Discover Victoria’s Desert Country in the Wimmera Mallee

4WD Little Desert

A trip to the Wimmera Mallee will send you worlds away. This is a place you may never have known existed among Victoria’s rolling green hills, fresh southern beaches and epic high country. Home to pristine, preserved parks, you can explore through the sandy soils and native flora that is so unique to our patch. Keep reading to learn more about where to find them and what to do on your adventure to Victoria’s undiscovered desert country.  

 

Little Desert National Park 

The Little Desert National Park is a truly special place. As you venture through the landscape, you’ll be intrigued at the changing soil types throughout the park. This is an everchanging landscape, with no two areas appearing the same. It is home to one fifth of Victoria’s native flora species, making it a premium location to hunt for wildflowers, rare bird species and wildlife (keep an eye out for emus!). 

What to do in the park 

Walks in the Park 

The Little Desert is largely untouched. You will, however, find well-travelled and marked walks that range from 30 minutes to an hour in duration. Here are the walks you can explore:  

Trig-point lookout platform

4-Wheel Driving in the Park 

The Little Desert takes on a new life entirely when hit the trails in a 4WD. This is the path less travelled, the mode giving you access to the parks otherwise unseen. You’ll find the Molflat Track, East West Track and McDonald Highway in the Little Desert National Park. Find the tracks here.  

Staying in the Park 

The Little Desert is host to incredible camp sites that allow you to stay completely immersed in nature; to stargaze with no light pollution other than the moon (if it’s full), birdwatch and completely disconnect from the chaos of modern life. At the central-northern reach of the park, you’ll find camping at Kiata campground. Moving over to the east of the park, you can opt for river frontage camping Horseshoe Bend campground, and a little further upstream is where you’ll find Ankle Bend Campground. 

If you’d prefer a to stay under a roof, the Little Desert Nature Lodge offers a range of shared and private accommodation close to Nhill. Wake up to the sounds of birds chirping and the sun peeking through the window. If you’re lucky, George the Emu will meet you for breakfast. With that classic warm and authentic rural hospitality, you won’t want to leave. 

Little Desert Nature Lodge 

Getting to the park: 

There are a couple of ways to enter the Little Desert National Park. For camping and hiking, the best way to enter is through the east side of the park. The local township of Dimboola is the perfect place to pick up supplies, browse some of the best vintage and curiosity shops you’ll come across and grab a coffee before you head into the park. Simply follow the signs from the main street. To access the Little Desert Nature Lodge and the northern part of the park, enter though the town of Nhill off the Western Highway down Nhill-Harrow Road. For those with a 4WD wanting to take the path less travelled, you can enter the park on the western end, off Kaniva-Edenhope Road, straight into the 4WD tracks. 

Find the map here. 

Big Desert Wilderness Park 

The Big Desert Wilderness Park stretches along the South Australian border and gives way to incredibly unique and amazing Mallee country. It is also Victoria’s first declared wilderness area, and stretches a whopping 13,500 hectares. It is a playground for 4WD, hiking, nature lovers, photographers, artists, solace seekers and bird watchers alike. 

 

What to do in the park 

Walks in the Park 

There are many walking trails throughout the large park, along which you can take in the breathtaking wildflowers, Mallee scrub and heath as well as the mostly friendly wildlife in the park. You’ll find birds, lizards, snakes pygmy possums, hopping mice and even the Mallee Fowl. Home to over 300 species of birds, bring along a pair of binoculars to see how many bird varieties you can spot. Some of the popular walking trails are: 

  • Mount Rescue  
  • Grosse Hill 
  • Mount Shaugh 
4-Wheel Driving in the Park 

Around the Big Desert you’ll find the famous Red Bluff and Border tracks and the Murrayville Nhill track. Varying in length and difficulty, these tracks are an excellent way to test your vehicle and have some fun exploring virtually untouched wilderness. 

Red Bluff 

Staying in the Park 

There are a few campsites throughout the park that are accessible by 4WD, including the Red Bluff campground and the Big Billy campground.  

Find more information here. 

Getting to the Park 

Access to the Big Desert is via the Nhill-Murrayville Road, which runs parallel to, but 5km east of the park boundary. This road is only accessible by 2WD in very dry conditions. There is no vehicular access into the park, and as such, this is where your hiking journey will begin. Always come prepared with ample supplies and a compass.  

Find the map here. 

Wyperfeld National Park  

As the third-largest national park in Victoria, Wyperfeld National Park is a nature-lovers playground, being home to around 450 species of native plants. Located near Patchewollock, Wyperfeld takes you to sandy desert country, complete with sand dunes! The area features an almost eerie, but starkly beautiful series of connected dry lake beds. These only carry water when the Wimmera River fills Lake Hindmarsh and streams via Outlet Creek to Lake Albacutya. This is something that hasn’t occurred in many decades though the locals are closely eyeballing as water nears the edge of the creek. It’s certainly the hot topic of conversation around local pubs after this year’s amass of rain. 

What to do in the Park 

Walks in the Park 

The popular Wyperfeld Discovery Walk is an accessible 4km walk that begins at the Wonga Campground. Toward the end of the trail, there is a spectacular look out at Mt Mattingley. The 360 degree vista of the landscape and beyond is a fitting reward for your trek. 

Explore the Mallee offers guided tours of the wildlife and natural landscape. Here you can also book comfortable, serene accommodation and add-on experiences such as photography lessons. 

 

4-Wheel driving in the park 

The Wyperfeld National Park is host to incredible 4WD tracks that get you up close and personal to the park and its distinctive landscape. Sandy tracks and scrublands are a great contrast to Victoria’s High Country and offer an entirely different and exciting challenge for you to conquer. The popular tracks in the Wyperfeld National Park are: 

  • Milmed Rock Track 
  • Chinaman Well Track 
  • Pella Track 
  • Gunners Track 
  • Wirrengren Plain and Millers Track 
  • Freeway Track 

Staying in the Park 

There are a number of campsites within the park, varying in amenity levels. Wonga Campground is the most accessible and well-serviced campground. Moving further into the park, Snowdrift Camping Area is host to an amazing sand dune. Bring a toboggan and slide down the dune – a great one for kids (including the big ones)! Other campgrounds include the Casuarina Camping Area and the remote hike-in Northers Camping Area.  

Find a map here. 

Sand dunes at Snowdrift 

Getting to the Park 

There are several ways to access the park.  

  • via the Western Highway at Dimboola through Rainbow to southern Wyperfeld 
  • via the Sunraysia Highway at Speed through Patchewollock to Pine Plains 
  • via Hopetoun on the Henty Highway 
  • via Underbool on the Mallee Highway. 
  • via Nhill or Murrayville on Murrayvilee-Nhill Road (4WD access only) 

A sealed road to Wonga Campground is available from Rainbow or Hopetoun from the South. Casuarina and Snowdrift camping areas are in the north of the park and are accessible from Patchewollock by 2WD. If coming from the west, a 4WD is required over the tracks.  

 

There are many places within the parks that lack phone reception, so always come prepared with supplies, maps, a compass and plenty of water. Understand the weather conditions before entering the park. If you’re unsure, contact Parks Victoria on 13 19 63.  

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