Piccaninny Creek in the Bungle Bungle range of Purnululu National Park, on the easterly edge of the Kimberley Plateau – names to tickle the imagination and natural landforms that outwit fantasy. You will find the Bungle Bungles – for that is their name among the traditional ‘owners’, the Kitja people – in the north west part of Australia roughly halfway between the towns of Halls Creek to the south and Kununurra to the north.
If you don’t mind a few creepy crawlies, you can lie in the grass and gaze up at the rocks.
Appreciate the extraordinary combination of light and colour in this part of Australia, and, if that is your bent, indulge your botanical curiosity.
I remember only one gorgeous flowering plant: Kurrajong, or Kimberley Rose (Brachychiton viscidulus), a bisexual shrub or small tree with vibrant waxy blooms.
You can walk up Piccaninny Creek in wonder at reflections playing in pools at your feet.
Or scramble around in Mini-palm Gorge and let your camera lens toy with silhouettes,
This is Frog Hole Pool. You see the horizontal, light-greenish band about halfway? There is a mirror image either side of it? That is the water level. Everything below that, you are seeing through magically clear water. Amazing…and enticing, but don’t swim in it if you have sun lotion, insect repellent or cosmetics on your skin, or it won’t remain clear for long.
But the best way to enjoy the Bungle Bungles is to hover in a chopper at dawn, and contemplate the wonder of natural forces that laid down these ancient sandstone sediments, raised and contorted them, and created marvellous sculptures with the erosive power of wind, water and bacteria.
Better still, drive to the water hole at Djaru camp to meet Bonnie Edwards and Auntie – if they’re still there – and hear their stories of Bat Cave and the Aboriginal hand paintings on its walls.
In Halls’ Creek – creating what is probably the most cultured public toilet on the planet – Aboriginal paintings tell other stories of the area; stories that bind people to their land, not only in the past and the present, but in the future, because part of that storytelling contains the wisdom to sustain their environment for successive generations.
During the great human migrations out of Africa, members of our adventurous ancestry reached Australia at least 50,000 years ago. I find inspiration in the fact that they used their remarkable human capacities not to ‘tame’ nature by building edifices to their greater glory, but by discovering ways to partner the land as collaborators, celebrating their existence within the whole ecosystem – through stories.