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Get set for 3 unreal days of outdoor experiences

Mungo National Park. Image credit: Tyson Mayr

3 Mar 2023 by Elise Hanslip

Get set for 3 unreal days of outdoor experiences

Brimming with adventures, a World Heritage-listed national park, expansive pink salt lakes, desert-like sand dunes and dramatic outback plains, #nofilter is required when experiencing the outdoors in and around Mildura.

Connect with the ancient history of the land dating back 50,000 years and learn about the Aboriginal culture and dreamtime stories through guided tours to secluded sights.

Your days of traversing through the natural landscapes will be rewarded with nourishing, locally-grown feasts and hand-crafted beverages and met with comfortable and varied accommodation options to relax by night.

Make your way to Mildura for your next holiday, kicking the good times off with a killer playlist, snacks and a road trip. Or if you’re short on time fly in from Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Broken Hill or the Sunshine Coast.

Day One | Mildura & Perry Sandhills

Start your Mildura experience swirling and sipping vino on the winding riverbanks of the Murray River at Trentham Estate Winery. Sitting on the Trentham Cliffs and spanning 46 hectares, the terroir of red loam over limestone soils combined with water from the river allows the vines to thrive. Trentham Estate emphasises full fruit flavour and palatability and creates a balance of classic wine styles such as chardonnay and shiraz mixed with a number of alternative varieties like nero d’avola that enjoys the Mediterranean climate Mildura and The Murray wine region is known for.

Next, make your way to Perry Sandhills for some outdoor adrenalin-pumping action. A 40-minute drive from Trentham Estate, Perry Sandhills borders the flood plain that includes Thegoa Lagoon. Visit the local sports store Intersport in Mildura to hire sandboards and cruise down the sand dunes (who needs snow).

Originating after the ice age, thousands of years of wind erosion have created this mammoth land formation now totaling 400 acres of shifting sand dunes. Skeleton remains of megafauna from long ago have been uncovered here and are on display at the Pioneer Museum in Wentworth.

In the evening, cozy up under the milky way in off-grid glamping tents at Outback Almonds. A working almond farm nestled on the banks of the Darling River with three canvas bell tents decorated with modern linen and furnishings. Guests will be treated to a brekky basket and outdoor fire pit for toasting marshmallows and sharing stories. A spectacular time to visit is when the almond trees are erupting with blossoms in August, or during harvest season, January to April, where you can discover how the farm operates.

Day Two | Mungo National Park

Head back east through Mildura (dropping off those sand boards on the way) to World Heritage-listed Mungo National Park. Here you can take a guided tour from the Mungo Visitor Centre escorted by Aboriginal Discovery Rangers. The supervised tour extends beyond the boardwalk to the Walls of China.

Learn about Aboriginal culture and dreaming stories and observe where erosion has sculpted otherworldly formations of sand and clay dotted across the lakebed. Here lay sedimentary remains of Mungo lady and man uncovered in and around Lake Mungo in 1969 and 1974. The remains date back 50,000 years and are some of the oldest remains of modern humans ever discovered.

Alternatively, view Lake Mungo’s pastel-hued dune fields and lunettes from above with Murray Darling Scenic Flights with the option of a half-day or full-day tour (including ground tour and morning tea).

This evening, stay at the refurbished former Mungo Shearers' Quarters, self-contained cabins at Mungo Lodge or pitch a tent at the Main Camp campground.

Day Three | Mildura and Pink Lakes

Enjoy the rugged outback plains as you head back to Mildura. With industrial decor and menu to rival top Melbourne cafés indulge in brunch at Brass Monkey sipping an Aperol or Lychee Spritz with the Brass specialty breakfast of medium fried eggs, bacon, apple cider pork sausage, confit truss tomato, sauteed greens, onion relish and sourdough.

Today your outdoor encounter involves the majestic, glistening pink salt lakes of outback Australia. Murray Sunset National Park is dotted with shallow and expansive natural pink salt lakes best enjoyed on a tour with Murray Offroad Adventures. Drive through open outback plains with kangaroos bounding beside you. Get up close to the sand dunes and see the sparkling salt lakes from a prime vantage point guided by locals that know it best. Keen photographers will want to book a flight with Murray Darling Scenic Flights who also offer tours of Lake Tyrrell from the sky.

How do the salt lakes get their pink hue? The salt makes them the perfect habitat for a single-celled algae which produces pink or red carotenoids to protect their chlorophyll cells and help photosynthesis which gives the lake its pink colour. The depth of colour varies throughout the year, but is most prominent after rain. Even if you're travelling while the pink hues are muted, the reflections are enough to take your breath away.

Don’t want to go home just yet? Why not turn your three day getaway into an extended holiday with two nights on a houseboat cruising along the Murray River. A romantic escape for couples or a fun family adventure, Mildura Houseboats have 14 houseboats on offer to fit from 2-12 people, and a hot tub on the deck for the ultimate way to watch the bubblegum sunsets pop across the horizon. Check out their pet-friendly options so no family member need be left behind.

Mildura’s waterfront provides the opportunity to splash, sink a line, water-ski, canoe or kayak or simply unwind and enjoy from the deck of your houseboat. Muster up some supplies from the local Sunraysia Farmers Market (every first and third Saturday of the month) for a tasty picnic on the banks or to fry up on the BBQ aboard your houseboat.

After an adventurous 72 hours with a full camera roll and a newfound appreciation for Australia’s outback history, depart on your journey home.