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Many places are touted as ‘must-see’ destinations, and Lake Mungo (Mungo National Park) certainly earns that moniker as it is a true icon when it comes to indigenous history and living culture as well as a region of shear landscape beauty.

This touring route, which does include unsealed driving, not only takes in the wonderful Lake Mungo, but also the Lower Darling River, including Menindee Lakes, as well as the opal mining town of White Cliffs… this touring route is a must for the adventure minded.

The tour starts at Balranald, the town set beautifully on the Murrumbidgee River before heading north-east to the internationally renowned Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area and into Mungo National Park; Willandra covers an area of 2,400 square kilometres and takes in all 19 lakes of the Willandra Lakes (ephemeral).

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 is the location of the evocative Walls of China which have 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.

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. 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 Mungo:

  • Route: Balranald Rd <> Boree Plains - Gol Gol Rd <> Magenta Rd <> Box Creek Rd (175 km - about 3 hours) - Sealed & unsealed

Heading out of Balranald, the route heads north before joining the unsealed Boree Plains-Gol Go Rd were you will soon experience that dramatic landscape of the lakes region. Be sure to allow at least one day to explore Mungo National Park, so this might be a 1-2 night stay.

Lake Mungo <> Menindee (Lakes):

  • Route: Top Hut Road <> Wentworth - Pooncarie Rd - Coona Point-Bindara Rd <> Lake Tandou Rd (231km - about 3.5 hours) - Unsealed

Leaving Lake Mungo, it is a short drive (57km) back 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 Menindee.

Menindee <> Wilcannia:

Route: Bindara-Tandou Rd <> Lake Tandou Rd <> Menindee-Wilcannia Rd (150km - about 2.5 hours) - Unsealed

While in Menindee, be sure to explore Kinchega National Park and the Menindee Lakes; the lake systemis feed from the Darling River. When the lakes are full, it is a sight to behold.

The route contines north-east to Wilcannia along the Darling River Run on the western side of the Darling River.

Wilcannia <> White Cliffs:

Route: White Cliffs Rd (93km - about 2 hours) - Sealed/Unsealed

Heading out from Wilcannia, it is a nice (sealed) drive up to the opal town of White Cliffs.

From White Cliffs, there are three alternatives:

  1. Continue north to Wanaaring 200km (and then either back to Bourke to the east, or head west to Tibooburra and Sturt National Park)
  2. Join head out to Mutawintji National Park via the White Cliffs - Mutawintji Loop, which will return to Broken Hill (unsealed route)
  3. Return to Wilcannia and the Barrier Highway, and onto Broken Hill (all sealed)

Lake Mungo Weather Outlook


Lake Mungo - White Cliffs: Accommodation

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.
Menindee Accommodation
Goodwood is a wonderful place to 'park' between Wanaaring and Wilcannia or on your way to or from White Cliffs in the Far West of NSW. The stationstay offers refurbished Shearers Quarters accommodation, catering for up to 12 guests.
White Cliffs Accommodation
Take a step back in time, unwind, relax and enjoy unique accommodation in the restored self-contained workmans' quarters. Experience this natural wetland, reinstated in 2012, after more than 100 years of being stranded from its lifeline, the Murrumbidgee River. Lake Paika Station is one of the oldest properties in the area.
Balranald Accommodation
This unique outback property near Mungo National Park, has cabin-type accommodation, camping sites and caravan sites. Its commitment to eco-sensitive management means catering for a limited number of guests, which ensures intimate and memorable experiences topped with warm hospitality.
Lake Mungo Accommodation
Warrawong on the Darling, a brand new purpose built Modern Cabin, Caravan and Camping accommodation ground situated just off the Barrier Hwy on 12km of Darling River frontage between Cobar and Broken Hill, 3km from historic Wilcannia.
Wilcannia Accommodation

Lake Mungo - White Cliffs: Towns & Locations

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 the major entry points to the Lake Mungo National Park and the recently opened Yanga National Park.
Towns & Localities
The beautifully penned 'The Man from Snowy River' by Banjo Paterson is an immortal Australian poem and in it there is the line,
Towns & Localities
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.
National Parks
The famous explorers Bourke and Wills reached the Darling River near Pooncarie at nearby Tarcoola Station and made camp at what is now Bilbarka Park in September 1860 on the way to their ill-fated expedition to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Towns & Localities
On the banks on the Paroo River, 240 kilometres to the east of Tibooburra, and 195 kilometres north west of the Darling River township of Bourke, is the village of Wanaaring. Established in the 1880's, the town provided services to the large sheep properties of the time.
Towns & Localities
Like silence? Tired of the bright lights and noises of the city and want a really quite night's sleep under a million brilliant stars? White Cliffs has that for a truly restful night and plenty to explore during the day.
Towns & Localities
Wilcannia, on the Barrier Highway between Cobar and Broken Hill, is largely undisturbed port on the Darling River. Cross the bridge driving from Sydney to Broken Hill and turn either to your right or left when you enter the town and you will be amazed at the richness of the architecture.
Towns & Localities


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