Broken Hill, NSW
At the northern of the Homestead Creek Campground. If you are just 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 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 a nearby one as is the case in many parks we have visited but has its own special character.
The Homestead Gorge Walking Track is often done as a standalone walk by many hikers. This walk starts at the day use cap par or if you are camping, at the Homestead Creek Campground which adds about 1km to the walk in total. We started at the campground which also 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 till it starts looping 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 a 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 from the trailhead signs there are small interpretive signs every so often that highlight the rural past of this area and talks 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 that has a metal viewing platform and interpretation signage explaining what’s there. This platform is as far as wheelchairs have access. From this platform head down into the creek bed following the trail markers and 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 that 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 red stripe along the bottom of the marker. At this point you will also see another sign with a green stripe which will take you further into this loop to the Bynguano Range Walking Track but unless you plan on combining this track into your days hiking ignore these signs.
The gorge will split into a ‘Y’ and you need keep to the left. About 400 metres onward after crossing back and forth over the gorge you will come to your destination, without any fanfare, which is a large pool of water that blocks your way. You can sit and take in the view or if you are feeling so inclined go for a swim in the relatively shallow coolish water. If it’s a hot day, this spot is a welcome respite from the heat.
If doing this walk as a standalone trip, turn around and head back the way you came up the gorge following the signage as you go. In this section of the trail the directional arrows are on small posts, on rocks at ground level, and on rocks at eye level so if you pay attention you shouldn’t have any issue keeping on course. Speaking of the terrain, the elevation change is pretty minimal and while you spend time crossing back and forth along the gorge this is one of the easier options located on this loop. So, providing you take tour time, it’s a walk that is accessible to most hikers. Whether you do this walk as a larger combined loop or as a standalone will depend on the time you have available and your fitness level.
Wildlife is pretty minimal on this trail as are large flowering plants. The real joy in this walk is the cool gorge landscape and the natural waterhole which make a change from the harsh arid landscape dominating the area. The gorge is a lush oasis in what is a very dry parched landscape. You are best starting this walk early in the day after sunrise to take advantage of the cooler weather which will allow you to return back out of the gorge before the middle of the day and what can be some serious heat.
This a very enjoyable walk and one that won’t disappoint.
The trailhead is through the fence at the northern end of the 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 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 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 in the next rock frame is not much further along the creek bed
Follow the red signs
Along the gully
Veer left when presented with a branch in the trail
Paddy melon in flower (weed species)
Paddy melon in fruit
Approaching the waterhole
Our final destination
A lovely cool place to relax
The far end of the waterhole
Heading back along the gorge on the way back
Heading back along the gorge
View of the high point on the Rockholes Loop Walking Track
Native daisy one of the few flowering plants we saw along this gorge
Return arrow at the bottom of the gorge. The return arrows aren’t always colour marked
Heading back along the creek bed
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 from start to finish
Google map from Broken Hill. The trip from Broken Hill is 130km, much of it on dirt road. Please check the condition of the road before heading out. While we did see one non 2WD vehicle its best to have a 4WD or AWD vehicle just in case
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