About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi

"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844

Monday, August 15, 2016

Bungling the Bungle Bungle

After leaving the Canning Stock Route dust behind, we headed north into the region known as the Kimberly, a vast area encompassing all of the northern part of Western Australia and even some of the Northern Territory.

Our first stop was Purnululu National Park, home of the World Heritage listed Bungle Bungle Range. This dramatic landscape of dome shaped Karst sandstone formations and gorges, has been formed by wind and water over the last 20 million years.

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.

Echidna Chasm

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

Cathedral Gorge

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

Pickaninny Gorge

For our last hike in the park, we decided to do an 3 day overnight backpack up Pickaninny Creek to explore the depths of Pickaninny Gorge.  Though not especially long, the hike can be a tough one, with no real trail, just boulder hopping and hiking through soft gravel up the dry creek bed.  Registration with the ranger station is required, and hikers are required to carry either an emergency satellite rescue beacon or a sat phone in case of emergency.  It is recommended that you drink 5-8 liters of water daily given the heat.

Cindi soaks up a bit of shade under a rare bush
The heat, ah yes, the damned heat.  This was our first experience in years carrying heavy packs in the desert.  Mid day temps were approaching 40 degrees C. (104 F).  For the first few miles there was absolutely no shade.  We had been told that there was only one reliable source of water, at Black Rock Pool, so we were each carrying perhaps 40-50 lbs with water and camera gear.  Way too much, as we were about to find out.

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.....

Finally we came around corner of "the elbow" and saw it up a side canyon, at last.  10 more minutes and we were able to drop our packs.  Though the map had indicated the hike was 8.5 km, our gps showed 11.97 km, a big difference when hiking in temps well over 100.  We've done some tough hikes in our days, but this one really kicked our butts.  We made camp by the cool pool at the base of the cliffs, in an absolutely beautiful spot.  Life did not suck after all, right?

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!!!

The next day we just filled our water bags and headed back out.  Again the day was a scorcher, but we left early before the sun was at its height.  Better than the previous days 11am start, but we were still completely spent by the time we reached the rig, and the welcome cold beer in the fridge.....thank you, oh mighty Engel, god of refrigeration!!!

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.


  1. What adventure! Some great photos too. Respect, respect ...

    1. Thanks for riding along, mate. It is a fun place for exploring, no doubt about it. And many an opportunity to kill a pixel or 2!!! Cheers!

  2. Wow! Great pictures. We have never heard of this place. So glad you posted.

    Mark and Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff

    1. Thanks, guys! It is definitely a spot worth visiting. Cheers!

  3. Love reading your stories. The pics are amazing. Almost like being there (minus snakes and Bataan death March). Safe travels and can't wait to see where you land next. xoxo

  4. Love reading your stories. The pics are amazing. Almost like being there (minus snakes and Bataan death March). Safe travels and can't wait to see where you land next. xoxo