The Bungle Bungles are located within Purnululu National Park, which is about 300km south of Kununurra. The national park covers about 239,000 hectares of land and is relatively new. The Bungle Bungles was known only by the local aboriginals and cattle farmers until 1982 and in 2003 the area was recognised as a World Heritage area because of its geological value and natural beauty.
The Bungle Bungles are made up of domes made from sandstone deposits from about 360 million years ago. Over thousands of years, the sandstone has been eroded by creeks, rivers and general weathering to create the domes and chasms. The domes at the southern end of the park are banded with orange oxidised iron compounds and grey cyanobacteria that protect the sandstone from erosion. The Bungle Bungles is the world’s most exceptional examples of cone karst formations, meaning land that is formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks like limestone, dolomite and gypsum. In other words, flimsy, crumbly rock has been dissolved by mildly acidic water to create a kooky shaped landscape.
The road into the park is about 50km of rocky, corrugated road that rises and falls over the landscape like a rollercoaster. It’s slow going and there are also a few river crossings so it’s best to have a 4WD and allow around 2 hours to get to the Visitor Centre from the highway, and vice versa.
Entry fees apply to the park, but if you have a WA Parks Pass, you’re all sorted. Camping is about $11 per adult per night, and while campfires are only allowed in designated fireplaces, make sure you bring firewood with you because you’re not allowed to collect firewood in a national park.
The Southern End
We started exploring the Bungle Bungles from the south. All the walking trails were connected in some way so we managed to get all of it done in one go.
A quick 1km loop to introduce you to the beehive domes of the Bungles. Check out the orange and black layering but don’t climb the domes – these layers are what protect the sandstone from erosion!
An easy walk into the gorge ends at a cavernous amphitheatre with a still pool. The acoustics are wonderful and if you’re brave enough – SING! The echo is magnificent and you will be awe-struck at the enormity of this place.
We also had a go of skimming some stones along the still water – our French mate Boris was by far the best at it, but Dave didn’t do too bad either. On our way out, we encountered some bush passionfruit. Check out our post on this bush tucker here.
Piccaninny Gorge Lookout
An 800m diversion from the track back to the car park will bring you to a platform that overlooks the Piccaninny Creek and surrounding domes. The view would be absolutely spectacular at sunset.
We finished all the walks in two hours with a total distance of around 4.5km. This gave us just enough time to get to the Northern End before midday. If you’re an experienced hiker, you can register at the Visitor Centre to do the Piccaninny Gorge Walk, a 2-7 day hike into the remote areas of the gorge. You have to bring all your gear – tents, food, water – and some of the track can be fairly difficult, so make sure you’re well prepared.
The Northern End
We made our way back to the Visitor Centre for a snack, a toilet break and a look at their book exchange before jumping back into the Troopy and heading for the northern end of the Bungle Bungles. The landscape was very different to the south – the rocky outcrops lacked the bands of black and were smoother and more vegetated.
We were given an insider tip that the best time to explore Echidna Chasm was at midday when the sun’s rays can stream down into the narrow corridor. We were glad that we took the advice! This unique experience takes you about 300 metres into the chasm and the way the light reflects and illuminates the path is beautiful.
Osmand Lookout & Kungkalanayi Lookout
On the way back to the car park is a track to the Osmand Lookout. It provides great views of the Bungle Bungle Range and the Osmand Range in the distance.
We also checked out the Kungkalanayi Lookout on the way back to the Visitor Centre. This lookout provided fantastic panoramic views of the Bungle Bungle Ranges on one side and the Osmand Range on the other.
We would have loved to do the Mini Palms Gorge walk or stick around at Kungkalanayi Lookout to watch the sun set but it was time for us to head to camp. We were exhausted, the day was getting really hot, and we had a long drive back to the Spring Creek Rest Area. This is a great spot to stay if you plan on exploring the Bungle Bungles. It’s located right next to a little creek with picnic benches and fire places, there are heaps of places to set up camp and there are lots of people to chat with. You might even have a bull graze through your campsite or find some buried treasure (hint hint)…