This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2007 Travels July 6


We froze again last night! Couldn’t really think of what else we could do – if we had a heap of newspapers or spare blankets, could put an extra insulation layer under the lilo, because cold comes up from the ground. But didn’t have any papers, and couldn’t spare any layers from on top of us because the night air was too frigid.

I vowed that, if it was that cold when next we were in any sort of town, I was buying some sort of warm bedding!

After breakfast, drove to the parking area for the Mini Palms Gorge walk. Like yesterday, we were exploring the area just to the north of our camp area – the closer part. When that section was done, would focus on the further southern part. We needed as much as possible to keep the kms driven to a minimum to conserve our fuel.

The walk into Mini Palms, at 2.2kms each way, was longer than yesterday’s – that was a warm-up!

Walk track to Mini Palms

We started out walking on a smooth, narrow track through spinifex, then like yesterday, faced a section of walking along, sometimes beside, a dried, rocky, creek bed. For a short way we were walking parallel to the range.

Then the track turned and we were making our way towards a narrow gap in the range.

To make our way into this narrow gap, had to scramble through and over a section of really big boulders – bigger than us. These were unusual in that they were made up of lots of smaller rocks, all kind of glued together like some kind of ancient geological cake mix!

Yes, the track went through/over there
Tight fit in places!

Like yesterday, as we progressed into the narrow valley, Livistona Palms began to appear.

Livistona Palm and unusual growth on gorge walls
Looking back to the gap we came through

We began to steadily climb as the valley sides closed in beside us, until we reached a viewing platform that overlooked a lower level. This was as far as we could go.

Mini Palms

The lower level was a hollow at the head of the narrow valley – the palm hollow.

Only a few little palms trying to grow

Back in ’93, we were able to walk down into the hollow and wander in amongst quite a profusion of small palms. But now tourists could no longer go into that cavern. Most of the palms had been washed away in large floods that poured through the narrow gorge, and now the remainder were being protected, in recovery.

For comparison: Mini Palms chasm floor in 1993
The deep gorge that is Mini Palms

From the path near the viewing platform, could look back down the way we came to the narrow valley entrance.

The Mini Palms walk was worth it just for the scenery along the way, even if the palms were a bit feeble now.

Unusual hill seen from the track

Made our way back the same way – like yesterday, encountering a couple of small tour groups on their way in. Again we were lucky to be ahead of the groups.

Near the car park for the Mini Palms walk

The nearby Frog Hollow walk, which we’d tackled in ’93, and which I remembered as being very good value, was now closed to all access, due to rock falls and the ongoing danger of same. A pity.

Drove past our camp and on to the Visitor Centre at Three Ways, to book John and M in for their walk. They would have to report back in when finished. Browsed the displays and offerings for sale there. Bought each of us a polo shirt – they were really good quality ones. John bought some playing card sets featuring WA scenery, with the idea that he might make a wooden box to contain each set, as Xmas presents.

After lunch at camp, it was time to address the task of trying to fit all the gear and food into two packs. Depending on which way you viewed it, they were either large day packs or extremely small rucksacks! John was using my day pack, as it was a bit bigger than his. It ended up, literally, bulging at the seams. He would have to carry some of his food in a green supermarket carry bag! I thought he had too much food, but as it had been decided between him and M, I didn’t comment. In the morning, John would have to roll up one of our sleeping bags and fit that in. M, of course, had her very compact down sleeping bag; our good compressible down bags were safely tucked up at home! The two old ones we kept in the van for visitor use, were bulky and inefficient – as we’d already found out.

John and M then set about trying to rig up a shower enclosure, using one of our small tarps, under a tree branch from which we could hang our solar shower bags.

Construction phase…..

The theory was sound and I enjoyed sitting back and watching them work the thing out.

Always useful to have a couple of spare tent poles…..

It proved, however, to have a couple of practical oversights, in use. With the sun behind it, in the late afternoon, there was an interesting shadow play for anyone in viewing distance in the campground!


Also, the tarp was only big enough to enclose two sides, the rest being, apparently,  open to bush only and facing away from our camp area. But, when M was having the first shower, she realized that the “bush” was, in fact, the bus group camp area – and a group had newly arrived there. John opted for his shower after dark! I opted for a top and tail inside our tent, with a bucket of water. Too cold out in the open for this little duck.

Early night again – a big day tomorrow. Without a campfire as a focus, and with the nights so cold, there was little wish to sit about outdoors.

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2007 Travels July 5


Last night was so cold! Much, much, colder than I expected. It certainly would have been down into single digits. We should have brought the doona from the van with us, instead of relying on the old, unzipped, relatively lightweight cheap sleeping bags.

Tonight, I think we will be sleeping in track pants and windcheaters, and every suitable item I can find will be pressed into service to cover the bed – towels, the picnic rug, spare clothes.

I do not remember Kimberley nights as being this cold.

The new lilo that we bought in Melbourne, to replace the old one that came to let us down gently in the night, is excellent. It did not seem intent on pitching sleepers together in the middle, like the old one did.

We even managed to sleep in a little, after a broken night’s sleep due to the cold.

M seemed rather cross that we were late getting going – she had been up since really early.

Map from current National Park information. Some of the places marked were not open in 2007.

We drove to Echidna Chasm, about 15kms from our camp. Our late start actually turned out to be a positive, because we got there in between the tour group times and had the place almost to ourselves. So we were able to get decent photos, without trying to dodge heaps of people. Also, the light was excellent at that time of the day, in the Chasm.

From the car park, it was a walk of 1km to the end of the Chasm. Initially we were walking in  a dry creek bed – rather large, smoothed stones underfoot – through a narrowing valley.

Nice wide creek bed to walk along…..

There was plentiful vegetation along the valley – trees, grasses, shrubs, some of which were in flower. As the valley narrowed and darkened, palms began to appear.

Livistona Palms. Conglomerate rock band on top of sandstone. Path to left of palm.
Look where walking or look at scenery. Do not try both at once, here!

Eventually the narrowing valley swung left and became the Chasm. No more vegetation. Just sheer red rock walls, in places reaching up to 200 metres high. Essentially this feature formed by erosion along a joint or fracture line in the parent rock.

The conglomerate nature of much of the rock was evident in the Chasm.

In sections, we were squeezing through really narrow clefts between the walls.

John is dwarfed in there……

In some of these clefts, if one looked up, there were large rocks that had fallen from above and lodged in the gaps. Signs warned of the hazard from above.

The rocks by the path have obviously come from above…

There had been a sign at the car park, warning of the risk of falling rocks. Now it made real sense……

It was the sort of walk where you hoped the Earth didn’t hiccup while you were in there!

She was wondering how securely that rock was wedged up there!

The way through the Chasm ended in a steep little climb around a bend. Someone had lodged a long stick there, to act as a sort of handrail.

Not far around this corner, the whole thing ended up against a blind wall, in a sort of dim little cave.

Just about to the end – it can’t get much narrower!
As far as we go – tight fit…..

Back the same way we went, encountering a number of people walking in – the start of the afternoon tour groups!

And back we go…..
Looking up….

Back almost at the car park, we branched off to do the shorter walk to the Osmand Lookout. As the word “lookout” is usually synonymous with elevated, the walk went uphill.

The lookout is on the little ridge – we did not have to climb these monsters….

This little 200metre side track was interesting for the varied rock formations of the Osmand Range, this section of the Bungles.

Really interesting erosion features on these soft rocks
Carpark can be glimpsed between the trees
Interesting finger-like formations – and a cave

Saw yet another bower – this bird was into collecting smooth white stones. No shortage of materials for him to choose from…

Back to camp, where we had a very late lunch. Lazed about for a bit, chatting over what we’d seen, and what we had planned. John experimented some more with the big camera, taking photos of birds.

Pied butcher bird

Late afternoon, drove a few kms from camp, to the car park for the Walanginjdji Lookout – another elevated viewing point! Walked up the path to the top of the rise, to watch the sunset, which really lit up the eastward-facing range across the valley from us.

Bungles Range in the late afternoon

There was a viewing seat thoughtfully provided at this vantage point, but it was already fully occupied, so we just wandered about while we waited for the full glory of the sunset. It would have been pleasant to sit down and wait, but spinifex does not make for a sitting place!

Standing room only….

Initially, there was a line of shadow across the valley, just beyond the base of our ridge. Then, as we watched, this shadow line crept across the valley towards the far range, whilst the latter changed colour.

Finally, the shadow crept up the distant range, turning its deep red to grey then black.

Time to pick our way back down to the vehicles, while we could still see at all.

Late light tea and then another early night. I wasn’t looking forward to trying to sleep in the cold.