You think Mungo National Park is jaw-dropping during the day? You should see it at night. Here’s how to explore Mungo by starlight.

 

We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Ngyiampaa, Mutthi Mutthi and Southern Paakantyi Nation, the traditional Country of the Ngyiampaa, Mutthi Mutthi and Southern Paakantyi people who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Highlights

  • Observing a sweeping landscape like no other
  • Seeing some of the most vibrant sunsets followed by more stars than you can imagine
  • Spotting plenty of kangaroos

Mungo National Park by Starlight

If you think you’ve seen it all and explored the best of what Australia has to offer, you might want to adjust your alarms and try your hand at hiking amongst the stars.

We headed to Mungo National Park and although most of the park was closed due to recently unearthed relics of the past, we soaked in the beauty of what is one of Australia’s most fascinating areas by seeing it lit up by the emu from above, that is the Milky Way.

 

Night Hiking Mungo National Park - Joe Cuzzocrea, Stargazing, Mungo National Park

 

Once part of the extensive Willandra Lake System and home to some of the oldest modern human remains in the world, Mungo National Park doesn’t need any further bells or whistles to impress even the pickiest of travellers.

Yet we found ourselves wondering how we could observe it under a different light, or lack thereof. We decided to set our gaze on the stars and see everything Mungo had to offer when the lights went out.

Read more: Stargazing: A How To Guide

Just You and the Stars

We stayed in the national park for two full days to absorb everything around us, after all, we did just travel over 500km to get there! We opted to stay at the aptly named Main Campground which provided us with the access we needed to get to the incredible sites by night. 

Read more: Three Intriguing NSW Road Trips for Culture Kids

 

Night Hiking Mungo National Park - Joe Cuzzocrea, Stargazing, Mungo National Park

 

As each day neared sunset, we headed out onto the 70km long loop track in search of a spot where I could set up my tripod to capture the fading light. While we waited, we dined like the fancy campers we are with our camp-made grazing platter.

As the sun faded from golden hues to a deep magenta, the real show began as the sky filled with as many stars as there are grains of sand on a beach. We enjoyed the chilly but breeze-free landscape as we hiked from the viewing platform at the Walls of China to the Red Top lookout. Keep in mind that the path is windy and can be quite sandy, so it’s well worth the effort of taking it slow.

Read more: How To Take Photos in Mungo National Park

Hiking at night provides a thoroughly different experience to hiking in the day. Although the head torch helps illuminate the path, you tend to keep your gaze fixed skyward in pure amazement at the universe moving right in front of your eyes (rivalry for spotting the most shooting stars helps too). 

Although very tempting, it’s important to remember that this is a very fragile environment containing many relics of our past. So just because no one’s around to see doesn’t mean you should venture off the path to view the lunettes in closer detail – that’s what zoom lenses are for!

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

Hot tip! Park a car at Red Top lookout earlier in the day and get a lift back to Walls of China so you only have to hike one way later that night!

 

Night Hiking Mungo National Park - Joe Cuzzocrea, Stargazing, Mungo National Park, astrophotography

Essential Gear

  • Warm clothes
  • Head torch with a red filter
  • Camera and tripod if you want to capture it all unfold
  • Plenty of snacks, a thermos filled with your fav hot bevvy, and stacks of patience

How To Get There

Mungo National Park is very much in the middle of nowhere, that said it’s a fantastic road trip for those keen to explore rural NSW. There are a variety of ways to get there, but one of the most straightforward would be coming from Mildura. 

Follow the Silver City Highway toward Broken Hill and through Buronga. Just as you pass Buronga you’ll see a sign indicating Mungo National Park at Arumpo Rd, follow this for the next 100km until you reach the Mungo Visitor Centre. Keep in mind that most of the route is unsealed road so choose your wheels appropriately.

Before departing for Mungo, be sure to book your campsite at either the Main Campground or at Belah Campground ahead of time. There’s little to no reception within the park and the office at the time of writing was not accepting bookings in-person.

Skill Level

Beginner

Depending on how you approach this, you’re either going to be driving from one viewpoint to the other, or walking along a decently flat dirt road to get to each point.

Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration

Hiking from the Walls of China lookout to the Red Top lookout will take you about an hour each way and is a 6km, relatively flat stretch.