Kimberley - Purnululu (Bungles) - North August 9 - 11 2018
  After about 6km we were released from the tight bush and soft sand.

We are on our way to the Bungles.

  We passed four or five pairs of Brolgas. They kept their distance.
  Kunununurra for fuel, water, food, post office, headlamp bulb .... it all takes time.

We cross the Ord River at what looks to us like control gates for Lake Argyle.

  Straight ahead would take us to Wyndham. We turn left on the Great Northern Highway towards Halls Creek.
  A ten hour day is long for us. We opt for a roadside camp.
  Another early start.

There's smoke in the air from burning off.

We hope it doesn't reach as far as the Bungles. About 80 km to the turnoff.

  A new bridge across the Wilson River.

The old one is single lane.

The road is good south of here, but not as good as the upgraded road north.

  We weren't sure what to expect of the 53 km track into the Bungles.

Some reports suggested we would need low range 4wd. Others mentioned 50 creek crossings. Some said it would take 2 1/2 hours. A few mentioned oncoming traffic on a single lane track with lots of corners.

Its now August. Long since the end of the wet season.

We drove along a road. Two vehicles wide. Very heavy corrugations for the first 20 km, after that light to no corrugations. Just a bit twisty and mildly rough surface. The creek crossings were all dry, except one, and graded. Like a dip in any road. No difficult entries or exits. The one wet creek crossing was about 150 mm deep with a stone bottom. Traffic was reasonable, and no tour buses.


  We found our campsite - numbered but not allocated - in the northern camp.

Late afternoon we drove to Echidna Gorge.

If I had a bucket list the Bungles would be on it. For no other reason than we had to drive past in 1978. We knew it was here somewhere but couldn't really find good directions and most seemed to consider it inaccessible for our 2-speed automatic Holden Kingswood.

The mysterious Bungles has occupied a corner of my mind for 40 years. Wondering if I'll ever see them. And now here I am.

In the intervening years the area has become a national park (1987) and a world heritage area. There's a tourist company camp and helicopter flights. There are iconic marketing images.

We won't see a Bungle for a couple of days. The Domes are in the south of the range, we are camped in the north. The origin of the name Bungle Bungle Range, or Bungles, or Purnululu is lost in the sands of time. We shall entertain ourselves by looking for a single Bungle ....... something so odd its obvious nature bungled its creation ..... and be satisfied we looked, while never finding the something that doesn't exist.

  The rock is a conglomerate. Various sized river worn stones in a sand matrix. From 15 to 1 cm. I think they are sandstone. But none of the interpretive signs seem to mention it, I may have to break one. Sedimentary rock, which has been eroded to form the stones, which are then captured as sedimentary rock in some never ending cycle.

The Bungle Bungle Range is a big lump of conglomerate deposited in an old river bed.

Squashed (technical geological term) to form rock. Formed about 350 million years ago.

The palms are Livistona Palms.

  Somewhere, out of sight, is a Great Bower Bird.
  The gorge is 180m (lots!) deep.
  Ali in Echidna Gorge.

One can only wonder at the name (of the gorge). An echidna attacked by a galah burrowed into the rock to take refuge, leaving quills (palms).

Apparently the "best" time is 11:30 when the sun is overhead and lights up the gorge and turns the walls shades of orange.

Intuitively, we think the "best" time is the time we are there, with only a few passers by, and the evening light filtering through.

  We timed our walk so as to arrive at Osmand Lookout ready for a sunset.
  The Osmand Range, on the left hand bank of Red Rock Creek (which runs in the bottom of the valley), and beyond, is a tad older than the Bungles at around 1.8 billion years.

Sandstone on top of volcanic rock.

Which provides permanent surface water from springs, unlike the Bungles where the water runs away soon after the end of the wet season.

As any good geomorphologist will tell us, the vegetation is different on that side of the creek. Even monsoonal rainforest.

A similar height to the Bungles, around 500 - 600m above sea level. The valley floor is around 250m.

  Looking south west along the valley towards the camping area.
  The gorge is towards the left of the pic.
  Just a couple of these bushes near the base of the cliffs.
  The Bungles are the brown bit. Echidna Gorge is near the top. Top left.

The Osmand Range angles to the north of the Bungles (just the tip showing on the map). Red Rock Creek flowing north east between the two.

When we've exhausted the gorges in the northern part we'll have a look at the south.

Hopefully we will walk into the very long gorge system in the centre of the map.

  Another day, we head to "the Bloodwoods". About 5km south west of Echidna, still on the north west corner of the Bungles.

A walk into Homestead Valley ..... which doesn't have a homestead, probably never did, but apparently has an (inaccessible) rock art picture of one.

  The entrance to the valley.

We are walking for a bit in shadow. Cool.

  Getting closer.
  But don't forget to look back
  The valley is reasonably wide.
  So we stand more or less in the middle, there's a shade-cloth shaded lookout, and .... look out.
  Not at all easy going to reach deeper into the gorges.
  Greeted by a little woodswallow.

We've seen these elsewhere, but had forgotten. All we could recall was a conversation about a blue beak.

  Is this a Bungle?

In the background is Osmand Range.

  Or maybe this?

We are walking around to Mini Palms Gorge.

The trees are bloodwoods.

  Mini Palms Gorge (named because there are young Livistona Palms in the gorge) closes in gradually as we advance.
  We climbed the steps to the lookout to see the end of the gorge.

The morning sun is beginning to provide a bit of colour.

  Looking back the older palms have grown tall to reach the limited light.
  The bedding planes are inclined slightly upwards towards the west.

The Bungles were formed in the bottom of a river valley, and later uplifted by geological activity. Then eroded.

For a while I wondered where the high mountains that had provided the sediment for the Bungles were.

But low mountains and lower Bungles explains.

Most of the sediment came from the Osmand Range.

  There's a lookout next to the Bloodwoods car park.

Looking south west with the Osmand Range in the background.

  We could see into Homestead Valley.
  A trip to the Visitor Centre to register for our Piccaninny Gorge walk. Start day after tomorrow. So far no-one else in the gorge.

From the office and a chat to a passing Ranger we are reasonably confident we know where there is water in the gorges.

On the way back another lookout.

The north west escarpment of the Bungles.

Up to 1967, when the area was destocked, the valley was somewhat over stocked and over grazed, resulting in dust and a lack of trees. Which our Ranger tells us explains why most of the trees are all the same height. De-stocking was part of stabilising the land as all of the creeks run into the Ord River, and thus Lake Argyle.

  And grevillea (pyramidalis) flowers.

Last night there was a cow around the truck. It made a bit of noise as it moved away when I opened the door. Eyes reflected the torch from about 20m. We didn't see the dingo.

  A quick walk around the 1km loop of the Kurrajong Trail from our (Kurrajong) campground.

This pic taken from the limestone ridge as the sun sets behind it, there's a nice lookout. Looking northwards along the course of Red Rock Creek, the Bungles highlighted, the Osmand Range to the far left, and an outcrop of the limestone ridge in the foreground. The Bloodwoods and Echidna Gorge are "just around the corner".

The limestone is Cambrian (520 million years ago). Older than the Devonian reef we saw further north and west, at Geikie Gorge and Ningbing Range. If we have time we'll look for fossils. Trilobites here rather than fish, which evolved later.

Someone has done a lot of good work on this short trail. Lots of signs describing the plants.

The Stonehenge track (off the road north towards the Bloodwoods and Echidna Gorge) is near the creek and describes vegetation from the perspective of how a hunter-gatherer would make use of each plant.

The Kurrajong Trail has general botanical descriptions and explanations. Plus a "geomorphological", see the wood for the trees, description of various vegetation communities resulting from soil type and water availability.

Two, complementary, views of the same world. Both incomplete.

Kimberley - Purnululu (Bungles) - South August 12 2018

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