Lake Cullulleraine: So COOL it’s HOT!

Last Updated on May 6, 2021 by Red Nomad OZ

Late Afternoon from the Bushman's Rest Caravan Park at Lake Cullulleraine, Victoria
Late Afternoon from the Bushman’s Rest Caravan Park at Lake Cullulleraine, Victoria

I’m not sure why it’s never occurred to us to stop at Lake Cullulleraine, 58 km west of northern Mildura and deep in the heart of the Victorian Mallee.

Until now.

Lake Cullulleraine tree,  Victoria
HHHMMMmmm… wonder how many others have captured this Lake Cullulleraine tree?!  Victoria

Only 3½ hours from Adelaide, Cullulleraine (as it is shown on more modern maps) is a perfect example of why it’s SO worth exploring places not so far from home, something us long-distance road-trip experts tend not to do.

Misty Morning at Bushman's Rest Caravan Park, Lake Cullulleraine
Misty Morning at Bushman’s Rest Caravan Park, Lake Cullulleraine

So when we left home much later than anticipated, and spent an inordinately long lunchtime at the FAAAAABULOUS Renmark Patisserie Café/Bakery AND then crossed the border into Victoria thereby gaining half an hour, we realised we’d be getting to Mildura on dusk.

Something Pilchard swore we’d never do.

So we pulled in to the Bushman’s Rest Caravan Park for a drive by.

That’s a euphemism for ‘check and see if it looks like it’s full of psychos and axe murderers before we commit to staying’, in case you were wondering … and if it doesn’t pass the ‘whaddayareckon’ test, we – yes, you guessed it – drive on by!

This sign's doctored, right? RIGHT?????
This sign’s doctored, right? RIGHT?????

Bushman’s Rest passed with flying colours, despite the sign in the amenities block … give me an alien over an axe murderer any day!  Although weirdly, there were no children in sight …

The manager then confirmed the ‘pass’ when, unprompted, he gave us a 10% discount!

Even without knowing he was speaking with Red Nomad OZ – although I guess this post will give the game away …

The huge lawned lakefront site with power and a view to die for as the sun started sinking behind the clouds, far enough off the Sturt Highway to muffle the traffic noise and with no one else much around may mean we never stay in Mildura again!!

It also meant we stayed an extra day. Even though we woke to heavy fog and winter temperatures.

Cormorants in the Mist, Lake Cullulleraine, Victoria
Cormorants in the Mist, Lake Cullulleraine, Victoria

A few kilometres north (although not enough to make any difference to the weather) is the Lock 9 weir, constructed in the mid 1920’s and one of 13 locks along the Murray River (or River Murray, depending on which school you went to, and how long ago).

Lock 9 and its SIGN!  Murray River, Victoria
Lock 9 and its SIGN!  Murray River, Victoria

Absolute virgin territory (ie neither of us had been there before), it’s a wild stretch where few houseboats venture.

Even if the sign at the lock warns of a different danger …

Although Lake Cullulleraine is 9 metres above the river level, there’s still a lot of floodplain in between the lake and the river that would have been inundated during the massive 1956 floods, the benchmark against which all floods in these parts are measured.  With 100 times the volume of water than that flowing through the river now!

The 184 hectare Lake, once an ephemeral wetland, has been topped up since the 1920’s to provide a permanent water supply for a post-war farming scheme in the Millewa district.

Lake Cullulleraine Supply Channel, Victoria
Lake Cullulleraine Supply Channel, Victoria

The 10.4 km walking trail circumnavigating the lake (8.6 km if you take the shortcut across a peninsula!) passes through a number of habitats, over the Supply Channel Bridge AND – most unexpected of all – past a now disused Scenic Public Toilet on a rise behind the old boat ramp.

From which that killer sunset is best viewed …

Sunset over Lake Cullulleraine
Sunset over Lake Cullulleraine from the Scenic Public Toilet ruins, Victoria

As we relaxed on the lake front after our 8.6 km stroll (yes, we took the shortcut!), the manager gave his miniature float plane a workout from the jetty directly in front – presumably in preparation for the upcoming R/C Float Plane event to be held at Bushman’s Rest in early July! Little did he know he – and his plane – would soon be appearing on my blog …

The Float Plane flies TOO HIGH!  Float-planning from Lake Cullulleraine Jetty, Bushman's Rest Caravan Park
The Float Plane flies TOO HIGH!  Float-planning from Lake Cullulleraine Jetty, Bushman’s Rest Caravan Park

Albeit separately – my sports photography skills being insufficient to get a clear shot of the plane in the air!

The Float Plane has Landed ...
The Float Plane has Landed …

As dusk fell, and countless Purple Swamphen gathered in anticipation of beating the possums to our leftovers, we knew we’d lucked out.

It had never before occurred to us to stop at Lake Cullulleraine.

But we won’t be making that mistake again – we’ve still got the attractions on the southern side of the highway to explore!

And there’s not an axe murderer in sight …

PS  Of course such awesome views deserve a second chance!  BUT … was our SECOND visit as good as the FIRST??  Check out what happened exactly 5 weeks later when we visited Lake Cullulleraine again HERE!

Want MORE?

Walking around Lake Cullulleraine, Victoria
Walking around Lake Cullulleraine, Victoria
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  1. WOW! I had to go back and enlarge the sunset shot, that is one stunning photo Red! All of your photos are spectacular but that one… well just WOW!

  2. @Hilda – Haha, if anyone DID fall in the lock, they wouldn’t have lived to tell the tale!!! And the sign’s one of the better ones I’ve spotted!
    @PDP – Ah, but then you’d miss the sunset shots!!!!
    @Karen – Thank you!! It’s the best find of our trip so far!
    @Jana – This is Australia!!!
    @Mary – Oh no, that’s no cliché! Even I can see that … but the tree arms ARE a cliché – for this part of the world, anyway!
    @Vicki – Haha, dodgy caravan parks are EVERYWHERE! You just have to learn how to avoid them … although we’ve stayed in a few, there are far more good ones these days!
    @Iris – Thank god for that! I was getting worried it had got ‘lost’ on some customs official’s desk!!! I’ll be over to check out your post soon!

  3. Grand Slam picture, & now if you try to say that sunset is a cliche shot I will gaze at you blankly, then switch to incredulously. If I was as wired as a hummingbird that shot would calm me down.

    The whipcord tree arms are reaching out poetically. ~Mary

  4. sometimes the closest places are the most amazing. Love your “cormorants in the mist”. and of course those sunsets!
    Always wonderful to be travelling with you Red. Thankyou!

  5. The expression ‘right under our noses’ springs to mind hey Red! I always figure if I can get there in a couple of hours then I can get home again and sleep in my own bed 🙂 seriously fabulous shots here.

  6. @Shell – Haha, yes I struggle with publicity vs secrecy!! But they can’t live on my custom alone … so I’ve reluctantly shared it!!!
    @Gawain – It’s been a long night, hasn’t it?!?!?! Fate has led you to the right spot for murdering all sorts of food – that’s if you’re still at Halls Gap?? KILLER Bakery!! Have an apple shortbread for me …
    @Indrani – Thank you!! I hope my pictures helped you imagine you were there for a few moments!
    @Jill – It’s my pleasure to have your company!! I look forward to travelling with you, too – where shall we go next??!!

  7. @River – Don’t mind the cold when it looks THIS good … ‘cold’ with ‘wet’ and ‘bleak’ doesn’t work for me!!!
    @Betty – If you felt refreshed just looking, just imagine what it’s like to really be there!!!
    @Linley – It’s funny how Mildura has always been the benchmark to reach – which means we never look at anything just before or just after it!! Now I’m glad we did!!
    @whiteangel – Thank you!! It was a pleasure to show it to you!
    @SFlaGuy – What would spell check know?? ‘Blography’ just HAS to be a word – it sounds so RIGHT! I’m thinking of ditching the words and sticking to the photos … that’s what gives me the most comments!!! Wonder what a pirate boat emerging from the mist would’ve looked like??!!

  8. Wow Red those photo’s are magnificent!
    Beautiful spot, thanks for sharing – you do realize it wont be a secret after this 🙂

    Cheers Shell

  9. Always wondered why anyone would want to murder an axe? I could murder a croissant with jam and cream right now!

  10. Love the misty photo. So hard to capture those. Your photography is surpassing your blography. I wonder why spell check does not recognize that word. Hmmm they must not have seen your work.

  11. Have just added Lake Cullulleraine to the not to be missed places. Fantastic sunset. How could you have missed this lake for so long, bet you are glad it was getting too late to continue to Mildura.

  12. i feel refreshed just looking at your photos.
    such a breathtaking place! stunning views and photos!

    wish you a great day!

  13. It’s a very photogenic area and looks so peaceful too. What a lucky find for you. The fog on the lake looks lovely. And cold.

  14. @diane b – Most people (including us) just visit Mildura (which is actually a nice place)- but the lake is sensational!
    @FigMince – Hahaha, and then there’s a diesel death rattle 1st thing in the morning … and the ‘farewell’ happy hour that goes for hours … and the deaf insomniac oldsters who give us a rare opportunity to listen in to their favourite TV shows … DON’T GET ME STARTED!!!!
    @Murr Brewster – Haha, well spotted – that’s where the axe murderers are lurking!! Only kidding, the shortcut cuts across the top of one of the peninsulas! Peninsulae?? Whatever!
    @Andrew – And just how many ‘Deliverance’ reruns have you watched???!!! And funny you should mention ‘calendar’ and ‘sunset shot’ in the same sentence! Watch this space!!!
    @Carole – I was kind of sorry when the fog lifted … but then I got the fab sunset!!! Best of both worlds, huh?!

  15. @Iris – Haha, glad to hear we’ve both survived a nasty axe murderer scare … although yours was more real than mine!! Keep checking in – if I don’t hear from you I’ll know something’s happened!!!
    @Arija – All these years of passing by and we never stopped there!! The walk is interesting too – if you’re not up for the full hike, you can do sections! Tell them I sent you … then we’ll BOTH find out how big the Red Nomad OZ legend is! Or isn’t …
    @TMWH – Haha, maybe it’s just as well we didn’t stay another day???!!! And seeing where the road takes us is our favourite way to travel!! Thank god it paid off this time!!!
    @eileeninmd – There’s something about sky over a lake! It’s easy to take good shots with killer scenery like this!!!
    @Rose – Hahaha! But there were NO children around!! Is that spooky, or what?! Maybe it just means it’s not school hols or a long weekend … I’m happy you enjoyed our visit – but I bet not as much as we did!!

  16. Here’s the thing, Red: People don’t become caravan park axe-murderers until the guy camped next to them decides to check that his outboard’s gonna be okay for the day’s boating by starting and running it at 5am.

    As usual, a great post.

  17. Funny that you mention axe murderers? I had uncomfortable feelings while walking through open bushland when we sailed the Murray on a houseboat. I don’t like open bush at all.

    Love the sunset photo. Another calendar material shot.

  18. Awesome pics, Red! That sunset…. wow! And about the axe-murderer… they caught him about a kilometer from here, he´s in jail now. I hope! Just went to Aldi on my own some time ago, I´m still alive 😉

  19. We do tend o overlook local beauty spots. his one is a doozy. Must remember it if we are ever down that way. Great shots.

  20. G’day Red, this place is amazing!! Kick myself for not visiting the area when we went through VIC!! Great that the park got your pass (even though not an alien in sight!) mores the pity. YOu could have captured a first!
    That killer sunset -WOW- and I was more than a little shocked to learn that the River Murray had so many lochs! Qld education must have been wanting in my day hey?
    I really love this place and am glad you and Pilchard went there – for us!

  21. Wow, beautiful sky shots! The reflections are lovely captures! A pretty place and wonderful photos!

  22. You know, most axe murderers are reported to be quite nice, friendly folk. At least that’s what they say!

    Gorgeous photos, Red. Looks like you had a great time, and that is certainly a vote for seeing where the road takes you!

  23. Thanks for the tip. I am glad they have cabins since i only have a sedan and it seems within
    range for me, especially with a stop over in between.
    Magical shots and water is always a draw card for me.

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