Kimberley Capers...Bungle Bungles

Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
Trip End Nov 15, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The drive east from Fitzroy Crossing was once again filled with a variety of scenic landscapes. Traveling through red topped escarpments, their sloping sides dappled with white trunked gum trees and across spinifex plains, it was all captivating. In places there were massive piles of red rock which looked like a truck had just pulled up and dumped them there; they were of course natural and another example of how diverse the makeup of this area is.  The strong natural colours the Kimberley is renowned for were somewhat washed out as the bush fires littering the top end had caused a haze to settle over the area.  The vista now looking more like a water colour painting than an oil.

We were en-route to the Purnululu National Park.  Located between Halls Creek and Turkey Creek, Purnululu is a relatively new addition to our national parks having only been classified as such since the mid 1980's, this is home to the majestic Bungle Bungles.

The only vehicular access to Purnululu National Park is along the Spring Creek Track which traverses Mabel Downs Station.  A working cattle station; they have conveniently established a rustic resort a short distance along the track.  This is where we stayed. 

As luck would have it, with our friends (Syd and Cheryl) a day ahead of us they had just spent the day in the national park when we caught up.  Their recent experience had us deciding not to camp in the park overnight as the temperature was upward of forty degrees.  Not being prepared for camping in extreme temperatures we opted for a day trip.

We started out just after six the next morning.  The Spring Creek Track was rustic to say the least and took a high level of concentration to negotiate. Even right at the end of the 'dry’ there were ten wet creek crossings and we counted upward of thirty dry. It was one of the most beautiful drives we have ever done, down through creeks, around bends, over crests and then twisting back down into valleys.  We could not tire of the rolling green hills, the rich red rocks and gorgeous gum trees; looking vibrant as the morning sun shone through their leaves turning them a vibrant lime green in colour.  All that and I haven’t even started on the magnificent Boab trees, the Brahman, the Bustards and the Brolgas!

It took almost two hours to drive the fifty three kilometres to the Purnululu National Park Visitors Centre.  Once we hit the parks boundary the roads improved substantially (they get funding to maintain them).  We started in the southern area of the park where the Bungle Bungles are located.  As the orange and charcoal domes came into sight they took our breath away, they looked so familiar to us from the distinctive images we had seen in documentaries and books.  We just couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be here in this remote and isolated part of Australia witnessing first hand these most unique and beautiful creations.

We did a lovely walk into Cathedral Gorge.  The track led us beside the domes and along a dry sandy creek bed, up a ladder, past large potholes, back and forth across the creek, through a narrow passage with rich red gorge walls stretching high into the deep blue sky, the morning sun bouncing off one side. As we neared the end of the track the gorge opened up into a huge amphitheatre.  Cathedral Gorge is so aptly named with its high concaved ceiling, forming a natural stage, it was stunning.  Whilst the down side of traveling at the end of the dry is that some of the water falls have dried up and the waterholes can be stagnant as was the case here it was still nonetheless awesome!

We took a walk along Piccaninny Creek over large smooth rocks which looked almost fluid from millions of years of pebbles washing along their top and polishing them.  We continued over loose stones, this was akin to walking through soft sand, really giving the calf muscles a workout!  The track then led us along ledges on the sides of the beehive like domes giving us the opportunity to see so intimately the makeup of these intriguing sandstone formations.  We reached a lovely little lookout and whilst we drank in the spectacular views across the spinifex plain we welcomed a soft breeze offering us relief from the suns heat.

On the Domes Walk, we found ourselves meandering over spinifex covered sand plains,  clearly able to see the rough texture of the domes; an abundance of insects and flora having taken up residency and thriving in these unique beehive like formations.

We made the most of our air conditioning as we drove the forty five kilometres north to Echidna Chasm.  This walking trail followed a dry creek bed filled with stones and pebbles; again it was hard going in the heat but well worth the effort.  It wasn’t long before we were shaded by the Livistona palms that intermittently line the banks of the creek. 

High up the sheer red gorge walls there were crevices housing the Livistona palms, they have sprung to life wherever they have been able to bury their roots and source enough nutrients to survive year round, it was a remarkable sight.  The lush green palms with their long, perfectly straight grey trunks contrasted against the brilliant orange red of the rock was visually splendid.

As we continued along the track we were engulfed by the tall gorge walls, passing through a narrow corridor, we were fascinated by the makeup of these massive ranges for when we looked closely there were round pebbles embedded in sand which over millions of years has hardened to form these massive rock structures. Nature really is phenomenal. 

Our next walk was the Mini Palms Walk, this involved a long walk along a dry creek bed (again a base of pebbles and stones) and with the heat of the day at its peak it was challenging to say the least. The walk along the creek bed seemed to go on and on… we were melting.  We were so pleased when we eventually reached the entrance to the gorge and welcomed a little shade. 

The entrance was littered with massive boulders which had at some time formed part of the gorge walls, over time many had broken away, fallen and blocked the entrance so it was a matter of scampering over, around and in between them to get into the gorge and witness the stunning palms that have sprung to life and survived in this harsh climate.

Having completed all the walks we started back along Spring Creek Track mid afternoon.  We had just come through the second creek crossing of our return journey when we stopped to talk to a passing motorist.  Whilst engaged in banter he just happened to notice our rear taillight was hanging out.   On closer inspection we found that the screws had worked their way out, no doubt due to the corrugation, one was gone and the other was just hanging in there.  Relieved to have one screw we were able to hold the taillight in place until we could find another.

It was a full day, but one that was filled to the brim with visual splendor.  Back at our camp Syd and Cheryl had prepared dinner for us, we were so grateful after such an exhausting day.  We enjoyed a couple of drinks around the large fire pit all the time admiring the massive starlit sky.

Highlights of Purnululu National Park:

-          Bungle Bungles – unique orange and charcoal dome structures

-          The drive along the Spring Creek Track

-          All the walks

-          Boabs, Brahman, Bustards and Brolgas!
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mum and dad on

hi rod and lyndal.
enjoying your blogs some places you wouldnt get me even thinking of going good to see you enjoying yourselfs,so proud of lyndal what she gets up too.Happy Birthday on thursday 20th Rod love mum and clevie

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