Region: Western Australia
Outdoor activities: Hiking, Helicopter flight, plane, 4×4
The Punurulu National Park (Bungle Bungles) is one of the four WA’ sites classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. It is distinguished by the beauty and uniqueness of its geological rock formations. Its striated domes are the largest in the world followed by those of Cappadocia in Turkey. Their gray colour is given by a bacteria and the dark orange colour of the Australian outback is given by oxidation of iron particles in the rock.
Even more than other sites in WA, Bungle Bungles is not easy to access! The four hours trip (return) and numerous bumps of all sizes and shapes that shakes your whole being will be quickly forgotten when you arrive on site. The route to this park is one of the most difficult to access, is more corrugated than the Gibb river. Indeed, the park’s entrance is at two hours and a half drive from Kununurra and four hours of Fritzroy Crossing (or one hour from Halls Creek road). The “road”,53K of 4WD track very difficult and only accessible with a high clearance 4WD with a snorkel if not you might not cross various creek. If you have a well equipped 4WD and you don’t mind have some reparations needed after the travel to the Bungles, we recommend that you spend at least 2 days in the park in order to enjoy the different excursions and admire the magic sunrise and sunset on the domes. For those who want to enjoy the trip without any stress, we advise you to take a day-tour organized by Bungle Bungles Expeditions (285AU /person) whose offices are in the lovely Caravan Park located at the junction with the highway.
Into the Bungle Bungles
It was Surf on a leaf’s choice and we were pleased by this tour. The bus leaves the campsite at 7am and after a stop at the tourist office at the park entrance 52 km further on, we reach the southern part of the park at 9.30 am. At the arrival we’ve enjoyed a hot tea and cake before the hikes. You can then enjoy the view on the domes and make one or more hikes before joining everybody at the bus at noon for lunch. In the afternoon, the bus takes us to the northern part of the park where a completely different landscape is revealed to our curious eyes. You will have time for two hikes before heading back for the campsite. You can enjoy the nice dinner included in the tour in a cosy tent at 6pm.
The south offers the scenery that you see on every single brochure with the famous striped domes and completely different from the northern part which also offers some beautiful hikes.
The southern section (30 km from the entrance of the Bungle Bungles) is accessible from the parking Piccaninny and offers numerous walks from 20 minutes to two days. The most visited spot is certainly Cathedral Gorge. The hike starts at the parking and arrives at a huge natural amphitheatre (allow one hour return). The freshness of the gorge is much appreciated since the other paths are mostly under the sun (bring a hat, sunscreen, sturdy shoes and lots of water). Surf on a leaf ‘s favourite hike was the Nature Window (allow2h30 return). This hike offers different scenery of the domes and it is easy because you walk on the bottom of a dry river.
If you have chosen to take the organized tour, you must hurry a bit if you want to see more of this giant park and I promise, there are spectacular formations to discover at every turn.
In the northern part of the park (20 km from the park entrance), you can go on the Echidna Chasm hike. The trail starts at the bottom of a rocky dry river and ends at the bottom of a very narrow funnel. The variations in the rock’s colour depend on the angle you are looking at and on the sunlight. It is amazing to see at the top huge palm trees that grow along the 200m high cliffs.
If you are not into the 4WD, the Bungle Bungles are beautiful also from the sky. We recommend a helicopter flight that you can book at the Caravan Park (see details here)
The park also offers two basic campsites: Walardi and Kurrajong located inside the park but no water available in the park so bring enough reserves.
If you came by the Gibb river road, you can join a fly over the park from Kununurra. The view is less impressive than from the helicopter and the domes will seem smaller (we haven’t try it but everybody told us that they preferred the Helicopter tour)
The isolation of this park helps preserve it from the mass tourism.
The hikes in the park unveil very different scenery
There is unfortunately little wildlife in the park. In fact the pioneers destroyed the fragile ecosystem by introducing cattle and planting new species that the local animals couldn’t digest.
The road is very bumpy you must be prepared for it.