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Published: September 6th 2013
For many years I have wanted to visit the Bungle Bungles in WA. The road in is currently in need of repair after a busy dry season, and certainly not a road I would take the Mercedes MH over, so with Marg's (nervous) blessing, I took a 45 minute flight from Warmun (Turkey Creek) over the Bungle Bungles.
Its not until you get up and over this area that you can comprehend the size and diversity of the region.
As the flight departs Warmun, the flight path crosses Mabel Downs Station where there are supposed to be 20,000 head of cattle. Didn't see one! Not long after crossing the vast plain, the country quickly becomes quite folded where the tectonic plates at some point have moved dramatically. One side of each ridge is a gentle incline, the other a sharp rocky face.
This type of structure continues for about 10 minutes before we got the first view of the Bungle Bungles. There are several theories on how this mountain range got its name - but none are remotely certain according to our pilot.
The Bungle Bungles are probably most famous for the red/brown dome shaped striped beehives,
but our trip came into the range from the other end and we saw the deep gorges that have been gouged out of an elevated plateaux. I was surprised to find that this plateaux is green all year round despite the dryness of the winter months.
The various canyons have water for part of the year, but even when the streams are dry, there are beautiful palms and other trees growing in the gorge floors.
The flight continued through this country and then finally turned first past cathedral canyon and then the beehives.
There were half a dozen vehicles at the Cathedral Canyon car park, but no one at the camping ground a few kilometres away. Folks who had been in told us that the road was particularly rutted at the moment, and it was very dry and very hot in the canyons.
As for me, I was in a helicopter with no front doors, so was well ventilated, and flying 2000 feet above sea level. the temp was most pleasant. The only thing I noticed was that the strong air flow from the rotors tended to interfere with the camera auto focus. After a few
tries, I seemed to get a satisfactory technique to have the camera happy.
The Domes or Beehive shapes are fascinating, and as the pilot explained, these sandstone structures would have collapsed years ago had it not been for the surface weathering including silica and red dust and algae etc.
The Bungles does get a reasonable amount of rain in the wet season, September to April, and parts are not accessible during this time. Interestingly, most of the water finds its way into Lake Argyle, a place we will visit in a few days time.
While I would have loved to take the camera for a walk into the Bungles, particularly a couple of the gorges and cathedral canyon, I will just have to be satisfied with the memories of a great overview. Even with a week camped in the park, one would never get that Big Picture experience. Additionally, our MH hasn't been shaken to bits. One family came out after a day trip with the rear window of their 4WD stuck together with much duct tape. Another came out on the flat bed tow truck with the caravan in tow behind.
The one last treat
from Matt the pilot on our return was a 20 minute DVD of flights over various parts of the Kimberley by Slingair and Heliworks. Their photography in the DVD is good, and taken at the time of day where Matt told me he is not able to fly a commercial flight - sunset and sunrise.
The flight was about 45 minutes, and despite wind and thermals, was generally smoother than a jumbo, but noisy!! Anyone going through the area, I can assure you that the trip is worthwhile, great views, good for photography (Grab the front seat if you can) and a wonderful birds eye view of one of creations mystical wonders.
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