The world-famous indigenous sites at Lake Mungo and Mutawinji are at the core of this itinerary, which takes you from Mildura through the remote south west of New South Wales to Broken Hill. Travelling through the iconic landscape of the ‘outback’ we explore not just indigenous history and its deep connection to Country, but also the remarkable and varied character of more recent settlement, from sprawling stations to the artistic life of Broken Hill. Please note: Small group tour with limited numbers.
Journey along the Murray-Darling river system, vital to both indigenous and non-indigenous inhabitants of the region
Gain an in-depth understanding of the 50,000 year-old occupation of Lake Mungo, one of the oldest in human history, through both indigenous and scientific perspectives.
Special access to Indigenous cultural and historic sites with a traditional owner at Mutawintji National Park
Stay at historic Bindara Station, one of Australia’s largest properties, and eat under the stars
Take a fresh look at culture in Broken Hill, where art galleries outnumber pubs
Days 1–2: Dine at Stefano’s Restaurant and visit Rio Vista in Mildura.
Days 3–4: See the confluence of the Murray and Darling Rivers at Wentworth, cruise the mighty Murray. 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 and the strikingly modern Miners Memorial.
Day 8: Explore Mutawintji National Park and admire the ancient rock art.
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.
Tuesday 21 September: Arrive
The tour commences at our Mildura accommodation at 6pm. After meeting Chris Carter for introductions, we enjoy a welcome dinner in the multi award winning Italian restaurant, Stefano’s. Overnight Mildura (D)
Wednesday 22 September: 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)
Thursday 23 September: 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)
Friday 24 September: 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)
Saturday 25 September: 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 and paddle steamers loaded with bales of wool anchored at the once busy river port. We stop for a cold beer and lunch at the Telegraph Hotel before continuing to historic Bindara Station. In the evening we enjoy a campfire dinner in the company of station owner Barb. Overnight Bindara Station. (B, L, D)
Sunday 26 September: 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 tree scarred by the removal of bark to build canoes We will have lunch at the Station before driving on to Broken Hill, arriving in the late afternoon. Overnight Broken Hill. (B, L, D)
Monday 27 September: 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 1930’s 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 Australian artists such 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)
Tuesday 28 September : Mutawinji National Park
This morning we make a 300-kilometre round trip north east 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 Mutawinji 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.
Wednesday 29 September: Daydream Mine
We travel 20 kilometres outside of Broken Hill for a guided tour of the Daydream Mine site, founded in 1881. Starting on the surface we see the old township where the miners lived in extremely harsh conditions in the 1880’s and see the historic smelter used by BHP. Donning a hat and light as the Cornish miners, some boys as young as eight years old, would have done we descend underground to see how the mine once operated. We continue to Silverton and wander through the historic buildings many of which have appeared onscreen in films and television series. We may even stop in at the iconic Silverton Hotel where you can have lunch washed down with a cold beer before returning to Broken Hill in the afternoon. Overnight Broken Hill. (B, D)
Thursday 30 September: 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:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate, taxis or public transport are also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
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 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.
What is not included in the tour price?
Our tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity