Wednesday, 30 July 2014 – Friday, 1 August 2014 105.3kms
Our first walk for Wednesday morning was the 2km return Echidna Chasm. The walk itself was easy, walking along a dry pebbly creek bed. Through the chasm we climbed over and around boulders and up ladders to reach the end. It was very impressive. The sheer size of the walls towering 180 metres above and only metres wide really do make you feel in awe of this natural wonder.
In the amphitheatre we set Elokin and Hendrix up to do their school work while we waited for the sun’s rays to bring the chasm to life as it passed overhead. A lady came over to tell us about a large green and yellow stripped stick insect on the wall of the chasm near the big boulders. We decided that needed to be seen and were greeted with a very cool creature. I named him “Aussie”, given his colours.
From Echidna Chasm we walked the 200m to Osmond Lookout which gave us a panoramic view over Osmond Range, the valley and Bungle Bungle Range. From here we ate a snack in the car park before making our way back to the Bloodwoods to walk the escarpment walk 1km to Mini Palms turnoff, as it was closed. Nath and Hendrix decided to continue on to Frog Hole, a further 1.1kms. Elokin didn’t want to walk any further, so we slowly made our way back to the car park enjoying the landscape around us.
At 4pm we made it back to camp for something light to eat as we had missed lunch completely and a cuppa before making our way to Kungkalanayi lookout for sunset. Here we were spoilt with a 3600 view over the Bungle Bungle Range western escarpment, spinifex-covered ridges of sandstone, the limestone ridge and the Osmand Range. We stayed long enough to see the first stars of the night sky and the brilliant red of the sunset fade to dark.
We enjoyed the company of Tim and Carol from Auckland, and Mervin and Annie from Sydney around the campfire that night.
The following morning, we left camp at 8am with the camper in tow headed south to Walardi campground. We chose site #2 and set up camp. On the way, we saw our first glimpse of the beehive domes and it was very exciting. By 9.20am we were on our way to Piccaninny, where all of the southern walks are based out of. We saw Elephant Rocks on the way, which are rather cool as somehow nature has created these rocks in the shape of elephants, complete with a gap between their head and trunk. The car park at Piccaninny is in amongst the domes and the loo is behind one.
We set off at 9.35am from the car park and completed the domes walk which led us to Piccaninny Creek where we walked along the deeply eroded, uneven creek bed in the hot sun to the Window. We all took a guess as to what shape the window would be, Elokin and Hendrix both guessed circle, Nath triangle and me rectangle. Whoever won was set to win the last Freddo frog, but the hole was oval, so Freddo was safe for now. We found some shade against a dome here and had a snack, some water and a rest.
We then continued along Piccaninny Creek which was toasty hot by now and we were all looking forward to the shade of our next stop, Whip Snake Gorge. Along the way, we found a few dead frogs that had, like us, roasted in the sun. At the junction for Whip Snake Gorge and Piccaninny Creek we found a pool of water and a rock overhang. Underneath the ledge we found frogs, hundreds of them, enjoying the cool, shady spot. We are hoping that they weren’t cane toads, as that would be rather disappointing.
At the end of Whip Snake Gorge, we found shade in the amphitheatre where we sat and ate food. Turns out we carried way too much food and not enough water! When we left here at 2pm we were on water rations. Hendrix stacked it as we were leaving and Nath carried him for the kilometre back to Piccaninny Creek, where we retraced our steps along the creek bed. Luckily we had stayed in Whip Snake long enough for parts of the creek bed to have shade and made the most of it. We viewed Piccaninny Creek winding south through spinifex country and beehive domes at the Piccaninny Creek Lookout, where it was shady and cool.
As we made our way to Cathedral Gorge, a family told us of a snake in a large hole on the way. Some nice person had put a large stick in the hole for it to climb out on. Of course, we found it, and it must have sensed that either I don’t like snakes or Nath really does, but it showed us how easily it could climb the vertical rock surface without the need of a stick. It did use the stick for the last section, but I don’t think it actually needed it. It was a pretty snake, as far as snakes go. (I like to keep my distance). It had a silvery-blue head on a vibrant yellow body that turned golden in the light. It was quite a long snake and I did keep my distance. Once it was close to the top of the hole, I stayed well back. Even Elokin and Hendrix were in front of me! Nath chose to follow it as it slithered up the rock wall, so I handed him my camera. It found itself a deep hole to hide in, but Nath being Nath, stuck the camera in there. When he chose to leave it alone, the snake being inquisitive, stuck his head back out to check us out. To be honest, it did look very cute, but I still wasn’t going near it! Nath went back up and got a couple of good shots putting the camera near the hole and not his head. So it was hit and miss. We then left the snake alone and continued into Cathedral Gorge which we had to ourselves for the most part. While alone, we each took turns to belt out some song we could think of, except for Hendrix, who decided on this occasion to be shy. The acoustics of the naturally formed amphitheatre are impressive. You don’t have to sing loud to get a good sound happening. Well, that depends on how well you can sing, and in my case, I got a good echo that hurt the eardrums. But it was fun all the same, and well, we just had to give it a go.
We stayed in the Cathedral until after sunset and then had to make tracks. By the time we reached the main track back, the lighting was so soft and beautiful, the whole place looked magical. I had to stop to admire it even though we were rushing to get back to the car before dark. I found another elephant rock on top of the Bungles near the car park, that the ranger didn’t even know about. We made it back to the car 8 hours after we ventured out, and a total of 12.6kms walked.
On Friday Elokin and Hendrix had to write their journals and we sat in camp watching all of the different birds fly around. The boys had haircuts and we all had a shower before leaving camp for our 1:30pm HELICOPTER FLIGHT! Our pilots name was Rick and he was absolutely fantastic. Elokin and Hendrix shared the rear left seat and opted for the door on, the rest of us had the doors off which was awesome. Nath had the front and I sat behind our pilot next to the kids. We went on the 30 minute ride and for Elokin and Hendrix’s first helicopter ride, it was insanely cool. They had so much fun they wanted to go again, or buy our own helicopter! It was a spectacular view over the Bungle Bungles and we got to see parts on the eastern side that there is no access to. We even found water in some natural spring pools. When we got back to camp, Elokin and Hendrix wrote their journals about their helicopter experience.
This evening we met Micki and Pete from Belmont near Newcastle, and also Jersey in France where they spend most of the year. They were lovely and we ended up having a fire with them.
Until next time…. Happy and Safe Travels.