26 October 2009 - Marriage Lines
(To Lake Mungo)
G'day. It rained overnight at Broken Hill but was brighter when we set off to Menindee. At a petrol station there I noticed a sign 'Proceeds from empty bottles and cans left here will go to the Royal Flying Doctor' (neat idea). From Menindee we took a dirt road to Pooncarie stopping for a bite at a cafe next to The Old Wharf by the Darling River. The chatty owner asked us about our trip so far, and when he discovered we were on our way to Mungo National Park he telephoned ahead to check the state of the dirt road as it had been closed earlier because of the heavy rain. "OK in a 4WD so long as you are careful, but watch out for water!".
Adrian took over the driving and he was careful, though the back-end twitched a few times and we had a couple of suicidal Kangaroos race across the front of the Nissan in the twilight. We clipped one but not too badly. There was a lot of water around and occasionally we'd have to go off into the bush to avoid pools completely covering the track .
In the evening gloom, locating Mungo Lodge and our accommodation was proving difficult and we had to backtrack to find it. However our lodge, once found, was modern minimalism in style with elegant furniture, crockery, cutlery, flat-screen telly on the wall etc. It had a price to match. It seems many people fly into Lake Mungo's small airstrip rather than take the rough road - but then they miss all the adventure. George watched a party of oldies taking off in a light aircraft, noting that the pilot only seemed to be carrying a parachute. Perhaps they all hold hands if they get into trouble.
We spent the next couple of days exploring Lake Mungo, an ancient dry lake bed which dried up about 18,000 years ago. It's now a World Heritage Area as the earliest traces of aboriginal people have been found here, maybe 50,000 years years old, and the first known example of cremation in the world, dated around 26,000 years old. We took a 70k signposted circular self-drive across the lake floor to the 'Walls of China' lunette – high, eroded walls of sand built up at the lake's edge. We clamber and climb up the enormous dunes for views back across the dry lake bed whilst Adrian sketches. Barbara is particularly interested in primitive early man and looked around carefully hoping to come across one - in the meanwhile she has to make do with me.
Phil the Pom