Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist. Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Sunday 30 June 2013

Sunset over spinifex in World Heritage Purnululu, Western Australia

I was very excited to learn recently that I had won the "People's Choice" award for my image - "Purnululu Sunset" - at the  "60 shots @ 6" Photography Competition and Exhibition.

 The brief was to submit images taken half an hour either side of 6am or 6pm. We could submit five images - either "digitally enhanced" or "no enhancement". The 60 selected images were cropped to square and displayed in "cd cases" at the Front Room Artist Run Space at the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery. You can see more about it by clicking here - Front Room Artist Run Space

 The interesting thing about them being this small, is that instead of standing back as you might usually, you really had to stand up close to view the images.  My image was "no enhancement".

When we visited World Heritage listed - Purnululu - in the amazing Kimberley region of northern Western Australia, we went late one afternoon to one of the sunset viewing places - Kungkalahayi Lookout.  Here you can enjoy uninterrupted 360 degree panoramic views and watch the last rays of the sun spreading out over the Simpifex ridges and lighting up the ranges changing them to brilliant orange and reds. People often take a chair and enjoy sunset drinks here. There are also other parking bays along the roads through Purnululu where you can enjoy the sunsets. It is a lovely way to end the day.

It was here that I saw my image "Purnululu sunset". I loved the way the golden light of the late afternoon sun was lighting up the heads of the clumps of spinifex grass. 

I wrote in my diary - "At Kungkalahayi Lookout they have provided benches on which to sit, but we decided to walk over to an adjacent hill, and set up our chairs and camera. It was beautiful, the setting sun setting over the hill behind us, lighting up the Spinifex heads, and turning the rock faces to a brilliant red."

Little did I know then that my image would win a "People's Choice Award"! So exciting - my first photography competition and award and first time I have had a piece exhibited! I have now had my image printed onto canvas to display on my wall at home.

Given World Heritage listing in 2003, Purnululu (also known as the Bungle Bungles) is one of Western Australia’s newest and most spectacular National Parks.   

In the Kija Aboriginal language purnululu means sandstone. The Aboriginal people inhabited the region for thousands of years, however Purnululu was known only to a few Europeans until the mid 1980s.  How it received the name Bungle Bungles remains an intriguing mystery with several explanations including the name of a common Kimberley grass, bundle bundle grass, or the ranges proximity to the old Bungle Bungle cattle station. 

The ranges are the remains of a large sedimentary rock mass laid down about 360 million years ago, uplifted to form ranges, then moulded by erosion and weathering. An outer skin of silica and algae and a patina of iron and manganese oxidation gives the domes the rusty orange and dark grey bandings you see today. Contrary to its solid appearance the sandstone is very fragile. The weight of overlying rock holds the sand grains in place, but when this is removed the sandstone easily erodes demonstrated by the rounded tops of the Domes. 

Purnululu is rich in Aboriginal history and art, and there are many burial sites and places not accessible to tourists. The Aboriginal traditional owners make a valuable contribution to Purnululu through their joint management of the Park and are working with DEC to develop more walk trails for visitors. Visitors are reminded to never remove anything from Aboriginal historical sites.

 Below are some aerial shots I took when we enjoyed a flight from Kununurra. You can take helicopter rides at Purnululu or like we did, a fixed wing flight from Kununurra which included flying over Lake Argyle, the Argyle Diamond Mine, the Ord River plains and the surrounding station country.  It is an awesome experience to see the domes of Purnululu from the air rising dramatically 200-300 metres high out of the flat spinifex grass lands in a maze of domes, rocks, gorges and creek beds.

Purnululu is a perfect place to enjoy a wilderness experience, bush camping, walking, photography and nature observation and I recommend at least a two or three day visit to experience some of what Purnululu as to offer.  There are several walks, ranging from the easy one kilometre Domes walk to a 30 kilometre over night hike through Piccaninny Gorge (oh how I would love to do this one!). Each walk has its own particular characteristics and beauty and photographers should consider using a tripod to assist with the tricky lighting. The walk trails are generally exposed and along uneven rock surfaces and creek beds, so sturdy footwear, sunscreen, hat and carrying water is recommended.  Shaded picnic tables are located at the start of the walks.

My favourite gorge is Cathedral Gorge, and below is one of my favourite images - my husband and sun walking into Cathedral Gorge in the early morning light.They are my travel companions who support me and wait patiently while I take yet another photo! Without them I wouldn't have been able to travel over our beautiful country.

The moderate three kilometre return walk into Cathedral Gorge is one of the most spectacular walks in the Park.  It includes some short steep slopes and narrow ledges (allow one to two hours). The walk terminates within a circular towering amphitheatre, sheltering a central pool. An early morning walk is great for photography as you can capture the light filtering through the gorges and lighting up the rocks.

Cathedral Gorge is well named. Entering its immense towering cavern is like entering a magnificent natural cathedral, a place steeped in time and history. The red and orange sandstone walls tower above you, and the white sand crunches softly underfoot.  Tiny animal tracks can be seen going across the sand to the central pool which sits still and undisturbed like a mirror. It is a place for hushed voices and to sit quietly with your own thoughts. If you come early in the morning, as we did, you can enjoy the peace and atmosphere undisturbed before the crowds arive.  It has the atmosphere of a holy place, a sanctuary. We walked to Cathedral Gorge twice during our stay.

 I have tried to cobble some photos together to show you how immense it is - but this truly doesn't do it justice - 

 We visited Purnululu in July - the winter dry season. It was cold at night and hot during the day, so getting up early in the morning to go for the walks is the best idea. We had a lovely shady campsite, and spent the afternoons sitting around camp, reading, having a snooze (my husband), or looking at photos and writing notes (me), or doing Word Slueths (our son). Later in the afternoon we might go for another walk, or get ready for sunset drinks. 

Purnululu is an amazing place to visit. I recommend you put in on your must see places. I am looking forward to a return visit. 


Where is it?

Purnululu is located off the Great Northern Highway, 250km south of Kununurra, west of the WA/Northern Territory border. The 53 kilometre unsealed road from the Highway is only accessible by 4WD and offroad campers. It travels through Mabel Downs Station to the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) Rangers / Visitor Centre within the park. You should allow approximately 2-3 hours for the 53 km drive in (approximately 5 hours total travel time from Kununurra).

The Park is only open to visitors from April to December depending on weather conditions as during the summer “wet” season the unsealed road into the Park can become unpassable due to washaways and numerous creek crossings. We negotiated seven “wet” crossings during the “dry” season in July. Travellers must come entirely self sufficient with fuel, water, food and mechanical spares, although untreated water is available in the camping areas. On arrival visitors must register and pay their Park and camping fees at the Visitor Centre.  Here you can gather information about the Park, as well as purchasing souvenirs and cold drinks, so it is a good place to start your visit to Purnululu.

 For more information:

Department of Environment & Conservation, Kununurra. Phone 08 9168 4200
Purnululu Visitor Centre – April to December. Phone 08 9168 7300

DEC Nature Base – Nature Base
 Kimberley Australia Travel Guide: Kimberley Australia

Kununurra Visitor Centre Kununurra Tourism

Western Australian Tourism  - Australia's North West

Want to see more?

I hope you have enjoyed this little visit to this spectacular part of my State. Would you like to read more? 
Please see my blog posts - On the Road in the Kimberley
 and my articles in  November 2011 edition of On The Road Magazine. 

I am linking up to Mosaic Monday, Travel Photo Monday, Our World Tuesday, and Travel Photo Thursday. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!
Mosaic Monday 
Travel Photo Mondays 
Our World Tuesday 
Travel Photo Thursday


  1. Congrats on winning the award, Jill! It is a beautiful photo and scene! I also love the Cathedral Gorge, what a gorgeous place to visit. Wonderful photos and post.

  2. Wow, stunning photo's of a beautiful country. Congratulations on winning the awward. Something to be very proud of.

  3. How exciting for you! Marvelous shot ~ no wonder ! ~ Excellent photography and love the mosaics ~ Happy Day ^_^

    Thanks for visiting ^_^

  4. Beautiful images Jill portraying rural Australia with its many layers of colour and light.

    "Adelaide and Beyond"

  5. Yeah, congratulations Jill! Your image is really wonderful, but then again, all of them are. These show a land that looks very much like our Badlands area in the Dakotas. I would so love to journey to a place like this and you have placed us there with your spectacular selection of images. Have a happy week~

  6. Great series and congtats!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  7. What a fantastic place it must be. In some of the images the rocks look to be covered in a wonderful knit pattern - strange, but that's the way I think!
    Your country is so very beautiful. I've learned a lot from your blog about places I'll never be able to visit - but I can dream!

  8. Wow, such a beautiful place, and gorgeous photos! Congrats on your win, the photo has amazing light!

  9. Your shots are utterly beautiful. Congratulations on winning.

  10. congratulations. your photos are truly wonderful.

  11. Congratulations, Jill! I´m not surprised...all your photos are always so beautiful!

  12. Your photos all deserve awards. Some spectacular shots there.

  13. Fantastic photos Jill, and I too love the one of your husband and son walking into Cathedral Gorge. The lighting is gorgeous. I love the Bungle Bungles too, and can't wait to return one day and explore some more :)

    1. I look forward to going back too Jo, though I hear you have to book a campsite now. I will have to check that out for accuracy. I so wanted to do the 30 kilometre over-night hike through Piccaninny Gorge (sleeping in the Gorge). I will have to get into training for preparation for that one.

  14. thank you all dear readers for your comments. Purnululu really is an amazing place to visit - at least once. I am looking forward to returning one day. Unfortunate is is several 1000kms away from us.

  15. A wonderful series of captures, Jill - thank you for sharing your part of our awesome world. (I am a grateful recipient of the DPS weekly newsletter so will have to be more vigilant in noting the names of contributing writers!). Thank you for taking time to visit & comment on my blog. (p.s. your golden waters & lone yacht image on the RHS panel here is breathtaking!!)

    1. oops! not a contributing writer of DPS - just put photos up sometimes - though not so much now that I have found FLickr!
      Thanks for your lovely comments.

  16. Wow that sandstone is really cool. I've never seen it before.

  17. Exquisite compositions, I love the combination of light and shadow, beautiful scenery, excellent exposure!

  18. Congratulations on such a fine award!!! It is a great shot - but then I think all of your shots are great shots (at least those you show us in your posts :-) ) I also appreciate your explanations both about the area and the way the shot came about, always look forward to more!

    1. Thanks Jackie & Joel - I am so glad you are enjoying the tour.

  19. Congratulations on winning your award Jill. These photos of the Bungle Bungles are beautiful. It is definitely time to go back for us too. The more I travel, the more I realise how stunning and unique our state is!

  20. Well done. I can see why the image was popular!

    I wish that all the images of my "memory tree" were mine - but its a flickr group that I happened to find!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  21. I love the textures of Purnululu Sunset. No wonder it won the people's choice. I am surprised it did not win the judges as well. I can imagine it dominating a wall in your house. It would have been amazing to see the same scene from the air as well.

  22. Congratulations! I love all the Australian photos that you share - they make me dream of getting to Australia some day and really exploring the country!

  23. Hi Jill,
    Congratulations for winning the competition! So well deserved. Such an excellent image.
    Thanks for introducing me this wonderful place. Pumululu looks incredible, immense place! Hiking and camping there sounds wonderful. I hope to make it there someday.

  24. Fantastic and the colors of the rocks are beautiful, looks like an excellent place to hike and explore

    Wanted to invite you to a Monday photo linkup called Travel Photo Mondays on my blog, come and join us on Mondays.


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