Sitting at the crossroads of the Mallee, Calder and Sunraysia highways, Ouyen, home to the controversial Victorian premier of the 1990s, Jeff Kennett, is a Mallee town and proud of it.
So proud, in fact, that town is decorated by a huge mallee stump with root attached. The ceremonial stump is symbolic of the incredibly hardy, drought resistant eucalypt which had to be uprooted before pioneer settlers could till the land.
The modern Ouyen is the commercial centre for regional grain farmers. The lovingly-preserved, red-brick Victoria Hotel mirrors the region’s past.
The Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, with its wildlife, bush trails and springtime wildflower displays, is 34km to the north, while the Pink Lakes of the region’s Murray Sunset National Park are on constant photo call.
Hattah-Kulkyne, which conserves 48,000ha of typical mallee country, is a favoured stalking ground of twitchers who travel from far and wide to admire such superbly adapted birds as the apostle birds, white-winger choughs, regent bowerbirds, bluebonnets, rosella, ringneck mallees and the extraordinary mallee fowl. Browsing red and western grey kangaroos edge up to campsites at dusk.