Mungo National Park in the south-west outback of New South Wales is a World Heritage Area of spectacular scenery and over 40,000 years of ancient history. Some of the most stunning scenery in Mungo is the Walls of China and the great white sand dunes.
The fragile Walls of China made of clay and sand were formed into unique shapes and forms by erosion through the ages. They are quite stunning to see and you cant help but feel you are on another world standing amongst them.
The remains of Mungo Woman and Mungo Man were found in 1968 and 1974 respectively within Mungo National Park along with the footprints of ancient Aboriginal people dating back to the last ice age (some 20,000 years ago – they are the oldest ever found in Australia and were not discovered until 2003). Mungo Man and Woman are the oldest remains of Homo sapiens found outside of Africa and their discovery helped rewrite the history books on human migration (their remains are believed to be 42,000 years old). Mungo Woman is said to be the oldest known human cremation in the world.
The contrast in colours within Mungo is quite fascinating. The red earth of the long dry bed of Lake Mungo, the multi-colours of the Walls of China and then the massive white sand dunes. Wandering around those dunes, clambering to the top then sliding and running to the bottom was a lot of fun!
Amazingly given the significance of Mungo it was not acquired as a national park until 1978. Since the 1860’s it was actually used for grazing purposes as part of the massive 203,000 hectare (501,624 acres) Gol Gol sheep station. Drought and the rabbit plagues of the late 1800’s rocked the fortunes of the station and reduced its capability to be sustainable. By 1922 it was broken up into smaller plots including Mungo, Joulni and Zanci stations and much of the land was allocated for the settlement of soldiers returning from World War One. The smaller plots were not overly successful as the state of the land was not ideal to be profitable running smaller herds of sheep and further drought took its toll. By 1934 all the land on Mungo station was leased to Albert Barnes who farmed the land until 1978.
My visit to Mungo National Park in 2007 was actually my second attempt to go there. The first time the area was totally flooded out! The wait was worth it though and I was glad I made the trip with my Mum, Aunty and Cousin. We had a great adventure out there exploring the park and climbing the huge dunes (apart from the relentless flies! A typical feature of the Australian outback). I can recommend a visit to Mungo for sure!