Purnululu National Park - aka “The Bungles”

Piccaninny Creek, Purnulu Nationa; Park

The Bungle Bungle – aka “The Bungles”

After successfully meeting up with our friends from Melbourne (in Kununurra), we had a day to prepare for the short hop down the Bungles. I finished off the last of the water pump and pipe replacement work and Dan tended to his trailer brakes and bearings. We finished the afternoon with an idyllic trip to the supermarket for luxuries like food and then a quick refreshing dip in a cold cold swimming pool.

However, there was some excitement about driving the 300+ kms into the Bungle Bungle National Park. I had totally forgotten how scenic the drive is from Kununurra, down through the East Kimberley Ranges, it was a very pleasant 250kms on easy tarmac down to the turn-off for the Bungle Bungle National Park.

The road in to the National Park used to be a goat track; twisty, undulating and covered in rocks. Not much had changed in the 28 years since I last visited, except the track was a little wider, the corrugations more prolific and with a few more trucks and adventurers on the road. The road into the Ranger Station is only 53 kms, with a further 11 kms to our campsite, it only took us 90 minutes but we were certainly glad to arrive and stop the bumping and rattling. We later discovered a few things needing to be re-tightened on my truck & trailer, and Dan managed to lose a few pieces of trim from the front of his car. Corrugations will do that to just about anything and everything.

Blue Winged Kookaburra

Our campsites were shady and dusty, or dusty and without decent places for our solar panels 😊 depending on your point of view, but with the children playing happily together and the adults engaged in catching up over a cold beer, tea, coffee, cheese and biscuits, life was pretty dam good.

We spent a couple of days exploring a little of this extraordinary place. There are only a few short walks around the place [one or two longer overnight walks for serious hikers] but the scenery is nothing short of magic. The National Park has two quite distinct and separate identities; the area around Piccaninny Creek and Dome formations is the quintessential Bungles experience and views. However, the other end of the park, just 30 kms away has equally impressive gorges, escarpments, and chasms enchanting each and every visitor.

The path into Mini Palm Gorge, Purnululu

Our three days and nights in the Bungles disappeared in the blink of a dusty eye, we visited Echidna Chasm, the mini Palm Gorge, Piccaninny Creek and Cathedral Gorges. We took the traditional way of exploring – i.e. we walked. 😊 But the fortunate few [with deeper pockets than ours] are able to experience the area from the air, with helicopter rides to show the true extent and beauty of the Bungle Bungle Massif.

Note: we really do fall into the category of poor travellers; we have no TV, no Microwave, no Caravan, no en-suite showers or toilets and sleep under canvas. If anyone is feeling truly sorry for us, just send cash 😊. Might have to try and crowd source the rest of the trip.

It is virtually impossible to adequately describe the Bungles, so I have posted a few pictures here and a link to lots more below, however the best way to understand this place it to experience it for yourself; time to book your holidays and tickets now.

A few Bungles pictures here :

Early on Saturday morning, we were madly packing up for a dash back into Kununurra to watch the annual Bushman’s Rodeo. We also had a few more friends arriving in town after finishing their Gibb River Road adventure and we were all set to live it up, country style at the rodeo.

The drive back to town was uneventful, we stopped at an Aboriginal Art Centre along the way and had the pleasure of talking to a local artist as he started a new piece of work describing his relationship with country. We also grabbed a quick lunch before heading into our Kununurra and our camping spot for the next couple of nights.

confused calves at the Kununurra Rodeo

Somewhat surprisingly we also managed to hatch a plan for Sunday morning.

· Visit to the Old Ivanhoe Crossing and drive through the Ord River.

The old Ivanhoe Crossing used to be the only way to cross they Ord and head up to Wyndham, these days it is just a bit of fun or a short cut, there is a much better road and bridge the other side of town but without the fun and occasional drama. The water flow was pretty low and the crocodiles were off hunting lunch in other parts of the river, so it was an easy crossing. Still great fun and a chance to wash the underside of the cars 😊

· Sunday lunch at the Hoochery.

On to the Hooochery for a quick tasting visit that turned into a long leisurely lunch stop. Over the course of a few tasting sized samples of The Hoochery’s finest rums, plans were laid for the next day; drive out together to Lake Argyle, stay for a day or two and experience the fabled Infinity Pool overlooking the lake and maybe do a few local walks.

And so on Monday morning while the rest of the civilized world was getting ready for another week of work, we packed up and slowly drifted out of town towards Lake Argyle.

late afternoon sun at Lake Arglye

The lake is a product of the dam built in the early 1970’s to provide enough water for a sustainable agriculture industry supported by irrigation waters from the lake. It is a truly massive lake (for Australia) and spectacular. At dawn and dusk, the ranges surrounding the lakes reflect the sunlight into amazing hues of orange, red and an ochre brown combining with the deep blue of the lake. The nearby caravan park supplies cold beer, hot showers and the famous Infinity Pool.

Lake Arglye Infinity Pool

Suffice to say we decided to stay more than the original one day planned although Dan, Lela and family managed to drag themselves away and head off to El Questro Station on the Gibb River Road. It was sad to see them go but it has been a fabulous week catching up and we know when we get back to Melbourne we will have many more stories to share.

Our campsite had awesome views and green grass to set up the camper; we had a fire pit nearby and took advantage of this to cook roast pork and a swag of roasted vegetables in the camp oven. Our friends cooked and shared an excellent damper, delicious as dessert with butter, jam or Nutella 😊

We spent another day walking and exploring the local area, getting more information about the dam construction project of the early 70’s. We also discovered the old Durack Homestead, now a museum, but with amazing links to the history of the establishment of the cattle industry in the area.

The Durack family drove cattle 4600km across almost unchartered northern Australia in the 1870’s, taking two years to get their cattle to the new leases. An amazing journey and incredible bush skills by those crazy, early, tough as nails Australians.

All too soon we were heading further east, and our friends, westward to do their Bungles trip. We have a date with the Zebra Rock Mine Campground and their famous fish and chips 😊.

Campground at Zebra Rock Mine, NT

And then onwards to Katherine, further east into the Northern Territory. Stay tuned for more news of our travels, we are headed towards Kakadu to revisit some of our favourite places from our last trip in 2016.

Regards Roy, Helen, Sophie and Zoe

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