Mungo National Park is one of Australia’s wonders: a window into our ancient past. To me the region felt sacred and visiting it was a truly Australian experience that I’ll always remember. Mungo is incredibly important to the culture of the Paakantji, Ngyiampaa and Mutthi Mutthi people, and they preserve it today in conjunction with NSW National Parks.
From the excellent Visit Mungo website:
“These 42,000 year old ritual burials are some of the oldest remains of modern humans (Homo sapiens) yet found outside of Africa. Mungo Lady is the oldest known cremation in the world, representing the early emergence of humanity’s spiritual beliefs.
The return of Mungo Lady and Mungo Man put Lake Mungo on the world map. They led to the establishment of Mungo National Park and the recognition of the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area as a place that is important to all humanity.”
In 2003, footprints were also discovered at Mungo that were dated at more than 20,000 years old, and many tools, animal remains and other culturally significant sites were also found in the lake and surrounding area. The whole Willandra Lakes Region has greatly assisted with knowledge of the environment and history of Australia.
There are several accommodation options at Mungo, and self-guided tours as well as guided tours are available. There is a visitor centre and cooking facilities are available, and many school and tour groups visit each year. We camped at the Main Camp in 2014 and spent a long weekend exploring and learning. Here are some photos of the amazing landscape there (click any to enlarge them).
During our visit to Mungo a tourist passing by snapped a photo of our tour guide, Ivan, without acknowledging him or asking his permission in any way. It was an uncomfortable moment for the rest of us, and showed extreme disrespect to Ivan. I’ve written a separate post about this incident and why practicing Respectful Photography is so important.
Exploring Mungo with young kids
When we visited Mungo, Dante was 3 years old. He loved the camping experience, exploring the visitor centre and some of the tour, but he was a little too young to remain interested in the whole tour. Unfortunately it was also VERY hot each day (over 40ºc/104ºF) we were there, which of course took its toll on all of us.
He did also enjoy hiking about together and cooking in the shared bbq space, and he loved spotting kangaroos near our camp. We also took a little walk around the Main Camp in the dark with our head torches on, and he really loved looking for other animals that were around at night.
We could hear a possum scratching about throughout the first night, and woke to discover it had helped itself to our rubbish bin and made a big mess! (That is very interesting when you’re three!)
All in all, it is a fascinating place and I think most children would enjoy their time at Mungo. Older kids will be able to appreciate the history and meaning of the landscape there, and younger ones just have fun being outside and exploring somewhere different.
A few things to note about the Main Camp at Mungo
There is no running water at the main camp so be sure to have plenty with you. There are also no toilet facilities there, so be prepared for that! There are plenty of campsites but not much shade at a few of them.
The main camp is quite a long walk from the visitor centre; it’s not really possible in high heat. We drove when we needed to go there. The main camp is a good base to discover the whole park from, and would be great for camping with groups.
Be sure to have a look at the Visit Mungo website to check out all of the accommodation options there and read more about the history of this special place.
And if you’re interested in more truly Australian experiences like this, read this post about our time in Kununurra, Western Australia.