Day 20-22: The Outback

Finally, we’re at the end of our 22-day journey through the south east of Australia. After returning to Adelaide, we embarked on a 550-kilometer drive through the vast emptiness of the New South Wales outback, toward the impressive and remote Mungo National Park, part of the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Site.

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But on our way through South Australia’s countryside, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go wine-tasting in Australia’s most famous wine region, the Barossa Valley. We stopped at a vineyard for a lazy lunch break, sampled some light whites and roses, and left with six bottles of our favourites (for later home consumption).

About 400 kilometers from Adelaide, we passed through the outback town of Mildura where we made the transition to dusty dirt roads leading into Mungo National Park. We would not see any paved roads for another day, some 250 kilometers later!

The park covers an ancient dry lakebed called Mungo Lake. Over time, westerly winds have deposited sand and clay onto the eastern shore and sculpted a series of lunettes known as the ‘Walls of China’.

These gorgeous formations lit up brilliantly under the setting sun.

Erosion and shifting sand dunes have revealed evidence of continuous human occupation stretching back over 40,000 years. This evidence comes in the form of ancient artefacts, hundreds of fossilised human footprints dating back over 20,000 years, and ancient human remains such as those of the famous Mungo Man, estimated to be 40,000 years old.

This is the most remote place we’ve ever been. The visitor center was open but completely unstaffed. We didn’t see a single other car during the entire two-hour drive out of the park the next day. And aside from us, there wasn’t a single soul at our campsite!

We truly felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. The sky at night was just awesome, not in the colloquial sense of the word (e.g. that was an awesome burger), but in the true “I feel utterly insignificant yet inspired” sense of the word.

Here’s a 40-minute exposure looking towards the Southern Cross constellation, visible only from the southern hemisphere:

Well… that wraps up posts on our exciting adventure. I hope you enjoyed reading about it and got a good sense of what gems lie waiting to be discovered in the land down under. We’re already looking forward to our future travels. Check out the rest of the Mungo photos.

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