Bungle Bungles (Purnululu) & Carr Boyd Ranges South and North
I have just completed a 3 week tour with Sebastien from No Traces Bushwalking comprising one week in the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu) and two weeks in the Carr Boyd Ranges.
The Bungle Bungles is a truly remote, unique and other-worldly place completely worthy of its World Heritage listing. I have seen nothing like it and the experience of exploring there, away from other tour groups for an entire week will remain as a precious memory forever. The unique sandstone formations, deep, steep-sided gorges and swimming holes were highlights. Exploring the ‘five fingers’ revealed unique gems; hidden, elevated, secret gardens and lengthy swims down ever-narrowing gorges in cool water, moving from narrow passages to wide, deep wells of crystal clear fresh water.
The little-known Carr Boyd Ranges lie west of the huge and impressive Lake Argyle, source of the Old River irrigation scheme. This is rugged and breathtakingly beautiful, ancient sandstone country punctuated by deep gorges and seemingly endless, beautiful fresh water swimming holes, making the hot, dry walking climate easy going. The vegetation and rock formations form a beautiful palette of greens and reds against the brilliant blue, cloudless skies. The nights were cool (no tent fly was needed however) and the night sky brilliant with stars. The ‘dark emu’ was clearly visible on nights with less moonlight. We moved from beautiful campsite to another beautiful campsite, every day ending with a cooling swim, relaxing in the shade and dinner before an early bedtime for the star show. A helicopter transported us from South to North Carr Boyd Ranges, allowing a different perspective of the amazing country through which we were walking. The beautiful campsites, gorges and views from the North Carr Boyd escarpment are too numerous to mention.
It’s difficult, almost impossible for me to find words to adequately describe the vast beauty of these places. The many photos we took, although beautiful, also fail to portray their true nature. Spending three weeks in the Kimberly wilderness has been a life-changing experience for me. The first week was breathtaking and exciting. The following two weeks I found a feeling of inner peace growing inside me, away from the noise and static of the world, a feeling of becoming smaller in a vast wilderness, a feeling of being connected to the places I was in. Life becomes simple; sleep, eat, walk, swim, all surrounded by incredible beauty. The walking is challenging and some days are hard, but there is no reward without work. I like to think of the wilderness as a ‘default reality’, something that is always there, constant, unaffected by the outside world in which we all live – the ‘alternate reality’.
A word about Sebastien, our guide and founder of No Traces Bushwalking. He is an incredibly experienced guide and adventurer (check out his bio on the website https://notraces- bushwalking-australia.com/sebastien-bio/) and has extensively explored this country, both solo and as a guide. His tour itineraries are extremely well researched and planned to have a ‘wow factor’ for his clients every day. Sebastien’s knowledge of the country, its people and culture is extensive. He is a highly skilled bushman who is capable of guiding you safely through this rugged country whilst you appreciate its beauty. He is intelligent, extremely capable, a great cook (his evening meals constitute ‘camping haute cuisine’) and great company. He is part guide, part adventurer, part philosopher and has become a friend. I’m certain that anyone would enjoy his company.
I highly recommend Seb and No Traces Bushwalking to anyone seeking an ‘off piste’ wilderness experience that you will never forget.
Purnululu National Park
I wanted to thank you from the bottom of the heart for a truly life changing experience.
Although for me the week was at times “out of comfort zone’ challenging – the gains from the experience far out way facing my (rock climbing) fears.
I do believe your week to be one of the most magical experiences of my life.
I so appreciated your way of guiding – not giving too much away on daily expectations so that each experience is formed by us – not an interpretation of what we are told.
Your level of care, enthusiasm and respect for the environment was evident from start to finish – and this was appreciated.
The meals were delicious and equipment guidance perfect also.
I so look forward to doing another walk in the future and am and a Notraces convert –
Robert Ian Mair (Melbourne Bushwalkers President)
Carr Boyd Ranges South and North
Walking the South and North Carr Boyd Range in the heat of April was going to be a challenge. With intimate knowledge of the area, a well structured schedule and attention to everyone’s needs, our leader, Sebastian, made it a pleasure. Walking across rugged ranges, exploring unexpected side gorges and swimming in pristine waterfall-fed pools will long be remembered. So too will be visits to lesser known features of the area that only an experienced and knowledgeable guide can provide. A great experience that I would commend to anyone with a spirit of adventure.
Karen Viggers (Australian author)
Purnululu National Park
I first visited Purnululu and the Bungle Bungle Range many years ago and it left an indelible impression on me. I could sense the spiritual depth of the place, how important it must be to First Peoples. Time seemed to be etched into the rocks. As I walked among the striped beehive domes, the lyrical call of the pied butcherbird rolled around me.
I was left with a strong urge to return. And when a friend mentioned she was going on a guided walk into Purnululu and invited me to come along, I grasped the chance. I had never been on a guided walk before – I’ve always organised my own hikes – so this was new territory for me. But it soon became evident that a guide was essential here, and infinitely enhanced the experience.
Sebastien, of NoTraces Bushwalking, is a meticulous guide. He’s visited Piccaninny Gorge since 25 years and his knowledge of the region is impressive. Years of exploring means he knows the best routes to access the spectacular Five Fingers gorges in the upper reaches of Piccaninny Gorge. There’s a lot of rock scrambling to reach the most beautiful places.
Sebastien has a knack for guiding clients safely while allowing you to extend yourself and uncover the mysteries of the gorges. He assesses each person’s capabilities and encourages you to extend yourself. A Frenchman with a passion for Australia, he is also a master at creating great meals. And you need to eat well at the end of each day to fuel up for the next adventure.
The Purnululu adventure is not an easy trip – you need to be fit. But there are many highlights. The reflections of Black Rock Pool. The towering red sandstone cliffs of Piccaninny Gorge. The calls of boobook owls echoing among the rock walls at night. The challenge of scrambling over boulders and up spinifex slopes to discover dark chasms and shadowy rock chambers, carved by water. A tiny microbat circling in the filtered light of a cavern. A secret spring under a rock ledge high up in one of the gorges. A hidden palm garden. The orange light that glows on the rock walls at dawn. The spray of stars across the night sky.
Sebastien is clearly moved by wild places, and allows time for you to sit and absorb the ageless atmosphere of the gorges.
We also experienced the first significant rainfall Sebastien has ever seen in Purnululu at this time of year. In the middle of the night, a lightning-sparked storm transformed the dry waterfall beneath which we were camped, into a roaring, gushing torrent. The sound of that spout of water slapping into the plunge pool is something I’ll never forget. By day, the rocks and gorges were transformed too – the dark stripes accentuated by moisture. New waterfalls everywhere.
On a trip like this, there is also the making of new friendships. Telling stories along the way. Supporting each other through difficult sections. The intensity of shared experience.
Afterwards, when you return to normal life, you can’t stop thinking about where you’ve been and what you’ve done, and the wonderful afterglow echoes through your days.
I, for one, will be returning to do other walks with Sebastien and NoTraces. The adventures he shapes and creates are strangely addictive.
Drysdale River NP Rafting and Walking, Carr Boyd Ranges South and North, Purnululu NP, Litchfield NP 9 days in the Wet Season
The Drysdale River 2 week pack raft trip followed by a 2 week hike in the Drysdale River National Park was my fourth and longest expedition with Seb as guide. The others were in Kakadu NP, Litchfield NP, Purnululu and the North and South Carr Boyd Ranges. The fact that my husband, Cleve, and I have chosen to complete several trips with Seb speaks volumes.
He is an amazingly accomplished guide. He knows and respects the remote country of north Western Australia, and the Northern Territory of Australia as he has spent years exploring it and discovering its wonders. He wants to share this knowledge of the land, and of the first peoples who lived here.
You will be challenged. It is physically demanding, not least the heat, from someone who hails from Victoria. However it’s the challenge that adds to the joy of the trip. If it wasn’t difficult to get to, there would be too many people there.
You will be rewarded with spectacular scenery, swims in pristine waters, and brilliant night skies. You will marvel at 1000s of years old rock art. You will enjoy delicious meals prepared by Seb, shared with the interesting, likeable, nature loving people in your small group.
Come on one of Seb’s expeditions. You’ll love it!
Et aux les personnes francaises, vous devez venir. Allez! Vous l’aimerez!
Wendy Wait (Outdoor Education Teacher)
Purnululu National Park June 2022
We’ve just returned from a truly unique and amazing 7 day bushwalk in the Purnululu National Park with Sebastian from No Traces Bushwalking.
As experienced Bushwalkers, Outdoor Education teachers and Adventure guides when younger, this was our first ever commercial trip being guided.
We are still buzzing from this truly unique and special experience and can highly recommend it to anyone who truly wants to physically challenge and immerse them-self in the natural world. Deep and massive gorges and huge sandstone dome peaks dominate the landscape and freshwater swimming holes constantly entice you into their crystal clear and refreshing depths. Purnululu is also such an incredibly spiritual place you can’t help but feel like you have to tread carefully, having no impact on this timeless fragile place.
To sum up what made this trip so unique and special to us?
1/ The astoundingly beautiful and unique scenery
2/ The remoteness and feeling like not many people had seen or experienced the places we were shown
3/ Having Sebastian as our experienced and knowledgeable local guide meant we safely accessed many remote and magical hidden gems that we would not have discovered on our own. Sebastian’s safety practices and ongoing support and encouragement was greatly appreciated.
4/ Sebastian’s 3 course dinners were healthy, delicious and plentiful.
We take away soooo many wonderful Purnululu memories and feel so incredible grateful and privileged to have been shown a small glimpse of this culturally and geologically rich and diverse place…..while leaving NO Traces .