Kimberley - Purnululu (Bungles) - Piccaninny Gorge Day Two August 14 2018
  Base Camp.

Lots of dead vines as a result of spraying, and lots still alive. Comfortable sand (with some clay content to turn it grey) underneath.

An illustrious sounding name for a patch of sand in the middle of a deep gorge.

It means we don't have to carry water. At least not at the same time as carrying everything else.

We have two water bladders. One with the remains of the 10 litres we carried from the car park. The other is empty, to be carried further up the gorge today and filled with 10 litres on the way back. From yesterday's reconnaissance I know its 850m.

  I walk slightly faster than Ali. Walking slower is more tiring for me, walking faster is difficult for Ali. I pause occasionally for a chat and Ali complains she never gets a rest.

Looking back Ali is a dot in the middle of a very large gorge.

We've started early, around 6am, by the time of this photo the sun is already highlighting the eastern rim of the gorge.

Our campsite is in the distance around bend.

  Our water supply.

With fish and beetles.

  The gorge gets a bit tangled as "Side Gorge 1" enters from the true right.

There are five side gorges and the main gorge to be explored.

  Just before gorge 1 enters is more water. A larger pool.
  Around this time, when writing up the blog, one encounters the difficulty of remembering what caused one to take a particular pic.

This is possibly looking into side gorge 1. The contrast between sunlit rock and shadows is difficult for the camera.

  The Livistona Palms cling to the most unlikely places then grow tall to reach the light.
  This is the entrance to side gorge 5. We'll have a closer look on the way back.
  There's evidence of the creek having been a couple of meters above the base of the tree.

And a sense of the gorge becoming narrower.

  Then fallen rocks to clamber around. Which made the horrible sand and shingle look easy.

The steps are always a bit higher than one can comfortably take. And Ali's legs are shorter than mine.

  Getting narrower. And water. About 30 minutes after Side Gorge 5.

The gps coordinates are becoming a bit erratic.

Most odd. Over the Yorkshire Moors if one's socks became wet it usually meant change socks or have cold feet. In New Zealand's Fiordland a little water like this would be simply walk through it as one's feet would soon warm. For some strange reason we resisted walking through this and took the high road.

  This is really the next, lower, level of the gorge forming, the high road is the old pavement level.
  As we move deeper into the gorge, and it becomes narrower, we think the palms are taller.
  After a bit of a struggle we can see the gorge opening out.

We nearly stopped just before this as the fallen rocks became increasingly difficult to navigate over or around.

  Looking back, this tree marked the boundary. 20m from where the struggle nearly became too much.

The substantial roots are wound around the rocks. Its a survivor.

Fatigue is cumulative. Yesterday's exertions meant less energy for today. We realise we will have to turn back soon, no matter how easy or difficult the way forward looks.

  Its difficult to convey the colours in the gorge.

The cliff faces are mostly various shades of orange, with occasional purple, and the black of algae where water has flowed.

The colours change with the sunlight.

  The open area where Side Gorge 3 enters. From the left of the pic (true right of the main gorge).
  We had a short (100m) walk into Side Gorge 3.
  Then a few hundred meters into the main gorge.

Then stopped, turned around, and started walking back. The map is labeled 3 km and a bit, the gps says 7 km.

Regardless, we've been walking a bit more than two and a half hours. More than enough as its at least two and a half hours back to base camp.

  We've heard a few birds and seen even fewer. The woodswallows and other insect catchers seem to inhabit the tops of the cliffs. We've seen a few pigeons. Having ignored pigeons for so long, they seem "ordinary" to us. Sort of "Trafalgar Square Pigeons".  We are beginning to appreciate the variety and will pay more attention.

This is not a pigeon, but we don't know what it is.

  This is the easy bit. Before the rock falls.
  Where's Ali?

The scale of the gorge is at times overwhelming.

The narrowness of the gorge, the lack of scree slopes and limited vegetation means we are always aware of our surroundings.

  This must surely be a skink that is endemic to the area.

A Lerista Bunglebungle?

While we catch movement from the corners of our eyes we only see them if they move.

  We wonder at the long tail.
  The way back to base camp looks different now. Apart from the direction the sun has moved.

We have the usual discussions about "is this the way we came?". Its an uncomfortable feeling based on vague half formed memories of where we walked less than a half hour previously. We recall in our younger years almost always "knowing". Of reading, and remembering for longer, more signs.

  So as to remember what the photos were of I wrote gorge numbers in the sand and took pics of the numbers as we passed each entrance. The pics are also timestamped. GPS is up to 300m in error.

So I can reliably claim (I think) that this is a pic of the entrance to Side Gorge 5, looking into the gorge.

  I walked in about 400 m before there were rocks to negotiate.

Its now 11:25 am, we started at about 6:20. Another 45 minutes back to base camp.

Common sense, and sore feet, suggest head for "home".

Of course there are always regrets. No matter how far we walked there would always be more to see. In this case a hint that somewhere "around the corner" is a pool of water where the only way past is to swim.

But we'll never know for sure ........


  Nearly home. The penultimate pool before base camp.

We decided one pool was as good as another, we opted to take 10 litres of water from the next, smaller, pool.

Yesterday is not the first time I've carried water. That milestone belongs in about 1970 when in the English Lakes District. Not only carrying water but walking on a disused rail track, where track and sleepers had been removed leaving only ballast. It had the same effect on my feet then as the shingle and sand have had now.

The Lakes District lesson was so well learned that its been 48 years since I've felt compelled to carry spare water while hiking, bush walking, tramping, trekking, rambling or simply walking. But bungling, at our age, is different in that the margin for safety is much less.

  We are back at base camp at 12:15. About 6 hours bungling.

About 400m north of our base camp we met another (much younger) couple who had pitched their tent having had enough walking for the day from the car park. They seemed a little pleased when we described where the water lay further up the gorge. About 400m from their camp. They had missed the entry to Black Rock Pool.

Our camp is almost silent. We rest under the tree again, until the tent is shaded. We hear the "crunch, crunch, crunch ..." of footsteps in the shingle long before we see anyone. Two parties of two men, also much younger than us, stopped for a brief chat. All looked exhausted. And told us so. Somewhat later in the day, about 3pm, than we had been walking, they were searching for shade.

The silence was also broken by the noise of a crow picking around in the edge of the spinifex. Anout 50m away. Hard to see if its eating a frog or a lizard.

Kimberley - Purnululu (Bungles) - Piccaninny Gorge Day Three August 15 2018

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