Saturday 12 August to Tuesday 15 August 2017
We were up early, but I had a few things to do- first of all was to try and repair the water pump. I pulled it apart, found the cause of the leak and fixed it. And all the other leaks that I found. However, the hand pump still didn't work but the electric pump now worked without leaking.
Next I checked the wheel bearings on the van and the noises I had heard the previous day were gone. Seems it was dust in the brake area. We topped up the water tank, got some supplies and headed off to the Bungle Bungle ranges (Purnululu) where we are spending four days.
We arrived at the turn off after a little only 200 Klms and two hours driving. Only 50klms to go , and what a 50 Klms it was. It took about 2 and a half hours with numerous twists and turns and plenty of water crossing. Plus we came across a dingo on the side of the road who quickly disappeared when we made eye contact. We got to the Rangers Hut and paid 4 nights camping fees and set off to find a site. We found one and it is one of the best sites we have used in a National Park. Private and plenty of space. It also has views across the northern Bungle Bungle range.We set up camp, which wore us out because of the heat, so had a rest with plans to photograph the setting sun over the Bungles from a nearby look out.
We took off at 5pm because the sun sets at 5.30 but alas was too late. Because of the ranges, the sun goes behind the Hills at 5:00pm. As we drove along we could see the brilliant red hughs of the Bungles but were not in a position to photograph it. We’ll come back tomorrow so proceeded to the lookout to check vantage points.
The next morning we decided to visit Echidna Gorge which is a walk up the valley floor then through a rock cavern to the gorge. To get the best colour you need to be there between 10 and midday. The walk up the valley had little shade and the sun here is unrelenting . There is no cloud cover whatsoever, and with 30 to 35 degree temperatures little wind and 0 humidity it saps your energy very quickly and dehydration can become an issue. The walk as about 2 k return and I drank all of the water I had with me being 1.6 litres and really it was not enough. Without water you would not last long in this country.
The gorge was spectacular. We reached the end and sat there for about an hour and watched the sun gradually descend and light up the gorge and reveal the colours. Fantastic. We walked back out and did another short walk then headed back to camp for a late lunch.
(Today I met one of the local aboriginal rangers and he explained that the dreaming story for this area related to the palm trees that grow out of the rocks in this area. It is to do with a long time ago echidnas burrowing under the Bungles and their spikes are the palm trees. He also told me he has never seen an echidna in the area in his life except a dead one.)
After the echidna walk we went back to camp had lunch and decide to rest up and the head up to the lookout for the sunset shot. We got there in time but there was a lot of smoke haze and not as clear as the night before. We got some good shots and lamented on what it could have been. As that famous Australian philosopher Tony Abbott said a few years ago “shit happens”. It's the only slogan he has used that most probably has some truth to it, but it is only 2 words.
Monday we were up early and decided to explore the southern area of Purnululu. This is where the famous beehive domes are and about 50 Klms from our camp. Again spectacular, but the walks here have no shade at all. We did the Dome walk and then scouted some vantage points to do a sunrise shoot the next morning. We got back to camp at 4pm with me buggered again. 10 years ago I would have done it all before breakfast and then more in the afternoon, but I am quickly coming to the conclusion that at 75 those days are over. While I rested Louise did some scouting about and found a new vantage point for sunset shoots that was very close to our camp.
This morning we were up real early (4am) and headed out to get the sunrise shots, however, in the dark could not find the vantage points we had picked. That's ok we just played it by ear, found a few spots and got some hopefully stunning shots. Once the sun had risen we had breakfast and the headed off for several walks, the first being the Cathedral Gorge walk. The walk in was fairly easy as the sun was not fully up and the huge domes provide some relief. We got to the end of the gorge to find this huge cavern like cathedral and just sat there in silence and soaked up the atmosphere. We had beaten the crowds so could really get the feel of the place. Majestic, spiritual, grand are all words you could use to describe it but none suffice. While the photos are great they don't do it justice either. Just with the whole of Purnululu you have to visit, soak it in to get the full experience.
We walked out and I was finding the going a bit difficult because of the heat so missed the other two walks we had planned. It was just too hot.
We returned to camp where I had a sleep for about 3 hours.
While having lunch two aboriginal rangers came by. I went over to them and asked if this was their country and when he replied yes and why there was there was no information at all of aboriginal heritage for the area despite aboriginal association to this land for over 20000 years.
I should have guessed. Politics. It appears that the language groups in the Kimberley's did not mix in the past. Governments being what they are choose the easiest solution and appears that the group in the area would not work with the yes minister group from further north ( just as they haven't for over 20000 years). So they have been totally cut out of the process and aren't even part of the Kimberley Land Council. Because of the politics, government has decided just to ignore their history as if it didn't exist. They also have the longest running native land title claim which has been going for over 30 years. So the rich history of the people of this area including massacres, rich rock art and rock peckings is being lost unless something changes real soon. (Pecking said are where the person chipped the outline of the drawing and then filled in the middle by chipping out more rock. They are only found in Mutawintji National Park north of Broken Hill and those have been carbon dated to over 40,000 years old and we have privaliged to see them. The only other place you find them in Australia is here.) To lose that history in my book is sacrilege and government should fix it. To exclude a group because they don't follow the yes men is not the way to do it.
The last thing I should mention here is the dust. As I said before there is absolutely no moisture in the air. If you huff on your glasses to clean them nothing happens. So the dust permeates everything, every nook and cranny and ends up in places I'll let your imagination think about the possibilities. Normally coiffured and spotless Louise looks like she's been rolling in the dirt with the local station dogs.
We are up early in the morning for the trip to Kunanarra and a long hot shower. After 4 days we need it.
we are staying in Kununarra tonight and then tomorrow going out to Lake Argyle for 3 nights and more than likely be off air for that time. Until the next blog.