Picnic at Echinda Chasm
After stomachs had settled
Day 19 – Wednesday 18th
July – Purnululu National Park
Today was the day for a bit of luxury. As a special treat we had booked a night at the APT Wilderness Lodge in the Purnululu National Park thanks to Luke’s mate Liam’s Dad. But first we had to pack up the trailer and put it into storage at the caravan park. And we had to get to the National Park itself, along a very choppy and windy road. The 53kms to the park entrance took us 1 ½ hours, including a short stop for the back seat passengers to settle their stomachs. As Luke doesn’t go well on windy roads I had donated the front seat ride to him, fully thinking I would feel OK in the back seat. How wrong was I? In the back it felt like we had been on a 3 hour boat ride on rough seas. Even the excitement of 10 water crossings could not get Anna and me to open our eyes for the second half of the drive.
Finally we arrived at the visitor’s centre. As this was our first National Park in Western Australia and we would be
in WA for 2 months we bought ourselves a WA Parks Annual Pass, giving us entry to all the national parks in the state. The very helpful lady in the visitor’s centre also gave us her top tip for the return journey – if you block up one ear with a finger or ear plug all the bouncing and weaving on the road doesn’t affect your sense of balance as much and you don’t feel sick. We will definitely be trying that on the way out tomorrow!
The first stop was Echidna Chasm to the North of the park. There is a 2 km walk into the spectacular chasm with 200m high walls with amazing coloured walls. It is incredible that you can walk/ scramble so far into such a narrow, deep chasm. The rock formations and colours were out of this world. It is mind blowing to think about how old the landscape is and the natural forces in action to create the Chasm as it is today.
Next was the Mini-Palms Gorge 5km walk into a very pretty gorge. We set off in the midday heat with lots of water and a picnic. The first part
of the walk was on loose stones along a dry river bed which is pretty tiring terrain. Then we got to scramble over lots of larger rocks and boulders, through crevasses, up steps and ladders before we reached the impressive amphitheatre of the gorge. It made for a very beautiful picnic spot indeed.
By mid afternoon we were done with walking and decided to check in at the APT Wilderness Lodge to take advantage of the luxury there. It was a 40 min drive back through the park to the Bellburn private camp and the ensuite safari tents at APT. There was one tour group staying at the same time as us and a few other “independent travellers” like ourselves, so not all the tents were occupied. Anna and Luke had been allocated the tent called “Paperbark Fig” and Mark and I had the next door tent “Deep Gorge”. They were clean, spacious and had, get this, real beds! And real ensuite toilets and showers! Cunningly, the towels and sheets that had been selected were not white but a rusty stone colour. Either that or they had started out white and had changed colour thanks to dirty dusty tourists.
We had enough time for a cup of tea from the camp kitchen, a nice cool beer and a 15 min relax before it was time to head out again to the sunset viewing point, which was a 10 min drive from the APT Lodge. As the sun set behind us it cast amazing light over the side of the Bungle Bungle, turning the rocks from orange to deep red and then dark green and the skies around it a gentle pink then indigo, before the light finally went.
Back at the lodge we had time for a shower and to put on some (fairly) clean and respectable clothes ready for dinner. The tour group sat together at one table and the independent travellers plus a few APT employees sat at the other. While Luke and Anna were telling a the APT tour guide Imogen all about Luke’s friend Liam, Mark and Hazel were getting to know newly retired Rob and Kim who are on their first trip in their new Winnibago. Dinner was roast chicken and spit roasted porterhouse beef cooked on the Weber, with roast potatoes and a variety of nice veg. After dessert of sticky
fig pudding we relocated to the campfire and listened to stories about Aboriginal life told by the Aboriginal guide Eric. Highly interesting and a great insight into another culture. As it gets dark and cool so early in the evening and the day starts early with first light at around 5.15am, early bedtimes are the way to go, except if you are a kid, when you end up going to bed at around the same time as the adults – any time from 8 – 9.30 pm. So we headed off to our real proper bed at around 9.30 for a very comfortable night’s sleep in our lovely safari tents.
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