DESTINATIONS - TRAVEL DESTINATIONS
This Victorian destination offers easy 4WD touring, bush walking, boating, canoeing, fishing and bird watching.
National Park is very compact, yet encloses some of the most beautiful river frontage scenery anywhere on the great Murray River.
There are two boat launching ramps and several other points where it’s easy to launch canoes.
Murray Cod, Yellowbelly and English Perch provide good sport and good eating for anglers, and yabbies and Murray Crayfish can also be found.
Walks around Lake Hattah and Lake Mournpall are the most popular, and vary in length from 30 minutes to four hours.
The two campgrounds at Lake Mournpall and Lake Hattah have pit toilets, fireplaces and picnic tables, and there are several bush-camping sites along the Murray River. However, when bush camping, it’s important not to set up under a River Red Gum tree that can drop heavy branches without warning.
National Park is the major land area, but there’s a seamless border with the smaller, River-frontage Murray-Kulkyne National Park. The main difference is that dogs and generators are permitted in the Murray-Kulkyne section, but not in Hattah-Kulkyne.
Another peculiarity of Hattah-Kulkyne National Park is a 34km-long kangaroo fence enclosing the ‘Mournpall Block’. This fence restricts an invasion of kangaroos during dry periods and protects many species and the lake environment.
The entry to Hattah-Kulkyne National Park is off the A79 that connects Mildura and Ouyen. The A79 forms the western boundary of the Park and the Murray River forms the eastern boundary.
The Mournpall Track is a well-graded road meandering in a roughly north-south direction through the middle of the Park and several 4WD tracks lead east and west from it.
Our suggested route is a drive north from the Lake Hattah Visitor Centre along the Kulkyne Loop Drive that includes the Mournpall Track, Raak Track and River Track, ending at the bitumen C252 route between Hattah and Wemen.
From the C252 the drive returns directly to the Visitor Centre, or there’s an alternative route via the Stockyard and Boolungal Tracks.
The more adventurous can check out the dead-end tracks that lead to Tarpaulin Island and the sandy Chalka Track that connects the River Track to Lake Hattah. However, a GPS is essential to avoid getting lost on the maze of bush tracks.
River Red Gums
The dominant tree along the River front in Hattah-Kulkyne National Park is the River Red Gum. Other trees proliferate in parts of the Park where regular flooding doesn’t occur, but the giant River Red Gums depend on having their feet wet regularly.
Eucalyptus camaldulensis derives its name, oddly enough, from a garden near Naples, in Italy – L’Hortus Camaldulensis di Napoli – where imported examples of this Australian native tree were growing. The chief horticulturist of the Botanic Gardens in Naples gave them this exotic botanical name in 1832.
In Australia the River Red Gum has earned a much less flattering nickname – Widow Maker – because of the tree’s nasty habit of shedding its branches – often in calm wind conditions.
The wood is a brilliant red colour, but the grain is ‘cranky’, limiting its strength and workability. However, it makes excellent firewood and was the staple energy supply for trading paddle steamers that used to ply the Murray-Darling Basin in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
The best time to visit this area is during the cooler months, from April to October. There are fuel and supplies at Mildura and Ouyen.
National Parks entry and camping fees apply and fishing permits can be purchased at Hattah, Colignan and Wemen Stores.
Parks Victoria Information Centre 13 1963 www.parkweb.vic.gov.au