Pink Lakes, Murray-Sunset National Park

Murray-Sunset National Park Vic

Pink Lakes, Murray-Sunset National Park

Murray-Sunset National Park Vic

Staff Pick
1 h
4.06 km
Intermediate

Under a desert sky - in one of the most remote and harshest corners of Victoria is also a scenic and historically interesting short walk, with numerous relics preserved by the dry desert air.

Pink Lakes, Murray-Sunset National Park

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Summary

Under a desert sky - in one of the most remote and harshest corners of Victoria is also a scenic and historically interesting short walk, with numerous relics preserved by the dry desert air.

Description

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The salt lakes now in Murray-Sunset National Park were first publicly noted as a source of salt in 1911, though explorers passed through as early as the 1840s. Ebenezer Jones, of Underbool, started shoveling crystal salt from the lake shore in a wheel barrow in 1916. It was transported to the nearest railhead, at Linga, by camel: the 'ships of the desert' came down from Broken Hill, and the 'Afghan' camel drivers were actually from Peshawar in modern Pakistan.
Operations were soon mechanized when the Sailor Salt Co, opened a 2 foot gauge (610mm) steel railed loco hauled tramway over the 16 km distance in 1922. But the company was ill-starred: the steam loco caught fire on the first day, the harsh environment corroded rails and rolling stock, and drifting sand blocked the line.
Camels were again hauling salt by 1927; operations were transferred to road haulage during World War II, when salt was in demand for munitions production. Salt extraction finally ceased in the early 1970s, the last grazing lease expired in 1982, and Pink Lakes was incorporated as part of Murray-Sunset National Park in 1991.
Today, the best access is from the Lake Becking camp ground, but the walk properly starts at the northern end of the lake. The arid desert air has preserved numerous relics. The northern end of this walk is relatively well marked and documented, but the southern end is wilder and more remote.

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Points of Interest

1. North shore

There are remains of structures, small 'make-ups' across water channels and other items. The barren hills to the north overlook 100 km of uninhabited country

2. slipways

The cordwood slipways were built out from the lake shore to make salt extraction easier. Several are still in relatively good order considering their age

3. interpretive trail

This signposted interpretive trail is the most accessible part of the former tramway. Relics include a former skip frame from the Sailor Salt Co.

4. Lake Becking

The lake's east shore is a vast lunette dune. From this point, the tramway formation veers away from the lake shore and out into the wilderness

5. Remote area

This section is several kms from the nearest track and feels very remote. Decaying sleepers and dogspikes are everywhere. If unsure of navigation or conditions, do not attempt this section

6. Grub Track

Return is possible via Grub track and Ring road, but return via the tramway is more direct. The tramway formation continues south, but is soon out of the park and on private property


Features

Public toilets Public toilets
Historical interest Historical interest
Nature trail Nature trail
Lake, creek, river Lake, creek, river