Kurrajong Campground, Purnululu National Park aka The Bungle Bungles (4-7 Jun’11)

17 06 2011

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I need to start this blog post by telling you about the road into the Bungle Bungles as honestly it is half the adventure.  The distance from the Great Northern Highway into the visitor centre for Purnululu National Park is only 53kms.  However the drive itself takes 2.5 hours!!!  Yup, 2.5 hours.   There are 39 creek crossings and 3 rivers to cross – the highest river was still at 500mm after all the rain.

Only 4wd vehicles are allowed and you can only tow single axle vans or camper trailers.  Although there is of course always 1 or 2 morons who just have to give it a go – hence a Subaru Impreza Station Wagon becoming bogged in one of the river crossings and they became the talk and laugh of the camp.  Although everyone was also kind of in awe that they got as far as they did along the road.

Lots of mud and opportunities to be bogged as well as curvy and windy roads that made for an extraordinary road trip in – but oh so worth it!!!! You can imagine that Chayne was in his absolute element whilst I silently prayed next to him and held on for dear life.  Honestly it was pretty amazing and a true adventure.  Upon our arrival at the visitor centre we were greeted by our first wild dingo in the Kimberleys who simply stood on the side of the road and allowed us to take some beautiful shots of him.  In fact, Chayno had to howl to get him to bother to look our way.  He complied to assist the photographer – what a greeting. 

Poor Chayne must have made at least a hundred gear changes and was absolutely shattered that night.  In fact after an early dinner, we were tucked up in bed and fast asleep by about 7.30pm.  Who needs the Gibb River Road when you’ve got the drive into the Bungle Bungles?

The next day we all went to Echidna Chasm which was the closest walk to our campground.  It begins with a walk along a dry river bed (full of pebbles and rocks which makes it quite difficult to walk on – especially for a klutz like me) and suddenly you are walking in amongst red cliffs and green palms lining the way.  Stunning.  Further up you start walking in a chasm which had midday sunlight filtering through it as we’d timed it perfectly when the light would be best.  We were greeted in the amphitheatre of the chasm by Duncan playing his didge – what a sound!!!  But it didn’t stop here – you continue to climb up a narrow corridor of the chasm and all the time you’ve got the sunlight raining down the cracks and the occasional palm hundreds of metres above you against the blue sky.  Spectacular. 

Our first walk in this National Park and we were all very impressed.  Chayne and I also went to Osmond Lookout which gave you the most magnificent view over the Purnululu Conservation Reserve as well as Kungkalahayi Lookout which provided a 360 degree view over the Bungle Bungle range in front of you and the Conservation Reserve behind you.  It was definitely a ‘wow’ moment and as we sat up on the bench with this awesome scene stretched out in front of us – Chayne even said that it was a bit surreal that we were on this adventure and experiencing all that we are.

That evening as the sun started to set, we walked up to a lookout right near our campsite to watch the sun go down over the Bungle Bungle range just to put the cherry on the cake.  Dinner around the campfire and then to put the chocolate flakes over the cherry on the cake – we were woken in the night by the sound of dingoes howling – eerie but wonderful to hear them hunting and calling each other in the deathly quiet of the night. 

The next day we headed over to the other side of the National Park to explore and visit Cathedral Gorge, do the Domes walk and Piccaninny Gorge.  This is where we really saw the famous bee hive domes that the Bungle Bungles are so famous for.  They are unmistakable and unbelievable and were created over 20 million years ago by the hands of mother nature.  Some of the domes soar more than 250 metres into the sky and when you do the walk around them and along Piccaninny Gorge – it is like walking around a rock city with its domed skyline. It is clear to see why Purnululu National Park is a world heritage listed area. 

 I nearly had a heart attack on the walk in to Cathedral Gorge as I dropped one of my camera lenses and I was in so much shock that it then started to roll towards a pool that I was actually taking the photo of.  Thank god – Chayne managed to grab it and by some miracle the lense was absolutely fine.  I was in so much shock that I actually burst into tears which Chayne just shook his head at but understood given he often tells me that my camera is like a body part for me.

Chayne and Duncan both played their didgeridoos inside Cathedral Gorge’s huge amphitheatre and of course as always in these parts of the country it was very fitting and sounded great.  The lookout from Piccanniny Gorge was great too – especially as it kind of gave you a birds eye view over some of the domes which you’d get if you could afford a flight over them.  OMG! Flights over the Bungle Bungles are sooooooooo expensive – around $250 per person for 18 minutes.  As much as we would have loved to have done it – we just couldn’t justify that amount of money.  Crazy but I guess people are willing to pay it? 

Our time in the Bungle Bungles was fantastic and we would not have seen them if we’d done the Gibb River Road – so it was all meant to be.  After a huge cook up breakfast on our last morning with Lorraine and Duncan we made the 2.5 hour track back out of the park and headed further North up the highway to Kununurra.  We even got to use our two way radio for the first time on the way out which was pretty exciting.  “Boab 9 there’s a big 4wd bus on the way in, over”

So, for all those thinking about the big trip get out there and live the dream.   

Until next time,

Janine and Chayne

PS – Here is some trivia for you if you’re interested.  Purnululu is a Kija Aborginal word meaning sandstone and the Bungle Bungles got their name in 1930 when a pastoralist Arthur Muggleton referred to a station to the north west of the current park as Bungle Bungle.  There are a couple of other theories though including it is derived from the name of a common Kimberley grass – bundle bundle grass.  Some believe it is a linguistic corruption of the Aboriginal name Purnululu which when spoken sounds like Burnululu.  Others say that Sam Muggleton was mining salt at a place called Date Palm and he bungled the operation and so the area became known as the Bungle Bungles.





One response

1 07 2011
Liz Schembri

It’s incredible to see the changes in the flora as you’ve gone round. The much hardier shrubs and leaves that hold the water are now very apparent. Janine – what are you going to do with these photos post trip. I think there’s a great opportunity to create your own book and even try and get it published. Your photos are truly magnificent. Liz

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