Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Bungle Bungles National Park

The first water crossing, Purnululu NP access road

After three nights at Mary Pool we packed up and continued.  Just one hundred kilometres down the road is Halls Creek.  This is a small town, mainly Aboriginal, and only has one fuel stop (where we had to queue to get diesel), an information centre, pharmacy, small supermarket and a few other small shops.  The town was pull of caravans, heading both directions and either filling up with diesel or stocking up at the supermarket.  The Great Northern Highway is the main access road from Darwin to Broome and a very popular route during the winter dry season.
 Welcome to Purnululu NP signage
After filling with diesel we stopped for a couple of hours to catch up on telephone calls and emails as we hadn’t had the internet for three days.  Interesting how reliant we have become on being “connected”. 

We visited the information centre for a map of Purnululu National Park (also known as The Bungle Bungles National Park) as that was our next stopping point.  We enquired about filling with water and this was the first place we have been told there is a charge - $20 for a hundred litres.  We found it interesting that this is mainly an Aboriginal town yet we were served by an Asian lady at the Shell Fuel and another Asian lady at the Information Centre.  The other attendant at the Information Centre was overhead to say he was from The Netherlands.  There were a lot of Aboriginal people about, I assume spending their day as they usually do.  The children were laughing and running around, the women were sitting in groups and the men in other groups.  The Aboriginal people very rarely make eye contact and if you say hello as you pass it is only occasionally that one of the younger people will respond.  It seems terrible to ignore them but often that is what they prefer.

After a couple of hours we continued on.  Our next stop was at Spring Creek which is another free camping area at the turn off to Purnululu National Park.  Once again this is a very popular place – there are two sections and we are in the upper section as down by the river was completely full.   We set up camp, met the neighbours and those who had already visited the National Park were keen to tell us about it.  The road leading into the park is 54 kilometres to the Visitors Centre and is a four wheel drive only road.  No caravans are allowed but there are two camping areas for camper trailers and tents.  We decided that we will visit for a day and stay at the free camping area – just a little lazy this time to pull out the tent and the bedding!

We were told at the Information Centre and this was also in the pamphlet that the 54 kilometre drive would take 2-3 hours and we decided it must be some road.  However, others who have visited said the road is much better this year and should take less.  We decided that an early start would be wise as we didn’t want to be walking the gorges in the heat of the day – the temperature was expected to be around 30 degrees. 

It was freezing overnight – we couldn’t believe how cold.  I put on a sweatshirt and merino socks and Peter found his merino hat and put that on and he still complained that he was cold.  By 6 am we were both awake so we got up and after a quick shower to warm up we headed off and we were on the road by around 7 am.  Not bad for me!

The road really was just a gravel road, with a few pot holes here and there and lots of dips.  Some of the dips still had water in them, and some were actual river crossings.  In all we had fourteen water crossings on the drive in and it took us just over an hour and a half.  At one of the dry river crossings we could see just how high the water had been during the wet season by the amount of debris that had accumulated against one of the trees.

After stopping at the Visitors Centre to register (we have a Western Australia National Parks pass so we didn’t need to pay a day entry) we decided to head to Cathedral Gorge and the Dome Walk.  This was a further twenty seven kilometres and took another three quarters of an hour.  As we got nearer to the range the Domes became visible.  They are banded sandstone domes – they are striking beehive shaped domes with orange and grey bands.  There are lots of them and they are pretty impressive.  Walking was the plan, so with hat on, water and a snack in the back pack we left the car to complete the Cathedral Walk, followed by viewing Piccaninny Creek then the short Domes Walk.  It was not yet 10 a.m. and still relatively cool and great temperature to walk in.
4508  The dome shaped rocks at The Bungle Bungles, WA
 The dome walk, The Bungle Bungles

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