In the 1970s the discovery of ‘Mungo Man’ and ‘Mungo Woman’ in a dry lake in the far south-west of New South Wales drew international attention to the region. Lake Mungo has one of the longest continual records of Aboriginal life in Australia, and the skeletons found in its sands are not only the oldest known fully modern humans outside Africa but show the earliest signs of ritual cremation. With its rich archaeological heritage and stark, eerie desert beauty, this area is like nowhere else in Australia.
A visit to World Heritage-listed Lake Mungo is the core experience of this ten-day itinerary, which takes you from the Victorian border town of Mildura to the storied mining town of Broken Hill in western NSW. As well as ancient indigenous sites, we will explore the notoriously fickle river systems of the Murrumbidgee and Darling, which provided the ecological base for both ancient and colonial settlement and trade, and still support industry worth billions to the Australian economy. We also experience the iconic art and culture of the outback, for decades a core part of Australian myth and identity.
Please note: Small group tour with limited numbers.
Discover the economic and cultural significance of the remarkable inland river systems of southwestern New South Wales. Visit local galleries and historic Yanga Station.
Explore the archaeological heritage of the ancient lakebed of Mungo National Park, recognised for both its important geological past and its 50 000-year record of Aboriginal settlement.
Get to know the history of mining towns like Broken Hill and Silverton, which prospered from rich deposits of lead, zinc and silver. Visit the Line of Lode Miners Memorial and relive the harsh conditions of the mines in Silverton.
Experience indigenous culture dating back over thousands of years in the stunning landscape of Mutawintji National Park: from dreamtime stories to rock art and hand stencils.
Witness Broken Hill’s flourishing arts scene, born of the uncompromising landscapes. The town provided the backdrop for such classic films as Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Mad Max 2 and Pro Hart was born and painted here.
Days 1–2: Dine at Stefano’s Restaurant, visit Rio Vista in Mildura and cruise the mighty Murray.
Days 3–4: See the confluence of the Murray and Darling Rivers at Wentworth. Explore Lake Mungo National Park, and watch the sun setting over the Walls of China.
Day 5: Return to Mungo and explore its archaeology, before driving via Pooncarie to gracious Bindara Station on the Darling.
Days 6–7: In Broken Hill, visit art galleries, the strikingly modern Miners Memorial and the sculptures of the Living Desert State Park at sunset.
Day 8: Explore Mutawintji National Park and admire the ancient rock art with a traditional owner.
Days 9–10: Go underground at Daydream mine. Witness Broken Hill’s famous night sky at the Outback Astronomy Centre.
The tour begins at our hotel in Mildura and ends at the hotel in Broken Hill. Contact us for quotes, bookings and flight/coach schedules into Mildura and out of Broken Hill.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Thursday 26 May – Arrive
The tour commences at our Mildura accommodation at 6pm. After meeting Chris Carter for introductions, we enjoy a welcome dinner in Stefano’s, a multi-award-winning Italian restaurant. Overnight Mildura (D)
Friday 27 May – Murray River
This morning we board the historic paddle steamer PS Melbourne for a leisurely cruise on the Murray River. An informative onboard commentary provides an insight into the Murray Darling River system and its environs as we meander along the river. We learn about the history of the majestic steam driven paddleboats and enjoy a light lunch onboard before disembarking at Mildura Wharf. During the afternoon we will visit Rio Vista, the home built in 1892 by William Chaffey, who, along with his brother George, was responsible for establishing Mildura and the development of the irrigation programs that eventually brought prosperity to the region. The Mildura Art Gallery occupies space adjoining the original house. Overnight Mildura (B, L)
Saturday 28 May – Walls of China
After a leisurely breakfast we take the short drive to Wentworth where we make a brief stop to see the confluence of the Murray and Darling Rivers. On arrival at Lake Mungo, we have a picnic lunch and visit the Information Centre and the shearing shed that once belonged to the original Mungo Station. We check into our accommodation mid-afternoon and have time for a short rest. This evening we head back into the National Park to witness the sun setting over the Walls of China. Overnight Lake Mungo. (B, L, D)
Sunday 29 May – Mungo National Park
We return to the Walls of China this morning and walk across the lunette that formed along the eastern margin of the lake to search for evidence of the earliest human inhabitants and extinct animals dating back 50 000 years. The World Heritage-listed Willandra Lakes system has remained dry for approximately 18000 years, creating a significant archaeological region known for the discovery of Mungo Man, the oldest human remains found in Australia. We drive around the lunette, stopping at Vigars Well to climb the dunes for a spectacular view, and enjoy a picnic lunch. Overnight Lake Mungo. (B, L, D)
Monday 30 May – Bindara Station
After an early morning walk along the dry western shoreline of the lake we depart for Pooncarie on the Darling River. Burke and Wills passed through here on their ill-fated journey to the Gulf of Carpentaria. We stop for a cold beer and barbecue lunch at the Telegraph Hotel before continuing to historic Bindara Station. In the evening we enjoy a campfire dinner with station owner Barb. Overnight Bindara Station. (B, L, D)
Tuesday 31 May – To Broken Hill
The majestic red brick homestead and outbuildings on Bindara were built by Joseph Dunne around 1870 from bricks fired on the property using local clay while other materials used in the construction were transported up the river by paddle steamer. We explore the outbuildings and old cemetery and take a stroll along the banks of the Darling River, where the bushland provides a natural habitat for a wide range of birds including many rare species. This area also contains evidence of Aboriginal occupation including stone tools, fireplaces and trees scarred by the removal of bark to build canoes We have lunch at the Station before driving on to Broken Hill, where we arrive in late afternoon. Overnight Broken Hill. (B, L, D)
Wednesday 1 June – Explore Broken Hill
Today we explore Broken Hill’s wide streets and heritage, discovering the town’s mining past and thriving modern art scene. We take a walking tour with a local guide through the historic town centre past palatial Federation and Victorian buildings funded by mining wealth, tin cottages and 1930s art deco properties. After the tour, we will call in at the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery housed in the refurbished Sully’s Emporium building. The gallery collection comprises colonial, modern and aboriginal works by such Australian artists as Lloyd Rees, Pro Hart and Emily Kame Kngwarreye. This afternoon we visit the Line of Lode Miners Memorial, located atop a mullock heap. The impressive structure pays tribute to the 800 miners who lost their lives working at the mine. Later, we take a short drive out of town to see the sun setting over the Sculpture Park. Overnight Broken Hill. (B)
Thursday 2 June – Mutawintji National Park
This morning we make a 300-kilometre round trip northeast of Broken Hill to Mutawintji National Park, dominated by the Bynguano Ranges whose vibrant colour beautifully captures the changing light and provides a backdrop for the famous hand stencil artworks of the local people. The ruggedly beautiful park shows evidence of continuous use by Aboriginal people for thousands of years. We are guided around Mutawintji by one of the traditional owners and introduced to its history, culture and embark on a walk to view the rock-art. Overnight Broken Hill. (B, L)
Friday 3 June – Daydream Mine
We travel 20 kilometres outside of Broken Hill for a private guided tour of the Daydream Mine site, founded in 1881. Starting on the surface, we visit the old township where the miners lived in extremely harsh conditions in the 1880s and see the historic smelter used by BHP. Then we descend underground to see how the mine once operated, donning a hat and light just as the Cornish miners would have done. We continue to Silverton and wander through the historic buildings, many of which have appeared onscreen in films and television series. At the iconic Silverton Hotel, you can have lunch washed down with a cold beer before we return to Broken Hill in the afternoon. Tonight (weather permitting) we’ll enjoy an evening at the Outback Astronomy centre and dinner under a night sky with no light pollution. Overnight Broken Hill. (B, D)
Saturday 4 June – Depart
The tour concludes after breakfast. (B)
Dr Chris Carter
An indigenous and historical archaeologist, actively involved in research in the Atacama region of Chile.
Christopher Carter is an archaeologist with over 20 years’ experience leading tours to Central and South America, Spain and Ireland as well as within Australia. He is particularly interested in human interaction within landscapes and the formative period of cultural development.
Chris has a BA(Hons), MA and PhD from the Australian National University (ANU). He has worked as a tutor at the ANU and lectured at both the ANU and University of Sydney Centres for Continuing Education. When not leading tours, Chris works as an archaeological consultant and heritage advisor.
Chris’ research interests cover both Indigenous and Australian historical archaeology. He is also actively involved in research in the Atacama region of northern Chile and involved in a number of studies investigating the early settlement of this region. He has had a number of academic papers published in international journals.
As a teacher, Chris has always declared that archaeology cannot be learned in the classroom. Such statements resulted in him taking a group to South America in 1995. He has continued to lead several tours a year ever since. The areas visited have expanded to other regions that reflect the subjects he teaches.
We asked Chris, what part of tour leading does he find most rewarding?
“I love teaching and, as they say, ‘to travel is to learn’ and what better classroom than the wider world. Nothing satisfies me more than to lead people into new areas where they can see how humans have interacted with landscapes over the years – to witness the evolution of both the people and the environments they occupy.
On a recent tour, one member of the group commented that they can now ‘see’ a lot more than they did before. In the past, they had taken so much for granted and never thought about how things changed through time. Their eyes had been opened and they began to think more about what they were looking at. To me, these are the statements that make my job worthwhile.”
Accommodation on this tour is limited by the remote locations and the number of rooms available at certain destinations. Our stays vary from motel style, to cabins and a station homestead with shared facilities. We have secured the best possible accommodation throughout.
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
All accommodation at properties mentioned in the itinerary
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Taxis may also be used for short trips on some tours. Some city stay tours may involve local transport
Lunches and dinners indicated with the letters L and D in the itinerary
Beer, wine and soft drinks at sit-down lunches and dinners. Picnic and light lunches may not include alcoholic drinks
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
All tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
On international tours only
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required, and when stated as included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Some trips may be made by public transport such as high-speed train and subway
What is not included in the tour price?
Our tours do not include the following:
Air or land travel from your home city to the tour start/end points
Local taxes and airport levies that we are not able to prepay on your behalf. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Lunches and dinners not specifically indicated with the letters L or D in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as passports, laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
Airport Transfers on international tours
Tours may begin at either the arrival airport or the first hotel. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel, and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
We require all tour participants to have adequate insurance coverage.
For domestic tours, Medicare and your private medical insurance should be used to cover any medical expenses.
Domestic travel insurance is available and strongly recommended to cover non-medical expenses such as cancellation.
For international tours, we require you to have comprehensive travel insurance. Prices vary according to your age, your pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the length of your journey abroad.