WELCOME TO THE BIG DESERT WILDERNESS PARK
Victoria’s first declared wilderness area, Big Desert Wilderness Park, located north of Kaniva, is 13,500 hectares and is a playground for 4WD, hiking, nature lovers and birdwatchers alike. It is an arid area of sandstone ridges, sand dunes, mallee scrub and heath. The Park is home to a wide variety of birds, lizards, snakes, birds, the pigmy possum, the hopping mouse and other small mammal species. Access is by the Nhill-Murrayville Rd which runs parallel to, but 5 km east of, the park boundary. It is only suitable for two-wheel drives in dry weather (check road conditions before departing) and, as there is no vehicular access within the park, this is as close as you get. You will have to walk from the road through a strip of public land into Big Desert. Only experienced and entirely self-sufficient campers and walkers with a map and compass should try but, even then, there are times in summer when it is definitely too hot for walking.
There are many 4WD tracks to explore in the Big Desert Wilderness Park. These tracks vary in length and difficulty. As weather conditions and season can affect the tracks, please contact Park Victoria on 13 19 63, view the brochure or visit their website. Please contact Parks Victoria for up to date information.
As above, there are many walking trails through the Big Desert Wilderness Park. As weather conditions and season can affect the trails, please contact Park Victoria on 13 19 63 or visit their website. Some of the walking trails include:
- Mount Rescue
- Gosse Hill
- Mount Shaugh
Please contact Parks Victoria for up to date information.
Mallee Parks has listed over 300 species of birds so don’t forget to take your binoculars and see how many you can find in the Big Desert Wilderness Park.
Driving along the Wimmera Highway, when you cross the South Australian border into Victoria, the first town to welcome you is the historic village of Apsley. Surrounded by beautiful Red Gums, wetlands, flora and fauna, all still found in their natural environments.
If bushwalking is your passion, Newland’s Nature Walking Trail is one for you. Federation Corner is the start of the easy all weather walking track linking the township of Apsley to the picturesque Newland’s Lake. Meandering through 258 hectares of natural unspoilt bushland, the 5 km walk (or a shorter version if you choose) takes you into amazing stands of stringbarks, banksias and rare orchids of the Newland’s Lake Reserve.
15km north of Apsley are the Little Willow Farm Sculptures.
A short drive south is the tiny hamlet of Dergholm adjacent to the Dergholm State Park with the unusual and unique green granite Bailey’s Rocks, there’s a lovely picnic ground set amongst natural bushland where you can picnic or enjoy a BBQ or go for a stroll through the bush and forget the outside world!
Federation Corner Information Bay was erected in 2001 to celebrate Australia’s Federation. It is also a good starting point for Apsley’s Historic Walk to relive the history of a former thriving community since it was first settled during the 1840’s. Established in 1855 the Apsley Racing Club is now the oldest surviving racing club in Victoria – even predating Australia’s icon sporting event, the Melbourne Cup.
There is an outstanding collection of historic buildings around the district; many of these were built by Chinese labourers as they travelled through to the goldfields from the port of Robe, during the gold rush period of the 1850’s. Take a historic walk along Main Street.
The Flowering Gum, located in Wallace Street, is said to be the largest flowering gum in the Southern Hemisphere.
Inside the Apsley Cemetery gates is the Jimmy Tarpot Memorial. Jimmy Tarpot, also referred to as Jimmy Talbot, was a member of Aboriginal Cricket Team of 1868.
Traveling from Frances in South Australia to the world renowned rock climbing mecca of Mount Arapiles, you will come across the pleasant township of Goroke, with a population of 200.
Situated on the edge of the Goroke State Forest, this is the perfect area for nature based tourists to enjoy four wheel driving, bird watching and bush walking through the beautiful untamed country joining the Little Desert National Park. As weather conditions and seasons can affect the trails and tracks, please contact Park Victoria on 13 91 63 or visit their website for up to date information on track closures and fire danger.
East of Goroke the ‘Duff ’ monument commemorates the finding of Jane Duff and her brothers Isaac and Frank after nine days lost in the bush in 1864 (with the great assistance of one of the international Aboriginal Cricket Team members and black tracker, Dick-a-Dick). Visit the new War Memorial – a tribute to our local “diggers”. Just down the road, you will find the Little Dessert National Park where you can look for the famous Malleefowl.
The Lake Charlegrark Country Music Marathon, a unique and wonderful two days entertainment, is held on the banks of Lake Charlegrark annually on the third weekend of February. Huge crowds travel long distances to listen to some of our country’s finest Country Music musicians.
Enjoy nearby wetlands including Lake Charlegrark, (a favourite with water sports enthusiasts and famous for its record size Murray Cod) and Lake Ratzcastle, both delightful peaceful and tranquil natural lakes in bush settings, where you can stay-awhile either in local accommodation or camping under the stars. If it’s fishing, yabbying and water sports that’s your passion this is a must for you! Another picturesque lake nearby is Big Booroopki, and when it is holding water it is excellent for fishing and yabbying.
Nestled in a valley beside the picturesque Glenelg River, historic Harrow lays claim to the title of Victoria’s oldest inland township.
Be sure to allow time to visit the Johnny Mullagh Cricket Centre. This state of the art interpretative centre commemorates Australia’s first Aboriginal cricket team to tour England in 1868, and is a ‘must see’ for cricket enthusiasts and history buffs. For the motor enthusiasts, don’t miss the Harrow Transport Museum.
A leisurely stroll along the well marked Glenelg River Walk provides you with the opportunity for fishing, birdwatching or just admiring the majestic Red Gums.
Discover bygone motor vehicles at the Harrow Transport Museum or explore the old log jail and other buildings dating back to the 1840’s.
During the year you can join the local players at the ‘Harrow by Night’ Sound and Light Show, an interactive cabaret style performance that ‘brings Harrow’s history to life.
Join in with the festivities held during the March long weekend, there is plenty of action! The Annual Cricket Match celebrating the Aboriginal cricketers takes place on the Johnny Mullagh Oval. Watch the National Bush Billycart Championships, or design one of your own for your chance to win big prizes! You can also marvel at the skills of the shearers in the Quick Shears Competition.
Come and see pre 1975 motorbikes in the Classic Scramble MotoX in April. Come to Harrow; you will love it!
Halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, Kaniva is the ideal place to break your trip when traveling the Western Highway.
Whether you enjoy 4WDing or bush walking, Kaniva makes for an ideal base to explore the Big and Little Desert National Park. These parks consist of several free camping spots including Red Bluff, Yanipy Nature Reserve and Broughton’s Waterhole.
There are many bush walks to explore in the area including Billy Ho Bush walk and Mooree Historic Reserve. The Visitor Centre is situated beneath the windmill and is a good starting point for exploring the area with an extensive range of information and maps available.
As weather conditions and seasons can affect the tracks and trails, please contact Park Victoria on 13 91 63 or visit their website for up to date information on track conditions, closures and fire danger.
Kaniva is the home of Sheep Art and its main attractions include Serviceton Historic Railway Station, Rotary and Lions Fauna and Wetlands Park, Kaniva Car Museum and the Big Windmill. The Visitor Information Centre houses local artworks as well as the Kaniva Footwear Collection which highlights many shoes worn by famous Australians including Slim Dusty, Ex Prime Minister Malcolm Frazer and local talent including footballers Glen Hawker and Roger Merrett, and artists Bob Marchant and Marcus Wills. For more information visit www.kaniva.info or www.facebook.com/Kaniva.Victoria
Built on the banks of Lake Wallace, Edenhope is a thriving district with a population of around 1000. You will be fascinated with Edenhope and the surrounding areas which are dotted with chains of wetlands, lakes and majestic Red Gums.
Lake Wallace has been known for great fishing from bank or boat and is stocked with Redfin and Trout. (*Seasonal water permitting.)
Be sure to visit the Back Swamp, diagonally opposite the Old Court House, habitat of abundant bird life which can be viewed from the bird hide and bird walk 5km relaxing walk. Many varieties of birds and parrots including the extremely rare Red-tailed Black Cockatoo can be seen around Edenhope and the district. Why not take a walk around Lake Wallace and view the wetlands and water sports (water permitting) or wander through the Flora Reserve. Edenhope also has antiques for all tastes.
The giant green boulders that are The Bailey’s Rocks are another great place to explore.
Did you know that it was on the banks of Lake Wallace in the 1860’s that local Aboriginal station workers were trained in the art of batting, bowling and the fundamentals of cricket? A Cairn, along with an information bay, honouring this elite team who became the first Australian International Touring Cricket Team in 1868, is erected on the Edenhope College oval where you can read their fascinating story.
At the former Court House (circa 1878) you will see the manner in which prisoners were brought before the Judge in the last one hundred years. The Magistrate’s Bench, Prisoners Dock, the Pews and the Public Gallery have been preserved in immaculate condition. With a pretty cottage garden surrounding the building it is now home for the Visitor Information Centre. Old lock-up c1860 now houses historical information and memorabilia.
Edenhope has so much to see and do so come and enjoy the ‘Henley on Lake Wallace’ Festival or experienced a country race meeting on your next holiday.