We’ve recently returned from Mildura and the highlight of our trip was a visit to Mungo National Park. The National Park is a long way from any towns, which means getting there requires some pre-planning. We looked into all the options for how to get to Mungo National Park, and here’s what we found.
Your best option for getting to Mungo National Park is a tour. Whilst it is possible to drive to the park, you can only access the famous Walls of China sand dunes with a guide. This means you either need to take a tour from Mildura or book one from the parks office in Mungo.
In the rest of this post, I’m going to share my opinion on taking a tour of Mungo National Park and also explore how to drive there.
Tours to Mungo National Park
After a lot of research, I chose to take a tour of Mungo National Park from Mildura. We were there after a period of heavy rain, with the road only opening on the day of the tour, so it felt like the safest.
There are a few companies that do tours to the National Park. The ones most advertised in the area were:
- Day tour (8hr) $175/Sunset tour (6hr) $198
- Day tour (8hr) $175
- Day tour (6hr) $170/Sunset tour (2hr) $65
I chose to go with Discover Mildura and was not disappointed at all.
Phil, our guide, has been taking tours to Mungo for ten years and his knowledge and passion for the area was infectious.
You could tell from our walk across the Great Walls of China that he falls in love with this place every time he comes. The recent rain had washed another layer of sand away, meaning many of the 40,000-year-old fish bones he found on the ground were being seen for the very first time.
I guess if your office changes daily, then it maintains your enthusiasm and this was definitely the case with Phil.
I have always been an advocate for getting local guides, as you learn so much more that way so getting a tour is my number one recommendation of how to get to Mungo National Park.
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Mungo National Park Self Drive
It is possible to self-drive Mungo National Park as there are roads the entire way, though be aware the last 86km and the route around Mungo National Park are not on bitumen, so they can be difficult to navigate after rain.
The main downside to self-driving Mungo is that you will not be able to access the most famous part of the park without an authorised guide. This is to protect the lunette from damage.
However, you can pick up a tour from the visitor centre within the park, though you’ll need to pre-book this to make sure there is a guide there to take you. They also only have two time slots – 8am and 6pm. Given it’s around a 90-minute drive to Mungo from Mildura this might be too early for some people.
Do I Need a 4×4 to Drive to Mungo National Park?
No, you don’t, however, you need to be very aware of recent weather conditions.
From what I saw of the drive to Mungo, the roads are in good condition, though they are sand roads for the last 86km. We even met an American tourist who’d got there in an old Honda Jazz, so it is definitely possible!
There were, however, huge puddles across the road that would have been impassable without a 4×4 if the rain had continued for a couple more days.
Your best bet is to check the road conditions before you travel.
Mungo ‘Tag Along’ Tour
A third option for visiting Mungo National Park is a ‘tag along’ tour.
This is a service offered by Discover Mildura, at $50 per person cheaper than their main tour.
You follow the tour bus in your own vehicle and join the main group for morning tea and a walk on the Walls of China. It’s an option that might give you the best of both worlds, especially as kids are only another $25 each.
Getting to Mungo National Park from Major Towns/Cities
Mildura to Mungo National Park
Mungo National Park is around 1 1/2 hours from Mildura by car, of which 86km are on sand roads.
Sydney to Mungo National Park
Sydney to Mungo is just under 1,000km or around 11 hours of driving.
There are towns along the way such as Hay and Temora which are worth stopping at to break up the journey.
There is also a flight from Sydney to Mildura operated by Qantas which takes 2hr 20min. None of the budget Australian airlines currently fly this route, with Rex only operating the flight from Melbourne.
Melbourne to Mungo National Park
Mungo National Park is around 570km or 6 1/2 hours from Melbourne by car.
We chose to drive the 540km from Melbourne and stay in Mildura before making an onward trip to Mungo.
It is also possible to fly from Melbourne into Mildura, which is a 1hr 20min flight.
Was Visiting Mungo National Park Worth It?
If you’re on this post, I guess you’re already fairly invested in going to Mungo, but I thought I’d finish by reassuring you you’re making a great decision by going.
In fact, it came top of the list of our favourite places to check out in Mildura.
I mean look at this place…
It’s not quite what I expected.
I thought we were heading off into the desert, but in fact, these dunes are the edge of a long-ago (think tens of thousands of years) dried-up lake system, from which the silt and shoreline has all been blown into one place.
It is this uniqueness that has preserved the ancient indigenous artefacts here and showed that life in Australia was at least 42,000 years old on the discovery of Mungo Man and Mungo Woman. It is also what earned it UNESCO Heritage Site Status (it was my third new one of the year and 62nd in total – I’m a little obsessed!).
So whether you take a tour or drive there yourself, just make sure you get there, it’s well worth every bit of effort you’ll expend doing so.
Mungo was very hot, dry and full of flies – so there are a few things I would recommend taking.
If you are on a day tour, you are going to need water – and a lot of it. Whilst the tour bus will have some provided, you will be expected to provide your own on the walk across the dunes.
I bought one of these water bottles on my first week in Australia and four years later it is still going strong. It keeps water amazingly cool even in harsh Aussie conditions.
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I also found the flies a real pain to deal with and noticed two of the Australians on the tour had fly nets that slipped over their hats – something I wished I’d thought of!
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Whilst the net will protect your face, you also need a strong repellant to keep those mozzies from biting your legs and arms. Get something with a lot of deet in it like the one below, I find the wipes much handier, less likely to leak and easier to apply.