Published: July 21st 2012June 23rd 2012
Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungle)
Leaving Wyndham after filling up with ‘the cheapest fuel in the Kimberleys’, we headed back along the Great Northern Highway towards Kununurra passing the Gibb River Road turnoff that provided so many great memories. Around 50 klm from Wyndham we came to the intersection, east to Kununurra, and south to Halls Creek, (this Hwy takes you back to Broome and then on back down the west coast to Perth, the way we came north). Turning south we were headed for the Bungle Bungle Ranges and another opportunity to tick off an item on ‘The Bucket List’.
But first we had a stop at the Warmun Art Centre which is situated in the Warmun (Turkey Creek) Community. Warmun Art is an Indigenous enterprise owned and operated by the Gija artists and set amidst the spectacular area of the East Kimberley. Gija artists paint their unique country scenes, using only ochres dug from their land. The natural pigments are hand collected within the Kimberley and crushed to create the smooth earthy tones you see on the canvasses. Warmun Art has an international reputation due to a few highly sort after artists, (Queenie McKenzie,
Great Northern Highway
..heading back south again! The colours of the Kimberley are amazing
George Mung Mung & Paddy Jaminji) and their styles have now inspired a new generation of Gija artists. We expected to see some great paintings, and prices, but were not ready for the new architecturally designed state of the art gallery we found here in this community, it was nothing short of amazing. The art was probably not the style we like, but nevertheless some outstanding pieces were on display and with some ‘outstanding’ prices as well! Well worth the stop but do not forget to get a permit, (free), first to enter the community.
It was not long before we were turning off the highway to the Bungle Bungle Ranges and the caravan park set up just off the road before the National Park boundary. Bungle Bungle Caravan Park on Mabel Downs Station has only been operating a year, but it was a great spot and dog friendly. After setting up we had enough time to do a helicopter flight across the Bungle Bungle Ranges and after finding a third person to join us, so that the price was reduced dramatically, we set off in one of the stations helicopters. I am not sure how I would describe
Great Northern Highway
..bushfires are a common occurrence
this flight and what we saw, it was just spectacular. If I told you that in 2003 the park was World Heritage listed for two main features – the area’s incredible natural beauty and its outstanding geographical value, that may give you some indication of what we flew over, words and photos are not ever going to do the Bungle Bungle Ranges justice.
The Bungle Bungle Range is renowned for its amazing beehive shaped domes, apparently the world’s most exceptional examples of cone karst formations. These striking sandstone domes are striped with orange and grey bands and were formed over 360 million years ago. We did the Domes Walk, an easy circuit walk, that winds around the sandstone domes rising from the spinifex covered red sand, quite fantastic. The dark bands are caused by cyanobacteria which grow in the layers of sandstone where moisture is present. The orange bands are oxidised iron compounds that have dried out too quickly for cyanobacteria to survive. We were lucky to also catch the last of the Wickham Grevillia, (the red flower you may see on bushes in some photos), which is only known to grow in the south end of the park.
Bungle Bungle Caravan Park
...one of Mabel Downs Helicopters and the one we did our sunset flight in over the Bungle Bungle
Pindan Wattle was also still out and provided a great contrast, a stunning yellow colour against the blue sky.
Our next walk was Cathedral Gorge and Piccaninny Creek, this was amazing. The walk up into Cathedral Gorge was nothing short of fantastic! The walk followed Piccaninny Creek and we saw more striped ‘beehives’, creek beds and potholes, massive looming cliffs up to 200 metres high and evidence of waterfalls that cascade down the sides of the steep rock faces during the wet season. At the end of this, the gorge opens into a huge amphitheatre and this was simply awesome and much bigger than all the photos we have seen! We also went up to Piccaninny lookout where we were able to look out back over the ‘Beehives’ rising from the red sand.
The other major walk we did was into Echidna Chasm. This walk follows a creek bed with a canopy of Livistona palms up into a spectacular long narrow chasm. At one point, Trish was able to stretch her arms out and touch each side of the chasm with the walls rising above her on both sides to over 150 metres in height. The colours bouncing
Bungle Bungle Caravan Park
..spot the Trakkie & Troll
off the walls in here with the sun above was fantastic, but very hard to capture in a photo unfortunately.
The road in and out was up there with the Gibb for corrugations in some places, but overall was relatively easy, but dusty, due to the amount of traffic. This place is popular, and no wonder, so be prepared to accept that you will not be able to enjoy any of the main attractions in the solitude of your own presence. The Bungle Bungle Caravan Park does not have too much shade as yet but I would love to come back and see it in 5 years, this park will be fantastic. The staff were helpful and ‘looked after’ Jackie when we did our day trip in the ‘Troll’ into the park. We would stay here again, no hesitation, and don’t forget to take a helicopter flight with them also.
The Bungle Bungle Ranges, or Purnululu as the Aboriginal people call it, covers an area of 240,000 hectares and was everything we expected and more, another highlight of our trip and another tick off the Bucket List.
There are more photos below