Bungling along

Trip Start Jul 27, 2009
Trip End Nov 07, 2009

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Where I stayed
Purnululu National Park

Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Departing from Kununurra and heading south down the Great Northern Highway, we left our van at Turkey Creek Roadhouse, Warnum, in order to negotiate the 4wd-only trip into Purnululu National Park to see the World Heritage listed Bungle Bungle Ranges. From the highway, some 53 km from Warnum, we turned off the bitumen and bounced our way through the scrub amongst scattered cattle and through several creek crossings. The drive into the park as dusk fell was beautiful, though a little hurried as we attempted to make it off the unpredictable track before darkness.

The next day we explored the park by car and foot.

Alec says:
When we went to Purnulu National Park, the Bungle Bungles looked like snow domes because they were very big dome shaped rocks.  They had black and red stripes. We also watched the sunset.  We camped out in the bush.  Mum and Dad slept under the stars.

The name Bungle Bungles seems to have come from the early pastoralists, perhaps a corruption of the name for a the 'bundle bundle' grass. The national park is now called by the Aboriginal word for sandstone, Purnululu. The typical aerial photographs show the big striped domes that Alec describes.  The sedimentary rock developed its prison pyjamas because different layers have different porosity:  the more porous layers favour formation of black surface algae; the less porous develop a red iron oxide surface layer.

In the morning we walked into Cathedral Gorge along a creek bed with deep, dry holes.  The end of the walk takes you into a huge amphitheatre with deeply overhanging walls, a bit like being in the stalls of the Melbourne Concert Hall.  Hilary and Alec stood by the pool, creating melodies with their own echoes.  It was a very magical moment.

Hilary tells about our second walk, taken after a lunch eaten rapidly while fending off swarms sticky native bees (they don't sting, but are overly friendly):

We did a walk up Echidna Chasm. Echidna Chasm is extremely narrow.  At its smallest places it is about 2m wide.  It was dark and cool and very rocky.  Rocks had fallen off the cliffs and had got themselves stuck because the Chasm was too thin for them.  The walls had many different types of pebbles in them.  We sat down and made lots of different sounds to make songs, listening to the echoing sound that the chasm made. 

Echidna Chasm meanders its way deep into the rock and the undulating and bulging chasm walls prevent much sunlight from entering.  It resembles a giant gastroscopy image.  We rested in a cavern open to the sky where the children again improvised melodies, this time accompanied by mouth-rhythms from Simon, as described by Hilary above (very Astra.)

Sunset from the Kungkalahayi Lookout with 360 views of the landscape finished off our day.
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