird surveys. We will spend the day exploring the private Patchewollock Conservation Reserve and the adjacent Wyperfeld National Park, a famous arid park with Mallee woodland, heaths, grassy plains, dry lake beds and sand dunes. The varied habitats attract great birdlife, including a wealth of parrots and honeyeaters, as well as good numbers or Western Grey Kangaroos and occasionally Red Kangaroos.
Some possible wildlife species:
Mammals – Western Grey Kangaroo, Red Kangaroo
Reptiles – Sand Monitor, Bearded Dragon, Shingleback
Birds – Emu, Mallee Ringneck, Greater Bluebonnet, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, Mulga Parrot, Malleefowl, Purple-gaped and Black Honeyeater, Yellow-throated Miner, Cockatiel
Hattah Kulkyne National Park
Deep in Mallee country we visit the Hattah Kulkyne National Park for the day. Hattah has vast stands Mallee Eucalyptus with an understory of Spinifex grass. This is the ideal habitat for the elusive Mallee Emu-wren, Striated Grasswren and Shy heathwren. The park also has more open woodland habitat and several lakes sustaining good water bird populations for much of the year as well as many of the desert parrots.
Accommodation in the regional town of Ouyen. Dinner at local outback pub.
Some possible wildlife species:
Mammals – Western Grey Kangaroo, Echidna
Reptiles – Lace Monitor, Sand Monitor, Bearded Dragon, Mallee Dragon, Shingleback
Birds – Regent Parrot, Mallee Ringneck, Greater Bluebonnet, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, Mallee Emu-wren, Striated Grasswren, Apostlebird, Black-tailed Native-hen, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill
PAST MUNGO OUTBACK JOURNEY CHECKLISTS
Highlights of Mungo Outback Journey safari (part of 21 day Maximum Wildlife) to Mildura, Wentworth, the Murray & Darling Rivers, Hattah & Mungo National Parks, central Australia with Wildlife Guide Michael Williams. .. Guests saw: Echidna, Western Grey &...
Part 1: Mungo Outback. Wildlife Guide: Roger Smith Highlights of this part of the trip include: Western Grey & Red Kangaroos in big numbers, Major Mitchell's Cockatoos, Red-backed Kingfisher at nest, Black Falcon, Regent Parrot, Chestnut-crowned Babbler,...
Wildlife Species checklist from Mungo Outback Journey 14 to 17 September 2017 Highlights: great views of Major Mitchell's Cockatoos, Crested Bellbird, Wedge-tailed Eagles, lots of Western Grey & Red Kangaroos and Emus, Mallee Military Dragon & Central Bearded...