Lake Mungo - White Cliffs Adventure

Outback Driving Adventures

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Total Route Details:

  • Distance: 728km - Mostly Unsealed Roads
  • Allow: Min 7 Days (6 Nights)

Overview:

Experience the awe-inspiring landscapes and the anthropological wonderment of Lake Mungo, add a taste of the lower Darling including Menindee Lakes before heading upstream and to Wilcannia and on to the iconic opal town of White Cliffs… this touring route is a must for the adventure minded.

* Note, most of this touring route is on unsealed (well maintained) roads so if venturing all this route, please inform the outback Beds members you intend to visit for an update of road conditions and to ensure someone knows you are heading their way.

The tour starts at the Murrumbidgee town of Balranald before heading into Mungo National Park, part of the internationally renowned Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area which covers 2,400 square kilometres and takes in all 19 lakes of the Willandra Lakes.

Lake Mungo is unique in relation to anthology as it possesses evidence of continual human habitation for 40,000+ years. Mungo Lake is one of 17 dry lakes which forms the Willandra Lakes and the evocative Walls of China has been created over the millennia through a process of both wind and rain; sediment that has been deposited on the eastern bank of the dry lakebed by the wind has in turn been eroded by the rain to reveal a myriad of textures and colours that form the much photographed landscape.

From Mungo, it is a short drive to the Darling River slightly downstream of the Menindee Lakes. The touring route then heads upstream to where the river meets the Barrier Highway at Wilcannia, a largely undisturbed port on the Darling River. After crossing the bridge over the Darling be sure to turn either to your right or left when you enter the town and you will be amazed at the richness of the architecture.

The final section of this great touring experience is White Cliffs, Australia's oldest (seam) opal field that developed from a chance finding of opal in the 1880's by a group of kangaroo shooters and the opal rush began.

White Cliffs is an opal-mining town where residents mainly live underground to escape the heat. Ninety-eight km from Wilcannia, this bizarre moonscape-like landscape is comprised of thousands of hillocks of earth dug and discarded in the quest for opals. White Cliffs has a last-frontier kind of appeal. Its quirky, laconic residents have many stories to tell of wealth won and lost. The miners work, live and breathe their unusual underground existence. At the Pioneer Children’s Cemetery, you can learn about the harsh early history of White Cliffs or follow the self-guided heritage trail.

Today, the underground town works very well for locals and traveller and scarcity of water that the early settlers experienced is solved nowadays with extensive use of rainwater tanks. This, plus a classic outback pub means the traveller will not go thirsty.

Route Sections:

Balranald <> Lake Paika Station:

  • Route: Balranald Rd (17 km - about 20 mins) - Sealed

Heading north out of Balranald, it is only a short drive to the first stopover, Lake Paika Accommodation, for a truly unique experience and insight to our pastoral history and wetlands management.

Lake Paika Station <> Lake Mungo <> Bindara Station:

  • Route: Route: Balranald Rd <> Boree Plains - Gol Gol Rd <> Magenta Rd <> Box Creek Rd <> Top Hut Road <> Wentworth - Pooncarie Rd - Coona Point-Bindara Rd (335 km - about 4 hours) - Unsealed

Leaving Lake Paika, the route continues on bitumen before splitting of onto the unsealed Boree Plains-Gol Gol Rd where you will soon experience that dramatic landscape of the lakes region.

Lake Mungo is an hour’s drive, and a must for a stop to explore Mungo National Park.

Leaving Lake Mungo, it is a short drive (57km) back to the sealed Wentworth-Pooncarie Road which heads north. Before Pooncarie the route cross the Darling River and weaves it way along the western bank up to Bindara Station, a wonderful place to experience life on the lower Darling, as well as the owners passion for organic produce.

Bindara Station <> Nelia Gaari Station:

Route: Bindara-Tandou Rd <> Lake Tandou Rd <> Menindee-Wilcannia Rd (158km - about 3 hours) - Unsealed

The drive from Bindara Station to Menindee is only about an hour, and you should allow at least a few hours to explore Kinchega National Park and the Menindee Lakes; the lake system is fed from the Darling River. When the lakes are full, it is a sight to behold.

After experiencing Menindee for a few hours, our next member, Nelia Gaari Station is the next stopover about 1 hour’s drive from Menindee (unsealed). With a choice of serviced accommodation or what many say is the best camping on the Darling River, it is well worth a 2 night stay with hosts Greg and Lily.

Nelia Gaari Station <> Warrawong on the Darling:

Route: Menindee-Wilcannia Rd (85km - about 1 hour) - Unsealed

A short drive up the Darling will have you in Wilcannia in a little over an hour, and onto our next member, Warrawong on the Darling which offers cabins and RV accommodation.

Warrawong <> White Cliffs:

Route: White Cliffs Rd (72km - about 1 hour) - Sealed

Heading out from Wilcannia, it is a nice (sealed) drive up to the opal town of White Cliffs, and the unique Underground Motel - well signposted from the main part of town.


Outback Beds Members & Towns along the way

 

  • There’s a farmstay on the Darling River that may have slipped under your radar. No matter whether you’ve flown or driven into luxury resorts or ramshackle stations, rough or chic, this one is a standout. Here you will find the very best of genuine Australian country hospitality. Your hosts, Barb, ...

  • There is a lot more to Wilcannia than people know. Located along the Darling River within the Central Darling Shire of Northern Western NSW, Wilcannia was the third largest inland port in the country during the great river boat era of the mid-19th century. Perhaps this is why the Resch’s Brothers ...

  • The quiet and pretty town of Balranald is located on the Murrumbidgee River 859 km from Sydney. Originally inhabited by the Wemba-Wemba Aboriginal group, who called the area 'Nap Nap', Balranald was probably the first town settled on the New South Wales side of the river. Balranald is now one of t...

  • In theory it is nothing more than the remnants of an ancient lake (completely dry and with ancient sand dunes running 20+ km along one side) in the middle of the New South Wales outback. In reality it is one of the most significant anthropological and archaeological sites in the world. Lake Mungo,...

  • "There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup...." so penned Banjo Paterson in the immortal poem 'The Man from Snowy River'. The 'Cup' actually refers to the Presidents Cup at Menindee and not the Melbourne Cup as many people have assumed. Menindee is a town steeped in legend and ...