Have you ever heard of the Bungle Bungles Purnululu National Park? Most Australians know this national park under the name: The Bungle Bungles. The red and black banded domes look like beehives and are a natural wonder. The incredible beauty and the outstanding geological value are the main features why the national park was World Heritage listed in 2003.
And where is the Bungle Bungles Purnululu National Park? In Western Australia. About 250 km south of Kununurra on the Great Northern Highway there is a track leading to the Park Visitor Centre. The ones with a 4-wheel can do the trip in the dry season. For regular cars the 52 km drive off the highway is not recommnded. The track is a windy gravel road with seven river crossings. That is the case in the dry season. After rain or the wet season there are many more river crossings to manage.
We did the trip in our Troopy and for 4WD vehicles the 52 km are easily doable. Landscape wise it is worth the trip. The road to the park leads through hilly country covered in spinifex. We are doing this trip already the second time. Five years ago we came here the fist time, after we did a flight over the Bungle Bungle Range. The arial views where so fantastic that we wanted to see the Bungles not only from the air. The flight was a birthday present from Marcel and we enjoyed it a lot. It is such a special place on earth.
The Bungle Bungles Purnululu National Park
Now, five years later we are here again. First we go to the Visitor Centre to book the campsites. There are two camps. The first night we stay at the Kurrajong Camp in the northern part of the park. From there we are very close to the attractions in the North. To enter the park a National Parks Pass is required. We already organised an Annual Pass, therefore we do not need to pay again.
The ones who do not have a Parks Pass yet, they get one in the Park Visitor Center. It costs AUD 12 per vehicle (up to 12 legally seated people). Camping fees are charged extra (AUD 12 per Person per night).
We first drive to the camp to check the site. Then we are heading to the Echidna Chasm. A 40 minute walk and we are already at on of the hightlights of the park. Our timing is perfect. The sun is shining into the chasm at exactely 11:30 and enlightens the narrow chasm down the stony walls. A magical moment.
The Echidna Chasm is best to visit lunchtime. Check with the Visitor Centre for the right time, it is changing with the season.
The camp is also quite close to the Kungkalanayi Lookout, the sunset spot you should not miss when visiting the Bungle Bungles. While sipping an ice cold beer we enjoy the moment and the beautiful view.
We are moving to the Walardi Camp. It is quiet around the camp and we can choose our spot. We are now in the southern part of the park and relatively close to the main attraction of the Bungle Bungles Purnululu National Park. The most popular attractions are the Cathedral Gorge and the Piccaninny Creek Lookout. To get to the Piccaninny parking it is a 15 km drive only.
For the ones who visit for a day only we recommend to do the Domes Walk first, continue to the Cathedral Gorge and check out the Piccaninny Creek Lookout last.
And for the ones who have more energy and want to see more can continue to the Window and then finish with the Whip Snake Gorge walk. It is hard to say which one is the best. All the walks are special and worth visiting. But the most spectacular on is definitely the Cathedral Gorge and the walk along the Piccaninny Creek to the Lookout. The landscape is unique.
During our visit we were wondering how these domes were created. Infoboards gave us the answer. The banded domes are an example of cone karst formations. They are made of sandstone. The domes itself were created though erosion by creeks, rivers and rain over the past 20 million years. The orange and grey bands are caused by oxidised iron compounds and the grow of cyanobacteria.
Aboriginal people have lived in this part of Australia for a very long time. White people have not discovered the Bungle Bungles before the 1980s. Today the Bungle Bungle Range and Purnululu National Park is a tourist magnet. We do not know a single Aussie who has not been to the Bungle Bungles or has not planned to get there once in life.
Tips for self-drivers
The park is open from April to December. In the summer months it is too wet and many parts of the park are flodded.
There are no shopping centres or gas stations in the park. Be prepared and bring enough drinking water, food and fuel along.
Entry fee for the National Park: AUD 12 per vehicle (up to 12 legally seated people)
Camping fees: AUD 12 per person per night
Facilities on the camps: Pit toilets and water
If you are travelling around WA for longer and you plan to visit more than one national park it may be worth to buy a Holiday or Annual Parks Pass. The Holiday Pass costs AUD 44, provides unlimited entry to all WA parks for up to four weeks. The Annuall All Parks Pass costs AUD 88 and is valid for 12 month.
You don’t have your own vehicle or no 4WD? No problem.
If you have no 4WD vehicle, you’ll find various tour operators offering trips to the Bunble Bungles. There are also plenty of options. You can book a bus tour, a flight in an airplane or helicopter.
Some of the tour operators offering 4WD tours are for example East Kimberley Tours, Adventure Wild, Bungle Bungle Expeditions or AAT King. For a day-tour you need to expect to pay around AUD 285 per person. Some of the tour operators offer day-tours others multiple-day tours around the Kimberley region.
If you are interested in a flight with a airplane or helicopter check out the options with Kingfisher Tours, Sling Air or Kimberley Air Tours. A 30-minute scenic flight costs about AUD 200 per person. A 2 hour flight costs about AUD 400.