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 bird watchers 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 pygmy possum, the hopping mouse and other small mammal species. Access is by the Nhill-Murrayville Road 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.
The Big Desert Wilderness Park
The Big Desert Wilderness Park is a stunning and protected region in Victoria, located north of Kaniva, adjacent to South Australia’s border. It is the first certified of Victoria’s three wilderness parks, covering 13,500 hectares and providing a playground for 4WD enthusiasts, hikers, nature lovers, and bird watchers alike.
Mallee Parks has documented over 300 species of birds, so bring your binoculars and see how many you can discover at the Big Desert Wilderness Park.
A great diversity of birds, reptiles, and animals can be found in the Big Desert Wilderness Park. It allows tourists to experience actual wilderness – the area has been unaffected by humans and presents a challenging journey for experienced hikers.
Explore the Big Desert Wilderness Park
The Big Desert Wilderness Park holds a sense of wonder from the early 1900s. The wilderness park has 1,417.49 square kilometres of land. It includes a part of the Big Desert and the Ninety Mile Desert in South Australia. The stunning Wyperfeld, Big Desert, and Ngarkat Important Bird Areas are all located inside the wilderness area and have been designated by BirdLife International for their importance in protecting malleefowl and other mallee birds species.
Driving over the peak of a dune and being blown away by the sheer immensity of the environment surrounding you is unlike anything else. Alternatively, the sense of wonder evoked by a night sky devoid of light pollution. These two experiences do a fantastic job conveying how remote and wild this part of Victoria still is.
The Big Desert Fire
Wilderness regions, National Parks, and State Forests together make up the Big Desert. Many different types of vegetation and fauna can be found in the area.
Importantly, fire is now a common and well-managed phenomenon that significantly impacts the surrounding flora and animals. In addition, the introduction of feral species such as foxes, cats, rabbits, and goats has resulted in the extinction of numerous native species.
In 2002, lightning started a major blaze in the park, spreading quickly due to strong winds and dry fuel. The fire quickly joined another in the neighbouring Wyperfeld National Park, consuming 1,814 square kilometres. The fire lasted for two weeks, destroying an abandoned house and 400 hectares of private land.
However, the region’s enormous parks protect some of Victoria’s most remote, majestic, and completely unspoiled land.
Things to do in Big Desert Wilderness Park
The only way to get there is by Nhill-Murrayville Rd, which runs parallel to 5 km east of the park boundary. Sandstone ridges, dunes, Mallee scrub, and heath highlight this dry landscape. Birds, lizards, snakes, the hopping mouse, and other small animal species can all be found in the park.
In dry weather, it’s only appropriate for two-wheel drives, and there’s no vehicular access within the park. You’ll have to trek from the road into Big Desert through a stretch of public land. Only experienced and completely self-sufficient campers and walkers with a map and compass should attempt it, and even then, there are times when it is just too hot in the summer.
There are many 4WD tracks to discover in the Big Desert Wilderness Park. These tracks vary in length and difficulty. Weather conditions and seasons can affect the condition of tracks. Some of the walking trails include:
- Gosse Hill
- Mount Shaugh
- Mount Rescue
The 120,000-year-old Lake Tyrrell is a huge salt lake located in the Mallee region of Victoria, about 350 kilometres northwest of Melbourne. This lake is recognized as one of Australia’s best destinations for stargazing, with the dark and unending skies offering the ideal setting for viewing the bright constellations of the southern hemisphere.
Tyrrell Creek’s silt deposits have accumulated over many years. This, combined with underground saltwater, has resulted in a massive salt lake basin. The annual salt lake viewing season runs from June to October, and you can come here to see the Milky Way. The starry sky twinkles with a beautiful mystery at your fingertips at night.
The distinctive salty structure on the lake bed has also become a hotspot for international visitors hoping for that once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity over the shallow, reflected surface of the lake.
Kow Plains Homestead
This is a great place to stretch your legs on the Mallee Highway. A short diversion off the main route leads to a bitumen road with ample parking. Signboards and images provide enough information about the site, which is well kept.
Over the years, dedicated volunteers have restored and kept this beautiful and historic homestead running. It’s worth the trip!
With all of the historic storefronts, it’s a great little town to roam around in. Another attraction is observing the fauna and blooms in the other protected wilderness reserves. The museum itself is fascinating, with a fantastic collection.
At the small caravan park, Cabins are a nice little place to take a break and roam around.
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.