Bungle Bungle

The next day of our tour we travelled to Danggu Geikie Gorge National Park for a boat tour of the Geikie Gorge. Our boat guide was Aboriginal and provided a lot of information about the Aboriginal culture during the tour. There were similarities between many Aboriginal customs and the Native Americans. As examples, instead of Native American tribes, Aboriginals were differentiated based on language groups. Instead of rules against marrying into the same clan, Aboriginals were not allowed to marry into the same “skin color”, of which there are four. It’s a very family-based society with a responsibility of care for even distant relatives.

The gorge was very beautiful. The sandstone near the current water level was erosion-etched with a thousand cracks and holes.

In the sunlight is was very clear to see the “wet” season level of the Fitzroy River due to the rock color. It was hard to imagine the water level changing so drastically in a seemingly arid area.

A croc was basking on the rocks as we passed. Like the seals with their fins in the air, Crocs bask in the sun with their mouths open to regulate their body temperature to around 77 degrees. This time of year the water and, for most of the day, the air were both colder than 77 degrees so the crocs were not very active – luckily for us.

The Fitzroy, the Ord and several of the other larger rivers in the area segregate the Kimberley region into isolated islands during the wet season. Travel across the region is only accomplished by small planes hopping between dirt strips. The Kimberley communities become self-contained during the wet season, where outside travel is only used for medical emergencies.

There were flood level markers on the roof structure of the visitor pavilion, which was located way above the riverbank. The apex of the roof had markers indicating at least 3 years in the last few decades when the entire pavilion was submerged by as much as 6 feet of water.

We then made our way to Purnululu National Park, where we stayed the next two nights at the Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge in tents like our stay on Rottnest Island. The lodge had a central building that housed the open-air living room, dining hall and bar. Dinner was a three-course set menu dining experience prepared by some amazing chefs. Breakfast was a typical British breakfast buffet: eggs, sausage, ham, tomatoes and mushrooms, as well as cereal, yogurt and fruit. The staff running these places out in the middle of nowhere were great.

Most trees in the region are some kind of eucalyptus. The ghost gum eucalyptus tree is known for its smooth, white bark that gives it its ghost appearance under a full moon.

The next day we took off to the explore the National Park. The roads in this area of the country were dirt and well maintained. I’m sure they require a lot of work following the wet season to make them passable again.

We passed Elephant Rock on our way to our first hike.

The Bungles are a unique banded rock formation.

We hiked up Piccaninny Creek to an overlook. You can get a better idea of the color and composition of the banded rock that makes up this mountain range.

The hike took use by several termite mounds, this one being about 10 feet tall. Ray, our guide, had several books on our tour bus about the flora and fauna in the Kimberley. One was on termites that was surprisingly interesting. These termites were cathedral termites named due to their mound structure. Another species in the Kimberley were the magnetic termites, where their gravestone shaped mounds are aligned within 10 degrees of the north-south compass direction.

This raven provided a striking contrast against the rocks.

We then hiked up into a beautiful box canyon.

At the end of the canyon was the Cathedral. The place was so majestic that a camera could not capture it all. This is a shot from the path looking into the Cathedral.

This is a shot from the far end of the Cathedral, under the overhang, looking back to the path. The place has wonderful acoustics and one visitor broke into an acapella version of Amazing Grace that sounded really nice.

Here’s Riley and Tasman relaxing on one of the ledges in the Cathedral.

They offered helicopter rides over the Bungles in piston powered R44 helicopters. Riley took a ride and snapped pictures for the rest of us to see. The helicopter outfit had 3 R44s there and all were filled with passengers. Riley’s pilot was 19 but had been flying Robinson’s for several years already on the ranches, or stations as they are known in the region. The stations can cover a million acres and with no or very few roads helicopters are the current technology used keep an eye on the herds. As technology changes, cowboys and horses gave way to helicopters to cover more ground quickly, which will be replaced by drones at some point in the future. Maybe a cattle prod option on a drone would be a good market….

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset as the last light hit the mountain range with the full moon rising. This was followed by another delicious meal at the Wilderness Lodge.

Pam and I both wished we could have the Roamer in the Kimberley, or even all of Australia for an extended stay. I admit I was getting a little tired of packing and unpacking my stuff nearly every day. With the Roamer, everything is packed and at our fingertips.

Also, Pam likes my cooking, and if we ate meals liked those chefs cooked everyday while we travelled I would way 1000 pounds! But for a few days, it was nice.

Before leaving Purnululu National Park we visited the Echidna Chasm on the north side of the park. The rock of the chasm oasis was a conglomerate or river rocks, and not the usual sandstone.

We hiked up the river bed into the chasm.

The slot canyon, or chasm, was huge with walls that were over 100 feet tall ending in a box canyon where the stream entered the slot.

The terrain outside the canyon looked very familiar. We could have easily been somewhere in the southwest US for this same view. However, this area is one that is covered in water during the wet season.

We continued north to the town of Kununurra for the night.