Friday, June 5, 2009

To the Bungle Bungles and back again

We're back in Kununurra for an unscheduled pit-stop. Troopie had been a bit greedy with the pink cordial since we left Mornington and after obsessively monitoring the coolant levels over the past week I noticed a small crack in the top of the radiator.

We sensibly decided not to just hope for the best and plough on over thousands of kms of dirt taking the back way to Darwin and instead came back here. The old girl is currently at Top End Motors having a new radiator put in. A two hour job apparently, but I've not heard anything since this morning, so we've got our fingers crossed. I had been a bit worried we'd be stuck here for five weeks (like some people on a six month trip who'd had to wait that long for some parts for their vehicle to arrive). One big advantage of the HZJ75 is their ubiquitousness and therefore in theory at least the availability of parts. Folks in their Hummers or Jeeps (like the world's fastest indians we met in the desert) beware.

Luckily it didn't stop us enjoying our stay at the Bungle Bungles. They were made famous in Australia thanks to an ABC doco in 1983, and even more famous in the UK thanks to Helen Daniels coming here on a painting holiday in Neighbours. Since then it has been made a national park and has been recognised as a World Heritage area. (Australia has 27 World Heritage areas and we'll have ticked most of them off by the end of our adventure.)

Access to the park is about 250kms south of Kununurra, and then a further 53kms of bone-shaking dirt road peppered with blind rises, sharp corners, surprise creek crossings and speeding Europeans in hire 4WDs.

First stop was the western (non bungly) side of the park where we camped at a lovely shady spot called Kurrajong. We were both pretty buggered after our Gibb River adventure and we'd not got much rest in Kununurra, so it was feet up time with our books. (I'd bagged two previously elusive Scarpetta novels from a cafe when we went to get a pie.)

Our first proper day of exploring took us to Echidna Gorge. We'd waited til midday to make the most of the overhead sun. The lighting was just sensational as we made our way through the tight squeezes. We were well rewarded by finding a green frog at the heart of the gorge. There wasn't much water around so I'd say his days are numbered.

After our recent radiator problems I'm a bit reluctant to get too stuck in to the Patrol-heads, but we were quite impressed with state of this one! Luckily we'd been off the road for a couple of days when the heavens opened unseasonally.

Just up the road from Kurrajong was a top lookout for watching the sun going down (and the changing colours of the escarpment) and pre-dinner drinks.

Day 3 we got up pretty early and moved camps to Walardi which was closer to the Bungly part, dumped our gear in a free spot, and headed on to explore the domes.

The termites are pretty adventurous souls. This mound started around 10 feet of the ground (probably to avoid the worst of the annual wet season).

Renewed from our fairly lazy day prior we spent a few hours in the heat of the day exploring the Cathedral, the domes walk and a little bit of the Piccanniny walk.

Other than a smelly dunny which was a little bit close to our camp at Walardi, our Bungle Bungle adventure was absolutely fantastic. I'd rate it over Uluru, although it is of course a little bit harder to get to.

This alas is the last hairy photo of me that will grace the blog. It was getting way out of control and I was starting to scare people. I now apparently look like Freddie Mercury. I'm still a bit too shocked to put any photos of the 'new me' up yet, but stay tuned.

And so, back to Kununurra. This is the view of the lake from the Kimberleyland caravan park. Yet another top spot top enjoy the sun go down with a cold beer (Australia seems to be full of such places).

I just got the call to say I can pick up Troopie in half an hour. They've also changed our fan belts, so that is something else I don't have to obsess about for a while (freeing up more time for me to monitor the solar panels to ensure they're at just the right angle to maximise their shadow, and hence their exposure to the sun).

I suspect spending fifty hours a week manipulating excel spreadsheets is not going to be quite as much fun as it used to be after I've gotten used to having all this other stuff to worry about.

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