We sat on the warm rocks overlooking the red escarpment. As the sun started to set the escarpment lit up in a series of oranges and reds. It was the perfect end to a wonderful few days in the Bungle Bungles, or now more correctly known as the Purnululu National Park.
The National Park consists of a series of gorges or chasms and is most famous for its bungles a series of banded sandstone domes that some people describe as looking like Jaffa cakes. These unusual features were supposedly only discovered by the “white fella” in the 1980s as they are in quite a remote part of the Kimberley. Although the main highway goes relatively close by it’s a rough 60km track across creek beds to get to the National Park. The park is world heritage listed for two main features – the areas incredible natural beauty and its outstanding geological value.
We had left Edith Falls the previous week and headed to Katherine Gorge where we had hoped that we would be able to go canoeing up the gorge. When we arrived though the water level in the river was still too high and they had not yet performed the checks for crocodiles so we had to content ourselves with a walk to admire the gorge instead.
We headed west on a fairly long drive to the small town of Kunnunura. As we neared the town we crossed over the border into Western Australia where we had to turn the clocks back one and a half hours. This made no sense to us as it would now be getting dark at 5.30pm and then light again at 5.30am in the morning. So we decided to have our own time and just move the clocks back 30 minutes. It’s not exactly as if we are doing much where we need to know the real time anyway.
Although Kunnunura is only a small town it’s the only town of any size for hundreds of kilometres so was a good base to stock up. One thing we needed to stock up with was beer. We had become used to the fact that alcohol was harder to buy in parts of the Northern Territories and Western Australia in order to curb alcohol problems in the local community but did not realise just how hard it was going to be. After finishing our shopping it was still too early to buy beer from the bottle store so we headed to the campground. As it was only a kilometre walk back to the bottle shop I headed back there that afternoon. When I went to pay I was asked whether was I in my car. When they found out I wasn’t they politely said they could not sell it to me as they could only sell take away drinks to people in vehicles so I rather angrily returned to the campsite got in the truck and drove back to the bottle shop. Now confidently I returned to the counter with my beer. Having established I was in a vehicle they then asked me for identification. Now I know I still look pretty young but it must be 30 years since I have been asked for my ID when buying a drink. To be fair for some reason there were extra restrictions in force that day and each vehicle was limited to only one case of beer.
We decided to stay an extra day in Kunnunura. The campsite was set around a pretty lake and it had a good swimming pool (still necessary in the heat of the day) and there were a few families staying so the girls had a great time with new friends.
From Kunnunura we headed to the Purnululu National Park. Here we were also going to meet up with our friends Rhys and Jane who had left Queensland to tour the Centre and North West of Australia. Since we had met them last they had ordered a MAN truck and we’re going to be having a camper built on the back, so lots of truck conversation ensued when we met. It was great to see them again and we had a number of wonderful evenings chatting, sharing dinner and enjoying a bottle of wine. The temperature was great as it cooled down nicely in the evening and there was the added bonus of hardly any insects as well so perfect for sitting outside.
We spent our days (or more accurately our mornings before it became too hot) walking and enjoying the spectacular scenery of the park. It was a truly beautiful place. The Bungle Bungle Range is renowned for its striking banded domes. They are made of sandstone deposited about 360 million years ago. Erosion by creeks, rivers and weathering in the past 20 million years has carved out these domes along with spectacular chasms and gorges, creating a surreal landscape. It was wonderful to walk around the domes, admire views over them and then to enter massive Cathedral gorge.
Walking to Echidna Chasm required getting the timing right as it is such a narrow chasm that the sunlight only pierces it for a very short time of the day. The chasm is 180 metres deep and very narrow and the rocks glowed orange as the sunlight hit them.
Enjoying sunset on our last night we could reflect on how spectacular the park was how much we had enjoyed the last few days. After saying our goodbyes to Rees and Jayne we headed back to Kununurra to restock again before heading back out for more of the Kimberleys.