Murray Sunset National Park: Pink Lakes

Easter weekend earlier this year, I went on an trip to the North-West part of Victoria, you have seen my previous posts on Wyperfeld NP and its Campgrounds. I also stayed at the Pink Lakes at Murray Sunset national Park.

First and foremost, getting there is a tedious long 6 hour drive along freeways, nearly the whole way. Be ready to change drivers as there is not so much as a turn or a lane change for more than an hour some times. This is a guideline of the location versus melbourne; as usual all you need to do is Change the address from Melbourne to yours and you have a pretty good guide on how to get there. Click here for a google map. Once you make it to the marker just past Unberbool, you will need to turn right into the park. This is well marked with huge Tourist Signs (the brown ones) so you should have no trouble whatsoever finding it.

Murray Sunset National Park is one of the most photogenic places I have ever been. I actually filled my camera while I was there. I always try and avoid uploading too many photos of a place, after all part of exploring it for the first time is the wonder and the beauty of the nature in the area; I would hate to steal that experience from anybody. That being said I saw what is one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever experienced on the Pink lakes in Murray Sunset.

Sunset across Lake Crosbie

The place is pretty amazing, and really something else considering that we’re still talking about inside (barely) Victoria. Park access is via a well sealed dirt road, and I was able to drive down it without considerable worry in a 2wd though it will shake you up a bit. The pink lakes main campsite is located not far from the entrance of the park; (relatively speaking) They are named as such as the salt lakes that form around the area are turned a vibrant pink colour at the end of summer, this is from the Algae that grows in the water secretes a pink-red dye called Carotene. Interestingly this is the same dye that gives Flamingos their pink colour, though they absorb it through blue-green algea consumption in their diet. There are no flamingos there though so don’t get to excited!

The main campsite is on what is basically the shore of Lake Crosbie. The lake itself is incredible to see, the water was very shallow during april, you should be able to get a pretty good idea of just how shallow from the photo below taken at sunrise:

Lake Crosbie

 The campsites are well spread, though it was awfully busy there over Easter, I envision this location being an incredible place to stay for a few days, with the added bonus of some beautiful day walks around the lakes; including a great walk that shows you some of the old equipment used by the Salt Miners who used to mine the Salt lakes around the area, including Lake Crosbie itself. There are even a few multi-day walks within a short driving distance. The secondary site for Lake Crosbie is also the starting point for a 3 day 66KM hiking extravaganza; I have the walk in my sights, and hope to do this within the next 12 months. The Semi-arid nature of the area means that if you’re a Victorian like me it will be a very different camping experience to what you are used to.

Abandoned Car near Lake Crosbie

The area is full of wild-life that has adapted to the environment, with Bright pink Major Mitchell Cockatoos, Hopping Mice and more lizards than you can shake a stick at. If you’re lucky you might even spot a Bearded dragon, Unfortunately I wasn’t lucky enough to see one. Lake Crosbie isn’t the only pink lake in the area, there are two others in close proximity known as Becking and Kenyon, the latter of which is depicted below:

Lake Kenyon in Murray Sunset National Park

During my Overnight stay, I managed to see quite a lot of the surrounds, and went for two walks, one the aforementioned Salt Mines walk and the second was a wildlife stroll that took us down by Lake Kenyon and let us see some great views of the landscape and the wildlife living on it.

Murray Sunset National Park is an incredible place and definitely worth the drive, I look forward to heading there again soon, and will be walking out in to the wilderness zone to truly get amongst the incredible un-touched beauty and wild nature of the park. I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay there and would recommend anybody to head there for a couple of days without hesitation.

13 Responses to Murray Sunset National Park: Pink Lakes

  1. Thanks for this, I have a trip planned for early march there with 3 friends, we’re gonna do a Melbourne-Adelaïde road trip, but instead of staying on the coast all the time, we decided to head north once the Great Ocean Road is over and try 1 day here at Murray-Sunset and a night under the desert star-filled sky. Is it possible to rent some tents on the camping grounds ? We were also thinking about Little Desert NP since it’s on our way, have you done it or heard some good things about it ? Thanks.

    • Hi Hallu,

      Few points here. First, sounds like a decent trip! Secondly, i don’t know about Hiring tents on the Great ocean road, (nowhere in the national parks does) but certainly at Little desert and Murray Sunset, there are no facilities to hire tents on site. A little investigation might lead to you to find that some of the local hiking stores might have something for hire, but I wouldn’t bank on it. The Murray sunset park is about 2 hours out of Mildura, but if anywhere has tent hiring facilities it would be there.

      With regards to Little desert, I have heard good things about the place, though I have never been there. I believe it is very similar to Wyperfeld, quite large open plains and hot semi-arid grasslands. However, I have heard good things about sightings of Mallefowl and similar life out there. If you do head out that way; you will need to take _All_ your own water, or a way to treat it, as the only available water, if there is any at all will be in tanks.

      • Thanks for your prompt answer. I think we might actually do a morning hike in Hattah-Kulkyne NP, there’s a great walk by the Murray River according to this expensive but useful book : http://www.exploreaustralia.net.au/Bookshop/Guides/Walking/150-Walks-in-Victoria (if you’re interested, the one on Tasmania http://www.exploreaustralia.net.au/Bookshop/Guides/Walking/100-Walks-in-Tasmania is great, with lots of photos, but the Victoria one doesn’t have any, shame).

        We’ll try to find online a store where we’ll be sure to be able to hire tents, I think a night in the desert will be definitely worth it. My only concern is that the pink lakes are evaporating in the summer, and I hope there’ll be some water left there in early march, what do you think ?

        • Hi Hallu,

          I have read those books. They are quite good and can definitely be a valuable resource. If you’re looking for a book for victoria, have a look here: http://www.osp.com.au/shop/walking-books-c-47.html?zenid=fa86e6715793a4f2464890115f69e228
          Open Spaces books are great, they are definitely a good stop to check out for Victorian hiking.

          There will be next-to-nothing in terms of water at the pink lakes, it is a desert after all just after summer. When I was there in April this year, there was very little water, but thats actually a good thing. I don’t know how much you understand about the pink lakes and how it works, but its the Salt under the lakes that is dyed by the algae not the water itself, so the less water, the more spectacular the view.

  2. just happened upon your blog today. reading your post makes me want to plan a trip to Australia… wow! murray sunset looks phenomenal. thanks for sharing!

  3. Hey Ben, we’ve camped at Lake Crosbie like 10 days ago, and it was amazing. Since it rained a lot the week before, the lakes had about as much water as on your photos, it was really beautiful. We did a 18 days trip, including Tasmania, and the Pink Lakes were the best thing with Mungo and the beaches of Tasmania. It wasn’t crowded at all, only 2 cars beside ours. No luck on the lizard department though, it must have been too cold for them (about 25° in the afternoon). Great ballet given by the birds in the morning though, and great camping site. Too bad the sign at the entrance of the park said there would be drinking water and there wasn’t.

    • Hi Hallu,

      Glad to hear that you ended up going! Like i said back in November, its quite common not to have water at those kind of locations, especially at this time of year (end of summer) as it needs to rain to have water in the tank! Definitely recommend you take water whenever you go anywhere camping in Australia, unless you are familiar with the area and know water sources well. I would recommend calling the ranger station in advance if you’re going to try relying on the water as they should have relatively up to date info on the water levels.

  4. Hi Ben,

    Please pardon my lack of knowledge but hey I’m a recent immigrant and i would bank on that excuse :) .

    We (myself, wife and our 4 year old boy) are planning for couple of nights stay at Murray Sunset National Park probably mid june. I am hiring a self equipped caravan. My question is, do I still have to hire camping spot? Does it get very cold there during that time?

    Cheers
    Rashed

    • Hi Rashed,

      You’ll be hard-pressed to get a caravan too deep into Murray Sunset, though the main site at the lakes should be fine. You’ll still need to book a site as you’ve got to park the caravan somewhere and you’re only allowed to do that on a site.

      It will still be relatively warm during the day, but at night it will get very cold. Here are some averages from the nearby weather station in Mildura, the lows for June are around Negative 4 degrees. http://www.weatherzone.com.au/climate/station.jsp?lt=site&lc=76077

      Make sure you’re prepared for extremely cold weather at night and you’ll be fine.

    • Thanks for your response :) . We will be prepared

  5. Hey there, this looks like a magnificent national park but I’m having trouble finding information about hiking there. You mentioned a three day 66km hike? Any more info you could share on that would be much appreciated! Plus any hints on where to find a topographic map of the area in Melbourne?
    Cheers

    • Sorry Nicole,

      I cant remember the name of the track, its been a bit over two years since I was there. Finding a Topo map for Murray sunset national park will be challenging, there are no “packaged” maps like you can get for most parks, you’ll have to get a true Topo map with just Landata details. Paddy Pallin and a few of the other stores here in the CBD stock the type of maps I’m referring to but they might only have 1 copy or even may need to order it in, so I’d suggest getting in and checking it out.

      Check out this: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/315684/Park-note-Murray-Sunset-National-Park.pdf and maybe also give the local rangers a call, you’ll need to book it in with them and find out how the water reserves are anyway.

      Please do come back and let us know what you find out.

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