To the north of Murrayville is the Murray-Sunset National Park which covers approximately 633,000 hectares. The state’s second-largest, it was proclaimed in 1991 to protect local fauna and flora which had been severely affected by the clearing of nearly 65% of the mallee scrub. A few million years ago the area was a sea inlet and when this retreated, the large sand ridges and dunes were left. It is one of the few remaining semi-arid regions in the world where the environment is relatively untouched. With its wide open landscapes, plenitude of wildlife, array of colourful wildflowers in spring, breathtaking sunsets and starry nights, its vastness and isolation, the park is not the place for a day trip – longer stays are recommended. The Park has a variety of camping facilities; the main being on the southern shore of Lake Crosbie at Pink Lakes. Remote campgrounds with basic facilities can be found at Mopoke Hut, Underbool Tank and Mt Crozier.
The park is home to more than seventy significant plant species including Victoria’s largest flower, the Murray Lily, the restricted Silvery Emu-bush and the Blue-leafed Mallee. Grasslands, saltbush, buloke, porcupine grass and mallee eucalypts dominate the flat, expansive landscape with pockets of native cypress-pine and Belah woodlands scattered throughout. Murray-Sunset National Park is one of the few regions in Victoria where the red kangaroos can be seen in their numbers. The park is home to a number of threatened species – they include the Paucident Planigale, a small carnivorous marsupial, the slender yellow and green Regent Parrot, and the Millewa Skink. Other notable birdlife include Mallee Fowl, Pink Cockatoos and White-browed Tree creepers. On a warm afternoon Bearded and Mallee Dragons may also be seen. All plants, animals, archaeological and historic sites are protected. The park is arid and fairly inaccessible. However, some 4WD tracks enter the park from the Murrayville area. The Panitya North Rd takes you to the Bellbird and Boltons Bore area where you will find ‘the Rockholes’, dug out of solid rock by the Aboriginal people, in order to collect water. Another departure point from the Mallee Highway is the Sunset Track which commences just east of Cowangie. These entry points intersect with other 4WD tracks which enable a thorough exploration of the park, including the Pink Lakes. The park’s pastoral past is evident in the fences and stockyards of Birthday and Sunset Plains where emus and kangaroos graze.
Take care as, if you get lost or your vehicle breaks down, there is no water, no passing traffic and few distinguishing features in the landscape. Temperatures can be extreme in summer and there is the risk of wildfires. Take a map, compass and water, tell someone you are going and check on road conditions before you set off. Please note that Vehicles are prohibited in ‘wilderness’ zones and ‘remote’ and ‘natural’ areas.