Broken Hill, NSW
At the northern of the Homestead Creek Campground in Mutawintji National Park. If you are visiting for the day then you can start this walk in the ‘day use’ car park
Homestead Creek Campground, Mutawintji National Park
Mutawintji National Park, in many respects is unique. The park has three seperate walking ‘zones’ which includes the standalone Western Ridge Walking Track and the Mutawintji Gorge Walking Track. However the main walking area is the large loop located immediately adjacent to the day use area and a short walk from the Homestead Creek Campground. This loop contains a series of standalone walks that can be done separately or combined in a way that provides a ‘choose your own adventure’ option. What’s unique about Mutawintji is that each of these seperate walks isn’t just a repeat of another one nearby as is the case in many parks we have visited but has its own special character.
The Bynguano Range Walking Track can be done as a standalone walk and while it can be started from the day use area or, for many people, from the nearby campground which adds about 1km to the walk. We started at the campground which meant we didn’t have to move the car. The trailhead is at the northern end of the campground – as you enter the facility turn left and follow the loop road about 120 metres before it starts looping around to the right and the signage is visible just off to the left.
This first section of the walk parallels the adjacent river bed which is often dry. Once you reach the day use car park turn to the right and follow the signage past the picnic area. From here you are walking into the gorge system and the environment changes from this dry arid landscape to something that is far more lush and temperate. At this stage you are on a well formed dirt track that is suitable for wheelchairs but keep in mind it is still a dirt surface.
Apart form the trailhead signs there are small interpretive signs every so often that highlight the rural past of this area and talk about the local landscape including different tree types. The signage while interesting is getting a bit worn and as you will see in the images below, can be a bit hard to read.
Your first stop is an Aboriginal rock art gallery which can be done as the standalone Thaaklatjika Mingkana Walking Track. This wheelchair-friendly trail is relatively flat and even, and has a metal viewing platform and interpretation signage explaining what’s there. This platform is as far as wheelchairs can access. From this platform head down into the creek bed following the trail markers. At this stage you are spending your time walking along the natural gorge, crossing over the creek and back as the environment dictates. As you make your way down the creek you will come across the occasional very small water body but given the condition they were in when we passed, I would definitely filter so come prepared if that’s your water plan.
As you walk along the gorge you will come to the turnoff point for the Rockholes Loop Walking Track which is on the left hand side of the gorge and marked by a small rock art gallery behind a waist-high metal frame. Have a look at this rock art but instead of following the arrows up the slope continue along the main gorge and follow the hiker signs which have a green stripe along the bottom of the marker.
The turnoff point is essentially a hub and rather than heading slightly left to a permanent rock pool which is the Homestead Gorge Walk and a great opportunity for cooling off in the hotter weather, it directs you across the dry river bed to what almost looks like a rock wall. When you look closer you will see a clear and easily accessible way up following the direction signage. At this stage the walk is on rock shelf.
Follow the signage up the rock gully and at one point you will be directed towards the left and continue your climb to one of two main scenic views on this walk. This first viewing area provides views to the back of this range and ones you won’t get from any other area within the park. Continue on from here and and make your way along the track. You’ll come very close to the the edge of the gorge so pay attention with your footing. Having said that this is only for a very short section.
The next viewing area is just off the trail and if you look for the highest area you will be able to get 360 degree views. You can head back to the trail or if you look around, you will see that the trail is close to this high point anyway and only requires a short section of track to rejoin.
At this point the track starts to make its way slowly back down and is relatively easy to follow. The trail tread becomes rocky, but easy to spot. You will arrive at one point where the trail does become hard to identify and we spent five minutes trying the different branches before realising it went between two rock mounds. One thing to note here is that this route will require you to descend down a steep rope drop that while not vertical can only be described as rock climbing with around a 4-5 metre drop (that is not identified on the trail information signage). To make it easier for you, the rope has loops however if you aren’t into heights or climbing, your only other option is to turn around and go back the way you came to get to back to the trailhead.
At the bottom of this rope follow the gorge downhill and about 20 metres along you are required to make your way through a very narrow slot canyon while at the same time avoiding any water at the bottom. Upon getting through this narrow section you are back in the gorge again following the dry creek all the way back to the main canyon where you started. This section of the gorge isn’t as well signposted as the main channel and you just have to trust that you are on the right route so a few extra signs would be helpful.
As you reach the main channel look towards the right and you will see the main rock art platform you viewed on the way out and that connects back onto the trail again. Its an easy return back to the trailhead form here.
Wildlife-wise there were minimal animal on this trail with the exception of the odd lizard but this gorge provides plenty of water, tree growth, and shelter and as such the birdlife was reasonably good even if we could only hear and not always see them.
This is another great walk in this park and one definitely worth doing because of the spectacular views you are afforded. If you are organised start this walk early in the morning to avoid the heat. We started just after 7:00am in the morning and while we managed to complete this walk in around 5 hours, the time really depends on your pace. It’s worth noting that the park website and signage shows this walk as being 7.5km in distance but our GPS measured this walk on the day as being 8.8km – this reflects some of the wandering we did and you’re likely to do likewise.
The Bynguano Range Walking Track is another one not to miss if visiting the Mutawintji National Park.
The trailhead is through the fence at the northern end of the Homestead Creek Campground
Directional marker near the trail start
Flood damage to the day use parking area
Start of the trail from the day use picnic area
Large remnant Eucalyptus near just near the trailhead
Interpretation signage along the way talking about vegetation and farming practices
Shade along the gullies is very different to the sparse sunny plains
Approaching the rock art gallery
Rock art gallery
Rock art example at the gallery
A marker as opposed to rock art at the rock art gallery
Heading off the rock art gallery platform
Head down from the rock art gallery and follow along the creek bed
Dry river bed
Eucalyputs flowers forming
Signage option with the directional arrows sometimes at ground level
First rock art gallery, look for the metal frame at ground level on the right of the image. Your turn point is not much further along the creek bed
Head up the rock slope
Look for the sigange
The worn trail is obvious as you get closer
Close up of the rock
Lizard on a rock at Mutawintji National Park
High point in the middle is our destination
Veer left and head upwards
Video taken at the first lookout location
Still going up
Close to the edge
While its not a straight drop off it’s steeper than it looks
2nd lookout location located as high up on the edge as you can go with 360 degree views
Starting the descent
Still heading down
Down the rock slope. As you come towards the bottom of this slope you lose the obvious way. The main thing to remember is that you are heading downwards. You will come across this green arrow in a large crack. From here things get a bit physical (see below)
Gill going backside first. I descended facing the rock and standing. Without this rope, this walk would be almost impossible except for people comfortable with rock climbing as the top is around 4-5 metres high
Turn left at the drop off
Rope to get down this rock face complete with hand/foot holds
Through the slot. Its quite narrow here
Gill making her ay through the narrow sloy canyon on the last half of this walk
Follow the creek bed
Back along the creek bed
Wattle, I love the arid wattle varieties
Approaching the main gorge. If you look closely you can see the rock art platform that you passed at the start of the walk
Back to the rock art gallery
Back to the day use picnic area
Oh so pretty
Heading back to the trailhead with dry river on the left
Trail finish inside the campground
This short video contains photos and video from our walk to show you the walk (video to be uploaded within 2 hours
Google map from Broken Hill. The trip from Broken Hill is 130 km, much of it on dirt road
Entering Mutawintji National Park
Information Centre. This kiosk is un-personed
Information centre view
Barbecue at the information centre
Toilet and shower facilities at Homestead Creek Campground
Homestead Creek Campground information kiosk
This walk was undertaken by the team from Australian Hiker