I have had the good fortune of visiting the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu National Park) twice… So far.
The first adventure into the Park was on a motorcycle – I had my learners permit, two weeks off work and I was keen for an adventure.
It was April 2015. I had used the bike a few times on camping trips from Darwin to Kakadu and Litchfield etc and the journey down from Darwin on the highway was long and slow. My first impressions of a few regions were high; notably the Victoria River, The Keep River National Park and areas around Kununurra. My intentions were to spend as much time further south west as I could squeeze into my short holiday.
The Purnululu World Heritage listed park had just opened after the wet-season and the water levels on the creek crossings into the park were still quite high and the road was rough. My ambitions of capturing the milky way with the beehive domes were tested with my lack of motorcycling experience. I made up for lack of experience with shear determination and stubbornness and I explored the southern sections of the park on the bike and captured a few photographs on the day walks. I had fallen in love.
Given my short time frame combined with the fact that I really wanted to see this place from above, I decided that I should spontaneously treat myself by chartering a helicopter.
When I return to the Bungle Bungles next time, I will definitely book in for a sunrise flight over the Piccaninny Creek area, despite being happy with the images that I managed to capture, I was shooting into the sun and subsequently it was difficult – a sunrise flight however would be a surreal experience.
After a few nights in the Park, I ended up continuing on to Broome and then back around through the iconic Gibb River Road back to Darwin. Over 6000kms in 9 days on a 250cc Honda! A fantastic introduction into the Kimberly region where I later spent a solid 12 months exploring.
The second trip I had a lot more time to explore.
Motorcycling traveling is incredible however I wanted a new challenge and something where I could spend the time to really experience the environment. I had decided to quit my comfortable day job at Charles Darwin University and chose to ride a bicycle from Darwin to Broome in April/May 2016 – a journey of 2100km distance through the harsh sub-tropical/savannah desert outback conditions. I had limited training and despite being well prepared equipment wise – I was in for a real shock when reality had sunken in. My main intention was to head back to Purnululu and spend more time exploring the Park.
By the time I had arrived at the turnoff to the Bungle Bungles (1200kms into my trip), it seemed that I had forgotten about the 53km of heavily corrugated gravel road ahead of me to the visitor centre, not to mention the water crossings and the fact that I had about 9kgs of camera gear – on top of everything else required for a long distance bicycle ride.
I was on a 30 year old single speed (geared for track), steel framed road bike and it handled it well. I arrived after dark and the visitor centre was closed. I topped up my water and headed a further 20kms to the campsite. Upon arriving I was exhausted but I had made it.
After a good night of rest and a puncture, I made it back to the visitor centre to get some supplies and staff at the visitor centre and the park ranger were amazing. They were surprised that I had made it into the park on my trusty bike. Over the next few days we shared our stories.
Purnululu National Park is somewhere that I hold close to my heart. View my series of the Park by clicking the link below.