Little Desert NP

DazzaMTD

New Member
Hi there,
Planning a trip to the little desert NP, just wanted info on campsites and track conditions;)
 

millsy

4x4 Earth Contributer
Hi Dazza. I've been through the Little Desert a few times over the last two years. Love it! Especially the Western and Central Blocks. The Eastern Block has nice spots too, but there is a large burned out area near the centre.

Here are a few camp areas that I have seen, and in some cases used.

In the Eastern Block you are only allowed to camp at the prescribed camp grounds. Fees apply - probably about $5 per car. They have toilets, water, cooking/bbq facilities and tables. Might have to check when you are allowed to light the camp fires again. Not sure when the fire ban season ends.

The first one would be Ackle Bend Camp Ground. I have not had a look at this one, but my map puts it on the east side of the Wimmera River, about 7.3km km west of the Wail Nursery turn off from the Western Highway.

Unknown road to Unknown road - Google Maps

Coming from Melbourne, the second one is reached by driving into Dimboola, and then out again on the south west side of town (Through the 'big arch' just near the post office on the main shopping street.)
Google says its about 6.5km from the post office corner in town. Its called Horseshoe Bend Camp Ground - for obvious reasons! Very pretty, right next to the river, and it probably still has plenty of water. The river flowed for the first time in many years after the first lot of big rains last September.

Wimmera St to River Trk - Google Maps

The next one is on the other side of Dimboola. Its called the Kiata Camp Ground. Head west on the Western Highway for another 21.9km from the Rainbow turn off at the Wheat silos, just out of Dimboola. Turn left here onto Kiata South Road. Another 12km from this turn off and you are there. See the map;

Western Hwy to Unknown road - Google Maps

As far as tracks go, I found the Dahlenburgs Mill Track quite nice a couple of years ago. I had just bought my fourby not long before, and this track was quite a challenge for me. Very soft sand since it had been a dry summer, and I was travelling just after Easter. Plus the front drive shaft was playing up and I did a lot of it in 2WD! Its quite vegetated, and sandy, from Dahlenburgs Mill through to the bitumen road running south from Nhill, especially the last 4 or 5km to that road;

Salt Lake Trk to Dahlenburgs Mill Trk - Google Maps

If you prefer bush camping ( no toilets, water, tables, or fire rings ) you could leave the Western Highway at Horsham, drive through the glorius little town of Natimuk, and head into the south side of the Eastern Block. And if you have never driven to the top of Mount Aripiles, that's really worth doing too. A magic view from this northern side of this famous rock climbing venue! People come from all over the world apparently to test themselves on the many climbs up this northern face.

There is a camp ground at the bottom of the mountain, in Centenary Park - toilets, water etc. used by the climbers. Not sure if fees apply, but I guess they do. Maybe payable in Natimuk.

But here is a nice trek through to the Red Gum Swamp camp ground. This is on the eastern side of the Central Block. I stayed there with a mate last year. Very nice! Sandy, lots of vegetation all around, and plenty of firewood to be had ( check the dates as I said ). A friendly little desert mouse was happily running around at our feet as we yarned next to the fire! No fear!

Google says 1hr 28min! But that's flat out driving with no stops! I would say more like 3hrs, maybe more, if you stop and enjoy the views every now and then. Why rush! Plus the fact that you have to air down when you hit the Salt Lake Track. Very soft sand, but I found it heaps of fun. Probably softest sand I have found in all of the three Blocks.

Wimmera Hwy to Red Gum Trk - Google Maps

From Red Gum Camp Ground, its not far across to the McDonald Highway. This is a nice track that leads across to another camp ground ( no fees, no toilets, no water ) next to a farmer's dam. Its called Broughton's Waterhole. If you turn south from there you will find one of the nicest little forests in the Little Desert. We saw a pair of kangaroos in there. Very natural. Lots of big old trees, and new growth as well. This would be at about point D, 3km south of Broughton's Waterhole.

This last suggestion is a good days drive, by the time you stop for a few tea breaks and a lunch break etc. It finishes up at one of my favourite spots, just outside the actual designated Little Desert, but a great bush reserve. It's called the Moree Reserve. lots of bird life. Lots of classic old gum trees. But bring your own wood. There are two big wooden picnic tables, but no toilets or water. A couple of fire rings.

Red Gum Trk to Unknown road - Google Maps

If you do this trek, there is a nice forest for a lunch break at point I ( the East West Dam ). Also, Google says you cannot go direct from J to K. But you can. Its just the East West track. In fact the bottom end of the Mount Moffat track was blocked off lastyear, south of K. And the views from K up the Mount Moffat track are great. We found a few mud hole along here too. Not deep, but fun for a novice. I got stuck a few times and had to reverse out. Very wooded. Very nice.

Hope all this will be of some help. As I said before, its bush camping in the Central Block and the Western Block, so you'll need a shovel and plenty of water. But well worth a look. There is a great black boy forest too, but Ithink that was up on the Elliot's Track, north of the East West Track. We ended up having to detour onto Elliot's Track because some sections of the East West Track were closed, and we had to follow the detour signs. Well that led to the black boys wonderland!

All these tracks and camp grounds I found on the Victoria's Deserts 4WD Map. Published by Meridian maps. Well worth the $13 or so. I have worn two of them out in two years. Can pick one up at your local ARB store.

Have fun which ever way you go. Its a great part of Victoria!
 
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millsy

4x4 Earth Contributer
Forgot to mention the great little caravan park at Lake Charlegrark. Friendly managers who live at the farm house on the east side of the lake. And then drive around the bottom of the lake to the caravan park on the west side.

It's just 5$ per person per night. It has a camp kitchen with a fireplace, and large open windows to let the air through on two sides. Again, you need to bring your own wood. And two very friendly, fully grown pet sheep. But be careful, they like to jump up against your door to say hello when you first arrive. So if you have a nice new car, like my mate last year, get ready to jump out and defend your paintwork!

lake charlegrark - Google Maps
 
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millsy

4x4 Earth Contributer
Let us know how you went. Which tracks you did and what you discovered. Have a great trip.
 

reddahaydn

Member
good write up mate, I'm heading there this weekend for a wedding. Been there before but keen to have another look! Got a wedding at little desert lodge so staying there the night.
got 4 hours between the ceremony and reception so will go for a drive then and sunday as well.
just hoping i don't have to perform a recovery in a suit, however it would make a good photo!!
 

PK Kitchens

Member
We go up there every Easter for a 4wd nav run, We generally stay at a small town called garoak, or garoke, I forget how it's spelt.
All the tracks a fairly easy you can drive 90% of them in 2 wheel drive,
If you wanna put in about 8 hours a day you can drive pretty much every track there in about 3 days. ( not recommended as you'll miss things )
We look forward to going every year.
PK
 

reddahaydn

Member
haha yeah it's certainly no toolangi is it PK!
I'm from horsham so we used to ride bikes through there years ago. mainly in the east block, go in from Pimp, then head out the bottom near nati lake.
going to check out the middle block this time!
 
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