Thursday, September 10, 2009

Purnululu National Park (Otherwise known as The Bungle Bungles"!)

We arrived in Turkey Creek and waited around a bit for our flight with Slingair. They had a special for a 50 minute flight over the Bungles for $199pp and we had heard that you really need to see them from the air to get a good perspective.

It turned out we were the only ones on the 11am flight so we weighed in (we'd both lost a little weight!) and then drove a couple of kms down the road to the airstrip. We were told the thermal air currents would make for a bumpy ride but it was nothing compared to a flight into Wellington.

View of Turkey Creek:

Lucky me in the front seat next to Greg our pilot:

First view of the ranges:

First view of the beehive shaped domes. These looked great from the air!

Close up of the domes:

Showing Picanniny Creek which we were to walk along later:

Back down safely!!

A great trip and well worth it - the expanse of the ranges is really quite huge. The only bad thing was that it was over too quickly.

We drove to an aboriginal community in Turkey Creek and checked out the art gallery. Some great pieces but again nothing we could afford. We're still hoping to find something genuine for a decent price but I don't know if that will happen.

We saw a bit of old tin by a boab tree that made for a good photo:

We drove back to Turkey Creek and checked in to the roadhouse for the night. We weren't sure of exactly when Renate would arrive but were hopeful it would be by the next afternoon. We had a swim in the pool and met a family there - Rod, Ange, Kayla and Olivia. Talked to Rod for a while about the elusive Barramundi as he had just managed to catch one after a few months of trying and Dave was keen to pick up some pointers.

Rod and Ange invited us to have dinner with them as they still had a feed of barra and cherabin (a type of freshwater prawny thing) left. It was Olivia's 7th birthday so we were even treated to some cake. Had a great dinner (Yes Rod, it tasted great!) and some beers and a good chat for the evening. Thanks for having us over to your humble abode guys! Told ya we'd put your photo up! Hopefully we'll catch up with you again some time.

The next morning we slept in a bit, had pancakes and generally lazed around before getting ourselves into gear and packing what we needed for the Bungles. We thought Renate wouldn't get in till the afternoon but she arrived a bit earlier at 10:30am. We packed up the car, said goodbye to the Space Pig who was safely locked up for a few days and drove about 50km to the start of the entry road to the Bungles where we had to lock the car into 4WD mode.

We'd heard so much about this road - so many different comments about how bad it was and the fact that it takes 2 - 3 hours to drive the 53km into the park - so we approached it with a certain level of trepidation. Well Renate did a great job and we made it there in 2 hours. The space pig may have made it in but there was no way we would have risked it - there were a couple of river crossings I'm pretty certain we wouldn't have made it through and our tyres would have been ripped to shreds. We were also told of some people that drove all the way into the park in a 2WD the day before us and were turned back around again at the visitors centre.

We made it!!!

Many of the following photos were taken by Rentate as she had a great camera and took great shots so we decided to get her photos off her. By the end of the trip we weren't even bothering with our camera as we had our own personal photographer capturing the moments. And at only $10 per photo it was a bargain! :-) But seriously thanks heaps Rentate for allowing us to use your photos!

After we arrived we went straight to the visitors centre for some info and a cool drink (the lady got to know us quite well by our 4th drink on the way out on day 4!) We set up camp at Walardi Campsite and each had a cool shower after Dave set up a very complicated system of pulleys with the camp shower.

We relaxed for a while before heading out to a lookout near camp for sunset. There was beautiful scenery and the ranges looked great through the changing colours of the fading sun:

The next morning we awoke early at 5am and we wanted to do as much of the Picaninny Creek walk as we could. To do the whole walk you need to camp over for 1 or 2 nights to do the whole 30kms but we weren't equipped for that so just decided to do part of it and then return to do the Cathedral Gorge walk.

The first part of the walk was easier along the firm creek bed and we were surrounded by amazing rock formations and domes. The colours were just great! It would be amazing to see this in the wet season via plane when the creek is full of water.

Creek Bed:

Incredible rock formations:

The stripes which run around the Bungle Bungles rock formations are extremely striking and have been formed by silica deposits (orange) and algae (black / grey). The algae actually protects the rocks so the orange parts erode at a faster rate. Or to be even more precise "The banding of the domes is due to differences in clay content and porosity of the sandstone layers: the orange bands consist of oxidised iron compounds in layers that dry out too quickly for cyanobacteria to multiply; the grey bands are composed of cyanobacteria growing on the surface of layers of sandstone where moisture accumulates. " So there.
More beautiful scenery:

After about 5km the terrain started to get much more sandy and gravelly and this made it much harder to walk. This combined with the 40 degree heat made for some pretty tough going. We made it to the elbow of the gorge (about 10km in) where we decided to turn around as we wouldn't have enough water to go any further and make it back.

We climbed over a ledge and found a nice shady spot by a pool of water (too stagnant to swim) where we cooled down for a while:

Group photo with Renate:

On the walk back Renate and I really started to feel the heat and struggled a bit. Lucky that we were surrounded by such amazing scenery!

Resting spot in the shade:

By the time we arrived back at the start, Renate and I were in no state to do the Cathedral Gorge walk, prefering instead to wait til tomorrow so we could actually enjoy it. We headed back to camp for a late lunch and a shower.

Later in the afternoon we headed back to the same lookout for sunset. There were a lot more people than the night before when we had it to ourselves and the sunset wasn't as spectacular. We did remeber to do some stretches though:

Then it was back to camp for dinner and an early night.

The next morning we woke a little later and Renate cooked us up a storm of baked beans and scrambled eggs. We packed up camp and drove back to Picaninny Gorge.

We walked to the lookout first which we had missed the day before:

This was a lovely lookout but we got stuck talking to this American lady for ages (actually she was doing all the talking and we were just nodding intermittently). She finally left and we were able to admire the view in peace.

We then walked to Cathedral Gorge which was a shorter walk and much shadier. We were greeted at the end by a h-u-g-e spectacular chamber:

We ended up sitting here for at least an hour doing a good bit of people watching. We tried to lie back on the rocks and enjoy the serenity but every time a noisy tour group left another one arrived, shouting and whistling - come on guys, you all know what an echo is!

We walked back to the car via the domes walk where we got up much closer to the domes and saw a few termite mounds.

After a stop at the visitors centre for a cool drink we drove to a different lookout to see if it might be a good place to view sunset that night. It was a good spot but we decided to check out a better spot we had been told about at the next campsite.

(Check out those clouds - the build-ups happening!)

We drove on to Kurrajong Camp where we set up our tents and had another shower. We walked up the lookout for sunset and it was a great spot. We enjoyed a wine as we watched the sun sink down and cast its light onto the rock beyond the campsite. In the words of Renate: Heaven!

The next day was our last in the Bungles! We packed up camp and drove to Mini Palms - a 2hr walk. This was a fantastic walk with great scenery including (not surprisingly) lots of palms growing up the rock face:

This was a less popular walk for the tour groups - a pity for them as it really was a highlight for us - but great for ourselves as we only saw a few people along the way.
On the way back out we saw a 'crocodile' that someone had made:

Our last walk was into Echidna Chasm. We stopped at the Osmand Lookout:

And then headed into Echidna which was another great walk into a chasm which narrowed right down. If you make it there at the right time (around mid-day but varies according to the season) you can catch the light as it falls into the chasm for just a brief time:

After this we were off! Back to the car for our return journey.
And in the words of one of the signs we saw at the campsite:

"Now you have truly Bungled"
Yes indeed.

1 comment:

  1. wow! awesome! thanks for keeping us updated with your exciting adventures! xox d&s tutchins xox