Wyperfeld National Park
Located in the flat, semi-arid north-western corner of Victoria, Wyperfeld is one of Australia's most fascinating national parks. The central feature of this huge, 356,800 ha park, is a chain of lake beds connected by Outlet Creek, the northern extension of the Wimmera River. The lakes only fill when the Wimmera River over-supplies Lake Hindmarsh to the south of Lake Albacutya. When it rains the semi-arid landscape is transformed by tiny desert plants that sprout from long-dormant seeds, carpeting the ground with clusters of flowers.
Things to Do
The Eastern Lookout Nature Drive is highly recommended as a good introduction to the park.
Two self-guided nature walks, one at Lake Brambruk and the other at Black Flat Lake, enable a close look at the plant and animal life of Wyperfeld. Leaflets are available at the start of the tracks.
The Eastern Lookout and entrance roads, and the Outlet Creek track are good for cycling. Other tracks are too sandy.
The Information Centre near the main camping ground has displays and information about the park.
The large wooded picnic and camping area in the south of the park caters for most park visitors. Facilities include a picnic shelter, tables, fireplaces, toilets, and water for drinking and handwashing.
General supplies and accommodation are available in Yaapeet, Hopetoun and Rainbow.
Some 25 million years ago the whole of north-west Victoria was submerged beneath a shallow sea. As the seas slowly retreated westerly winds blew sand over the exposed inland areas, building a complex of rolling dunes. The dunes we see today were formed between 40,000 and 15,000 years ago.
Before the arrival of the Europeans, Aboriginal people regularly moved north along Outlet Creek in search of food. Evidence shows that they occupied the area for at least 6000 years, but because of the low and unreliable water supply, they rarely stayed in one place for long.
James Clow was the first European to venture along Outlet Creek north of Lake Hindmarsh in 1847. He followed the creek to Wirrengren Plain where he established the first pastoral run. Other settlers followed and set about clearing the mallee for grazing and wheat growing. In 1909 a number of naturalists persuaded the government to temporarily reserve 3900 ha of this fast-disappearing habitat. Wyperfeld National Park was declared in 1921, and has been considerably enlarged in recent years.
Animals living in the mallee are adapted to an arid, sandy habitat with a pattern of irregular rainfall. Mitchell's hopping mouse and the desert silky mouse live here, together with a large variety of reptiles such as the sand goanna, dragons, skinks and geckos.
Snakes, however, are rarely seen at Wyperfeld. Emus and western grey kangaroos are plentiful and can usually be seen grazing on the dry lake beds and surrounding woodlands at dawn and dusk.
More than 200 bird species have been recorded, including Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Mallee Ringneck Parrots, Red-rumped parrots, galahs, eagles and smaller birds such as variegated Fairy-wrens and Red-capped robins. Of particular interest is the Mallee Fowl. This rare bird incubates its eggs in a large mound of earth and leaf litter.
There are about 450 species of plants native to the park. They occur in distinct communities which can all be seen close to the campgrounds.
River Red Gum and Black Box woodlands cover the floodplains of Outlet Creek and the lakes. Cypress-pine woodlands grow on dunes near the lakes, but the large areas once covered by the pines have been decimated by bushfires, and rabbits which eat the pine seedlings.
Mallee covers most of the eastern section of the park. The mallees are shrubby eucalypts with numerous stems arising from an underground rootstock. This stores food and sends up new stems if those above ground die. The rolling sand plains of the western section are covered with heathland. Spring is the best time to see wildflowers, although in dry years the displays are not as spectacular.
Looking After the Park
>> All native plants and animals are protected.
>> Firearms, generators, chainsaws are not permitted in the park.
>> No dogs and other pets.
>> Light fires only in fireplaces provided. Gas or fuel stoves are preferred.
>> Keep to designated tracks.
>> Please take your rubbish with you.
As summer temperatures are very high, suitable clothing and headgear should be worn and adequate water taken when exploring the park.
Winter days are pleasant but at night the temperature can drop to below freezing point.
How to Get There
Wyperfeld National Park is 450 km north-west of Melbourne. A sealed road gives access to the main camping/picnic ground from Hopetoun or Rainbow. Casuarina campground is reached from Patchewollock. Four wheel drive access to the western park areas is via Murrayville Track, but check with the rangers during wet weather.
Information Centre and Wonga Campground
Wyperfeld's main day visitor area and Visitor Centre building offer a relatively high level of access. The Centre has an accessible alternative entry, and a designated accessible toilet nearby. Designated accessible toilets have also been installed in the camp area. The sandy soils characteristic of this area limit the park's overall accessibility.
>> Big Desert Wilderness Park
>> Hattah Kulkyne National Park
>> Lake Albacutya Regional Park
>> Murray Sunset National Park
Four Wheel Driving, Horse Riding, Walking
3. Coach/Bus Tours
4. Four Wheel Drive Tours
5. Mountain Bike Riding
6. Trail Bike Tours