Access to the park is only via air or 4 wheel drive rig, and is only open during the dry season, approximately mid April to mid October. This is winter, and the air is at it's coolest temps. When we were there, temps in the shade were in the mid 30's C., or up to around 100 F. The park is best explored by hiking, either day hikes or overnight backpacks. Photo ops are everywhere, and the crowds are moderate due to the 4x4 access road.
Mini Palms Gorge
Our first hike was to a slot canyon called Mini Palms gorge. The hike was straightforward, a mix of both trail and boulder scrambling up the canyon filled with Livistona palms. The gorge was beautiful, and best was it was nearly all in the shade.
The next day we headed up to Echidna Chasm. This narrow canyon is famous for the light near mid day, at the moment when the sun penetrates to the canyon floor for a brief few minutes. The rest of the time the canyon is quite dark, given the height of the walls. We arrived at the deepest point in the hike in plenty of time for the daily event, and already there were heaps of others waiting for the show to start. Echidna delivered on the hype, the views up and down the canyon were amazing, and were continually changing as the sun moved overhead.
We even saw our first Aussie snake, a fairly small rascal patrolling the canyon floor looking for a feed. Like seemingly most critters in Australia, the yellow-faced whip snake is poisonous. Australianmuseum.com says this: "The yellow-faced whip snake is a venomous snake, but is not considered dangerous. !!!!! However, a bite could be extremely painful, with much local swelling." I guess if it won't kill you, it's not "dangerous". (We love Australia!!!)
|Crowd gathers, waiting for the show to start|
This is perhaps the most famous of all of the hikes in the park. The trail winds through some great dome scenery becoming a narrow canyon, before ending up in an incredible natural stone amphitheatre. Carved by water over millions of years, the cave reminded me of Redwall Cavern in the Grand Canyon in the U.S. The acoustics in the cave are terrific, and we were lucky enough to have it to ourselves for a while before a mob arrived. Sweet as.
|Yet another Australian Trump Tower|
|Cindi soaks up a bit of shade under a rare bush|
Our map said it was only about 8.5 km to Black Rocks....just over 5 miles.....how tough could it be??? Well, after the first couple of miles, we were pretty hammered. After a few of hours of rock hopping and sinking into the deep gravel, we were bonking, and no sight yet of the cooling shade of Black Rock Pool.....it HAS to be here by now.....ughhhh.
|Even the frogs trapped when the pools dried up were hurting out here!!! We felt like this poor guy.....|
Remember the title of this post? What's with the "Bungling....."?? Well, after we set up the tent and drank a few liters of water, it was time to cook dinner in the dwindling daylight. We set up the new backpacking stove, filled the pot with water, and got ready for a great curry event. "Hey, it looks like this stove doesn't have a built in striker." "Did you bring a lighter" "No, I thought this stove was just like our old one, striker should be included" ".......Oh shit......."
So dinner became the next days lunch of a tin of tuna, some salami slices, cheese, and a couple of granola bars. This meant we would not be able to hike further up the canyon the next day, as we'd be out of non-cook food. What was intended to be a two night, 3 day hike up the beautiful gorge was now shortened to 1 night, 2 day bataan death march. The scenery was beautiful, we had a spectacular camp site, but yup, it was a big time bungle!!!
So all in all, it was a good week in the Bungle Bungle. We did some beautiful hikes, but I'd say we underestimated the intensity of the desert heat for backpacking. Purnululu is a fantastic national park full of unique geology and landscapes.