The Bungle Bungles Range is one of the highlights of the trip so far. It has presented a problem – how to refrain from adding 350 photographs to the blog !! It was a challenging drive into the Range involving over 250 Kms of rough tracks with many creek and river crossings. But it was more than worth it.
The Bungle Bungle Range is the landform that is the major component of the Purnululu National Park in Western Australia.
The distinctive beehive-shaped towers are made up of sandstones and conglomerates (rocks composed mainly of pebbles and boulders and cemented together by finer material). These sedimentary formations were deposited into the Ord Basin 375 to 350 million years ago, when active faults were altering the landscape. The combined effects of wind from the Tanami Desert and rainfall over millions of years shaped the domes. Weathering also helped create this marvel. Water seeps into the rock, and at night it expands as it gets colder. This creates small cracks which eventually wears out the rocks.
A 7 km diameter circular topographic feature is clearly visible on satellite images of the Bungle Bungle Range (Google Maps image). It is believed that this feature is the eroded remnant of a very ancient meteorite impact crater and is known as the Piccaninny impact structure.
El Questro is a privately owned wilderness park that was previously a cattle station located in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The park is located 110 Kms West of Kununurra and can be accessed by the Gibb River Road.
This area is not a National Park and we objected to paying an entrance fee of $40 to look at scenery that should be free, having already purchased a National Parks pass for a year ! That said, there was some excellent scenery which we ‘stole’ a look at, having left the van at a free camp near the entrance for the day. ! And it was fun driving down the Gibb River Road for a small distance. No idea how people stand 500 Kms of that torture.
Wyndham is the oldest and northernmost town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, located on the Great Northern Highway, 2,210 Kms (1,373 mi) northeast of Perth. It was established in 1886 as a result of a gold rush at Halls Creek, and it is now a port and service centre for the east Kimberley with a population of 800.
The first European to visit the area was Phillip Parker King in 1819. He was instructed to find a river ‘likely to lead to an interior navigation into the great continent’. He sailed into Cambridge Gulf, which he named after the Duke of Cambridge, and then sailed up a river which was subsequently named after him (the King River).
During World War II, the town was attacked several times by Japanese aircraft.
Wyndham’s significance as a service centre was crucial for the construction of the Ord River Diversion Dam and the town of Kununurra in the early 1960s. With the rise of Kununurra as a larger population centre the significance of Wyndham as a service centre had diminished by the 1980s. Wyndham has regained significance as the port for the region with new mines shipping ore from the port.
We met the local donkey at the caravan park and explored some of the more remote gorges in the Wyndham area.
Kununurra is in far northern Western Australia located at the eastern extremity of the Kimberley Region approximately 37 Kms from the border with the Northern Territory. Kununurra was initiated to service the Ord River Irrigation scheme. It is 3,040 Kms (1,889 miles) from Perth via the Great Northern Highway.
The town is situated in among the scenic hills and ranges of the far north-east Kimberley Region, having an abundance of fresh water, conserved by the Ord River Diversion dam and the main Ord River Dam.
We take in some of the local scenery and also have our first experience of sand greens at the local golf club.
Just over the WA border lies Lake Argyle, Australia’s largest artificial lake by volume. It is part of the Ord River Irrigation Scheme and is located near the East Kimberley (Western Australia) town of Kununurra. The lake flooded large parts of the Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley on the Kimberley Plateau about eighty kilometres inland from the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, close to the border with the Northern Territory.
It has only taken 46 days and well over 4,000 Kms but we have made it into the only state in Australia that we had not visited with the caravan, West Australia. We lose one and a half hours crossing into a new time zone and also any fresh veggies and fruit cannot be taken into the state.
WA is a state occupying the entire western third of Australia. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Southern Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east. Western Australia is Australia’s largest state with a total land area of 2,529,875 square kilometres (976,790 sq mi), and the second-largest country subdivision in the world – however, a significant part of it is sparsely populated. The state has approximately 2.5 million inhabitants (around 11% of the national total), and 92% of the state’s population lives in the south-west corner of the state.
The first European visitor to Western Australia was the Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog, who visited the Western Australian coast in 1616. The first European inhabitants were the crew of the British East Indiaman Tryall, who were wrecked on Tryal Rocks in May 1622.
Today Western Australia’s economy mainly relies on mining, agriculture and tourism. The state produces 46% of Australia’s exports. Western Australia is the second-largest iron ore producer in the world.
Still in the Gregory National Park, we encounter our first Boab Tree. Adansonia gregorii, commonly known as the boab, is a tree in the family Malvaceae. As with other baobabs, it is easily recognised by the swollen base of its trunk, which gives the tree a bottle-like appearance. Endemic to Australia, boab occurs in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and east into the Northern Territory. It is the only baobab to occur in Australia, the others being native to Madagascar (six species) and mainland Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (two species).
One strange sight is a large Boab clearly inscribed with the date July 2nd 1856 which marks the landing of the explorer Augustus Charles Gregory on the Victoria River.
We turn left at Katherine and are now heading into new territory towards West Australia. The Gregory National Park (local indigenous name Judbarra) is a national park in the Northern Territory 359 km south of Darwin. The park is the largest national park (larger than the more famous Kakadu) in the Northern Territory, with an area of 13,000 sq Kms. Ecologically, it is in the transition between tropical and semi-arid zones.
The Park features spectacular range and gorge scenery and significant traces of Aboriginal culture, European exploration and pastoral history. We spend 4 days in the park, taking in some lovely walks with fantastic scenery.
The majestic Victoria River flows 560 Kms from its source, south of the Gregory National Park, until it enters Joseph Bonaparte Gulf in the Timor Sea, the Victoria River is the longest singularly named permanent river in the Northern Territory.
On 12 September 1819, Philip Parker King discovered the mouth of the Victoria and, twenty years later, in 1839, Captain J. C. Wickham arrived at the same spot in the HMS Beagle and named the river after Queen Victoria. Crew members of the Beagle followed the river upstream into the interior for more than 200 kilometres.
It has been a while since we have had enough mobile coverage and connection to let us have internet. So now is the time to catch up on the blog.
We finally leave our home state of Queensland 3,700 Kms and 39 days after leaving home. This is not new territory for us as we came this way last year on the way to the red centre. We free camp at 41 Bore the first night, then a stay at a favourite – Banka Banka, where the car and caravan get cleaned. The next day we make it to a famous outback pub at Daly Waters.