For those keen observant types we apologise for the last unfinished blog 185 we must have hit publish instead of save when composing it, here is the complete version with pictures.
We met Geoff and Bev for the agreed 6.30am start, it was a hard 54kms of dirt road consisting of rocks, sand and numerous creek crossings one which would definitely have thwarted us on the bike as it was soft sand and very wide, it took Geoff a full two hours of driving in a 4×4 and this only bought us to the visitor centre at the edge of the park from there it was another hour from one side of the park to the other.
Piccaninny creek was our first destination and a short loop walk gave us a chance to closer look at the pancake type rocks the bungles are made of before we set off for the 3km walk into the gorge itself.
The route meandered around the now dry riverbed and ended in a natural amphitheatre called Cathedral Gorge. The sides of the gorge towered above us, it was a magical place and a welcome shady respite from the 40deg + heat outside. We would have loved to fly over the Bungle Bungles as well but it was just too expensive, it would be awesome from the air.
The range covers a huge area, this is just a fraction of it. The second picture is a termite mound built high on the rock face, this area floods badly in the wet season so the termites have adapted by building up high and having tunnels down to the ground to gather food.
These two pictures show the power of the water that flows through here during the wet, enough to carve solid rock.
Echidna chasm was our next target on the other side of the park across yet more creeks and this time a sandy track. When the sun is fully overhead it creates the light that bounces off the sides of the chasm and it glows spectacularly. Unfortunately due to the length of time to get into and around the park we missed this window so we had lunch first and chatted to a tour group that had just turned up. Our compensation was that we got to walk the 2km in to the chasm in the shade which was much cooler, the chasm was carved out by the river that flows through here every wet season combined witha natural fault in the rock.
The further in we travelled the more the temperature dropped and by the time we were deep in the cleft it was probably 10degs cooler than outside. As the chasm widened out we reached a large chamber with a few benches to sit on and sheer rock faces on all sides. There was still a route past a squeeze in the rocks so we left Bev and started scrabbling up some sizable chunks of rock and some small ladders with the path getting steadily narrower all the time until we reached the end and the mysterious source of the river which appears from out of the rocks in the wet season.
The second and third pictures are the bottom and the top of the chasm as it was too tall to fit in one frame.
On the way back there was a short detour to a lookout over the Osmand range before we started back to the visitor centre and it was at this point that we realised the last hour or so would be in the dark.
Geoff did a sterling job considering the conditions and handled everything the road threw at him, between us we remembered where the river crossings were so we didn’t get any nasty surprises.
It was late by the time we arrived safely back at camp so we went our separate ways to cook dinner, we had a boil in the bag job that night – Thai curry. The water we left in the sun heating for a shower looked inviting so we had a quick shower before bed. We were both worn out so can only imagine what Geoff felt like thanks Geoff you did a sterling job.
After saying our goodbyes and thank you to Geoff and Bev in the morning we headed off but we didn’t get far before we heard a whap, whap, whap noise coming from the back end. On examination the rear tyre had lived up to expectations and split through the cut and started de laminating badly. We can’t remember how many times we had almost discarded the old front but because it still had 2 or 3000k of tread on it, we hung onto it as an emergency spare and we are really glad we did now !
Old Guzzi’s have a bit of an advantage here as they have 18 inch tyres front and rear and they are only once size (width) different so you can get away with swapping them around if you are desperate.
The ruined tyre put up as much of fight to remove as it did to fit in the first place Kev had to make use of the bead breaker on the bike then the replacement proved just as awkward even using the rope trick. The beads wouldn’t pop out to seal on the initial inflation and in the end Kev chose to take it off again and fit a tube inside. It was just at this stage Geoff and Bev caught us up and being the good Samaritans they are offered tea, biscuits and sympathy along with a more powerful compressor and ensured we were mobile before we all headed to Halls Creek. Thanks again you two. There are some pictures below.
We took it really easy as we were now riding with a ¾ worn out front tyre on the rear but at least we were mobile. We remained in Halls Creek most of the day partly in an effort to secure another tyre while we had a mobile signal and partly to wait for it too cool down before we got going again. The good news was our tyre had finally shown up in Darwin and Phil had despatched it by greyhound bus to Broome it should take three days to arrive. Just to be on the safe side we ordered another spare from Perth to be sent to Carnarvon while we had mobile reception.
We left as late as we dared in order to arrive at the free camp before dusk when the roo’s come out but not put the tyre under too much stress on the hot tarmac.
Mary river was a gem of a free camp with grass and shade and some water in the river, Geoff and Bev were here so we exchanged news. We also met Brett a fellow motorcyclist on a sidecar outfit who lives below Perth. It was great to talk bike stuff, we hadn’t seen many bikers on the roads up here and we enjoyed his company even if was brief.
As we didn’t want to beat the tyre to Broome we had a day off and enjoyed a lazy day walking by the river and reading, we even had a luxury lunch courtesy of the tour party we met in the Bungles whose chef catered for 30 when there was only 12 and it would have gone to waste, it was delicious. The local cows wandered through our camp making themselves at home, they obviously hadn’t seen a motorbike like that before and were very curious. The day ended with a great sunset over the river.
The next day we detoured into Geikie gorge as it wasn’t far out of the way. While we were there we met and got chatting to Irene and Nick from Brisbane, they were great company as we wandered around the area with them marvelling at how high the flood waters had reached and having lunch in the shelter that would have been 6 metres underwater last wet season. Nick was an interesting guy to talk to, he and his brother flew right around Australia in a Gypsy Tiger Moth some years before and he was telling us some of the scrapes they got into. It would be a totally different experience and not without it’s challenges, some of the airstrips are miles away from towns to get food and water and fuel was a constant problem in remote areas. He and his brother still professionally restore Tiger Moth’s now and he promised us a ride in his if we get back round as far as Brisbane before we depart. There’s an incentive ! Here’s some pics of the gorge etc.
This is Willare bridge roadhouse where we stopped to refuel before our next camp. Our liquid containment fuel bladders have been a big help out west and we would have struggled at times without them. They have also allowed us to fill up at the cheaper places and miss out some of the more expensive ones which makes the money go a bit further. Fuel is a lot cheaper here than the UK and Europe, premium unleaded is usually between AU$ 1.60 and 1.90 a litre (around 0.80 to 0.95 pounds/litre but then again because of the distances you need a lot of it.
After another really early start we made such good progress that we ended up on the outskirts of Broome a day too early for the tyre so we camped in the nearby Roebuck camp site and had a day blogging and catching up.
There we met Vince on a Harley Davidson servi-car trike who was also touring around the Pilbara region. The family camped next door had two young boys who couldn’t keep their eyes off the bike so the next morning we asked if they wanted their photo taken sat on it you should have seen their smiles.
Our next job was to go into town and pick up the tyre and explore Broome but that’s another story.
Here is a picture of a road train that was pulling out of the depot next door to us, this is what you are sharing the roads with out here !!!!
Next up exploring Broome and Karijini national park.