Occupying the relatively vast northwestern corner of Victoria, the Mallee appears as a flat horizon and endless, undulating, twisted mallee scrub and desert. The attractions – other than the sheer solitude – are the semi-arid wilderness areas, which are particularly notable for their abundance of native plants, spring wildflowers and birds. This is ‘Sunset Country’, the one genuinely empty part of the state. Nature lovers might delight in it, but much of it is inaccessible to all but experienced 4WD enthusiasts. As with most outback areas, visiting here is best avoided in the hot summer months.
The following are the main national parks in the area. For more information, contact Parks Victoria.
Hattah-Kulkyne National Park The most accessible of the Mallee parks has more than 20 lakes, Murray River frontage lined with red gum, black box, wattle and bottlebrush, and dry, sandy mallee-scrub country. There are nature drives, cycling tracks and campsites. The main access road is from Hattah, 70km south of Mildura on the Calder Hwy. The Hattah-Kulkyne National Park visitor cente is at the park entrance.
Wyperfeld National Park Vast but accessible park of river red gum, mallee scrub, dry lake beds, sand plains, a carpet of native wildflowers in spring, more than 200 bird species, two camping grounds and a network of walking and cycling tracks. Access is from Patchewollock, Hopetoun, Underbool or Rainbow.
Murray Sunset National Park Stunning 6330 sq km of mallee woodland and pink lakes, reaching from the river red gums of Lindsay Island down to Underbool. Most of the park is remote 4WD-only territory. The easiest access is from Underbool. For more information, and to let someone know your whereabouts, contact the rangers of Parks Victoria in Underbool on the Mallee Hwy (B12), or north at Werrimull.
Barmah National Park Barmah is a lovely wetlands area of the Murray River floodplain. It’s the largest remaining red-gum forest in Australia. The swampy understorey usually floods, creating a wonderful breeding area for many species of fish and bird – it's one of few places in Victoria to see the Superb Parrot. Several walks, covering 1.5km to 5km, loop through the park.
Gunbower National Park Previously a state forest, the 88-sq-km Gunbower was created in 2010 to protect its beautiful river red gum forests. As well as majestic red gums, which have been extensively logged for timber since the 1870s, the park is home to abundant animals and birdlife. You might see kangaroos, possums, goannas, turtles and snakes, and more than 200 species of bird have been recorded here. Gunbower Island is formed between the Murray River and Gunbower Creek and is said to be the largest inland island in the world.