Day 12: Day 1 in Purnululu National Park – Saturday 10th of June
Total driven: 231km
Total hiked: About 2km
Author: Mr A
After putting the van into storage in Cunanurra, we stocked up on a few extra provisions for three days camping. Our next destination allowed only single axle camper trailers and vans and ours is a tandem axle. We were headed into the famous World Heritage area in the Bungle Bungle Range, containing incredible rock formations in the Purnululu National Park. The most famous are the beehive like structures that you are probably familiar with, but there’s so much more to see there.
After around 170km drive down the Great Northern Highway (sounds grand but its actually a two lane road with the odd single track over bridges!), we turned off onto the dirt. It was 56kms of bone jarring corrugations until we checked in at the Visitor Centre. What must overseas visitors think when they are coming to such a famous tourist destination and they are confronted with this drive! One French couple I overhead talking to the National Park’s reception were incredulous, saying “We had no idea it wasn’t a proper road, everyone else had those big trucks”. Not sure what they drove in with but I bet their hire car company won’t be pleased with the result! Our car is definitely looking the part now covered in red dust.
We (term used loosely) had pre-made a dinner of bolognaise, so that was just warmed up in the BBQ (our Weber cooks like an oven) and some spaghetti cooked up and we were in business – with a nice drop of red of course.
It’s an early night for all the campers (including us) as the best sights are just after dawn (5.45am) when the sun strikes the rock and turn the sandstone a bright.
Day 13: Day 2 in Purnululu National Park
Total driven: About 40km
Total hiked: About 12km
Author: Mrs A
After a very comfortable night’s sleep in the tent, we awoke at sunrise and Mr A cooked up sausages, egg and mushroom wraps for breakfast, setting us up for a day of hiking.
We drove to our first location, Homestead Valley, and were off walking by 7.40am, heading up a stunning valley, full of birds and overlooked on all sides by orange walls, vibrant in the sun.
The walk weaved through palm trees and spinnifex, across dry pebbly creeks and up to a lookout point. The valley is apparently named after some Aboriginal artwork found here, depicting a local 1800s homestead. Cattle were run in these parts from about 1880 until the 1940s, by which time they had created devastating damage to the local fauna and degraded the river banks. The parks are working hard to remove feral animals still roaming here – including cattle and donkeys. Apparently there is a substantial population of feral cats here which they are still trying to tackle. We enjoyed the view at the end before heading back to the car and onto our next location.
Next was Echidna Chasm. We set off on our walk around 10am, aiming to reach the narrow crack around 11am, when the sun reaches the walls, bringing bright light into the narrow crack in the range. Again, many birds lined the track as we walked up, extremely hard to capture on camera as they ducked and weaved their way around the palm trees and undergrowth, hunting for insects. Upon reaching the gorge we were greeted by a narrow crack in the cliffs, a pebbly base to walk along and dark corridors, lit way above by blue skies and glowing orange rock.
The geology around here is high in iron, giving the gorgeous rust colours, and takes the form of fossilised sediments from an ancient river bed. Many of the pebbles we walked upon were from this river bed, rolled many millions of years ago. The rocks in this fossilised river bed are even older, and are derived from an ancient, long since eroded, mountain range. It definitely feels spiritual, and a little eerie walking through a narrow path, sediments full of pebbles towering high on either side of us, looking as though they were still made of silt and likely to crumble and bury us alive. Mr A did not appreciate me sharing this thought!
As 11am arrived, we awaited the spectacle, and waited…and waited…perhaps 11am was a little early – it was more like 11:40am that the sun hit, by which time Mr A was giving me the impatient look of someone who was ready to get back out in the sunshine! I got some incredible photos though, and the change in light and atmosphere was well worth the wait.
About 9 years ago, we bought a gadget for our Land Cruiser which allows us to pump water through the hot engine, and have a lovely shower. To date we have never been able to enjoy this – the water either scalding hot, or not hot at all. Today, we finally managed to get it right and had a fabulous shower each and changed for the afternoon. Very civilised, and LONG awaited!
It is now beer o’clock. We accidentally didn’t bring enough booze (yes, I know, unheard of!) and therefore have a ration of 1 beer each tonight and maximum 1/2 a bottle of wine between the two of us. Last night we had no beers, and one glass of wine each! Shockingly sober for a camping trip, especially when the sun sets at 4.45pm and we have so much evening ahead! I’m sure we will be early to bed again though, the temperature drops to around 7 degrees at night, and we are not allowed fires.
Best get off to prepare dinner – chicken tikka (home made out of the freezer) this evening, and another early start tomorrow as we head to the opposite end of the national park for our hikes and viewpoints.
Day 14: Day 3 in Purnululu National Park
Total driven: About 55km
Total hiked: 13.5km
Author: Mr A
“This will make our top 10 best walks“…I said to Mrs A as we walked into the most incredible scenery amongst the rock dome formations that this southernmost area of the park is world famous for.
The day had started early we were on the road by the 6.30 to catch the early morning light. An hour’s drive round the tracks in the park took us to the area where we had planned some walks. We booted up (the spinifex is fearsomely sharp) and set off into this surreal landscape.
This is our last night here and its been a wonderful experience, but I am looking forward to getting out of the dust and into our luxury mobile apartment (van!) – soft I know 🙂