Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Bungle Bungles (Purnululu NP) and Kununurra

The Bungle Bungles (Purnululu NP) 30th – 31st May

The Bungle Bungles (Purnululu NP)
The Bungle Bungles Purnululu National Park Western Australia
From Bungle Bungles & Kununurra

After a long drive from Fitzroy Crossing through Hall’s Creek we arrived in the afternoon at the signpost for “The Bungle Bungles”. The Bungle Bungles are now officially known as their Aboriginal name Purnululu (NP) and have only recently become known to ‘the White man’. In fact it was not until a video or photo (can’t remember which) was published that the world took an interest; this was in the 1970’s! I believe this area is now World Heritage listed!

Cathedral Gorge
 Cathedral Gorge Bungle Bungles Purnululu National Park Western Australia
From Bungle Bungles & Kununurra

The Bungle Bungles themselves are famous for looking like beehive shaped domes and being striped in black and reddish orange. Apparently they look like nothing else in the world and are very well preserved.
After taking the turn off to The Bungle Bungles we only had 53kms of our long journey left and were looking forward to seeing some of the park before setting up camp and our rissole salad for dinner. Unfortunately things didn’t quite go to plan and it was soon obvious seeing some of the park would not be happening tonight.

Road into Bungle Bungles
The Bungle Bungles Purnululu National Park Western Australia
From Bungle Bungles & Kununurra

The 53kms were very rough (4x4 only for sure!) there were numerous water crossings and a large patch of bulldust, this was along with the bazillion corrugations. We both said to ourselves that if OJ doesn’t break something it will be a miracle – we still have to get back out of here by the same road!! (To kill the curiosity for some and to stop you skipping through… The miracle happened, kinda - we did lose the front number plate!)
We awoke the next morning determined to see what The Bungle Bungles had to offer and get back up the access road afterwards and on our way. On the itinerary for today were Cathedral Gorge and Echidna Chasm. Both were meant to be spectacular and we were keen to see them both. We started with the walk to Cathedral Gorge via “The Dome Walk” and were not disappointed. The beehive domes were amazing to see and so fragile. Any loss of the waterproof film from their surface would result in them eroding very quickly – we were not to walk on them and to stick to the river bed – which was dry of course! After dome walk it was onto the gorge, it was truly worth the walk. We thought we may become “Gorged out” (as it were) but we were not (yet anyway). The ‘hole in the floor that had been created by a waterfall running in the wet season was amazing. The place was huge, red and staggering; there was a little pool in the middle, dwarfed by huge overhanging walls that you could not see the end of - we felt very small. After the piccies (see below) we headed off to a lookout over the domes and then off to Echidna Chasm.

The Bungle Bungles (Purnululu National Park)
The Bungle Bungles Purnululu National Park Western Australia
From Bungle Bungles & Kununurra

The lookout was great and gave you a scale of the park. Echidna Chasm was awesome. After a rocky walk up a very pebbly river..creek..(whatever!) bed, we were rewarded with a very narrow, tall opening in a very large red cliff face. As we walked further into the Chasm (our first ever chasm by the way) it got narrower, taller and redder. Amazing how water can cut into rock this way, takes millions of years I guess, but still an awesome sight – more pics below! They don’t do it justice though – you really need to be there!

Echidna Chasm
Echidna Chasm Bungle Bungles Purnululu National Park Western Australia
From Bungle Bungles & Kununurra

Lunch was still falling into our bellies as we headed out of the park and the nightmare 4x4 only road. 2hrs later and with the sun low in the sky (and unbeknown to us, minus a number plate) we pulled off the dirt road to the very welcome bitumen. Our destination was Kununurra…. Hopefully, if we had the time??
The drive from The Bungle Bungles through the Kimberley Range at that time of day, particularly with the sun low in the sky is awesome. Carl marks this as one his best ever drives and certainly up there with ‘The Great Ocean Road’. The scenery was amazing, only enhanced by the position of the sun. The rock faces and mountains were burning red on one side and in deep shade the next. The sky was a brilliant blue and gave a stark contrast to the greenery hugging the red rocks. (“Something I’ll never forget” :- Carl).
We did not make it to Kununurra that night; we had just taken too long on the damned road. We stopped in a rest area as dark approached just 60kms short of our destination. As Carl opened the back of the car he said “Umm we have a problem” He waved a 20litre drum of water in the air (this was full at the start of the day) and said “the taps come off and the back of OJ is very wet”. Not again! Our second leak of the trip and this was much bigger than the last!

The Kimberleys Mountain Range
Kimberleys Mountain Range Western Australia
From Bungle Bungles & Kununurra

Kununurra 1st June – 4th June

After the short drive into Kununurra (somewhere we had not initially wanted to stay after we pulled into the rest area) we picked the “5*” campsite in town (at 8:30 am – 2hrs before people even checked out!) and unloaded the entire car, carpet and all.
It was a hot day and we begged the car to dry knowing that the pool was waiting for us – the relief from the heat was gonna be good!
We plopped into the pool in the late afternoon and agreed that this was a very nice campsite. We decided to stay another night as we had not stopped 2 nights in the same campsite since Exmouth way back on 20th May. All this travelling was beginning to take its toll and we felt and looked tired. Another day by the pool couldn’t hurt… right? We awoke feeling suitably lazy and did not a lot all day. We popped into town and picked up a few nice bits to eat. After lazing by the pool we came back to the car and were greeted with an invitation to join the neighbours for a drink and nibbles. After a fun night chatting to Frank and Alison and a few too many beers it became apparent that we would not be leaving the next day either! – Neither of us could face a hot day sat in the car!
So…..After another lazy day, now fully relaxed, we packed up and hit the road in the direction of Katherine and our final unvisited state The Northern Territory.

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