Beautiful Bungle Bungle

Aviair picked us up this morning at 8.15 for the short ride to the airport. It was busy. There were 3 flights going to the Bungle Bungle today. Some staying to hike, some to stay at Savannah Lodge. Next time I thought!

The pilots all seemed to be young women. So we felt we were in safe hands. Alice our pilot was tiny and was capable, friendly and gave us great commentary during the flight.

Alice our pilot ready to fly.

After the weigh in, the safety plan and an outline of our two hour flight we were allocated seats and away we went. Steve and I were directly behind the pilot. A view out both sides and to the front.

The pilot offered Steve the co pilot seat and as tempted as he was he decided he’d see better in the next row. Or he might want to take over flying!

The flight was amazing. Down over Lake Argyle the scale of which is unbelievable. It was built as the finishing part of the Ord River Irrigation Scheme.

It’s freshwater is clear blue, pristine and several times bigger than Sydney Harbour. It’s dotted with 75 islands and is a great breeding ground for fresh water crocodiles.

We heard stories about the huge beef cattle properties including the famous Lisadell Station which was bought by Argyle Diamonds in 2003.

Patrick Durack emigrated from Ireland to Queensland, then drove a vast mob of cattle 4828 kilometres overland. It was the longest overland trek undertaken by Australian drovers up to that time, taking two and half years to reach their Kimberley destination.

I happen to know a great granddaughter of Michael Durack and now I’ve flown over it I’m looking forward to hearing some more stories about it.

I’ll also have to re read ‘Kings in Grass Castles’. Written by Dame Mary Durack it outlines life on the properties in those prosperous times.

We continued the flight due south over the Bungle Bungles.

These dome shaped sandstone towers and deep gorges were formed over 360 million years ago when sand and gravel were deposited by rivers flowing from the north east. With the winds from the SE much of the year dunes began to form. Originally only known to the aboriginal people they were discovered by a pastoralist flying his helicopter over.

In 1987 the area was declared a national park named Purnululu.

We landed at Bungle Bungle land strip just briefly to let those staying overnight off. Then it was along the stone runway and up up and away over the amazing Bungle Bungle.

The stone runway.

We flew towards the Argyle Diamond mine. It’s is a huge diamond mine. Argyle was at times the largest diamond producer in the world by volume. It’s now closed.

The increasing operation cost and a stagnant diamond market, forced Argyle mines to close in 2020. Another reason for the closure is that the mines are so deep now that further excavation is unviable.

Argyle Diamond Mine

We continued on towards Kunanurra flying over the vast cattle properties. As we neared Kunanurra the fruit trees particularly the mango and sandalwood trees came into view.

Sandalwood is a big industry here. It’s expensive to grow and produce. Quintis grow sustainable Indian sandalwood trees and the shop is a good place to find out about the production and the variety of products available.

We popped into the small art gallery in the Main Street of Kunanurra.

Also the Diamond shop where the lady there was very generous with her time allowing Jill and I to try on lots of rings while she talked about the beautiful pink argyle diamonds. They are so very valuable. My favourite was a simple band with 5 diamonds and an offset pink diamond.

Outside the diamonds shop.

She told us the diamonds are selling well and the value is increasing as the mine has closed. she modelled her own ring.

We decided to visit Chikshed Gallery. It’s a pottery glass gallery about 15 minutes out of town. What a place. It’s owned by Janine in a gallery built by her husband on their mango farm in the most beautiful settle by the lake opposite the sleeping Buddha rock formation.

Sleeping Buddha in the background

She also did mosaic pots and flowers.

Last stop today was The Hoochery. The Hoochery is in the Ord Valley and is W.A.’s oldest legal still. It produces rum, gin and other liqueurs

The paddle tasting I couldn’t resist

We chose our tastings. The mojito one for Jill and I and the classic one for Steve. He liked the spiced rum so much he bought a bottle. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon and today with the rainstorm that came through it was great.