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Mungo Run – Day 3/4/5 – The Lunette. 

I’ve saved the best of Mungo ’till last.

Mungo Landscape.

The iconic, the famous views that Mungo is known for. The Mungo landscape continues to be moulded by wind and rain. From the ancient dry lake basins of Mungo, Leaghur and Garnpang, lunettes on the eastern shores and dunefields to the west. According to the NP materials, the lake bed soils are a mosaic of grey and red heavy clays.

The Lunette

The Mungo lunette (the Walls of China) is made up mostly of loosely cemented whitish sands and well consolidated clays, with considerable gully erosion. The Leaghur and Garnpang lunettes have only suffered minor erosion and have abundant vegetative cover.

It’s strictly forbidden to climb on the lunette features or disturb artifacts. To access the Lunette you need to go on a guided tour.

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After missing the sunset on our first afternoon, we staked out a what we thought would be a good sunset position when did the “Loop” on our second day – Red Top Tank Lookout. We arrived just as the sun started to hit the peaks of the formations.

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The lunettes are major landforms of great importance to the ancient heritage of the area.
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Didn’t quite hit the sunburst just right, so i ended up with some lens flare.
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As the sun dipped and the light went off the formations, the pastels behind the Lunette began to light up.

Out on the Lunette

The following morning we headed down to the visitor centre ready to join our National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Aboriginal Discovery Tour with one of the park rangers.

Well we scored big time with our guide. Ivan is an amazing guide and fellow. His tribe is the Paakantji tribe, from around Balranald. He is a school teacher by trade if you like, and discovery ranger by choice. He also sits on the World heritage committee that looks after the Willandra Lakes World Heritage area, and was heavily involved in getting “Mungo Man” returned to country, including being part of the party that escorted him back to Mungo.

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Ivan Johnstone a Paakantji MNP Ranger
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Our first step out on the Lunette, well technically our second, as when we were here in 2009 you were still able to freely walk over the Lunette.

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Over thousands of years, wind and water have carved the lunette into spectacular formations comprised of sand and clay. Rain washes away the soft sands and muds, creating the rilled ridges and residuals that characterise the Walls of China. The dislodged sand is then picked up by the wind and heaped into huge mobile dunes along the back of the lunette.

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There are four major layers of sediment form the Mungo lunette, and each represents a different period of time and different environmental condition. The layers have been named after the local pastoral stations Golgol, Mungo, Arumpo and Zanci, and were deposited in that order.

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As you move about on the Lunette the landscape continually changes, from flat down low, to formations in the middle and sweeping sand dunes at the top.
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Depending on the light the colours also change, or become more defined.
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Some of the formations are small, others like this one tower over you.
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The White Walls wrap themselves right around the lake, seen here up on the right hand side.
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The upper three layers contain a vast amount of evidence of human occupation including hearths, middens, stone tools and burials; as well as megafaunal remains. Ivan is showing us some of the bones and tools that have been unearthed on the Lunette.
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Almost at the top.
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An unexpected delight when we reached the top, dunes, dunes and more dunes!
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Looking towards Vigors Well, where we climbed the sand dune the day before.
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One could say it was a little windy when we got to the top!
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Footprints lead down into the gully
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How amazing are these! about 8ft tall as we walked between the, down the gully
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All of this from wind, water, sand and clay. Nature is amazing.
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Looking back to the gully.

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Those colours and patterns.

After the morning walk out on the Lunette with Ivan the temperature continued to rise, searing the air around us, so we opted to kick back and relax at the van in the shade, cause no-one needed to be out in that heat! On the way back to camp we ducked over to Mungo Lodge, a privately run lodge to see if they were running any sunset trips and luckily enough they were. We booked ourselves onto the tour and headed back to camp for the day avoiding the 46 degree heat (urgh).

Sunset on the Lunette

7pm finally ticked around and it was time to head back to the lodge to join the evening sunset walk on the Lunette. The clouds had even hung around and i had everything crossed they continued to hang around.

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The colours as sunset descended on the lunette were just gorgeous and the clouds were playing along perfectly.
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The difference in light from the bright, intense searing morning heat to the slightly chilled, cloudy sunset was immediately obvious. The different layers were clearly able to be seen.
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As the winds blow, and the water washes across the lunette more bones and artifacts are uncovered. Some of the date as old as 22,0000 yrs.
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Calcified trees are found across the lunette, and give some idea of the landscape 10,000s yrs ago, and how the stack formations were formed. The sand and clay would get around the tree and slowly build up, the tree dies and over time calcifies.
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Each stack and formation is different
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oh my sandy waves of sand patterns make me very happy
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Not quite at the top, looking back over Lake Mungo and the sun dips below the horizon.
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As sunset descended the air changed, and the as the cars left the car park and headed back to the visitor centre, the dust floated across the road and then remained, it looked awesome.
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Back at the gully

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Inside the gully.
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Mungo Stacks.
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Some of the vegetation survives.
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