550km north west of Melbourne
There is impressive free camping right along the length of the Murray River. So what is special about King’s Billabong? A fair question. Two reasons – historical interest with this spot being the heart of the Sunraysia irrigation story, and the location being just a few minutes from all the handy services and attractions offered by Mildura in Victoria’s top left corner.
The historical interest comes from the use of King’s Billabong as the starting blocks of the Chaffey Brothers great irrigation project. Towards the southern end of this large riverside reserve is the great steam engine and pump facility known as Psyche Bend Pump House that was the lifeblood of the project that put Mildura on the map.
Additional attractions include the many Mallee birds that frequent the area. Darters, shags, kites and ducks of all kinds abound. Quiet observation of the surrounding mallee forest will reveal Regents Parrots, Red Rumps, Blue Bonnets, Cockatiels and all sorts of Honey Eaters. No great bird watching skills are required either. In one tree I saw all 4 of the above mentioned parrots and they were surprisingly indifferent to my presence as they twittered away a pleasant winter afternoon.
There is a bit of river boat traffic out of Mildura and the middle section of the reserve faces a portion of the NSW bank that is built up, which is the price you pay for convenience I suppose. For those wanting complete peace and quiet, there’s numerous riverside options upstream and downstream of King’s Billabong but then you’d miss out on a dose of local history. I really liked the ability to set up camp in a pleasant riverside spot and then wander along the track to Psyche Bend to take in the facilities and displays.
The camping facilities are basic and it is required that all vehicles should be self-contained. At the southern end near the Psyche Bend Pumping Station there is an area specifically for caravans and motorhomes with roomy sites and a good quality 2WD access road. There is a riverside track linking the top and bottom ends with several dozen campsites along its length and these are for “the rest” but if you would like to go along there with your van there is nothing stopping you. If the track is dry, no worries at all. At the northern end there’s a house boat area but a few nice spots are in amongst the Red Gums and the attraction here is that Mildura’s town centre is just a hop, skip and a jump away.
Location: Upstream of Mildura with sign posts on the Calder highway.
Facilities: No facilities.
Wheelchair Access: Flat and firm ground.
Pets: Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times.
Bookings: None required.