Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Ian and Kathy were able to get in first thing and get their tyre fixed this morning. In fact it was all done and they were ready by 8am to go.  We were no where near ready as we didn’t even think they would manage to get it seen to until at least 8.30am.  Steve also had a few emails he needed to attend to before we left as we weren’t sure whether we will have any access to Internet over the next few days.  He was way too tired to have done it last night so left it until this morning…

In the end,  Ian and Kathy took off ahead of us.  There really wasn’t any point in them waiting around when they were all packed up, van hitched and roof down.  

It was probably another hour and a half later before we managed to finally get on the road.  We were driving out of the showgrounds right on the dot of 10am, check out time…
Scenery along the drive today.
Termite mounds we came across today.
 The termite mounds in this area of WA are quite different to any others that we have seen.  We actually nick named them plop mounds, as lots of them looked like sand mounds on the beach where you had just let wet sand slip through your fingers and plop on top of a sand castle.   They really were quite spectacular and quite large. 

The drive was pleasant today, only 220kms until the turn off to Purnululu National Park.  We still weren’t 100% sure where we should stay for the night.  The Caravan Park at the Bungle Bungles is very very basic, dirt sites, limited amenities and you even had to cart out your own rubbish, and they wanted $50 a night to camp there…..  If you didn’t stay there you could park your van there for $20 a day so that you can drive into the National Park.  They call it secure parking, but when we were inquiring about it, it didn’t really sound like they took much notice of the vans parked there anyway.
Bungle Bungles Caravan Park

We had heard about a free camping rest area called Leycester’s about 7kms further on from the entrance to the Bungle Bungles and so decided that we could probably stay there and go in from there.  Ian and Kathy arrived there before us and were a concerned about leaving our vans there since there really wasn’t anyone else there, so then we had to rethink where we would stay.
Aerial View of Leycester's Rest Area
Crossing at Leycester's Rest Area - you can't drive over it anymore.
The story of Leycester Rest Area. 
They asked us to check out the Bungle Bungles Caravan Park on our way through.  We checked it out and that was when we decided that there was no way we wanted to spend $50 a night to stay there.  That would have been the dearest park we had stayed in with absolutely no facilities.  It was basic,  I mean very basic and there were only about 6 vans in there.  

Spring Creek Rest Area - opposite the entrance to the Bungle Bungles

As we were driving out, we noticed another Free Rest Area on the banks of Spring Creek just across the road from the Bungle Bungles entrance, so drove in there and checked it out.  It looked perfect, but Ian and Kathy were already camping up the road, so we at least needed to go check out Leychesters.  

They were already set up, but there was no room next to them for us to set up as the ground was very uneven, so we went further around and camped next to a picnic table.  Kathy was still not keen to leave our vans there so whilst Ian stayed behind to look after our vans,  we took her back for a drive to the Caravan Park and Spring Creek Rest Area to show her what we had found.  Like us she was very unimpressed with the Caravan Park, but did like the look of the Spring Creek Rest area.

This time when we drove in, we recognized Nick and Melissa, a couple who were camped next to us in Kununurra and the Swiss couple we had met when we were at the  Devil’s Marbles our first time round.  

We found that there were at least three spots left for caravans.  At this point there were over 20 vans in there.  Melissa offered to park their car across a couple of the spots so that we could go back to Leycesters and hook up and come back here to stay.

It didn’t take us long to throw everything back in the car and in our case hook up, and back to Spring Creek Rest Area we headed.  By the time we got back there, another car and van had pulled in also, and there were three more vans in the upper level.  

What a great little free camping area this was.  Everyone was so friendly, and you could even take a dip in the creek there.  Well lots of folk did,  I am afraid, I am still a bit cautious about swimming in creeks up here with the Crocs about.  

We were parked next to Nick and Melissa, again, and they had met up with another couple they met when camped also at the Devil’s marbles, and in the end, we all ended up driving into Purnululu National Park together the following morning…

We had a very early start the following morning, we wanted to be gone before 6am to head into the Bungle Bungles for the day.  We had 80 kms of very corrugated, dirt road to travel in on, with six creek crossings as well.  We were told to allow two and a half hours to get into Catherdral Gorge.
The drive in...
Entrance to the Bungle Bungles
Clumps of spinifex growing over the hills everywere
Large termite mounds again

The road was a shocker, in fact one of the tour operators told us it was probably the worst it has been,  we ended a couple of hours of bone ratting, jaw clenching, spine jarring driving as we travelled in. 

I think Melissa was glad that they decided to drive in with us, as she said if they were on their own, they probably would have turned back before they even got to the first creek crossing.
The drive in was through Mabel Downs, and that was the worst section of road, once we got to the National Park, although the road was still dirt and corrugated, it wasn’t quite as bad and you were able to comfortably sit on about 40-50kms on it. 
This sign at the Rangers Office amused us after our horrid drive in.
  We all had to register at the National Parks  Headquarters, and they supplied maps to us here.  

We still had another 24 kms one way to Cathedral Gorge or  27kms in the opposite direction to Echidna Chasm. We knew we weren’t going to manage both in the one day, so decided that since the consensus from most people we spoke to, was that the Cathedral Gorge was the most spectacular, we decided to head there.
The drive into Cathedral Rock
Elephant Rock (Mother and Baby Elephant)  You need an imagination.
Personally I thought this one looked more like an elephant with his trunk cut off.
Bungle Bungle trademark - domed layered rocks.  Spectacular....
So many of them....
Amazing sight -

We arrived there about 9.30am and decided we needed some fluid before tackling any great walk in this heat, so morning tea it was….
Ian and Kathy setting out on their walk to Piccaninny Creek Lookout.
Steve, Ian and Kathy at Piccaninny Creek Lookout
Fascinated by this termite mound on top of one of the domes...
It was pretty high up..
There were a couple of walks we could do in this area.  Steve, Ian and Kathy decided to do the walk to Piccaninny Creek Lookout, which was about 15 minutes in the opposite direction to the Cathedral Gorge.  I decided to head straight to Cathedral Gorge, as I am a lot slower then they all are and I figured they would probably catch me anyway.

Heading to Cathedral Gorge

  It was a pretty easy walk.  It was graded as a Level 4, which is usually a level that I don’t tackle.  Whilst we were having morning tea we spoke to one of the tour guides that had arrived with a bus load of people and he convinced me that I would have no trouble.  There was a lot of rock (which is why it was graded as a Level 4) but it was all large and smooth and almost formed most of the paths to the Gorge.  
Cathedral Gorge
Steepness of the Gorge
Steve exploring Cathedral Gorge
Cathedral Gorge
Steve and I in Cathedral Gorge
Heading back out of the gorge
Walking in the sand was perhaps the most difficult part...
I did it......

Heart shaped pool
The walk was easy, but what wasn’t was the heat…. It was 37 degrees and most of the way you were in direct sunlight, and there was no breeze going in.  It was a shocker….
Still once you got to the Gorge itself you were in shade for the rest of the walk up to the amphitheatre.  I am so pleased that I made the effort as it was really quite stunning.  You were also walking through and around all the lovely dome shaped rocks.  You can understand why the Aboriginals think that this is sacred ground…  

Rock Pigeons
We were amazed at this termite mound that was built up the side of a cliff
Close up of the termite mound
A long walk back in the heat...

 We spent a couple of hours in here, and then on the way back to the car park decided to walk around the Domes.  It is such a special place, and I am so glad we made the effort to drive in.  Would I do it again…. I don’t think so, I think if I were ever to come back here again, I would do the flight over it….

After walking through the Gorge, we came back to the Car Park where we had our picnic lunch.  My now it was almost 1pm.  We wanted to be leaving the park around 2pm so that we were back to our vans well and truly before dark.

There was another lookout the boys were keen to explore called Kungkahnayl  Lookout, and it was about a kms along the track to Echidna Chasm.  We figured that since we were so close it was probably worth the drive there to check it out also.  
Looking back down to the carpark
Totally different landscape
One of the many wildflowers
Heaps of these spider webs along the trail alos
Panoramic view from the lookout
The landscape to this lookout completely changed and the lookout was not looking over the Bungle Bungles the same.  The rest of us chose to remain with the car whilst Steve quickly went for a walk up there. He was pretty impressed with the scenery and took photos to show us.  

By the time we left here it was 2.30pm.  Time to head for home….
The road seemed rougher on the way out, although we managed to try and keep some speed up 40kms an hour for most of the way out.  It is no where near as bumpy if you travelled just that little bit faster.

We were a little quicker getting home.  When we got to within about 5-6kms of home, we found a grader working on the road, grading it, and boy did that sure make a difference for the last section…

We got back to our van around 4.30pm.  Fortunately we had no issues with our car,  a few had punctured tyres, one of the cars camping where we were lost his front number place,  another guy lost his head light, so we were very thankful that we scraped through without any problems.  

Once back at the rest area, we caught up with a few of the other campers for nibblies and drinks, and to hear about their travels and swap stories.  It was a lovely way to end a very special day.  So glad we made the decision to drive in and see it.  


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