Hindmarsh is Victoria’s Outback Secret and you can gain a real sense of this even if you are just passing through. Like all natural attractions our deserts and lakes are best experienced by allowing yourself time to relax, unwind and take in these wonderful surroundings. Whether you are a bird lover, flora fanatic, enjoy watching out for mammals and reptiles, photographer, or just like ‘getting away from it all’, Hindmarsh has something to offer.
The following itineraries offer some suggestions on how to get the most out of your visit to our natural attractions:
Short Stay/Day Visit:
Take a break from your drive along the Western Highway at Dimboola to enjoy the Wimmera River. The picturesque river winds its way through the town, however a short drive across the bridge leads you into the Little Desert National Park and the campground/picnic areas of Horseshoe and Ackle Bend.
10km west of Dimboola along the Western Highway lies Pink Lake. Take the time to stretch your legs and wander down to the shoreline. It is a perfect place for a sunset photograph. At certain times of year (August – October), the lake is a striking pink that rivals salt lakes worldwide.
If you want to escape the Western highway for a while, take the drive from Dimboola to Nhill via Jeparit. This 83km alternate route leads you along quieter rural roads through farmlands to Jeparit, where the Wimmera River passes through wetlands next to the Wimmera Mallee Pioneer Museum before winding through the township to Lake Hindmarsh. Follow the Nhill signs to head west of town and divert right 5.5km out of Jeparit to visit Four Mile Beach at Lake Hindmarsh. Return to the Jeparit-Nhill Rd and pass the Glenlee Nature Reserve on your way to re-joining the Western Highway at Nhill.
Jaypex Park in Nhill offers a great place to plan a lunch stop on your journey. The park includes a picnic area with BBQ’s, a children’s playground, and is the starting point for the Nhill Swamp Boardwalk which leads through river-red gums to the Nhill Lake. A bird-hide situated along the boardwalk is the perfect place for bird-lovers and photographers.
On the Adelaide side of Nhill the Nhill-Harrow Road heads south off the Western Highway dissecting its way through the middle of the Little Desert to the Wimmera Highway and beyond. This is a great way of experiencing the Little Desert from a sealed road, with numerous wayside stops and nature walks along the way. 15km from Nhill along the Nhill-Harrow Road lies the Little Desert Nature Lodge, a must-stop for nature lovers.
For those with more time to spare, Hindmarsh will truly live up to its claim of being Victoria’s Outback Secret. Here is a suggested four day itinerary, of course you could easily spend much longer exploring our natural attractions, especially if you are chasing that elusive bird or waiting for the right light to capture the perfect photo.
And, don’t forget to visit some of our significant heritage sights whilst travelling past.
Day 1. Dimboola
Spend a day exploring the natural attractions around Dimboola:
- Visit the Little Desert National Park and enjoy some walks, swimming, canoeing at
- Horseshoe Bend and Ackle Bend
- Discover the nature and Aboriginal heritage of the Nine-Creeks Reserve
- Stay overnight in Dimboola
Day 2. Dimboola to Jeparit (Lake Hindmarsh)
- Take the drive from Dimboola to Jeparit. There are many side roads that lead to bridges and crossings along the Wimmera River connecting with River Road (some gravel sections) on the western side of the river. These access points to the river offer great walking/bike riding/fishing/picnicking opportunities
- Explore the wetlands and river at Jeparit before heading out to Lake Hindmarsh.
- Whether it’s full or dry, Lake Hindmarsh offers unique nature experiences. Give yourself time to enjoy and explore the lake. Four Mile Beach offers camping and camp kitchen facilities for a great lunch or overnight stop.
- Camp at Four Mile Beach or return to Jeparit
Day 3. Jeparit to Nhill, via Rainbow
- Travel around the western side of Lake Hindmarsh along the Lorquon Road for 9km (from Four Mile Beach jnc), then turn right and continue 12.5km along the Rainbow-Nhill Rd to the Netting Fence Track, visiting Shultzes Beach along the way. 9km along this good gravel road you will find Hermans Hill, one Hindmarsh’s hidden gems. A short nature walk leads you to a lookout on top of a large sand dune with expansive views across the Big Desert Wilderness Park, Wyperfeld National Park, and back across farmlands to Lake Hindmarsh. Not to be missed.
- Return to the Rainbow-Nhill Rd and continue around the northern end of Lake Hindmarsh. At Outlet Creek (where water overflows from Lake Hindmarsh towards Lake Albacutya in wet years) you will find The Wattles camp ground. This is a good picnic lunch stop, or alternatively continue on to Rainbow for lunch supplies or perhaps a visit to the Bow Bakery.
- From Rainbow head north to Lake Albacutya and Western Beach. Lake Albucutya is a RAMSAR listed wetland that historically has filled around every 30 years. Whilst it has received some over flow water from Lake Hindmarsh intermittently over the last few decades, the last time the lake filled was in the early 1970’s.
- Return to Rainbow for the night, or continue on to Nhill
Day 4. Nhill and surrounds
- Begin the day with a leisurely stroll along the Nhill Swamp Boardwalk, from Jaypex Park. Along the way a boardwalk heads of to the right to a bird-hide. The boardwalk leads to an excellent walking track around Nhill Lake.
- By some picnic lunch supplies and head out into the Little Desert NP. Head out of Nhill towards Adelaide, make a left turn on the edge of town along the Nhill-Harrow Rd. Continue along this road for 14.5km and you will find the Little Desert Lodge. The lodge was originally established in the 1970’s by a local identity and nature lover, providing four-wheel drive tours into the Little Desert. Over time this expanded to become a wildlife sanctuary, particularly for the endangered Mallee Fowl. In 2011 the lodge was sold to Conservation Volunteers Australia. It offers some great interpretive walks and wildlife experiences – you can almost be guaranteed to see kangaroos and emus plus a huge variety of birdlife, including the elusive Mallee Fowl. The Little Desert Lodge also offers a range of accommodation options.
- Continuing along the Nhill-Harrow Rd a further 1km past the Little Desert Lodge entrance there is a roadside stop and nature walk. (Further information on the multitude of walking options in the Little Desert National Park is available from the Parks Victoria website
- The Nhill-Harrow Rd continues south to the Wimmera Highway, Mt Arapiles and beyond.
- Alternatively you can backtrack towards Nhill and take the Winiam Rd (6.5km north of Little Desert Lodge) to the right. This leads to the Winiam East Rd which you can follow for 9km to the good gravel road leading to Kiata Camp Ground. This is a beautiful and peaceful camping and picnic area with access to some great walks through the Little Desert NP.
- The Winiam East Rd continues to loop around to meet the Western Highway at Kiata.
The iconic flower spike of the grass tree (xanthorrhoea), pictured here in the Little Desert landscape rejuvenating after summer wildfires.