Revisiting Mutawintji National Park

Posted by barbara on January 18, 2012

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The numerous emus we spotted on the drive to and from Mutawintji were invariably curious and unphased by the sight of a Holden Sedan entering their territory.

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The road to Mutawintji branches off the Broken Hill to White Cliffs road.

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Heading along an unsealed section of road from Broken Hill to Mutawintji National Park in late December 2011 on a 45 degree celsius plus day in a two wheel drive.

Leaving aside the mirage, the road surface suggests that the road was recently impassable to the majority of vehicles, be they two or four WD.

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The signs of flood damage are everywhere on approach to the Homestead Creek Day Use Area.

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One of the most unexpected aspect of our drive to Mutawingee National Park, north west of Broken Hill, was to witness the damage to the road into the Homestead Creek Campground and Homestead Creek Gorge walking tracks.

Would be walkers currently have to park at the first camping area and walk through the washed out homestead area to access the walking tracks, adding kilometres onto the local walks, especially the longer walk including the Rockholes Loop.

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An internet search revealed that extensive flood damage in January 2011 closed the park for around six months, and further rains appear to have compounded the destruction. The impact of recent rains was evident on a road that had clearly been extremely greasy in the very recent past.

The slight inconvenience to visitors aside, why would park management rush to repair one of the key access roads after such an unpredictable year of damaging downpours and potentially more to come in a La Nina year?

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Indigenous artwork effectively 'dissed' in the 1860s by a member of Burke and Wills support party, one William Wright, painting initials over aeons old paintings.

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In late December 2011, Mutawintji lived up to the origins of its name as a 'place of green grass and waterholes'. Despite the 45 Cesius plus temperatures, the succession of pools along the creeks, big and small, were compensation for the oven like heat.

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Boulders are a feature of the walk up Homestead Creek.

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While we come across water on our walk up Homestead Creek, some of the pools are drying up in late December 2011.

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This impressive log jam provides some insight into the ferocity of the flood waters barrelling down Homestead Creek and into Old Mootwingee Creek.

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There is no shortage of water along Homestead Creek.

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Note the goats, sigh, watching us from above on the left hand side (eastern?) side of the creek. There was no escaping them on the first part of our walk up Homestead Creek. Clearly they viewed as as invading their territory.

Fortunately, goats were either scarce, in hiding or non-existent on the other side of the creek and ranges.

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The last big pool before retracing our steps down the over-like creek and starting up the green marker track to the Byngnano Range.

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Such was the heat, even this female kangaroo and her joey (hidden to the right), failed to budge as we climbed up towards Byngnano Range.

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We branch off the so-called Rockholes Loop and opt for a climb up onto the Bynguano Ranges on a route that promises to return us to the place where we started.

The views are inspiring and the heat at first seems a few degrees cooler than the oven-like atmosphere of the hemmed in Homestead Creek gorge in high summer.

We are confused about the park brochure's stated distances. How far? Which loop? Do you add half the distance of the red marker Rockholes Loop Walk (5.6 km return loop) to the green marker Bynguano Range Walk (7.5 km return)?

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The question of distance comes to the fore as we make our way to the scenic highpoint of the range before the track starts to head down towards a long walk along a secondary creek to Homestead Creek.

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Magnificent views across the Byangnano Range reward walkers.

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