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World Heritage Site

for World Heritage Travellers

Willandra Lakes

Willandra Lakes

The Willandra Lakes Region is a geologically unique area of dry lakebeds rich in fossils. Globally it is important for its very early homo sapiens findings.

They include the world's oldest cremation site (26,000 years old) and remains of settlement up to 40,000 years ago (agricultural use, stone tools).

It is the most important site in Australia to observe the period when the giant marsupials became extinct and the human race became dominant.

The WHS covers 7 former lakes in 2,400 square kilometres. The lakes dried out about 15,000 years ago. High winds on the exposed lake floors formed large clay dunes, lunettes, which are rare in the world.

Map of Willandra Lakes


  • Mixed

Visit April 2011

This is a rarely visited WHS among our community (only 5 were there before me), but the park sees a remarkable 80,000 visitors a year. I had always thought that it is pretty remote, but it actually lies within reach for a weekend trip from Adelaide or Melbourne. You can drive out there yourself - it is 90km on an unpaved road, but the surface is not bad (unless it is raining, but then it will be closed). I opted for a day tour to Mungo National Park by minibus from Mildura. Lake Mungo is one of the Willandra Lakes.

April 2011

After having been out there for a full day, I can only recommend a visit to this precious place. The semi-arid desert with its specific plants, the marvellous colours of the dunes (nicknamed the Walls of China), the fossilized treetrunks and bones that are exposed each day by erosion, the views over the vast former lakes. To put an end to the trampling of the ground, the core area where the fossils are found is now only accessible with an official guide. Our guide, Graham Clarke from Harry Nanya Tours, proved to be excellent. He knows everything about the place, its ecology and the paleontological discourse surrounding the 40,000 year old Mungo homo sapiens skeletons.

April 2011

On the way back we were fortunate to see a group of young wild emu up close. They are very curious, and came to the side of the road to have a good look at us. In the same area I saw two hopping kangooroos, also a rare sight (the most commonly visible kangooroos in Australia are those killed on the road).

April 2011

Community Reviews

Thomas Buechler Switzerland 25-Oct-14

The Mungo National Park is best visited from Mildura that has flight connections to Melbourne and other state capitals.

The road however is unsealed, and we had to rent, on top of our campervan, another vehicle, a WD, just to drive to the parks visitors center.We were there in October during the dry season so the gravel and sand tracks were pretty ok.There is no entrance fee, however, a small amont has to be put in an envelop at the center.Then you place the receipt under the windshield of your car and the adventure can start.

Mungo was a Woolshed in the 18th century, the original buildings are still there.Driving across a dried out lakebed, you soon reach the socalled 'Wall of China' with different layers of geological units in distinctive colours, ranging from pink to grey to brown.There are Rosewood trees, Sugarwood, Bluebush and Eucalypt trees.Mobile Sand dunes that moves with the winds.

We have seen curious Emus and shy Red Kangaroos and some Ringneck parrots.

The track now follows the ridge that divides Lake Mungo from Lake Leaghur.People were living in this area about 60,000 years ago.Traces of Aboriginal occupation was found and is well documented in the small museum of the visitors center.

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Community Rating

Community Rating 3.83. Based on 3 votes.

Site Info

Full name: Willandra Lakes Region

Unesco ID: 167

Inscribed: 1981

Type: Mixed

Criteria: 3   8  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 1995 - Revision Made smaller to enhance its World Heritage values
  • 1981 - Inscribed 


The site has 1 locations.

  • Willandra Lakes


The site has 11 connections.


  • Ratites: emu
  • Fossils: The fossil remains of a series of lakes and sand formations that date from the Pleistocene can be found in this region, together with archaeological evidence of human occupation dating from 45-60,000 years ago. .... Several well-preserved fossils of giant marsupials have also been found here. (OUV)



Human Activity

  • Cremation: Site of earliest discovered remains of a human cremation - "Mungo Lady" at Mungo Lake c26-20 000 years ago


  • Late Pleistocene: The presence of settlements of Homo Sapiens Sapiens is attested to in the Lake Mungo region from ca.-40,000 years.


World Heritage Process