The Walls of China is an incredible natural, cultural and historical site in Mungo National Park in NSW. Certainly, it’s one of the most famous attractions in Outback NSW. Exploring the Walls of China is often the main reason people venture all the way out to the remote Mungo National Park.
To visit the astonishing site, you essentially have two options. You can do a guided tour or visit independently. In this guide, we’ll talk about these two options in great detail. With this in mind, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting Mungo National Park’s Walls of China.
But first, what exactly is the Walls of China?
Read our detailed Mungo National Park Accommodation Guide.
Table of Contents
Overview: What Is the Walls of China?
No, we’re not talking about the Wall of China in China. We’re talking about the Walls of China in the Mungo National Park, which is a well-known 30 km-long crescent-shaped lunette that’s located on the southeastern edge of the now-dried Lake Mungo.
Mungo National Park is characterised by badlands, which geologically speaking, are a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been considerably eroded. This natural erosion often gives way to lunettes, which are dunes with a high clay content that tend to form adjacent to dry lakes.
Lake Mungo and the surrounding Willandra Lakes region last held water around 15,000 years ago. Given this extensive amount of time, natural erosion has carved some truly fascinating shapes into the Lake Mungo landscape, giving rise to the natural wonders of the Walls of China.
By visiting Mungo National Park, you can explore the uniquely shaped landforms synonymous with the Walls of China.
Amazingly, there is evidence that Mungo National Park, featuring the Walls of China, is one of the oldest inhabited places in the world dating back over 40,000 years. Other than Aboriginal artifacts, there are also archaeological findings of bones belonging to the now-extinct megafauna. A long time ago, these gigantic animals once co-existed alongside the Aboriginal people.
So, what does this landmark have to do with China? As a result of the gold rush in the mid-1850s, Chinese workers came to Australia and eventually settled in the area in the 1870s. It was likely the Chinese workers who named the Lake Mungo lunette – the ‘Walls of China’.
Now, we’ll look at exactly where the Walls of China is located.
Location: Where Is the Walls of China?
The Walls of China is located in the Mungo National Park, which falls in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage site in Outback (Central) NSW. Despite being located in NSW, Mungo National Park is actually much closer to Adelaide (6 hours drive away) and Melbourne (7 hours drive away), compared with Sydney (11 hours drive away). To help you get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area.
Now you know a little more about the Walls of China and where it’s located, we’ll now delve into how to visit the amazing site!
How to Visit the Walls of China
Essentially, you can visit the Walls of China by doing a guided tour or you can simply visit independently. Personally, Beck and I visited independently. But, in hindsight, we really should have done a tour! We’ll explain why below!
Walls of China Guided Tour
In reality, the only way to explore the Walls of China, up close and personal, is by doing a guided tour. You’re not allowed to independently explore the lunette without a guide. By visiting independently, you’ll merely see the lunette from a viewing platform.
Indeed, if you’ve made all the effort to get to Mungo National Park, you should certainly do a guided Walls of China tour. That way, you can explore and wander the impressive landforms, rather than gawking at them from a far distance away!
Also, by doing a guided tour, you’ll learn a great deal about Aboriginal culture. The guides will tell you all about the history of the area, including information about the cultural heritage of the Indigenous people of the land as well as chatting through interesting Walls of China facts. Certainly, you’ll hear about the ancient Mungo Man and Mungo Lady.
There are two tour operators offering Walls of China tours. Please head to the respective official websites for the latest details on itineraries, pricing, availability and booking.
- NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS): the Mungo Walk The Walls of China Tour is run by an NPWS Aboriginal ranger and starts from the Mungo Visitor Centre.
- Mungo Guided Tours: these tours are offered at Mungo Lodge – the well-known four-stay hotel in Mungo National Park.
Generally speaking, you’ll find the tours run by NSW National Parks are cheaper.
Visiting the Walls of China Independently
It’s also possible to visit the Walls of China independently without a tour. But, as mentioned, you won’t be able to explore the landforms. You’ll only get to see the site from the Walls of China Viewing Platform after following the Walls of China Boardwalk. The views from the lookout are awesome. But, you’ll be quite far away to truly observe the interesting shapes and structures.
By doing the 70km Mungo self-guided drive tour, you can reach a large car park near the viewing platform. From the car park, you’ll simply walk around 300 metres along the boardwalk to reach the lookout.
Beck and I really enjoyed seeing the Walls of China during the self-guided drive tour. But, as mentioned, in hindsight, we wish we did a tour so we could have seen the lunette up close and personal in all its glory. Certainly, for the best experience and photography, we highly recommend doing a guided tour.
FYI – wandering the Walls of China without a tour guide is trespassing. In the past, and still to this day, idiots roam this fragile area without permission on foot or even on bikes and other vehicles, which damages the landforms. Currently, guided tours of the Walls of China are the only legitimate way to get near them. In turn, this reduces foot traffic and any other damage around the lunette, which helps with conservation efforts.
A Brief Description of The Walls of China
Tour or no tour, you’ll be mesmerised the entire time by the lunar landscape on display at the Walls of China. There are mounds of red clay rock with rippled textures scattered throughout a yellow and brown coloured desert. The lunette sits within a truly Martian landscape. If you haven’t seen much of the Australian outback before, you’ll be blown away by visiting the Walls of China.
Essential Things to Know About Visiting the Walls of China
Now you know your options for visiting, let’s look at all of the other essential things to know about visiting the Walls of China. Let’s start with getting to Mungo National Park in the first place.
How to Get There
The quickest and easiest way to get to Mungo National Park is to drive there yourself. Although it’s possible to drive there in a 2WD (which is what Beck and I did), it’ll be much more comfortable in a 4WD. That’s because all of the sandy roads in the national park are corrugated, which means they’re very bumpy. Also, the roads are prone to flooding (and closing). So, again, a 4WD is by far a better option, as you’re less likely to damage your vehicle, get stuck or need assistance.
If you need a car, we recommend using DiscoverCars.com. It’s a fantastic search engine for finding the cheapest car hire.
Although Mildura (in Victoria) is geographically closer and a shorter drive (118km) to the Mungo National Park, 88km of this route is on unsealed roads. So, even in a 4WD, it’s much slower. In a 2WD, you wouldn’t even consider this option! Far better, is the slightly longer drive (129km) from Wentworth (in NSW), but with only 59km of unsealed roads.
Essentially, from Wentworth, you’ll drive towards Pooncarie. Around 22km south of this town, you’ll find the turnoff to the Mungo National Park to your right. So, if you have a 2WD and are staying in Mildura, it’s still best to drive this route via Wentworth to maximise your time on sealed roads. This will make the overall time shorter even though you end up driving further.
As mentioned, although Mungo National Park is located in NSW, it’s much closer to Adelaide and Melbourne, than Sydney. The drive time from Sydney is around 11 hours, whilst the drive time from Adelaide and Melbourne is 6 and 7 hours, respectively.
Although most people drive to Mungo National Park, it’s still possible to visit the Walls of China without driving yourself. That’s because it’s possible to get public transport to Mildura using V-Line from Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide. Whilst, Mungo Guided Tours include roundtrip transportation from Mildura for their Mungo National Park day tours, which include visiting the Walls of China. So, by combining public transport to Mildura and doing a guided tour from Mildura, you don’t need a car to visit the Walls of China.
Although, using public transport generally takes much longer than driving yourself. And, given it’s already a very long drive for those visiting from major cities, it’s probably best to drive yourself!
Where to Stay Near the Walls of China
When it comes to accommodation near the Walls of China, you basically have three options. You can either stay at Mungo National Park. Otherwise, if you’re visiting the national park on a day trip, you could visit from Mildura or Wentworth. Let’s look at all of the accommodation options below.
Mungo Lodge is a gorgeous four-star lodge located in the heart of the Mungo National Park. Offering cabins for couples, self-contained cabins and bunk houses for families as well as glamping options, Mungo Lodge has a variety of accommodation options. On-site, you’ll find an excellent restaurant called the Mungo Bar and Bistro. Whilst, Mungo Lodge can help to organise your guided tours of the Walls of China.
It’s also possible to stay in the Mungo Shearers’ Quarters. Sure, it hasn’t got all the bells and whistles of Mungo Lodge, but it has all of the necessary amenities similar to that of a hostel. You can book a stay at the Mungo Shearers’ Quarters on the NSW National Parks website.
Mungo National Park Camping
Other than glamping at Mungo Lodge, it’s possible to camp at Mungo National Park. There are two campsites in the national park.
- Main Campground: located 2km from the Mungo Visitor Centre, the Main Campground is the biggest campsite in the national park. The campground has space for caravans, trailers and tent pitches. The Main Campground has picnic tables, BBQs and an amenities block. To have a hot shower, you’ll need to head to the Visitor Centre.
- Belah Campground: this campground is much more remote, located halfway along the Mungo Track self-drive loop tour. This campground only accommodates tents, whilst is very basic with only picnic tables and non-flush toilets. Although, apparently, it’s possible to use the hot showers at the Mungo Visitor Centre.
Mildura is a popular place to stay near Mungo National Park. Certainly, the regional Victorian town is a great base for visiting the Walls of China. You’ll find plenty of accommodation options in Mildura. Below, we’ll look at the best budget option as well as the best motel and hotel in Mildura.
- Budget – Mildura Stopover: this is one of the most budget-friendly options offering private rooms. Guests rave about the price, shared kitchen and nice staff.
- Motel – Mildura Plaza Motor Inn: Mildura has plenty in the way of mid-range motel and motor inn options. Mildura Plaza Motor Inn is one of the most highly-rated motels in Mildura.
- Hotel – Mercure Hotel Mildura: if you’re after a hotel, it’s hard to beat the Mercure Hotel Mildura. Offering hotel rooms as well as apartments, all with access to the outdoor swimming pool, you’ll enjoy an excellent stay at Mercure Hotel Mildura.
Compared with Mildura, Wentworth has far fewer accommodation options to choose from. But, located in NSW, Wentworth is located closer to Mungo National Park. So, that’s one good reason to stay on the NSW side of the border. Below, we’ll look at the best accommodation options in Wentworth. Admittedly, you’ll mostly find motels in Wentworth.
- Wentworth Central Motor Inn: the most highly-rated accommodation option in Wentworth. Guests rate the comfortable, clean and cosy rooms.
- Darling Junction Motor Inn and Two Rivers Motel: two other decent motel options in Wentworth.
Personally, Beck and I stayed in Wentworth due to COVID-19 restrictions when we visited Mungo National Park. If these restrictions weren’t in place, we’d have chosen to stay in Mildura.
What to Wear and Pack
Below, we’ll list some essential things to wear and take on a trip to the Mungo National Park. For a more comprehensive packing list, please check out the Ultimate Packing Checklist. It’s a great general summary of everything you’d need for a trip. For even more information check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With.
- Nikon D3400 Digital SLR Camera – you’ll want a camera to capture the magical lunettes and desert landscape.
- Beam Electronics Car Phone Holder – this will be really handy if you’re following directions on your phone during the self-drive tour.
- Ray-Ban Polarised Clubmaster Square Oversized Sunglasses – during summer, you’ll need a pair of these!
- The North Face Men’s TKA Glacier Snap Fleece jacket – you’ll be surprised how cold it gets during winter at the Mungo National Park.
- Patagonia Men’s Down Sweater Jacket – in winter, you’ll need some layers!
NSW National Parks has rated accessibility at Mungo National Park as medium. Unfortunately, the guided tours of the Walls of China are non-wheelchair accessible. But, thankfully, the Walls of China Boardwalk and Viewing Platform are wheelchair accessible.
Other Things to Do in Mungo National Park
Other than the Walls of China, there are plenty of other fantastic things to do and places to see in Mungo National Park. Let’s take a look below!
- Mungo Lookout: you’ll enjoy far-reaching views of the desert, with the Walls of China just visible.
- Mungo Woolshed: built in 1869, the woolshed hasn’t changed much over the years. So, your visit here will be an authentic one!
- Red Top Lookout: this boardwalk explores equally impressive landforms and lunettes.
- Mallee Stop Walking Track: a short 1km loop along the dusty orange desert.
- Vigar Wells Picnic Area: you can roam some of the large sand dunes and explore clay formations.
- Zanci Homestead: the homestead and woolshed offer insight into the pastoral history of the area.
Read this article: Mungo National Park – Everything You Need to Know About Visiting
Bonus Tips For Visiting the Walls of China
- No pets, drones or smoking at Mungo National Park: thems the rules!
- Weather: keep in mind that during winter, even during the day, it can be really cold in the outback. So you’ll need some warm layers. But during summer, it can get stinking hot! So, you’ll need to see what the weather’s doing and dress accordingly!
- Explore the town of Wentworth: even though Mildura is a bigger town with plenty more accommodation options, Wentworth is certainly still worth visiting. You should definitely visit the epic Perry Sandhills. Read our Wentworth Travel Guide for more information.
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