Murray-Sunset National Park


Murray-Sunset National Park
Murray-Sunset National Park

Pink Lakes (salt lakes) in national park

IUCN Category II (National Park)
Nearest town/city Mildura
Coordinates 34°46′06″S 141°51′15″E / 34.76833°S 141.85417°E / -34.76833; 141.85417
Area 6330 km²
Established 1991
Managing authorities Parks Victoria
Official site Murray-Sunset National Park

Murray-Sunset is the second largest national park in Victoria, Australia, 438 km northwest of Melbourne. It is in the northwestern corner of the state, bordering South Australia to the west and the Murray River to the north. The Sturt Highway passes through the northern part of the park, but most of the park is in the remote area between the Sturt Highway and the Mallee Highway, west of the Calder Highway.

Contents

History

The park was created in 1991, and expanded to encompass Pink Lakes State Park in 1999. The lakes are dubbed "pink" after the beta-carotene pigment that colours it in late summer, caused by the algae Dunaliella salina. This area was the site of a major salt industry from 1916 to 1975. At its peak, ten thousand tons of salt was harvested and railed from Lake Crosbie, Lake Becking and Lake Kenyon to the nearby town of Linga.

Another defunct railway, the Nowingi line, terminates at the remains of a gypsum mine hopper on the Raak Plain. Other historical relics include Shears Quarters and Mopoke Hut, built as grazier accommodation in the 1960s.

Flora and fauna

Emu tracks on salt lake in Murray Sunset NP

Over 600 species of plants have been recorded, and 300 species of birds. Notable plants include Murray Lily, Silvery Emu-bush, saltbush, Buloke, porcupine grass, Blue-leaved Mallee and other mallee eucalypts. In spring, wildflowers include spider orchids, Azure Sun Orchids, Desert Heath-myrtles and Poached-egg Daisies.

Emus, Wedge-tailed Eagles, and both Western Grey and Red Kangaroos are present.

Important Bird Area

Most of the park lies within the Murray-Sunset, Hattah and Annuello Important Bird Area (IBA), so identified by BirdLife International because it contains mallee habitat supporting a suite of threatened mallee bird species, including the Malleefowl, Black-eared Miner and Mallee Emu-wren.[1]

Attractions

The park is attractive to bushwalkers as the nearest semi-arid region to Melbourne. Walks include circuits of Lake Crosbie and Lake Kenyon, and the three day Sunset walking track. Groundwater is scarce, and hikers generally rely on water tanks maintained by rangers.

The Pink Lakes are medium sized salt lakes. In late summer a red pigment, carotene, is secreted from the alga Dunaliella salina and gives a distinct pink colour to the lakes.

See also

  • Protected areas of Victoria (Australia)

References

  1. ^ "IBA: Murray-Sunset, Hattah and Annuello". Birdata. Birds Australia. http://www.birdata.com.au/iba.vm. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  • Take a walk in Victoria's national parks, John and Lyn Daly, 2005.
  • Victoria's Deserts 4WD Map, Meridian Publications, 2003.

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