There are some places that we had on our must-see mental check list when we took off on this adventure. Not much has changed really, as we go and experience Australia’s extraordinary Landscape from state to state, we cross things off and add more for, dare I say it…, next time! However, The Bungle Bungles is one of those places we really wanted to see! And WOW! It was everything we expected and more.
Now this may come as news to you, but I do not like driving through mud…boggy roads just are not my thing…. That coupled with heights and I’m hard pressed to stay putt in the car. Dirt, creek crossings, blind rises, corrugations etc…I can handle. But not mud!!! Sigh. Did you know, that to get to the Bungle Bungles you have to drive 53kms from The Great Northern Road (about 107kms North of Halls Creek) through a prominent cattle station called Mabel Downs? 53kms….we thought, that would be a cinch! Hah! From the moment we entered the property, the 4WD test began. That 53kms took us through 29 water crossings, 3 boggy mud holes, over huge corrugations, around and over blind rises, rocky roads, bulldust and sand! A trip that we thought would be quite short took us just over 2 hours! I confess at this point, that I did get out of the car twice! If you like 4WD adventures then this is the ultimate camping destination.
Once we got into Purnululu National Park the roads did seem to improve somewhat. We wondered if that had been a direct result of the Live Export crisis that directly affected all the cattle properties in the area, the owner of Mabel Downs had been especially vocal in recent news. However I am assured the roads are always a bit of a challenge on the drive in, and that people get a buzz out of it! On reaching the Information Centre I felt like kissing the ground or hugging a tree, but opted for the more obvious scramble for the toilet with 4 kids who had driven the last part of the trip with everything crossed! Mental note to self, do not EVER give my children a whole can of soft drink each before heading down a bumpy road…. I digress. We collected our camping permit, W.A National Park Pass, Park Maps & Information and were keen to set up camp. Well I was a bundle of nerves by this time. We discovered on our return to the car that our front passenger side indicator had shaken completely loose on the drive in. That explains the exodus to the toilet! I was relieved to discover Purnululu National Park maintain their roads pretty well. Having said that, we encountered another 14 creek crossings (one was very slippery) as we drove through the Park.
We opted to camp in the Northern campsite (Kurrajong….) and it was just beautiful. I was super impressed at the way things were handled within the Park. The campgrounds were very neat and tidy, there was plenty of space, our closest campers were a good 30m away. Both campgrounds have a host onsite (what a job ay) who delivers fire wood every afternoon, and maintains the toilets. They were the cleanest long drop toilets I have ever seen. We watched the mountainside glow amber, then a rich red before blushing with plums as the sun dipped her graceful head below the horizon. Then the sky came alive bit by bit. It was absolutely glorious! The velvety canvas stretched wide, and millions of brilliant stars came in to view. There’s nothing quite like a star studded sky in the bush! We were really given a good show both nights we were there, the wild dingoes were howling, calling to each other from all sides of our campground. I wouldn’t have called it a lullaby, although it was certainly sonorous! Works a treat for keeping children in their beds too!
The Bungle Bungles as most people know them are beehive like sandstone stacks, that are actually white, but the iron oxide in them makes them turn red when exposed and the black bands that give them their stripes are cyano bacteria. To stand beside them, walk through them and watch the sheer number of them disappearing beyond our line of sight was AWESOME! What a beautiful country we live in. We wandered through the Domes for a while, before walking into Cathedral Gorge. That place is impossible to photograph…it is absolutely enormous!. We picked our way across the unusual Piccaninny Creek (that rages through the wet season, but is bone dry when the Park is open). Before hiking up to the Lookout to see how far the Domes stretched. It is an experience we will not quickly forget.
The second day dawned fine and warm, and we set about packing up quickly. Although we left our packed camper trailer in the campsite and headed off to walk into Echidna Chasm. The walk takes you 2km along the uneven ground of a dry creek bed. The chasm reaches 200m high and runs roughly 300m long. It was seriously cool. We walked right through the guts of it, at some points it was so narrow that we were literally walking beneath great boulders that had fallen and jammed above our heads. At other points we had to weave our way through large downed boulders that threatened to block our path. This place would be so amazing at midday, when a shaft of light briefly penetrates through all the way to the chasm floor.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Bungle Bungles, it’s going to be one of those places we’ll talk about for years to come. I think Echidna Chasm was by far my favourite, but then I do have a thing for Gorges don’t ya know. And for those who were wondering, I didn’t get out of the car once on the return trip….but boy those 2 and a bit hours were good for my prayer life!!!