Day 6/35

This morning I get up at 05:00. Finally I have had a normal night. First back to the airport to switch the car for a real 4WD, which goes smooth. It even costs half of what they told me on tuesday. It’s a diesel. Big thing, sounds like a tank when you start it. 4WD check, extra spare tire check, unsealed road coverage check. Ok, we’re good to go.

Goal is Kununurra, more than 800 kilometers from here and the last stop before Bungle Bungles/Purnululu National Park. This road is much easier to drive than the one to Kakadu. Normal lines on the road, in particular on the left side, helps a lot. It takes less energy to stay on the road. Driving goes automatically like back at home.

The whole stretch is savanna: golden grass only half a meter high with groups of trees here and there. Many many parts have been burned. A couple of times I see fires. Flames are only half a meter high and burn along a thin line along the planes. Trees are getting burned for only the lower few meters but stay alive. The grass does burn to the ground. Even bushes stay alive sometimes.

There are thousands of termite hills, at least I think they are: towers of mud about 1 meter high. Along the road to Kakadu I have seen these things also, but those had another color and the shape was different too.

I really would like to peek around here, but there are close to none possibillities for a stop save for the gas stations. The road is higher than the landscape and there is no space to park the car. It’s far too dangerous to park the car on the road.

Then I see a billboard that makes me laugh: a large wind screen, shattered to pieces with a large red spot in the center and the slogan ‘No belt, no brains’ hahaha. I love it. Let’s if I can find it again on my way back to take a photograph of it.

I also notice signs with ’Border Control’ and ’No Fruit Fly Zone’. I recognize these from the previous time in the south east of Australia. Didn’t know that they have it here as well. Between the two states is a wide zone where transporting fruit is forbidden. This to prevent fruit flies to pass the zone. Large areas of Australia are free of fruit flies and they want to keep it that way. I have two apples in the car and am not sure what to do with them. Bit of a waste to throw them away, but I do know you can get fined for having them. Last time there was a large waste bin on the border to loose them. For the time being I keep them.

Before I am well aware of it, I end up before the border post between Northern Territory (the state where I have been the past days) and Western Australia (the state where I am now). I have to stop for the barrier and a man with hat approaches me. He asks whether or not I am carrying fruit or vegetables and I confess the two apples. He gives me the choice to either dump them on the heap of fruit next to the building or to eat them a bit further on the parking lot and dump the remains here. Ok, then I will eat them. The car is not searched.

While I am eating my apples on the parking lot I see a camper arriving and that is searched from top to bottom. They do not like it if you don’t declare your stuff. All doors are opened and baskets with potatoes, veggies and fruit have to be handed over. Did they try to hide and keep all that? Than they will have to pay dearly for it. Fines go by the kilo. Well it’s not my problem. I walk back to drop the remains of the apples on the pile and continue.

I arrive at Kununurra at 15:00 after a drive of 8 hours. I go straight ahead to the visitor center to get information about the Bungle Bungles. A few days ago I discovered that there are some camp grounds in the park. Curious whether I can arrange a spot for myself. I am a bit late though.

For years the park has been virtually unattainable and could only be seen from the sky. Since a couple of years the road has been improved and now you can get there with a 4WD. The first 55 kilometers in the park take almost 3 hours and then you haven’t seen anything. From Kununurra it’s another 200 kilometers, so going in and out within one day is impossible. According to the lady I will have to go to the office of the Department of Environment and Conservation. As it is already late in the afternoon, I have to hurry to get there in time.

I have to search for it for a little while, but then I find it luckily and the door is still open. There are still spots free on both camp sites. At first I thought to stay one night on each camp site, because each of them is in a different part of the park. Saves driving.

Lady behind the desk tells me that the distance from the entrance of the park to the first camp site is only 7 kilometers longer than to the other. It doesn’t really matter if I stay two nights on the same camp site, because those 7 kilometers do not make the difference. I think she is mistaken, but she will probably know what she is talking about.

One of the sites seems to be more quiet because the other one has an aggregate and if I hate one thing that is definitely such a device making noise all night. Two nights at the quiet one then. Arranged! There are no facilities and then I mean that there is nothing at all. Everything I need I will have to take in myself. I will have to sleep two nights in the car and I expect that to be far from comfi (-;

The park consists of two parts, so I will have a whole day for each part and both an evening and a morning to shoot. Halfway the third day I can drive back out of it. I will have plenty of time to see the most important parts and I am really looking forward to it.

I am also mistaken a day. Thought that I have to fly out to Perth on tuesday, but I’ll have to go on wednesday. So I will have an extra day to spend. Let’s what to do with it. There are a couple of possibilities: a large meteorite crater 100 kilometers further south, a canyon only an hour away or Litchfield National Park close to Darwin. We’ll see what happens.

After driving around for a bit I find a hotel that suits me and have rooms available as well. Kind of pricy again, but I get a nice large bungalow. Have some luxury to think back for when I am lying rolled up in my car.

I also get an extra spare battery for the camera. Don’t think I will be needing it, but just in case I want to photograph at night or if I go straight ahead to the next location on leaving the Bungle Bungles. Wouldn’t be well if everything is depleted. Think I would go mad on the spot.

Closeby is another park: Mirima National Park. It’s only a drive of about 10 minutes to get ther, because it’s close to the city. Here there should be the same kind of rocks as in the Bungle Bungles, only smaller.

On the parking lot a major walk is announced and it’s full with warnings about taking enough water and the like. I check my flash light just to be certain, because it will not take long for the sun to set. Then I go.

First part goes through a kind of valley and they quite steep up. After only 15 minutes I am at the highest point and at the end of the walk. What about that… Rocks are not photogenic at all. There is nothing to do for me here. Let’s get out and back to the car.

The sun will set on the other side of the park. I drive around for a bit and find a road going up all the way to a viewpoint. For just a minute I have hopes of catching nice once, but these go up in vapour quickly. Here also, I will find none.

Just leave it then. Back to my villa and get a good old Fish & Chips on the way, that’s what I like to do now.

And then nothing rests but to go to bed early. I want to be at the start of the Bungle Bungles park road around sun rise and it will take a minimum of 2 hours better 3 (because of the kangaroos) to get there. The sun rises at 06:30. Whoef…

At least I have nice things coming up for the next few days. I am really looking forward to it.