Distance covered: 111 kmWell, now that I’m in the Bungles at last, time to take a closer look at it, right? As the dawn breaks, I prepare my backpack and promptly drive towards the southern section of the park, to marvel at all the goodies before the other walkers and hikers swarm all over them.
It's already looking good, and I'm not even there yet!
The road's pretty good, too.
But the domes certainly look better.
Just look at it!Purnululu National Park is encircling the Bungle Bungle Range, and is still called The Bungles by many, even though “purnululu”, which simply means “sandstone”, is much easier to pronounce than quite a few other Aboriginal words. And sure enough, the local sandstone looks remarkable.
The stripey “purnululu”.The first walk takes me to the aptly named Domes. The park is famous for these beautiful orange cliffs of all shapes and sizes, sculpted by millions of years of exposure to wind and water. They do look very weathered and fragile; unsurprisingly, climbing upon them is strictly forbidden. Not that I was going to!
Walking towards the Domes.
The sandy path is not very comfortable to walk on, but very cool and shady.
At the end of the path and looking back.As I leave the Domes (which is a very short walk anyway), I embark on the main route, which goes along the dry (at this time of year) Piccaninny Creek. The track isn't marked in any way, but there's no need; the creek bed is surrounded by the domes, and you simply can't take a wrong turn anywhere. Although some people undoubtedly can!
The creek bed.
Termite mounds are white here.
A few water holes still linger even during the Dry.Next stop is the Cathedral Gorge. The tall walls are dark and shady, towering above me and the foul-looking pool of water in the middle. The gorge is gorgeous (see what I did there?). And there's no people around at all, which makes the experience even better.
Heading into the Gorge.
Walls are crumbling in places. Even without the mankind's help!
Looking back to where I came from.
The pool doesn't look too swimmable, though.The air slowly becomes hot and dry, filled with some gentle and very pleasing aroma from the surrounding grass. My sense of smell is not very good, but I can certainly detect that, and it's certainly a smell I've never known before. Another peculiar feature of the place!
Back to the creek.
The domes are just spectacular.
Just look at these stripes and shapes!
Love the texture of the creek, too.Some more hiking later, the Piccaninny Creek Lookout gives me a good panorama of the creek itself. During the Wet it’s full with water, which is a bit difficult to imagine right now, when the sun is so hot, and everything around is tinder dry. Must be quite a sight though.
Walking towards the lookout.
The Piccaninny Creek.As the sun climbs higher, the creek bed gets increasingly populated: more and more tourists crawl out of the woodwork to explore the scenery. Thankfully, they’re still few and far between, and I manage to take my pictures without them so far. And boy, there's plenty of opportunity for those.
Back on the creek.
The textures of the rocks are just phenomenal.
And they keep changing all the time.
I can only imagine what it's like here when this creek is full of water.Another point of interest is called The Window, which is, well, a small window in a slab of sandstone. It reminds me a bit of the Nature's Window back in Kalbarri, although there's much less to see here through this one. All the beauty is back at the creek!
The Window (with termites, who apparently love the view).
And back to the creek again.
The spectacular rocky swirls.By the time I get to the Whip Snake Gorge, it's full of people (mostly in their fifties) who look tired as they munch on their lunches. I join them for a while, using this moment of rest to soak in the surrounding beauty. Of which there's no shortage at all in this spectacular place.
Walking towards the Whip Snake Gorge.
The Gorge and the hikers.
At the end of the path.As I make my way back to the creek, I think about following it all the way through… but decide not to. It’s a full-on hike, 20 kilometres with no protection from sun at all, which is getting quite fierce already, and I’m already a bit tired. So yeah. Maybe some other time. I slowly make my way back to the parking lot, marvelling at the views already seen and inhaling the soft fragrance of this peculiar local grass.
On my way back.
Can't get enough of these textures and swirls.
See what I mean?
Sometimes the creek bed gets a bit too rocky to walk upon.On my way out of the southern section of the park I take a snapshot of the last sightseeing stop here: the Elephant Rock. Guess what that thing resembles!
The Elephant Rock.Still, there’s a fair bit of the day left, and I guilt-talk myself into exploring the northern section of the park as well, now that I’ve ignored the “proper” hike. Indeed, it’s only half past 11 when I arrive to my first stop there, which is Echidna Chasm.
Approaching the Chasm.
The rocks look very different here.
And the palms look very tall.I’m not sure if they have any actual echidnas there, but the gorge itself looks very chasm-y, all right. Tall red cliffs squeeze the pathway from both sides, and the sun high above you paints the walls in all hues of vivid orange and red. My camera goes nuts from all the contrast.
Entering the Chasm.
Looks quite narrow, all right!
Looking up.Another lovely addition is a sizeable boulder about two tons worth of conglomerate rock, wedged between the walls at the end of the gorge right above people’s heads. Must be a lot of fun for someone when the rock finally goes on its way down one day, and they're there to witness it.
The path is never wide.
The hanging rock.
Can you spot the human?
Back into the light.My last hike for today would be the Mini Palms Gorge. Much like the Chasm, it's squeezed quite tight in a few places, and there’s a serious risk to smash your camera if you’re not careful enough. As you survive all that and enter the gorge, there is indeed a few tiny palms scattered around, but the rest of them look very normal, and they look very striking against the shaded red cliffs.
On my way to the Mini Palms.
Stripey sandstone again!
Entering the gorge.
Well, maybe not all of these palms are “mini”, but there's certainly a lot of them!
There are some mini palms on the walls of the gorge, though.
Red and green: the dominant colours of the park.Well, it’s been a long day, and by the time I get back to the campground, it’s 4 p.m. and 31,000 steps on my pedometer – not bad at all. In the absence of showers, a water tap next to the toilet is an excellent finishing touch for a sunny sweaty day.
The moon welcomes the night.