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Purnululu National Park & Lake Argyle

Our first stop after leaving El Questro and the Gibb River Road was Kununurra. From here, we took a day trip to Purnululu National Park (or what was previously called the Bungle Bungles).

When I was around 10 years old I watched a TV show – possibly the Leyland Brothers or Malcolm Douglas – exploring the bee-hived shaped rock formations of the Bungle Bungles in North-East WA. The striking scenery was matched only by the strong sense of this being one of the most remote places in Australia. The Bungle Bungles were only 'discovered' as a tourist destination in 1983!

Interestingly, Karen can recall a similar memory of learning about the Bungle Bungles at school and being intrigued by them. And so it was that we made our way to Kununurra Airport for a full day trip to the place of our childhood memories.

Our day trip involved a one-hour flight in a six-seat Cessna. The flight took us over the lush green plantations surrounding Kununurra (thanks to the Ord River Irrigation Scheme) and then on to the mammoth Lake Argyle. More than 20 times the size of Sydney Harbour, Lake Argyle was created in the late 1960s by the building of the Ord River Dam. From the air, the deep blue lake stretches to the horizon, like an inland sea dotted with hundreds of islands.

From the southern tip of Lake Argyle we flew over Lissadel Station and then vast barren ridges before finally passing over the Purnululu National Park. We landed on a dirt bush airstrip just south of the main range.

We were met at the airstrip by a guide who then took us for a 3-hour hike through the magestic Cathedral Gorge. The Bungle Bungles are impressive by air, but having the opportunity to walk into the depths of the range through the narrow canyons and gullies was amazing. The sheer scale of the range and the unique sandstone formations were unforgettable.

Our flight back to Kununurra gave us beautiful views of the main range as the sun began to fall in the sky. We also passed over the Argyle Diamond Mine, which I thought was a safe distance. Thomas adopted his usual approach for scenic flights and slept most of the way back. Sienna is contrast was transfixed the entire time.

Our day trip to the Bungle Bungles had definitely lived up to our childhood memories and was a highlight of our trip to date.

After re-stocking our supplies, cleaning the car and van (no small task given the amount of dust and mud we collected on the Gibb), and replacing the handbrake cable on the van, we were ready to head off again. We were headed to Lake Argyle, but this time from the ground.

Making our way from Kununurra we were amazed at the scale of the Carr Boyd Ranges that span the northern edges of Lake Argyle. The caravan park at Lake Argyle has without doubt the most scenic swimming pool in all of Australia. Their infinity-edge pool looks out over the lake towards two imposing islands. As the sun sets, the rocky cliffs of these islands glow bright red and orange.

We stayed at Lake Argyle for a couple of days and, much to the delight of the kids, managed to catch up with the Holgers. Sienna, Zoe, Jeremy and Thomas got straight into movie making and over the course of a day created a movie titled “Schools Out!”.

We had loved our time in WA and, in particular, the Kimberley. But after 5 months in WA, it was time to head east to the Northern Territory…

Flight to Purnululu National Park

Hike to Cathedral Gorge

Lake Argyle

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