Day 28 - Buronga to Lake Mungo
Trip Start Apr 17, 2012
37Trip End May 27, 2012
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After "The Goli", we were off to Orange World which is a working citrus farm, plus a whole lot of other citrus-related stuff. They offered tractor tours of the property and various orange products
After the tour, Mario let us climb up the observation tower above his shop to get a bird's eye view of the property. Next thing we knew, it was after 3pm and we still had to do 60km of rough dirt road to do in order to get us to Lake Mungo which was our destination for the night. We were still hungry from missing lunch so we headed to the Buronga Bakery for some food and went to the servo for some fuel. We then started heading out to Mungo on Arumpo Rd. We figured it must be called Arumpo because that's the noise your vehicle makes on the corrugations. It was slow going at times, it felt like we were being shaken to bits. After the lush, irrigated farms began to thin out, the landscape started to show it's harshness. Dry red dirt and rocks galore. Even though we were averaging about 30km/h it was quite a memorable drive. The sun was setting to the west of us, the stereo was up loud and the scenery was incredible with the range of colours in the sky
Soon enough, the red in the sky started to darken and before we knew it, darkness was falling. The last few kilometres into the National Park after passing Lake Arumpo were completed with high-beam on. Just before you enter the National Park is the lodge, it looked quite comfortable but we weren't after that kind of experience on this trip. As we drove in to the park, we passed the camping area to the right of us and saw the odd campfire and LED headtorch through the scrub. As we wanted to pay our fees (and possibly have our showers) prior to setting up, we headed to the visitors centre about 2km from the campground. The road passes over a slight rise before descending down into the corner of the lake where the visitors centre, woolshed and old homestead are located. It was quite a surreal sight after driving for over 2 hours into nothingness to see a cluster of illuminated buildings on the edge of a vast dry lake bed. We had to stop for a few minutes just to take it all in before disengaging the handbrake and coasting down the hill into the carpark
We pushed on the glass door and walked in, the place was decked out with museum exhibits, TV screens, video loops with interviews with elders about the aboriginal history and significance of the place, information and pictures of the days when the area was a sheep station and there were scale models of megafauna which once roamed the area. It was such a thrill to arrive somewhere that felt so isolated yet provided such a warm welcome to visitors even though it was after dark on a freezing night in autumn. We agreed to come back and look at the exhibits in more detail during the day and grabbed our towels from the van so we could use the showers. There were only two showers/cubicles so we grabbed one each, both cubicles shared a single window so we could talk through the gap. Due to the limited water available in the area, the pressure was quite low so we struggled to maintain an adequate cover of hot water on ourselves making it a bit cold. When Julie turned off her shower, I got her extra water pressure (hehe) and suddenly my cubicle was warm and steamy so I absorbed the heat before turning off. After showers it was a 2 minute drive to the camping area.
We did a few laps in the dark before deciding on a spot that was a good distance from other campers - yet would catch the morning sun (very important when it's 5 degrees outside overnight and you are trying to get out of bed at 7:30am).
For the first time on our entire trip, we had no internet, no tv and no mobile reception. Not that it was a bad thing, I just love technology in nature and remoteness so therefore it's a fun activity for me to muck about with antennas to see if I can pick up any signals whenever we set up camp. Once I had checked, it was getting bloody cold so we locked ourselves indoors after that. We cooked ourselves dinner and got some food into us and we were just heating water for tea and washing up when we ran out of gas - 2nd time this trip. This wasn't a problem as we had already finished cooking. The Waeco freezer runs off battery but the campervan's fridge runs on gas when off the grid. Since it was a 5 degree night the fridge would stay cold (and can be beefed up with frozen items from the freezer), but we had wanted to stay a 2nd night at Mungo so we could do the big drive around the lake. Unfortunately this was no longer possible, so we modified our plans to include all the main attractions the following day prior to our departure. Flexibility is a wonderful thing when you are on the road.
As we no longer had any form of heating, we had to retire early (about 10pm). It was probably a bit too early as I took ages to fall asleep.