The Kija people of the East Kimberly Region in Western Australia are the traditional owners of the mighty Purnululu or Bungle Bungle range. They are the testimony of human presence in this area for at least 20,000 years, following a strong tradition in which ancestral beings, ceremonies and rituals constitute Ngarrangkarni, a complex term popularly known as the Dreaming or Law. The same Ngarrangkarni explains the creation of Purnululu’s sandstone structures, gorges and waterfalls through narrative instead of definition, leaving to our imagination the formation of the landscape by creatures as the rainbow serpent, frogs, crocodiles and fish.
According to our Western point of view the sandstone beehive towers of the Purnululu Range were created by twenty million years of weathering by wind, rain and flowing water instead of spiritual creatures. The dark bands that wind horizontally around these structures are formed by cyanobacteria, single-cell photosynthetic organisms that belong to the oldest life-forms on earth. As the dark bands contrast with the lighter sandstone, the myriad of dome-shaped towers form one of the most extraordinary and unique landscapes of this continent.
The evocative power of the Australian wilderness is strong. In our modern world few places remain where both cultural and natural values play such an important role, places where thriving wildlife goes hand in hand with a resilient aboriginal hunter-gatherer tradition. The unique combination between this untamed country, its fascinating indigenous culture and exotic wildlife has allowed us to fall in love with it again. We are therefore thrilled to return to Western Australia by the end of January, to live in the place we left 3 years ago. As we are extremely busy organising ourselves postings on iAMsafari will be somewhat irregular, but no worries, we’ll be back to report on marsupials and monotremes very soon.