Kununurra to Mabel Downs

Community Highlights Oceania Kununurra to Mabel Downs

Kununurra is another small town which impressed us with its layout, cleanliness and facilities - as well as the usual friendliness that we have experienced on our travels. Now recovered from our cruising, we were ready for another early morning pick up for a flight out over Lake Argyle and the Carr Boyd Ranges to Purnululu National Park and its star turn, the Bungle Bungle Range. Amazingly, the Bungle Bungles only became known to the public in the 1980s - a well-guarded secret.

Our transport awaits

Our transport awaits

The co-pilot?

The co-pilot?

The Ord River snakes through the Carr Boyd Ranges

The Ord River snakes through the Carr Boyd Ranges

Part of the dam wall and Lake Argyle Resort

Part of the dam wall and Lake Argyle Resort

Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle

Part of the Carr Boyd Ranges

Part of the Carr Boyd Ranges

20190527_IMG_5193.jpg?auto=formatTwo views of the Bungle Bungle Range

Two views of the Bungle Bungle Range

The weathered ranges provide colours all the way through

The weathered ranges provide colours all the way through

A gorge cuts its way through the range

A gorge cuts its way through the range

An access road runs along in front of some of the dome-like rocks

An access road runs along in front of some of the dome-like rocks

The Argyle Diamond Mine

The Argyle Diamond Mine

The Diversion Dam

The Diversion Dam

Ivanhoe Crossing

Ivanhoe Crossing

Kununurra township with irrigated fields around it

Kununurra township with irrigated fields around it

Purnululu means sandstone in the local Kitja Aboriginal tongue but the origin of the name Bungle Bungle is less clear. It is believed to be named after a nearby station and the station may have have been named after 'bundle bundle' which is apparently the Aboriginal name for a grass that grows in the area. According to the Aussie Towns website, "The Bungle Bungles are notable for their distinctive beehive-shaped towers. These towers, which were formed between 350-375 million years ago, are the result of sedimentary layers of pebbles, boulders, conglomerates and sandstone all being laid down in the Ord Basin. The strange horizontal banding is layers of cynobacterial crust - black lichen and orange silica [stained by iron and manganese deposits]. Over millions of years the layers were eroded by a combination of wind from the Tanami Desert and rainfall. Some layers were stronger than others and so, as erosion occurred, weathering produced the beehive or bell-like shapes. Fault lines in the horizontal bedding resulted in huge gullies and caves. The sandstone is so fine that it crumbles when touched. The area is a wonderland of Aboriginal art, huge gullies and dramatic caves." Not all of the latter features are easily accessible but those that are, are well worth the trip.

After our flight, we enjoyed finding what Kununurra has to offer and visited The Hoochery, a rum distillery, where we had a good lunch. Heading back into town, we stopped off at Mirima National Park (also known as Hidden Valley National Park and the mini-Bungle Bungles). As usual, we had far too little time and only managed a short walk around which was a pity as there was much more to see. This was one place which I had not found when researching and had allowed too little time in Kununurra to see all that we found we wanted to see. Always the way!

large_fcd08c50-bed8-11e9-b891-8de7996181fc.jpg?auto=formatTwo views of the cliffs in the park

Two views of the cliffs in the park

On our way out of Kununurra we stopped off to wander around the Celebrity Tree Park and on down to Lily Lagoon.

View through Celebrity Tree Park to Lily Lagoon

View through Celebrity Tree Park to Lily Lagoon

A boab in the Tree Park

A boab in the Tree Park

Judith in the Tree Park

Judith in the Tree Park

Grey-crowned Babbler (most of!)

Grey-crowned Babbler (most of!)

Scarlet Finch

Scarlet Finch

View across the lagoon to the jetty

View across the lagoon to the jetty

Nymphoides water lily

Nymphoides water lily

Intermediate Egret

Intermediate Egret

Having enjoyed our flight, we then drove to Bungle Bungle Caravan Park on Mabel Downs Station. The latter is named after Margaret May 'Mabel' Bridge. 'Mabel' was a 10 year old girl who took charge of a four-horse wagon in 1895 and rode with her family of five (including a newborn baby) 3,000 km from Normanton on the Gulf of Carpentaria to the Halls Creek area where her father staked a claim of 709,000 hectares named Mabel Downs in honour of his amazing pioneering daughter (sourced from Dianne Bates on Travel Blog site). On the way to the station, we drove through some interesting country.

Back among the boabs

Back among the boabs

A lumpy bumpy termite mound

A lumpy bumpy termite mound

The hired Hilux in front of one of several mounds of brokem rocks which resembled smaller Devil's Marbles

The hired Hilux in front of one of several mounds of brokem rocks which resembled smaller Devil's Marbles

A boab imprisoned by its own offspring?

A boab imprisoned by its own offspring?

One of a few occasions when the journey slowed to a crawl - the load had about 5cm clearance either side

One of a few occasions when the journey slowed to a crawl - the load had about 5cm clearance either side

Here we stayed in tented accommodation and had time to wander around enjoying some of the station life.

A hazard of bird watching - actually rather placid

A hazard of bird watching - actually rather placid

The odd one out, a Corella among Galahs

The odd one out, a Corella among Galahs

Crested Pigeons roosting near the tent

Crested Pigeons roosting near the tent

Steve roasting in the tent, checking his pics!

Steve roasting in the tent, checking his pics!

Two Rainbow Bee Eaters

Two Rainbow Bee Eaters

An Agile Wallaby with joey

An Agile Wallaby with joey

Corella in casual pose

Corella in casual pose

We also booked onto a 4WD day tour into Purnululu National Park where we had close views of the domes and a walk into Piccaninny Pool and then on to Cathedral Gorge.

Sunrise before we set out for our drive

Sunrise before we set out for our drive

Pandanus palms by creek on the way

Pandanus palms by creek on the way

The 4WD coach from Mabel Downs

The 4WD coach from Mabel Downs

"Elephant Rock", actually two elephants!

"Elephant Rock", actually two elephants!

A jumble of banded rocks and domes forming part of the range

A jumble of banded rocks and domes forming part of the range

Closer views of some of the domes

Closer views of some of the domes

And still more domes

And still more domes

An unusual termite mound on the side of one of the banded cliffs

An unusual termite mound on the side of one of the banded cliffs

Some of our group looking at Piccaninny Pool

Some of our group looking at Piccaninny Pool

Not a lot of water in Piccaninny Pool

Not a lot of water in Piccaninny Pool

Aboriginal handprints on one of the rock surfaces

Aboriginal handprints on one of the rock surfaces

A few more domes and a cone

A few more domes and a cone

Holes scoured in river bed

Holes scoured in river bed

Other visitors leaving Cathedral Gorge

Other visitors leaving Cathedral Gorge

Grotesque rock formations near the entrance to Cathedral Gorge

Grotesque rock formations near the entrance to Cathedral Gorge

Inside the gorge

Inside the gorge

A pool inside the gorge

A pool inside the gorge

Panoramic view inside the gorge

Panoramic view inside the gorge

Our guide gave a solo performance to demonstrate the acoustics

Our guide gave a solo performance to demonstrate the acoustics

After some refreshments, we were taken to the other end of the Bungle Bungles where had the opportunity to walk into Echidna Chasm. Unfortunately, the walk in over a boulder-strewn dry riverbed put too great a strain on my hip (replaced on our last visit!), so we turned back. Nonetheless it was great to see different aspects of the range and to walk at relative leisure through parts of it. The drive back was at rather a rapid rate over a poor road so that we were thoroughly shaken up by the time we got back to camp and desperately needed a cold beer!

The riverbed leading to Echidna Chasm

The riverbed leading to Echidna Chasm

This featured blog entry was written by SteveJD from the blog Travels with "Jet Set".
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By SteveJD

Posted Sat, Aug 17, 2019 | Australia | Comments