Echidna Chasm


Echidna Chasm, Australia
200 meters/656 feet
There are four main areas of remarkable canyons in Australia: The Blue Mountains near Sydney; Karijini National Park in the far west; Watarrka Red Center Canyons near Alice Springs; The Bungle Bungle Range in northwest Australia.

Echidna Chasm, in the Bungle Bungle Range of Western Australia, is one of Australia's most mysterious places and spectacular hiking destinations.


photo courtesy of kimberleyaustralia.com

Activities and Attractions
To get to the Bungle Bungle you will need a four wheel drive vehicle as the road to this remote area is 80 km of rough dusty track. The nearest major towns are Kununurra to the north or Halls Creek to the south.
Purnululu National Park in western Australia encompasses many of the Bungle Bungle highlights. The landscape features deep caverns, dramatic caves, tropical pools, and hundreds of distinctive beehive shaped limestone formations that work together to create a phenomenal scene of wonder.

A hike through this landscape with its sandstone domes is unforgettable. There are breathtaking gorges like Cathedral Gorge and Piccaninny Gorge. The latter is best taken as an overnight walk, 30 km in total, camping in the open. Echidna Chasm is a much easier walk, about 2 km. It is a narrow gorge with bright orange walls and adorned with tall palms. At times it is only one meter wide and a hundred meters high. Light reflects off the orange domes above and creates a fluorescent glow on the creek bed below.

People who hike, camp and four wheel driving through the area have the opportunity to experience ancient rock art and rare animals.

The main tourist season runs from May through August. Tours, including scenic flights, are available from Kununurra and Broome. From the air, the Bungle Bungle Range is an awesome site, rising 300 meters out of the plain. The orange and black stripes of these massive sandstone structures are easy to spot from a scenic flight. As you sweep over the range, a hidden world of gorges and pools is revealed, with fan palms clinging to walls and crevices in the rocks.

Geography
The range, which is cut by numerous deep gorges and ravines, was formed during the Devonian period. It is the sediment of an old river bed. The sediment was laid down in layers, compressed into sandstone and eventually lifted up to form a mountain range. The sandstone formation of the Bungle Bungle range is estimated to be 350 million years old and gets its unique tiger stripes from black algae growth that penetrates the pores of the rock, combined with the orange colored build up of manganese and iron stains.

Ecology
There is abundant bird life (240 species) and many reptiles. Agile Wallabies and Euros (varieties of Macropod) may also be seen.

Spinifex, a genus of coastal grass, covers the limestone surfaces. Numerous species of Eucalyptus are seen on the plateau. Within the gorges, a unique variety of Livingstonia palm can be seen that has been found nowhere else. Many other new species of plant have been described since the establishment of the national park.

History
Although aborigines lived in this region for generations, Purnululu was "discovered" only in the mid-1980s. A television crew came upon the unique beehive-shaped domes in 1982 and in 1987 it was proclaimed a national park.

Because of its outstanding geological value and its incredible natural beauty, Purnululu NP was inscribed as a World Heritage Area in 2003.