Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Purnululu National Park 6 - 8 June

We left Kununurra quite early for us, before 8am, bound for Purnululu National Park. It has been easier to make an early start because our bodies are still on Central Australian Time. Also the sun rises before 6am and has set by 5.30pm so everything is a bit out of kilter. It is also still quite hot, but the last 2 nights have been cooler – we even needed a doona last night.

We decided to drive right into the park as our vehicles can handle it. You need 4WD and trailers with a single axle and high clearance. It took us about an hour and a half to drive the 53 km from the main road to the Park Office. The road is windy and corrugated with a number of water crossings, none of them deep, so we made it without any problem. Dad would have said “It’s the road the old cow died on.”  Most people with caravans stay near the main road, in a caravan park or a free camp.

The first surprise is that the striped beehive shaped domes make up a small part of the Bungle Bungle Range. The range is rugged, worn down over time into rounded shapes, rather than the sharp peaks you might see overseas. It is the orange-red of central Australia in parts, in others a much deeper colour.

The first walk we did was Echidna Chasm. The Chasm is 180m deep and has been eroded through sandstone which you can see in layers alternated with conglomerate rock. In places it is just wide enough to walk through. With the sun in the right place the walls glow. Unfortunately the base is all river stones. We were a bit over them after an hour or so of walking. On the way out we took a quick detour to Osmand Lookout which gives a good view of the surrounding forest.

On our second day at Purnululu we finally sighted the famed domes, however they were a half hour drive from our campsite. From first sighting we were both super impressed, having never seen anything like them before.  We did the Domes walk which gives a very close-up view of some of the domes. They are just as they appear in pictures, and the fragility of the domes is very evident.

The next walk was Cathedral Gorge which is like a large cave and has a big pool in it. Unfortunately the pool cleaner hadn’t brought his creepy crawly in for some time, and it had a layer of scum on it. Probably a result of the very poor wet season this part of the world has just experienced. A massive rock slide and some deep natural pot holes really showed nature’s power to transform our world.

The third walk we completed was to Picaninny Creek Lookout which gives a view of the domes, the creek and the flat unending plain beyond. Much of the walk was along the river bed which was comprised of large slabs of eroded sandstone, quite different from the river stones we walked on the previous day. 

By the time we got to the end of the walk it was nearly midday, and was very hot with hardly any shade. In hindsight we should have done this walk first while it was still a bit cooler.

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