THE MAJESTIC BUNGLE BUNGLE DOMES
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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We met "Australian Adventure Tours" just across from our camp at Kimberleyland at 6am, stored our backpacks and sleeping bags on top of the rugged 4 wheel drive bus, met the group who had travelled from Broome with the tour and set off to pick up the other travellers.
We were 14 people by the time we reached the turn off to the national park and Libby our guide warned us about the roughness of the track, which is 53 kms into the park and it was indeed 2 hours of bouncing along corrugations, rocky and hilly tracks and through some creek beds.
300 kms later, we were thrilled to reach Kurrajong Campsite, our overnight stopover. We grabbed our tents, self inflating mattresses and bedding and prepared ourselves for the night.
We had water on tap-not for drinking-, pit toilets and a large concrete fireplace
Libby prepared a lunch of chicken and salads after which we set off for Echidna Chasm where we hiked in to the amazing chasm.
The intricate mass of red rocks and cliffs, more orange in the afternoon sun, are all around as we linger at the car park. Trying to remember the aboriginal dreaming story of the chasm- 'a galah was chasing the ancient echidna spirit through the ranges and the echidna split the rock and its spikes are the tall spindly palms that grow in the area'.
The trek to the chasm is along a dry rocky creek bed and you need to watch your feet so the 2 km walk takes an hour. you twist and turn between towering rock walls and through regular pockets of palms until you reach the end. The chasm splits to allow some light through and looking up there is an eerie view of spindly palms waving on the top edge 200+ metres above. A quick stroll to the lookout revealed the Osmand Ranges and Red Rock Creek.
Libby had to do running repairs on the door handle of our bus which had locked us inside on arrival, and we took to the road to reach Kungkalahayi lookout for sunset. There were a lot of tourists at the same place and we had a 360 degree perspective of the area from here and enjoyed cheese and biscuits as we watched the sun go down. Magic moment!
On return to camp we were all expected to pitch in and assist with dinner which was chicken curry with plenty of fresh vegetables. The fire was going and we had a pleasant evening comparing travel experiences but we were all up at 5am that morning and we estimate that we were bedded down by 9pm this night. It was a clear dark night and the starry sky was amazing to behold.
It was cold enough to sleep under the sleeping bag and we enjoyed a restful night.
We were woken by the beautiful solo song of a butcher bird, packed up the tents and after breakfast drove to the “real” Bungle Bungle mounds. The striped sandstone “beehive” mounds were set down 3.5 billion years ago; the bands are a cyanobacteria layer that thrives on the damper parts of the rock and creates the striped effect. As we walked around the domes we were thrilled with the spectacle of so many different sizes and shapes of the mounds and on this sunny morning the visuals were impressive. The semi arid landscape produces a dozen or so species of the thickly clumping Spinifex- the red variety is especially beautiful at sunset.
We trekked into the huge amphitheatre that is Cathedral Gorge and were treated to striped beehives, creek beds, stark pot holes, honeycombed weathering and finally the gorgeous massive open space. Cathedral seems fully appropriate because the sound effects are similar and we were fortunate that a woman with an angelic voice sang a short song into the space- everyone listened in silence and clapped and urged an encore. We lingered here a while with most people lying on the sandy ground to take in the magnitude of the place.
Our next stop was the air field where two of our group were taking 20 minute flights over the Bungle Bungles and they waxed lyrical about the size and beauty of the range. It seems that noone (except you can bet the aborigines) really knew about this place until the 1980's and it quickly was declared “World Heritage” and is now an iconic destination for people from all over the world; you can hear almost every language being spoken as you tour the area.
Who wouldn’t admire this place with its wild assortment of gorges, canyons, towering red cliffs and stunning beehive domes. It is a bold and captivating landscape and we are glad we did the tour.
Libby our guide assisted a tour group whose bus had broken down and they had to wait for a replacement vehicle from Darwin. She collected them and set them down at the air strip with food and water- the other guide had to stay on the road with his bus. They would have to stay an extra night and luckily no one had connecting flights etc. to catch!
After a hearty lunch it was back on the bus for the bumpy drive back to Turkey Creek/Warnum. We stopped at the wonderful Warmun Art Gallery, fully run and supplied by the aboriginal community based her. Keira, one of our group bought a lovely piece of art and was lucky enough to have chance meeting with the young woman who had painted it; it was an exciting moment for everyone.
We were back in Kununurra at 7pm and glad to have our feet on the ground. It had been a happy experience but we had some criticisms of the tour company in that there equipment needed upgrading; camp chairs, mattresses, kitchen equipment needed replacing and the guide who was bright and capable did not impart a lot of knowledge of the area to us.
Criticisms aside, it was a lovely adventure