The reason the national park is such a hit with archaeologists, palaeontologists, geologists and those of us who are intrigued by such things, is because of the finding of Mungo Lady and Mungo Man. The former was discovered in 1968 when a young archaeologist, Jim Bowler, unearthed a jawbone that was dated to 45,000 years ago. Then in 1974 he came upon a white object in the sand, which turned out to be a human skull – Mungo Man.
3. Wineries and oil farms
This region is a huge exporter of bulk-produced wine into the global markets. There are also small boutique wineries up here, like Trentham Estate, which sits right on the edge of the Murray River. Come by car (about 15 minutes from town) or tootle up for two hours in your houseboat. Over at Oak Valley Estate, Ferdinando, or Fred, makes a mighty fine port as well as unique wines like grenache, muscat and sangiovese as well as olive oils and dried fruits.
I liked the range of legal-sounding splashes from Shinas Estate – The Executioner, The Guilty, The Verdict, The Innocent and Sweet Justice. As my husband is a police officer, I had to make room for a couple of bottles in my luggage! If you can't get to all the wineries (and many don't have cellar doors anyway) Sunraysia Cellar in town has tastes and bottles for purchase from all the wineries – bar two. The reason? It's in a former funeral parlour and some wine makers find that too spooky!
I also visited Varapodio Estate oil farm and tasted their range of olive oils. Their early harvest cold pressed oil is so fresh it smells like grass and needs fresh bread and salt immediately!
4. Pink salt
I love salt. If I were a cow I would spend my day wandering between my salt lick and the water trough and be happy in my work. So to visit this huge salt mine from a massive underground lake where they make everything from salt licks to epsom salts to salt for industrial use and pink salt that we grind over our food, was fascinating – not to mention the incredible pink colour which is actually an algae and not the pink of the salt. You can even see the salt crystalising on the edges.
5. Motor and water sports
Petrol heads are well catered for in Mildura with the region boasting champions in V8 Supercars, Australian Superbikes, Australian Top Fuel Drag Racing, World Solo Speedway, Australian Solo Speedway and the Hattah Desert Race, as well as numerous national and world title winning water speedsters.
Mildura is also famous for hosting events, like the Mildura 100 Ski Race at Easter, the Mildura 'Slamfest' Top Doorslammer drag racing event, and the Hattah Desert Race in July. You'll also find state and national titles throughout the year. Spectators can watch ski racing from the banks of the Murray River, or watch Australia's best off-road riders race through the Mallee scrub.
You'll also find the world's only monument to a tractor – the Ferguson – after it saved the nearby town of Wentworth from the devastating 1956 floods when they built a levee to keep the river out.
6. Dining out
There's no shortage of great places to eat around Mildura. I was pleasantly surprised with the beautiful cuisine I tasted in cafes and restaurants around town.
Try Stefano's for brunch in their light and airy restaurant (they also have a deli for takeaways). I also tried Wooden Door in their eclectic cafe surrounded by homewares I wanted to put in my luggage, and Rendezvous for a tasting platter of meats, pate and other antipasti. Try Mildura Brewery for a craft beer and a steak or a burger. And for a winery lunch I really enjoyed Trentham Estate.
Where to stay in Mildura
I stayed in the beautifully decorated Indulge Apartments, right in the heart of town within walking distance of the river, plenty of cafes and restaurants and the main pedestrianised shopping precinct.
If you want a taste of everything this region has to offer, book a day tour with Alison and Phill Stone from Discover Mildura. They will tailor your day to your interests or give you an overview of everything that is so fascinating about this part of Victoria.