Almanac Rail Trips: Journey to Mungo National Park


Well folks today’s episode of Sesame Street is brought to us by the concept of ‘journeys’.


Think here, road to Damascus. You know, that kinda stuff.


With the advent of free post COVID train travel for Victorian seniors last week, the urge to revisit Mildura where I lived many years ago proves much too tempting.


Sure, including the Geelong to Melbourne leg of the train journey it is eight hours each way but, hey, who’s counting?



My journey begins.



As I prepare for a long day at the crease, my thematic book for the week has already self selected – John Steinbeck’s finest work The Grapes of Wrath.


The central characters, the Joad family, are evicted from their labour intensive farming practices with the arrival of large farm machinery and broad acre farming.


(Spoiler alert), like many fellow small acre farming tenants with few other options, they make the dusty harrowing journey from Oklahoma to California in search of a new life only for it all to end in tears. No small wonder it won Steinbeck the 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature.



The local Mildura kids seem to appreciate my handy hints to improve their table tennis form.



Not only is it arguably one of the best journey themed yarns since Exodus and Deuteronomy, but also, it has extra sentimental appeal as it was the Year 12 English text I taught at Mildura High School 40 years ago.


So my own journey over 600 kilometres in eight hours’ real time travel takes me back 40 years in remembered time.


But the highlight of the week is another journey of quite a different kind – one that stretches back not 40 years but 40,000 years. And this is what I have come all this way to rediscover.



Mungo Roger



Mungo National Park in southern NSW is about an hour and a half north-east of Mildura. Dr Google can fill in other details well beyond my present scope however it is a National Park for unique geological and flora/fauna related reasons.


However it is also a listed World Heritage site. In the mid 1960s, skeletal remains of two human bodies who became known as ‘Mungo woman’ and ‘Mungo man’ along with tools, shell middens and animal bones provided evidence of some of the oldest modern humans (homo sapiens) in the world.



Park ranger Steve prefers a line in the sand to explain 40,000 years of human existence.



Along with relatively undisturbed evidence around the former Willandra Lakes (Mungo) Region of landforms and sediments of the Pleistocene Epoch, expert opinion was able to date these skeletons as about 40,000 years old.


These Australian aborigines therefore share the same history as other contemporaneous homo sapiens the remains of whom have been discovered on parts of the African continent.


Unfamiliar readers could do worse than add Mungo National Park to the bucket list.


I can say up front I derived no personal benefit from this next bit however a guided tour is the highly recommended way to go. There are several options however I used



The guided tour is highly recommended.



The $129 day tour is money well spent. Leaving Mildura at 0900 and returning at 1600 (weather and roads permitting), it gives you a return A/C 4WD vehicle return journey with morning tea and lunch. More importantly, it gives you a two hour guided tour including access to parts of the site which are off limits to the general public.



The clever emu always lays one decoy egg in an obvious spot to attract any predators while the rest of the clutch remains well concealed as it is incubated by the male.



Kangaroos, emus and echidnas emerge where and when they see fit. When asked about snakes our tour guide Steve refers nonchalantly to the local king browns, tigers and death adders.


In response to an audible gasp around the eight of us he then adds with a breezy reassuring wave of his hand “but they’ll leave you alone if you leave them alone.”


If you fancy staying around, on site camping and motel accommodation options are also available.



With apologies to John Meillon, you can get it on an archaeological field trip!



But sadly, like all journeys, it must come to an end.


And it does, just as I make it back to Geelong in time to see the Cats fall over the line against Brisbane.


What free kick? I didn’t see any free kick!



Oh dear, it looks like one of those driverless trains they are trialling. I hope it knows how to get me to Kardinia Park in time for the first bounce!




Read more from Roger Lowrey HERE.


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About Roger Lowrey

Roger Lowrey is a Geelong based writer who lists his special interests as reading, writing, horse racing, Roman history and AEC electoral boundaries. Some of his friends think he is a little eccentric.


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Magical place Mungo National Park RDL. Was there a number of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed visiting and learning about this historical site of great significance.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    The reader is in good hands in this piece told in your inimitable style, RDL.

  3. John McLoughlin says

    Great piece Rog. Those who are interested in learning more about the recent history of this park might enjoy this doc on SBS –


  4. Thanks for this Roger.
    Sounds like it was a great trip.
    I love travelling by train.

  5. Roger Lowrey says

    Thank you all.

    I believe it was mercifully kind of me not to refer too much to the special $229 travel cushion I bought to be kind to my buttocks. Mind you, it will help with our overseas trips if we ever get there again.

    Think here, Swan Hill and Mildura, for all their eternally enduring charms, are a bloody long way away.

    That said, I passionately love the north of Victoria. I sunbake in the weather news every night.


  6. Good stuff Roger.

    Lake Mungo has been on our bucket list for a while. May 2020 was scheduled on our radar: never happened. Friends have just driven from Melbourne to Broken Hill, via Lake Mungo. Amazing photos we’ve seen from their time there.

    Hopefully we get there, maybe early 2022. I’ve had my first jab, next jab June 23. Let’s get the vaccine distributed far and wide, keeping us all safe, then road trips/rail trips/holidays are back on the radar.

    All the best Roger.


  7. Ripper piece RDL. Could almost smell the dry air!
    Beautifully written, as usual.

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