Willandra National Park

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Overview

Cycle, walk or drive through the various wildlife habitats of Western Rivers in Willandra National Park and discover remnants of the area’s rich pastoral history.

Read more about Willandra National Park

Europeans were first attracted to the Willandra area by the river system and native grasses and ran cattle and sheep, but by the second half of the 19th century, grazing sheep for wool predominated. Willandra eventually became the largest pastoral station in the area. The old bush song, Flash Jack from Gundagai, boasts about having “shore at Big Willandra”.

Over 100 years of grazing and pasture have modified the natural environment, yet the plants and animals are gradually being restored. The wetlands, woodlands and grassy plains of the park house 23 species of reptile and over 195 different types of bird including emu and the endangered plains-wanderer.

See kangaroos graze and play on the plains at dusk and dawn, look out for bearded dragons as you cycle the Merton trail, and spot a harmless carpet snake near the historic buildings. At the end of the day when you’re ready to relax, sleep in historic men's quarters and keep an eye out for the ghost of Flash Jack during shearing season.

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/willandra-national-park/local-alerts

Contact

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Willandra National Park.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    From Hillston:

    • Drive north along High Street, through the roundabout and turn left on Mossgiel Road
    • Travel west for 3.9km, then turn left onto Mossgiel Trunk Road and follow for 53km
    • At the Trida-Whealbah intersection, turn right and drive 20km to the park entrance

    Park entry points

    Parking

    Road quality

    Roads to and throughout Willandra National Park are closed in wet weather. For road conditions in the area, visit the Carrathool Shire Council website.

    • Unsealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • All roads require 4WD vehicle

    Weather restrictions

    • Dry weather only

    By bike

    Check out the Bicycle information for NSW website for more information.

    By public transport

    For information about public transport options, visit the NSW country transport info website.

    Best times to visit

    There are lots of great things waiting for you in Willandra National Park. Here are some of the highlights.

    Autumn

    Like spring, this season is also a time of mild weather.

    Spring

    Spring brings mild weather and fantastic birdwatching opportunities, as well as being the best time for wildflower displays. Drive, cycle or walk the scenic Merton trail or follow the Nilla Yannagalang Billana walking trail to make the most of what's on offer at this time of year.

    Facilities

    Maps and downloads

    Fees and passes

    Park entry fees:

    $8 per vehicle per day. The park uses a self-registration fee collection system. Please bring correct change.

    • All Parks Pass - For all parks in NSW (including Kosciuszko NP) $190 (1 year) / $335 (2 years)
    • Multi Parks Pass - For all parks in NSW (except Kosciuszko) $65 (1 year) / $115 (2 years)
    • Country Parks Pass - For all parks in Country NSW (except Kosciuszko) $45 (1 year) / $75 (2 years)
    • Single Country Park Pass - For entry to a single park in country NSW (except Kosciuszko). $22 (1 year) / $40 (2 years)

    Annual passes and entry fees (https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/passes-and-fees)

    Safety messages

    However you discover NSW national parks and reserves, we want you to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Our park and reserve systems contrast greatly so you need to be aware of the risks and take responsibility for your own safety and the safety of those in your care.

    Mobile safety

    Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency Plus app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

    Outback safety

    Safety is of high priority in outback areas. In summer, temperatures can reach up to 50°C in some places. Food, water and fuel supplies can be scarce. Before you head off, check for road closures and use our contacts to stay safe in the outback.

    • Be aware of bush fire ratings, especially during the summer months.
    • Drinking water can be located at Group campground, Willandra Cottage and Willandra Men's Quarters.

    Prohibited

    Pets

    Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

    Smoking

    NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

    Nearby towns

    Hillston (66 km)

    Make a detour to nearby Merriwagga to visit the Memorial to Pioneer Women, a sculpture by Ron Clarke that commemorates the tragic death of Barbara Blain, the wife of a bullock driver in 1886; the monument recognises the hardships and contributions of all pioneer women in the district.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Griffith (177 km)

    Griffith is at the heart of the vast Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and produces about 60% of the grapes grown in the State. Today, there are more than a dozen wineries in the district with world-famous names. Visit De Bortoli or Hanwood and stock up on local produce, such as jams, preserves or pasta sauces.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Hay (220 km)

    This exciting and innovative exhibition space uses contemporary design and cutting edge technology to tell the story of Australian sheep shearing. You'll meet the shearers, shed hands, cooks, classers, cockies, sheep and dogs behind the legends at this sparkling gallery-museum in Hay.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Learn more

    Willandra National Park is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

    What bird is that?

    Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla), Willandra National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Could there really be 195 species of birdlife within an area of less than 20,000ha? The diversity of Willandra's natural environment — from woodland and wetland to grassland and open plain — provides a variety of habitats. The result is an eclectic mix that includes emu, swan, seagull, night heron, raptor and duck. Set yourself the challenge to see how many different birds you can spot during your visit.

    • Nilla Yannagalang Billana The Nilla Yannagalang Billana is an easy walking track that follows Willandra Creek and passes sites of great historical and cultural significance.

    The ringer looks around

    Shearers Quarters, Willandra National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Big Willandra Station once stretched from Hillston to Mossgiel and covered an area eight times that of what is now Willandra National Park. Some buildings from the huge merino stud are in ruins, while others have been restored. In its time, Big Willandra saw it all: illegal squatting, leasehold, freehold, homesteading, the establishment of the Western Lands Commission, resumptions and soldier settler occupation. Today, you can enjoy cheap heritage accommodation, ideal for a weekend family or group getaway.

    • Merton motor trail Whether you’re driving or cycling, the Merton motor trail at Willandra National Park is the perfect way to experience the park’s various wildlife habitats and historic past.
    • Nilla Yannagalang Billana The Nilla Yannagalang Billana is an easy walking track that follows Willandra Creek and passes sites of great historical and cultural significance.
    • Willandra Homestead Visit Willandra Homestead, the lovingly restored pastoral station of Big Willandra. Step back in time, enjoy a barbecue and watch waterbirds on Willandra Creek.
    • Willandra shearing precinct Explore the rustic and distinctive woolshed and shearers’ quarters of the Willandra Shearing precinct to experience the fascinating working history of Big Willandra.

    Plain to see

    Dry creek, Willandra National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Windmill, cane, spear and white top - the names of Australian native grasses really have evolved to become far more fun than their original Latin terms. These grasses now make up most of the ground cover on the park's plains. Saltbush and cottonbush dominated - and still does - but Europeans quickly recognised the nutritional value of these plants and a century of grazing has changed the environment. A hike through the wetlands, woodlands and grasslands of the park, rich with birds and animals, is a reminder of how nature continues to adapt.

    • Nilla Yannagalang Billana The Nilla Yannagalang Billana is an easy walking track that follows Willandra Creek and passes sites of great historical and cultural significance.

    A closer look at Aboriginal culture

    Merton trail, Willandra National Park. Photo: David Egan

    Evidence of Aboriginal people's lives on this land can best be seen on the scalds near Halls Lake, near the Merton trail, where erosion has exposed a number of objects. Take a look at (but please don't touch) the remains of oven hearths, broken pieces of grinding dishes and stone flakes. Nilla Yannagalang Billana, the only formal walking track in the park, means 'walking along together' in Wiradjuri.

    • Merton motor trail Whether you’re driving or cycling, the Merton motor trail at Willandra National Park is the perfect way to experience the park’s various wildlife habitats and historic past.

    Education resources (1)

    What we're doing

    Willandra National Park has management strategies in place to protect and conserve the values of this park. Visit the OEH website for detailed park and fire management documents.