Hattah-Kulkyne National Park
This 48,000 hectare park is one of only three Biosphere Reserves in Victoria. During flood periods, the lakes are recognised as some of Australia's significant wetlands under an international agreement (the Ramsar Convention) for the protection of Wetlands.
The area is regarded as particularly special because of the large flow of permanent water in the nearby Murray River and a number of freshwater lakes seasonally filled by creeks connected to the Murray. These lakes can remain full for up to 10 years without flooding. Flooding occurs, on average, once every two years. This habitat provides food and shelter for a large number of waterbirds, animals and fish.
Hattah-Kulkyne National Park lies in typical mallee country with extensive low scrub and open native pine woodland. Superbly adapted birds, animals and vegetation thrive in the poor, sandy soils and searing summers.
The park has stands of an ancient form of coastal tea tree, a survivor from an ancient inland sea.
During flood periods, indigenous people camped on mounds that formed islands in the high water and moved from place to place in canoes constructed from the bark of River Red Gums. There are scars on trees from where shields and canoes were made and also shell middens in the area.
For much of the last 100 years the country was extensively grazed. In 1915 a Sanctuary was formed to protect the beauty of the Hattah lakes. In 1960 the Sanctuary became a national park and in 1980 the adjacent Kulkyne State Forest was added to form the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park and Murray Kulkyne Park.
Hattah is known as a bird watcher's paradise. The lake and dry-country habitats are a haven for over 200 bird species. Watch for Apostle-Birds, White-Winged Choughs, Pink Cockatoos, Mallee Ringnecks and Rosellas. Hattah is the stronghold for the endangered Regent parrot. The endangered Mallee Fowl breed in the park. Waterbirds include pelicans, numerous species of ducks, spoonbills, and herons.
At dusk and dawn, emus and three species of kangaroo, the red, western and eastern grey, can be seen feeding.
The sandy beaches along the Murray, the creeks and the lakes are shaded by fringes of river red gums. Walks lead from the main camping ground at Hattah Lake to nearby lakes past beaches and through black box woodlands and stands of eumong wattles.
Activities include camping, nature study, photography, and fishing. When water levels are right, the lake system is a great place for canoeing. During flood times the waters extend many kilometres from the lakes.
Cycling - explore on two wheels
There are many tracks suitable for cycling, particularly those near the camping grounds.
Walk - explore on foot
Follow the six-kilometre discovery walk, cycle or drive around Lake Hattah, with the help of a numbered self-guide sheet (available at the start). Find out about other walking tracks such as Lake Mournpall at the park's Visitor Centre.
Self-guide notes are available at the start of the Hattah track for nature drives through the park. Check before leaving - tracks may be impassable after rain or too sandy for your vehicle.
Camping and facilities
Picnic and camping areas at Lake Hattah and Mournpall have pit toilets, tables and fireplaces. Supplies are available from Hattah, Ouyen and Red Cliffs townships.
Caravan parks, motels, hotels, apartments and B&Bs are located at Mildura, Ouyen, Red Cliffs and Robinvale.
Information about walking tracks, and about the park's natural history and cultural heritage, is available at the Park Visitor Centre. Nearby is an old pumphouse that early this century was used to refill the boilers of steam trains at Hattah railway station. Later, it was used to supply water to Hattah township.
Take the Calder Highway and turn off at Hattah township. Lake Hattah camping area is four kilometres from town and a 2WD gravel track takes you to the Mournpall camping area.