Kununurra feels a bit like Katherine, though perhaps the acres and acres of crops and orchards courtesy of the Ord River catchment and Lake Argyle surrounding it dispel the air of dejection and listlessness. There certainly is a booming seasonal worker industry going on, something we witnessed on our first morning as we feasted on homemade cake and coffee at the Ivanhoe Cafe, as troopies of weary looking backpackers were ferried from one pumpkin patch to another.
|Caravans everywhere at Leycester's Rest.|
We stocked up on fresh fruit and vegetables at the steel bar decorated Coles and headed down the Great Northern Highway to Purnululu (Bungle Bungles) National Park, our next big stop. I wasn't really sold on the whole beehive rock formation thing but Fiela was insistent that it would all be worth it. Just the drive down was worth it as we passed the Argyle Diamond Mine ("Of course I'd love to buy you the biggest diamond I could find..." He didn't even try to sound sincere about following through on that one) and hours of beautifully stark scenery of escarpments and distant hills.
|A bower bird nest at Purnululu- these were everywhere. We found this right next to a walking track.|
We realised we wouldn't have time that day to drive down to the National Park (being 53kms off the highway and supposedly taking around two and a half hours due to the rough road) so decided to freecamp just at the highway at Leycester's Rest. Did I say the camp at Big Horse Creek was busy?? Ha! The Uys Huis clearly didn't know what busy meant. This free camp was packed full; we managed to squeeze into a spot much to the chagrin of the Grey Nomads next door who tried unsuccessfully to direct us to our 'friends' (sorry, no they're not our friends?) about 100 metres away, then explained that they wouldn't be able to back out if we parked there (no problem we'd be gone early), then suggested the smoke from their fire might hassle us... Turns out they were 'hosting' the drinks for the cool Nomads later and we were kind of cramping their style. That's free camping I suppose; sometimes it's idyllic and sometimes you've got annoying young'ns next door with filthy kids who really should be working 9 to 5 somewhere. Needless to say little love was lost, especially after a few further comments on our parenting style. It just goes to show that dickheads also have caravans.
|Another day, another lookout.|
Anyway, after we made sure the kids made tonnes of noise early the next morning, we drove down to Purnululu. The road was rough, we crossed six or so creeks and wound our way around tight corners down into the National Park, rock beehives noticeably absent. We camped at the northernmost camp site of Kurrajong, a lovely spot with big grassy spots, shade and non-stinky drop toilets.
|Our first walk in Purnulu, Echidna Chasm.|
|Entering the Chasm, stop laughing.|
|Beautiful rock formations at Echidna Chasm.|
|Successful group shot.|
|Unsuccessful group shot.|
|The view from Echidna Chasm Lookout.|
|Lookout at camp over the Purnululu Ranges.|
|Beautiful colours as the sun sets.|
So after freezing our way through the night (5° celsius) we packed a lunch and headed to the other end of the park and Picaninny Gorge, where the other big ticket walks were. The ranges continued the whole way down and became more beehive like: maybe we were close to seeing what all the fuss was about.
|Elephant Rock on the drive in to Picanniny Gorge.|
The fuss is pretty cool. Impressive rock, striped domes of ancientness stood up randomly around us as we drove through to Picaninny Gorge. It was stunning.
We did the shorter walks, and luckily it was quite cool as there was little shade and you could feel the heat bouncing off the enormous rock walls and the sandy floor. What an amazing place. Had anyone said the highlight of my trip would be a walk through sand and rock I would have scoffed at them, but this really was a big moment for us all. We had lunch looking out over those beehives and had to pinch ourselves.
|There were lots of termite mounds built high up on the rock face, |
with thin 'walkways' going down to the gorge floor.
Back at Camp Uys, I took Marguerite around to Lizzie and Mike's for a play, and learned they were doing a similar trip to us, just in a shorter time frame. It was lovely to finally meet people doing what we were (though with a bit more panache I must say), who understood the rigour travelling with children can have on your mental state. Over drinks and travel plans we made friends with these beautiful people, ones whose path we would cross gratefully many times in the coming months.
|Walking through the domes.|
|At Cathedral Gorge, a spectacular gorge cutting its way through the rock, with a mirror like pool. It even smelt like a church.|
|Looking out of Cathedral Gorge- my camera (skills!) don't do this amazing view any kind of justice.|
|Yay for non-tear-inducing group shots.|
|And just so you know it's not all beer and skittles, but more like shits and giggles, Fiela dealing with an ill-timed poo of Caesar's.|