Journey to Outback Australia: Mungo National Park

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Sometimes you have an experience which is profound.  You never know when those moments will strike so you can’t plan it.  Our visit to Mungo National Park in outback New South Wales gifted me with one of these rare overpowering moments.

Last year I unexpectedly encountered an amazingly profound experience when we visited Mungo National Park which is near Mildura in outback New South Wales.  Mungo National Park contains an area called the Walls of China where over tens of thousands of years layers of soil have raised the ground level above what was previously a lake.  In more recent times the rain and wind have progressively eroded the soil and every day new artefacts emerge.  The artefacts include animal remains, Aboriginal artefacts and some of the oldest human remains ever discovered.  Mungo Lady was found in 1968 and Mungo Man was discovered in 1974.  Both remains have been dated as approximately 42,000 years old.

Mungo National Park, Walls of China, Outback Australia
Walls of China in Mungo National Park in Outback Australia

Mungo National Park is jointly managed by three local Aboriginal tribes and the New South Wales government.  Our guide explained that the Aboriginal approach to their history is to leave it where it lies.  Artefacts can appear one day and be gone the next, blown away by the wind as an ever changing natural museum.

Just before our visit significant rainfall eroded deep divots through the Mungo landscape.  Our guide pointed out a blacked area about halfway down a 1.5 meter high divot which was the remains of an Aboriginal fire pit from approximately 40,000 years ago.  Just considering how many years the Aboriginal people must have placed a fire in the same location to even hope to leave a mark amazed me.  Trying to grasp the age of what I was seeing was too hard for me to comprehend.

Mungo National Park, The Walls of China, Outback Australia
Walls of China in Mungo National Park in Outback Australia

I have had past travel experiences where the age of artefacts has been difficult to comprehend.  In 1992 I embarked on my first independent overseas trip to Europe.  I am an Australian, and at the time Australia had recently celebrated its Bicentenary of 200 years since white settlement.  While visiting Budapest I recall feeling overwhelmed when I visited the Hero’s Square monument which was built in 1896 to celebrated the Hungarian people having lived in that part of Europe for 1000 years.  I found it overwhelming to comprehend the amount of time which had passed.  My experience at Mungo National Park was of even greater magnitude.

Mungo National Park is a long way away from anywhere in Australia but I am pleased we made the effort to visit this magnificent location.  The insight the visit gave me of the Aboriginal history of Australia will be enduring.

The next leg of our journey to outback New South Wales was to our final destination of Mildura where we were looking forward to revisiting this lovely country Australian township.

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