Wednesday 12th September

We were up at 3.45 (we had all blind voted to do this the night before – a special treat offered by Jodie (she probably says that to all the groups, but we felt very special) to see the sun rise over the Bungle Bungles. It was still very dark when we got up and the stars were still in the sky. We all tumbled into the truck and Jodie drove into the night, up to the track leading into the dome area. There we watched the most amazing dawn light infuse the sky and the rocks. Another very special experience. It was well worth getting up for!

We watched in awe as dawn came and the Bungle Bungles came to life. We had breakfast as we watched. Amazing.

As the day lit up in response to the sun, we headed to Picaniny Gorge, the main Bungle Bungle site. The Bungle Bungles have only been a tourist site since 1983 when a film crew were shown it and it more or less instantly became a tourist favourite. We were heading to Cathedral Gorge. On the way Jodie pointed out the Holly Gravillea plant. Historically this was one of the only sources of ‘sweet’ food in the Aboriginal diet. The move from this to the processed sugars of the whiteman has been a major cause of health issues among the indigenous people.

The whole Bungle Bungle area is a sacred place of song, dance and ritual to the Aboriginals. The walk into cathedral Gorge was nice and shady and the path along the Gorge floor an unusually easy walk!.

The ‘cathedral’ is a natural amphitheatre created by the rock with amazing acoustic qualities. As we neared the end of the Gorge the vast mouth of the cavern appeared opened up in front of us. It had a sepulchral feel to it. It was huge. In front of the cave was a large pool of water.

Where the Aboriginal people have, over millennia, held major gatherings and ceremonies, now the modern Australian takes in an orchestra to take advantage of the sound quality and charges vast amounts for the privilege. A much more material approach and not at all in keeping with it’s origins, but it would be a sensational evening to attend!!

As it was still early (it was just after 7.00) and we had the place to ourselves, we sat in silence for a couple of minutes to enjoy the aura of the place. It was an amazing spot.Then, to show us the effect of adding sound, Jody went to take up a position at the front of the cave and behind the pool. She looked like a little pin head in the great gaping mouth, but the music was sensational as it echoed off the walls.

After a wander around the area and a bit of general singing to demonstrate the sound quality,

we left this magical place behind and headed back out into the sun and ever increasing heat. Despite this, young Jodie decided to demonstrate in the sand how the Bungle Bungles had formed, I was so in awe of her ability to do this in the blazing heat, I took nothing in.

Anyone interested could perhaps google ….

We then took another path off the trail to the Picanniny Lookout. This gave us a higher view of the landscape and another angle on the scene.

The day was very hot by then – it was 8.30. We were told of the opportunity to do a further walk – the Dome Loop – on the way back. I noted that no-one took the opportunity…… the heat does rather strangle ones energy and erode some of the dedication!! It certainly curbs my purist tendencies.

Next stop was to be (another!) highlight of the trip. Having lost out on the opportunity to fly over the horizontal falls in Broome, we had opted to to take a helicopter ride over the whole Bungle Bungle area. Helicopter flying was to be a new experience for us both! After a bit of health and safety stuff (eg not to put you hand out 😳, don’t walk into the blade at the back etc eeek!). We were collected by young Adrian (I didn’t like to ask for his credentials but he said it was to be his last day of work for the season – everything closes down before the wet season starts – so I guessed he would not want to do anything silly) who was to be our pilot. We were to be the only passengers. Having been escorted to our vehicle, (where were the doors!?!) and settled into our seats, final safety checks were carried out and we were off. It was hair follicle stimulatingly amazing! I left photography to an incredibly confident (no sign of vertigo!) Mr Gregory sitting up front with Adrian and just enjoyed the view.

He seemed oblivious to the increasingly distant ground which I was only too conscious of from my seat in the back row. I was happier just hanging on to the grab rail in front of me……. Enough of my angst.

We first flew over an area that was the site of Aboriginal graveyards, where tourists are not allowed to go. The view over the whole area was incredible. I had no idea the Bungle Bungles were so vast.

Looking down on the top of the striped domes gave a totally different perspective. After about 20 minutes and feeling more comfortable, I just loved turning into the wide fingers of the Giant Gorge. The helicopter banked so we could see deep into the chasm beneath us. I felt like I was riding on a giant dragon fly and getting a god like view of a true wonder of nature. We flew over the Picanniny routes beneath us where we had walked earlier. I loved it. Keith said it was not only a special experience of the trip but also a special experience of his life. I have to agree. Pretty special.

When we got back to earth, the heat really hit us Dear Jodie had set up lunch at the Helicopter station and was busy cooking crumbed chicken on a barbecue. (Of course). We were clapped in by the others – only a few had taken flights – they were a delight in their pleasure at our pleasure. This birthday celebration just gives and gives!

Lunch over and kit packed away, it was time to take off on a walk to the Echidna Chasm, but it was a step too far for Keith and me. Despite the assurance that the walk was quite shady, it was by now 40 degrees and we thought it was something we could miss. We sat at the Purnululu Park shop and I wrote and Keith dozed and ipadded.

After a couple of hours the others returned and we got back to camp at 3.30. We were to spend another night there.

A hose pipe was attached to the tap and the pipe thrown over a tree. An impromptu shower and naturally amazingly warm. Despite being in a desert and having been warned of the need to conserve water, some took the opportunity a hair wash – I guess it must have been a hair washing day. Some habits cannot be broken!

Early in the evening a ranger arrived to say that the bush fire we had seen a couple of days before and on the way in to the area, was still raging and that it was blocking the Spring Creek Track which we needed to take to get out of the Purnululu National Park. At that point there was no way out. It was hoped things would be better by the morning but we had to check with the ranger before setting out.

It had been a long day…….

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