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)


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 <> Wilcannia:

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.

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.

Outback Beds Members & Towns along the way


  • 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...


Safe Outback Travel

This touring route encompasses remote outback drive and as such some safety precautions will ensure you get the most out of your adventure.


  • Determine if your vehicle is appropriate for the intended journey.
  • Ensure your vehicle is fully serviced before embarking on your holiday.
  • Take spare parts that may be needed. (Fuses, tyre, belts etc)
  • Carry spare fuel.
  • Buy a first aid kit.
  • Do not overload your car – especially if using roof racks
  • Water – carry enough water for at least 1 day (10+)


  • Plan to stop and explorer the areas you are travelling through. This will break the trip up and keep you fresh. Plan to do this every 2-3 hours.
  • Be aware when approaching livestock as they will not necessarily keep off the road and can cross when you least expect it.
  • Try avoiding driving at sunrise and sunset as many native animals (Roos and Emus) will be active then and will be attracted to your headlights and can jump in front of your vehicle – and cause serious damage.
  • If you wish to overtake trucks, a quick flash of you lights is often appreciated.
  • Road trains (double semi-trailers) are long and will take twice as long to overtake than a normal truck. Plan to overtake with caution.


  • Drive at a safe speed (10-20kms less) as conditions on unsealed roads can change quickly.
  • If approaching another vehicle, slow down and move to the left as this will reduce stone damage (windscreen and paint) and reduce dust which may inhibit vision to what is behind their vehicle and yours.
  • Slow when approaching cattle grids as some may be raised or dropped and can be hazardous if crossing at speed.
  • Don’t drive on closed roads.
  • If stopping for some reason, pull over and don’t stop in the middle of the road. If venturing off the main road, take care as the side drain may look dry but maybe wet underneath.
  • Approach creek crossing with caution… they may be washed out and can cause serious damage to your car.


  • If for some reason your vehicle breaks down or gets stuck. STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE. Someone will always come by.


  • Country people are renowned for their hospitality but remember that their property is their home and livelihood and not all are amenable to random access of their properties; in the same way you would not be at your home or office.
  • Always leave gates as you find them not as you think they should be.
  • Ask permission for camping at the homestead. Check with the station owner before camping and let them nominate a place for you.