Bungle Bungles by Air

The Bungle Bungles must be as far away from where we live in Dromana as just about anywhere in Australia. So you could say it was the ultimate place for us to visit on our big caravan trip. After leaving Lake Argyle and stopping to top up supplies in Kunnanurra we arrived mid afternoon at Mabel Downs Station, just off the highway on the road into Purnululu National Park. It is one of Western Australia’s more recent national parks. The Bungle Bungles weren’t ‘discovered’ until a film crew ‘found’ them in 1983. Aboriginal people have been in the area for thousands of years however. The National Park is jointly managed by the Purnululu Aboriginal Corporation and Western Australia’s Department of Conservation and Land Management.

After checking in and parking our caravan we walked down to the helipad for a late afternoon chopper flight into and over the Bungle Bungles which we had the foresight to book earlier so we didn’t miss out. Sadly the pilot’s schedule was running late which made us even more excited waiting for it. Pretty soon we heard then saw the helicopter coming in to land with the previous passengers. The pilot farewelled the previous passengers then told us it would be about ten minutes until we took off as he had to refuel. Once that was done we climbed aboard. Karen was happy to be in the front seat.She wasn’t quite as happy from to leave the side door open so I could take photos without getting a reflection off the windows. Off we flew. it took about ten minutes to fly out to the Bungle Bungles. The landscape changed from pretty ho-hum to spectacular as we made our way closer to Purnululu NP.

As you can see it is quite a maze of trails and valleys in the National Park.

The ever increasing shadows gave it quite a dramatic affect as we flew over and around. However it made it hard to take good photographs.It wasn’t until the start of the homeward bound part of the flight that we actually flew over the famous orange and black pancake piles themselves. It was hard to see a path in-between them in the middle but clearly you could walk up to them, something we were now really excited to do the next day.

The return journey was equally amazing as our pilot circled the pancake rock formations a few times before heading west back to base.

At one point we followed a dry riverbedand further on below us we saw a vehicle driving the unsealed road through the national park.As we came in to land the shadows were just about covering all the ground below us.A final circle above the camping areaand a couple of sunset photos completed our fantastic air adventure.Back on planet earth the pilot took a couple of snaps to help us remember our flight.It was only our second time in a helicopter and so different from the first time when we had flown over Iguazu Falls in South America. The contrast from that flight with masses of water below us, to this one with a dry red landscape with the Bungle Bungles featuring, was quite stark. Needless to say this is something we highly recommend if you are ever up in the Kimberley!

FIY – The orange and black stripes that are seen on the rocks are due to orange silica and black lichen. The dark bands are of permeable rock, which allow water to seep through, leading to a thick and dense growth of algae, while the orange bands get their color from oxidized iron compounds.

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