From: $1,680 USD
Duration: 4 days/ 3 nights
Type: Groups, Private Charter.
Departs: On Request
Interests: Reptiles & Amphibians.
About Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours:
Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours was founded by Roger Smith and Janine Duffy in 1993, with the vision to bring people and wildlife together for mutual benefit. The award-winning team believes that observing and connecting with wildlife is a key element in enriching the lives for people of all backgrounds; whether this interaction is for pleasure, new experiences and learning, for connection to the land or the basic needs for humans to breathe clean air and drink clean water via healthy ecosystems.
Price per person with group of 5+ passengers, based on double occupancy, including touring, meals & accommodation. Single supplements apply. Black-out dates may apply. Pricing is subject to availability and all prices, itineraries and routings are subject to change without notice. Currency fluctuations may affect prices as quotes based on AUD. Prices are current at time of posting (1/11/2023) and may differ when you book your travel.*
Upon arrival into Mildura from Melbourne Airport (MEL), guests will meet their Echidna Walkabout wildlife guide to commence an epic private adventure across the Australian outback at Lake Mungo in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area.
The day commences at one of Australia' most significant places, at the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers. Of special significance to both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, travellers will be captivated by stark contrasts of this beautiful watercourse flowing through semi-arid landscapes.
After a delicious lunch, guests will check into accommodation overlooking Thegoa Lagoon, a major billabong (water hole) of the Murray River and home to many species of bird. The afternoon offers guided walks across the region in search of birds, marsupials and reptiles taking refuge along the rivers and billabongs of the arid country.
“To help people understand the impacts of climate change in a certain area, I usually profile a creature. I’ve been visiting Mungo for over five decades and have noticed the number of emus over the last few years has declined. One of the most important things we do when we assess the impacts of climate change is to monitor the health of the environment, and one of the best ways to do this is to track and record the number of creatures we see.”
Roger Smith - Guide & Co-founder
This is a delight for bird lovers, with abundant opportunities to see parrots, cockatoos and other bushbirds, as they arrive out of the desert looking for food and water near the rivers. Amazing photographic opportunities await when the group walks across vivid red sand dunes, also home to several reptile species and raptor birds, before the group heads back for dinner.
Accommodation: Two Rivers Motel
After breakfast, guests will travel south to Hattah-Kulkyne National Park; a 50,000 hectare reserve famed for its incredible mix of dryland and wetland bird life and rich landscapes including red and yellow sand dunes, riverine forests, natural lakes and wetlands. Hattah Kulkyne is home to a wide range of birds and reptiles, including two species of large monitors. This lake system provides the perfect backdrop for lunch, before the groups's next stop at Lake Mungo in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area along straight dirt roads deep into the desert.
Later in the afternoon, travellers will check into Mungo Lodge, where two days of safari walks and drives will commence. To begin this journey we walk to a lookout over the dry lakebed of Lake Mungo near sunset, where the guide will share how the Willandra Lakes System dried out over thousands of years as the climate warmed.
The remarkable landscapes provide abundant opportunities to see Major Mitchell Cockatoos and Cockatiels, Emus along with chats and arid land fairy wrens. The Crested Bellbird is often heard and sometimes seen. Raptors including the Spotted Harrier, Black Falcon, Grey Falcon and Wedge-tailed Eagle are known to nest in the area, with two species of kangaroo also residing in the area.
Huge white sand dunes rise high above the dry lake beds and have been eroded in some areas allowing burrowing birds like the White-backed Swallow to build their nests.
Accommodation: Mungo Lodge
An early start awaits guests, to catch the sunrise whilst exploring the ancient shoreline of dry Lake Mungo. This is the ideal time to spot cockatoos, parrots, kangaroos and emus, often seen in large numbers.
Additional photo opportunities await as the group drives across the dry bed to reach the spectacular lunettes (wind-curved sand dunes). Travellers will be fascinated with the “story line” through 50,000 years of Aboriginal History beginning at the lake bed and rising high into the eroded dunes. Insights will be shared about how the Aboriginal people lived within the region, with evidence of their camp sites, remains of their cooking fires and, depending on the movement of the sand and soil, it may even be possible to discover new sites!
The guide will also point out evidence of extinct fauna and share this once thriving wetland, where large numbers of waterbirds and animals co-existed beside a vibrant population of Aboriginal People for tens of thousands of years. Burial sites continue to be exposed throughout the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area and are monitored carefully by Traditional Owners to minimise disturbance and engender respect for their ancestors. Due to the sacred nature of these burial sites they are not accessible to the general public.
Traversing by vehicle and on foot, guests will encounter four different ecosystems during a circumnavigation of Lake Mungo, ranging from dry lakebeds to rich sandy bush country. This will provide the perfect opportunity to search for birds and other animals and learn about the vegetation in this constantly changing landscape.
For those looking for some exercise, the opportunity to climb high into the huge Mungo dune field for stunning views across the desert is an option. Depending on weather and time of year, dinner this afternoon will be out in the desert before returning to the Lodge as the sun sets. As the daylight fades we often see large numbers of both Western-grey and Red Kangaroos grazing beside the road along with Australia's largest flightless bird, the Emu.
Accommodation: Mungo Lodge or similar
After an optional early morning bird walk, guests will enjoy a final breakfast at Mungo Lodge before driving out of the desert to Mildura Airport, ready for the next adventure (return flights from Melbourne to Mildura not included as part of tour).
Group Size: Maximum of 8 guests.
Pick-up and Drop Off Point: Mildura Airport
Pick-up and Drop-off Time: Dependent on scheduled flights in and out.
Private Touring: This is a private tour and will be quoted based on your interests and group size, so can not be immediately booked via the webiste. Please enquire for details.
Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours contributes observations of flora & fauna via iNaturalist, the world’s leading global social biodiversity network. This platform allows our team to create research-quality citizen science data that enables a more detailed picture of our national biodiversity, and assists bodies such as the CSIRO, ecologists and other decision makers to deliver better outcomes for the environment and our species.
Our guides record observations with iNaturalist Australia by using the iNaturalist app on mobile phones or desktop computers. An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location in Victoria. We require photos to be attached to observations for them to become research grade and added to the Atlas of Living Australia.
This is where you can greatly assist us in capturing images out in the field! Although we make broader observations that we think are valuable to the local scientific community, we have identified the following species to track when we are exploring Victoria by vehicle or on foot.
Key species we're looking out for include:
Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours continue to monitor the impacts of climate change and feral species intrusion on native species in the Mungo region. Originally listed as a World Heritage Area in 1981, Mungo National Park offers a unique insight into climate change, its effect on human habitation and the environment over many thousands of years.
Due to the constant erosion of the sand dunes in Mungo, tour groups often find exposed examples of unusual or extinct fauna. These sightings are recorded, and, if they are significant, reported to the relevant authorities.
Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours created, and remains the primary supporter of, the not-for-profit Koala Clancy Foundation. The foundation is set up to support, advocate and plant trees for wild koalas, particularly around the You Yangs and on the Western Plains of Victoria. Started in 2015, the charity relies on the donations and promotional reach of international travellers, and the willing hands of local volunteers and private landowners to restore koala habitat to the rivers and creeks of western Victoria.