Introducing Little Desert National Park
Don’t expect rolling sand dunes, but this arid park is rich in flora and fauna that thrive in the dry environment. There are over 670 indigenous plant species here, and in spring and early summer the landscape is transformed into a colourful wonderland of wildflowers. The best-known resident is the mallee fowl, an industrious bird that can be seen in an aviary at the Little Desert Lodge.
The park covers a huge 132,000 hectares, and the vegetation varies substantially due to the different soil types, climate and rainfall in each of its three blocks (central, eastern and western). The rainfall often reaches 600mm per year, but summers are dry and very hot.
In the late 1960s the state government announced a controversial plan to clear the area for agriculture. Conservationists and environmentalists protested, and the Little Desert became a major conservation issue. Finally, it was declared a national park and expanded to its present size in 1986.
The Nhill–Harrow road through the park is sealed and the road from Dimboola is gravel, but in the park the tracks are mostly sand and only suitable for 4WD vehicles or walking. Some are closed to 4WDs in the wet season (July to October).
If you want a brief introduction to the park there are several well-signposted walks: south of Dimboola is the Pomponderoo Hill Nature Walk, south of Nhill is the Stringybark Nature Walk and south of Kiata is the Sanctuary Nature Walk. Other longer walks leave from the camping ground south of Kiata, including a 12km trek south to the Salt Lake.