A magical place of Aboriginal dreaming, Mutawintji is a rare window to the world’s oldest surviving culture.
Of the many joys of outback travel, perhaps the most profound is the sense of history embedded in the red sands and ancient rocks of the vast, rugged landscapes. Outback NSW is home to some of the world’s oldest rock formations, with evidence of the world’s longest surviving culture found throughout. And nowhere is that heritage felt more deeply than at Mutawintji National Park, 130km northeast of Broken Hill.
Explore the park on foot along the walking tracks, by 4WD or on a guided tour and enjoy an overnight camping experience under the desert night sky. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the wonderland of wildlife that makes its home amid the spectacular scenery.
A place of great significance for Aboriginal people past and present, Mutawintji is the sacred heart of the ancient Byngnano Range. It is comprised of vibrantly coloured gorges dotted with rock pools and creek beds lined with river red gums, a verdant landscape despite its semi-arid location.
For thousands of years Mutawintji has served as an important meeting place for Aboriginal groups from throughout western NSW and from as far away as the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. Indeed, ‘Mutawintji’ means ‘place of green grass and waterholes’ and as such it was an important source of food and water for Aboriginal people, for whom Mutawintji’s creation stems from the Dreamtime.
Mutawintji Historic Site contains significant and remarkably beautiful Aboriginal rock paintings, stencils and carvings evidencing more than 8000 years of human occupation in the area. These signify a range of different artistic styles and provide valuable insights into the lives of the people throughout the past eight millennia.
The importance of Mutawintji to Australia’s first people was recognised in law in 1998, when management of the park was handed to the Mutawintji Aboriginal Land Council to hold on behalf of the traditional owners. This means all visits to Mutawintji National Park must be conducted through an approved tour operator, whose guides have been accredited by the traditional owners to conduct tours of the historic site. For this reason, the tours are wonderfully informative and authentic, while the site remains well protected.
As you wander around Mutawintji learning about its history as a busy and vibrant meeting place, it’s hard not to be swept up by the lingering magic that seems to hover over every engraved rock face and every cool, deep water hole. Mutawintji is a very special place indeed, charged with life and stories, and should be on the touring itinerary of every visitor to Outback NSW.
Mutawintji National Park is located in the Far West region of NSW, about 124km north east of Broken Hill. Click here for more information.