The iconic Bungle Bungles

The words “icon” and “iconic” are much misused nowadays yet genuine icons continue to impress, and amaze.  Take the Bungle Bungles; could anything better represent the Kimberley than the distinctive striped domes seen in paper and digital publications and on all manner of souvenirs.

Visiting these formations is an adventure which builds anticipation, the 53km 4WD-only road to Purnululu National Park, through reptile-like hills on vast cattle stations, having inspired campfire horror stories.  The road is not always a nightmare, however it is never an easy drive and conditions depend on traffic and recent weather. 

Weather also dictates how you explore the park, with outings best sandwiched around long siestas in high temperatures.  Allow a minimum of two full days, with perhaps one night each at Kurrajong (the northern campground) and Walardi (the southern campground).

Haven’t got camping gear or just fancy someone else cooking dinner at the day’s end?  Meal-inclusive accommodation in tented cabins, some with en-suite bathrooms, is available in hosted camps in the commercial Bellburn Campground

www.kimberleywilderness.com.au

www.eastkimberleytours.com.au

A handful of walks give different perspectives of the Bungle Bungle Range at the heart of Purnululu.  The 5km-return walk up Mini Palms Gorge follows a stony creek bed through a narrow canyon into a stone-walled amphitheatre populated by elongated Livistona fan palms whose fronds fan out against bright blue sky.  The midday lightshow in nearby Echidna Chasm is another must-see, with sculpted rock glowing as if internally illuminated and the combination of curves and planes, textures and hues downright sexy.  And in the south, an easy 1km loop through a colony of beehive domes with that distinctive orange and black banding of sedimentary layers and protective cyanobacteria leads to the natural Cathedral, which enfolds you in curved stone. 

The ultimate Purnululu experience, though, is a scenic helicopter flight. Splash out on longer than the minimum 18-minute flight.  And don’t be spooked by the helicopter’s lack of doors because doors would isolate you from this geological wonder.  You will revel in the uninterrupted view of a maze of mammoth domes, here joined, there cut through with precipitous gorges, some open only to a few Aboriginal elders (the Dreaming of Kimberley people includes stories about these ancient, iconic rocks).

www.slingair.com.au

FACT FILE:

Purnululu National Park is 304km from Kununurra.  It is open to drive-in visitors from 1 April to 31 December (weather permitting). Check weather and road conditions with authorities before entering. 

Limited park information at www.dec.wa.gov.au, otherwise phone the Purnululu NP Visitor Centre on 61-8-91687300.

LOADING MORE ARTICLE...