Amazingly, this area was only discovered by the wider public in 1983 and was made a national park in 1987. We were told that this only happened when a national geographic film crew was in Kununurra en route to do a documentary about the Kimberley. They were at the pub, or so we were told, and a local stockman said if they thought the Kimberley was interesting he could show them something better. They took up the offer and after he showed them some of the Bungle Bungle Range, they spent the week here and never made it to the rest of the Kimberley. We were also told Bungle Bungle comes from the Aboriginal words to describe the grass in the area. In the morning, we drove to the southern part of the range. It is here that the iconic Bungle Bungle domes or beehives are.
The orange and grey banding of the domes is in the thin layer of silica and clay that covers underlying white sandstone. The colour is dependent on the permeability of the layers. The more porous layers allow water to seep through and results in the growth of cyanobacteria (blue green algae) while the less porous bands dry out too quickly for the algae to develop and are red due to the iron oxide content.
Our walk took us around the domes and then to Cathedral Gorge. The gorge walk was along a mainly dry riverbed to a cavernous end, with a small pool under soaring cliffs. Oh no! We had to share it. Our run of luck had to end sometime. However, this was definitely not unlucky. A woman there started singing in German (I think) and the acoustics were magnificent. I guess that is why it got its name. After a snack and just as we were about to leave a small tour group arrived and the tour guide pulled out his didgeridoo and started playing. The boys were enthralled and Ben and Sam had a go on his didgeribone, a plastic version of a didg. with a slide like a trombone. Patrick had already left with Tom so he missed out.
We returned to the start of the gorge where we opted to go to Piccaninny Lookout rather than walk along Piccaninny Creek. This walk can go from a few kms to a 4-day hike if you go right up to end and to The Fingers, which branch off the side. The look out walk was much shorter, a much better option as it was reaching the mid 30s and it was not even lunchtime.
We returned to the car park had our picnic lunch and lots of water. Tom and I had decided it was worth doing the helicopter ride as we had heard the views were amazing. All I can say is do believe the hype. There were no other people at the airstrip so we did not have to wait for a flight. They only had the smaller helicopters flying to day, which meant we had to go in two flights but also meant that everyone got a window seat, well not exactly a window seat as they take the doors off. Patrick and I went first, he took the front seat and I went in the back. The flight took us over the domes, along Piccaninny Creek to the Fingers and across the plateau in the centre of the Bungle Bungle Range.
We could also see across the Tanami Desert, which is where the wind and sand are blown from which help to shape this range and in millions of years will erode it away. On our return, it was Tom, Sam and Bens go. They told Dean the pilot that they did not mind a bit of steep banking, and from what I hear they got their wish.
This morning before we left we filled the camp shower up to heat up the water. Essentially a black bag with a hose and nozzle attached. Since it had been such a hot day, the water was scalding. After the boys had their shower, in the open as we do not have a shower tent, it was Toms turn. He was lathered up when our camp neighbours turned up. There had been no one in any of the sites near us so he thought he was safe. Needless to say, they coped an eyeful on arrival and Tom just finished his shower, I waited until after sunset for mine. It did not matter and was a great way to meet them. The driver had picked up Pete and Chrystal who had left their truck at the car park and had hitched in. Pete was a juggler and performed at the Mindil markets in Darwin, Chrystal was an alternate hairdresser. Our boys just referred to her as crazy haired girl, (not to her face), due to, well her crazy hair. We shared a few stories around the campfire that night and Pete promised to teach the boys to juggle either the next morning or at Mindil if we saw him there.
Tom took so many photos; he gave me 51 photos including 26 panoramas, and as you can see, I had a hard time choosing which ones to include.