Week 14 - June 18, 2018 - June 24, 2018

We started off this week with a bit of travelling as we had several places to visit.  A quick overnight stop in Fitzroy and we were on our way to Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungle range.

   A common site while driving in the northern part of Australia,  The Aborigines used                                          Visitor to camp
              the controlled burn to remove brush and enhance endemic plants to seed and grow           
    Can you see it?

Baobab (boab) trees - a new favorite tree.  These trees are something rather special.  Endemic to Australia, boabs occur in the Kimberly region of Western Australia and into the Northern Territory.  They are only found in this part of Australia and its 'Gondwana' neighbors, Madagascar, mainland Africa and part of the Arabian Peninsula. They range from 5 to 15 meters (15'-45') in height and have a broad, interesting bottle shaped trunk and are some of the most photogenic trees I have ever seen.
   Why the Boabs are shared with Africa and Arabia               Photogenic Boab trees

Our stop in Purnululu was primarily for us to jump on a tour bus and take a trip into the Bungle Bungles (no typo there, that is what the range is called).  The Bungle Bungle Range is part of the  Unesco World Heritage Purnululu National Park and is quite otherworldly.  The ancient, eroded sandstone domes are considered some of the finest examples of 'cone karst sandstone' in the world.  The domes resemble 'bee hives' and can be hundreds of feet in height. 

We were off to a good start             Found a dried creek and its waterfall nestled within the bungles
We opted to take the full day tour as you needed a 4x4 vehicle on the rough roads and it was a two hour trip in and out of the Bungle Bungles.  We visited the north and south sides of the park and we were let loose to explore on our own.
  Classic bee hive Bungle                                                           Beautiful Bungles
  Just the grandeur of the Bungles was breathtaking                  Where's Gerson?

With a bit of determination and fleet of foot, we were able to hike into a few areas of interest: Echidna Chasm, Cathedral Gorge, Piccaninny Lookout and added in a side jaunt along the Domes Walk.  Every turn surprised with something different and every slot led to yet another spectacular twist between the Bungles.  

  So many spectacular views along the way                          Echina Chasm trail
  Gerson having a bit of fun in the slots           Remarkable geologic formations
The Bungle Bungle Range was formed over 360 million years ago with sand and gravel being deposited during the Devonian period. The sand was deposited by rivers flowing from the northeast and with the presence of the south-easterly winds, sand dunes began to form.  At the same time, gravel from eroding mountains to the northwest were also being deposited within the range (hence the layers).  This combination of sand and gravel became compacted and the geological formations continued until about 60 million years later when the sandstone was at a depth of about 7 km (4.3 miles).  A period of uplifting and tilting from underlying rocks or rather, the event of mountain building called an 'orogeny' created the towering beehive domes that are remnants of a once nearly flat land surface that was 600 meters (1800') above present day sea level.

   Walking to Piccaninny Lookout                  View from Piccaninny Lookout

   Cathedral Gorge was gorgeous - notice the water fall stain 
   We found this heart-shaped imprint where a rock fell out of the wall            Elephant rock - can you see why it is called this?

We barely had time to take in the wonder of the Bungle Bungles when we were off to meet up with John and Michelle at El Questro Wilderness Park located on the El Questro Station (cattle station with approximately one million acres!).

   Coming into El Questro                                        El Questro (Emma Gorge) walls were formidable
Before we camped in for the night, we stopped off at Emma Gorge to have a bit of a hike and a dip in a waterfall pool that had its own thermal stream.

  Emma Gorge                        Louise found the thermal inlet                   The waterfall did not disappoint
  Stunning pools                     Gerson also found the thermal pool            Very cool to swim under the ledge
Emma Gorge had its challenges, but it was well worth the hike.  As you swam around the waterfall pool, you could feel the warm currents from the various thermal water inlets. 
  Beautiful views of the waterfall pool                     Awesome panoramic from water to opening above

   Other smaller waterfalls at pool                 Gerson enhancing the landscape
We made it into El Questro at night and thankfully, John and Michelle protected a spot next to them and alongside the river.  More and more we are thankful for Cinderoo being small as she tucked right into her camp and we had a nice bbq 'patio'.    El Questro was quite expansive and numerous gorge hikes, rim walks and more thermal pools to discover.
   Cinderoo was a champ crossing the rivers                              Sunset from our kitchen window

Our first order of business was a loop hike along a river and around one of the mountains.  The rocky hike kicked my behind and there was a time I lost sight of the beauty and only wanted to see the car, but alas, I finally took a breath of fresh air and admired the spectacular landscape.

   The resident burro asking for treats                             Crossing a rather deep river with John's 4x4
   Beautiful river starting off the hike                              Remarkable patterns in the rocks
   Some fun rock hopping across the river          View on the other side of the mountain and sunset view to valley

  Needed a bit of a break

The next day was a 'down' day for me as I decided to take a timeout and just relax around the camp, do a bit of laundry, read and in other words, have some alone time.  Gerson ventured off with John and Michelle for a hike into the El Questro gorge and although not as picturesque as Emma Gorge, it had its charms. 

   El Questro hike started off with a walk through the palm trees       The El Questro reward, a refreshing plunge pool
As there were even more gorgeous gorges to enjoy, we opted to put a twist on the next exploration and took an afternoon cruise on through the Chamberlain Gorge.  As with Yardie Creek, the gorge's walls are home to wallabies and we had fun trying to spy them in their small caves.

  Beautiful trip along the river       We found the wallabies - just look at their size to scale with the gorge walls
We had a bit of a surprise during the river cruise.  We were told we would visit some fish; however, we were not clued in as to the type of fish or what to expect from the little buggars.  Unbeknownst to me, we were looking at 'archer fish' and I unwittingly was duped into leaning over the side of the boat (with my camera) to watch the scurrying fish beneath me.  Before I could register what they are known for, two of the little miscreants 'spit' their stream of water and one nailed me between the eyes and the other registered a direct hit on my camera.  Apparently, their name 'archer fish' is because they can, with their 'water cannon spit', shoot a bug out of the sky and when their prey hits the water, dinner is served.  They also are attracted to shiny objects (hence the camera) and because the boat guides give fish food pellets to the tourists, the archer fish have learned the boat means hands over the water have food in them.  We were asked to present the fish pellet and when the fish hit your hand with the stream of water, to drop the pellet.  The entire boat was laughing at the archer fish antics, let alone being impressed with their pinpoint accuracy. 

  I was taking this picture just before the archerfish's kill shot         They were quite accurate        Pretty catfish amongst the crowd
On our way out of El Questro, we stopped off at Zebedee Falls to enjoy a bit of a thermal pool respite.  Unfortunately, so did many other people and it was quite crowded.  Not enjoying our being trampled by kids that were scampering all around the terraced pools, we made our departure in short order.  It was a beautiful oasis spot and understandably, very popular.
   Zebedee Falls and thermal pools                   We found a nice little pool just for two
It was goodbye to El Questro and looking forward to our hello to Katherine Gorge.


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