Falls and Bungles in a Helicopter

helicopter
Ready to go!

We stayed at Mitchell Falls for a couple of nights in order to visit the waterfalls there. Helicopter flights were on offer so we decided to go for it and booked a flight over the Falls and out to the coast. The helicopter was small and a tight fit. MOH was fine – he was sitting up front with the pilot (who looked about 16) but I was in the back with a guy who would have made a marvellous rugby prop forward, and his wife.

Not only that, I was on the outside – just about literally. The helicopter had no doors in the back so I was perched on the edge of my seat feeling the breeze as we flew and looking straight down at the ground a hundred feet below.

I loved it! I absolutely loved it!

It was exhilarating and exciting and I was safely strapped in so there was nothing to fear as long as the engine kept going, the pilot didn’t collapse and we didn’t run out of fuel. Which of course it didn’t.

coast
Nearing the coast

The view over the Falls was spectacular enough and must be truly wonderful in the wet season, but then we headed out to the coast over tracts of emptiness with very little evidence, if any, of man being there. The sea when we reached it was turquoise and deep blue, green in parts and every hue in between. The were numerous sandy bays, so idyllic looking but totally unsafe due to the crocodiles.

croc-tracks
Croc tracks

We saw their tracks leading to and from the water but of them, we didn’t catch a glimpse. Not surprising as later on in the trip, in Kakadu, we realised just how well camouflaged they are on the river banks.

bill-in-front

We followed the Mitchell River back from its mouth to the Falls and beyond and landed where our faithful bus was waiting to take us back to our Wilderness Lodge.

When we heard we could have another flight later in the trip over the Bungle Bungles, we were the first to sign up.

bungles-air-4
Flying over the Bungles

The Bungle Bungles are beehive shaped dome structures made out of sandstone deposited about 350 million years ago and eroded over time by weather and water. Between them run deep chasms and gorges some of which we walked into. They have striking orange and grey bands caused by bacteria (which make the black bands) or oxidised iron, making the orange ones. As the sun lowers, the bands become even more distinctive.

Another young lad took us up in his helicopter with more space this time as there were only three of us, but still an absence of doors. Still, it gives a much better view and it was well worthwhile. The southern end of the Bungle Bungles in where the domes are but as you fly further north there are fewer chasms and gorges and it becomes a high plateau. It was incredible to think that very few people indeed, if any, had ventured on to it and that it was as pristine a landscape as could be found anywhere in the world.

bungles-air
The plateau stretches away

There were many strange and weird shapes left by erosion, which of course is still ongoing. The domes themselves are very fragile as they are only a thin skin of sandstone, which if pierced, reveals that they are filled with a grey sand. They are now part of Purnululu National Park and it’s also a World Heritage site as an area of natural beauty and outstanding geological features.

I’m glad we took the opportunity to fly as we saw so much more and got an overview of the areas which we didn’t have on the ground. I can’t wait till the next one!

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