Hattah Lakes is a collection of moe than 20 semi-permanent freshwater lakes. They support valuable River Red gum communities and a variety of native plants, animals, fish and over 200 species of birds. The lakes provide important breeding areas for local and visiting water birds.
Why are the Hattah Lakes special and worth visiting?
The Hattah-Kulkyne National Park is typical mallee country with extensive low scrub and open native pine woodland, River Red gums, Callitris pine, Black box and Buloke trees and an abundance of wildlife.
Hattah-Kulkyne is special because of the flow of water from the nearby Murray River that fills the freshwater lakes seasonally through creeks connected to the Murray. This water provides food and shelter for waterbirds and native fish. These lakes can remain full for up to 10 years without flooding, but flooding generally occurs, on average, every two years.
The area supports a variety of native plants, two species of kangaroos, and the endangered mound-building Malleefowl.
The area contains examples of the living culture of Aboriginal people. These include scars on trees where shields and canoes were made, and middens (heaps of shells discarded after meals eaten over many generations).
This park is a vital conservation areas and contributes significantly to Australia’s biodiversity. The lakes are a Ramsar site and are protected under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
The lakes are important breeding areas for local and visiting water birds, while the area is home to over 200 species of birds, including the Regent Parrot, Great Egret and Malleefowl.
How to get there
The Hattah-Kulkyne National Park is situated about one hour’s drive south of Mildura. Take the Calder Highway to Hattah township (35 km north of Ouyen), turn east and follow the signs. Melway ref: 514 C8.
The lakes and their surrounds attract campers, fishers, birdwatchers and families. There are picnic and camping areas at Lake Hattah and Lake Mournpall with pit toilets, tables and fireplaces. Freshwater should always be carried as it is very limited, especially in summer.
For assistance and resource people who can help you to arrange excursions and provide information when visiting the Hattah Lakes and looking at The Living Murray program, please contact:
- Parks Victoria at Hattah-Kulkyne National Park – phone 131 963
- Mallee Catchment Management Authority (Irymple) – phone 03 5022 3041
The Living Murray
As an icon site in The Living Murray program, the Hattah Lakes have received environmental water allocations to ensure that the area’s natural features are maintained and enhanced. These water allocations have aimed to:
- Restore healthy examples of all original wetland and floodplain communities
- Maintain high quality habitat for native fish
- Provide feeding and breeding habitat for waterbirds
Some of this environmental water has been donated by irrigators and the Australian Conservation Foundation.
What to do when you are there?
The Visitor Centre at Hattah-Kulkyne National Park has a car park and toilets. The building is easily accessed and is a valuable source of educational material to enhance your enjoyment and understanding of this area. There is an accessible toilet facility at one end of the car park.
Student activities can include camping, canoeing, bicycle riding, nature study, environmental watering and photography.
There are the Hattah and Kulkyne nature drives although many other tracks are sandy or impassable after rain.
Hattah is ideal for bird watching with over 200 species. Apostle-birds and White-winged Choughs frequent campsites, and at dusk, Major Mitchell cockatoos, Regent, Bluebonnets, Mulga and Mallee Ringneck parrots and rosellas are common.
The elusive Malleefowl, with their great nesting mounds of leaf litter and twigs, breed in the park.
At dusk and dawn, emus and the two species of kangaroo, the Red and Western Grey, can be seen feeding.
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.
After good winter rainfall, there can be spectacular spring wildflower displays.
Excursion organisers must take full OH&S responsibility for all acticities. MDBA will not be held responsible for any visits to icon sites as they are National Parks.
Hattah-Kulkyne National Park has a high level of bushfire risk and is closed on days of Code Red Fire Danger Rating.
- Always carry water when walking
- Summer heat can be very harsh – the area is best visited in autumn, winter or spring.
- Wear a hat and appropriate clothing.
- Check with Park staff before swimming in the lakes.
- Be self-sufficient with drinking water – always take water with you.
- Rangers should be consulted about the condition of tracks after heavy rain.
- All plants and animals are protected.
- Fires may be lit only in fireplaces provided – gas or fuel stoves are preferred.
- No pets are allowed in the park.
- Canoes only are permitted on the lakes.
- Driving off the tracks is not permitted as it damages the environment.
- Walkers should keep to marked tracks.
- For more information see The Living Murray material on the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s website – www.mdba.gov.au/programs/tlm/icon_sites/hattah_lakes
- See the Hattah Lakes Storylines and Teachers Guide available at www.environmentvictoria.org.au/content/hattah-lakes-storylines
- The Living Murray program can also be contacted at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority on 02 6279 0100 or via the enquiries form at www.mdba.gov.au/contact