Bungle Bungle Range, Purnululu National Park, WA

The Bungle Bungle Range is in the Purnululu National Park World Heritage Area. The famous Beehive Domes are only one part of the Bungle Bungle Range. “Purnululu” is based on the Jaru/Djaru word for the type of rock forming the range. According to one explanation of the origin of “Bungle Bungle”, when asked by explorers what the range was called, the Aboriginal man thought they were pointing to the grass, which was of a type known as Bundle Bundle. His response was misheard as Bungle Bungle, which stuck.

On the way to Purnululu National Park we stopped at the Doon Doon Roadhouse where you can recycle your (live) Cane Toads.

Leaving the sealed Great Northern Highway we started on the 60 km notorious Spring Creek Track that leads into the Purnululu National Park, only suitable for high clearance 4WD vehicles. There is a caravan park not far off the sealed road. The first 38km is through the privately owned Mabel Downs Station. From the start of the National Park to the Visitors Centre is 11km and then a further 7km to Kurrajong Campground where we stayed.

The grader had been through two days before we arrived and the road was better than we expected and much better than the Wyndham side of the Gibb River Road, which we had just come off. Whereas the Gibb RIver Road is flat, the Spring Creek Track has sharp bends, steep gradients, several creek crossings and is very narrow. It took us 1½  hours to do the 38km instead of the 2−3 hours that it is normally noted for.

Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungle Range are divided into a south and north end. Both ends have gorge walks and a bush campground, Kurrajong in the north and  Walardi in the south.

These little Double-barred finches were at the Visitors Information Centre.

Kurrajong Campground where we stayed, and were delighted to once again catch up with our friends from Gibb RIver Road.

We attempted cooking jaffles over the gas camp stove, but I think more filling ended up on the stove than in the jaffles.

We started our exploration of Purnululu and the  Bungle Bungle Range with a helicopter flight. It was both fabulous and slightly terrifying as there were no doors. I sat with my hands firmly attached to my knees the entire flight, unable to move them. Thankfully Tim was taking the photos.

The famous Beehive Domes are on the southern side of the range, they are shaped by the winds coming off the Tanami Desert. There are lots of dry river beds which, from the air, look like roads. Our pilot explained some of the Aboriginal stories of the area and why certain parts of Purnululu National Park are not open to the public due to them being sacred sites for the Giga/Gija/Gidja and Jaru/Djaru people who have inhabited this area for over 20,000 years. 

These two water holes are always full, divers were sent down some years ago to try to discover their depth but without success.

The rock formations in the northern end of the Range are very different to those in the south, much more conglomerate rock. The places we visited in the northern end were:

Echidna Chasm. When the sun is directly overhead particular places within the Echidna Chasm look like a waterfall of fire. It was quite spectacular.

Osmand Lookout

Mini Palms Gorge

Stonehenge, although we really couldn’t work out what the similarity to the original was.

Stonehenge Trail.

Kungkalanay Lookout is the place to go for a 360° view at sunset. The Bungle Bungle Range changes to a stunning red glow, like Uluru, at sunset.

On the South Side we took a guided tour of  Piccaninny Creek Lookout, Beehive Domes and Cathedral Gorge with Bec, a Giga woman who was born in Purnululu. She was a wonderful guide and we learnt about the local customs and bush tucker, also about the ongoing efforts to restore the land now that the cattle have been taken out, allowing native grasses and trees to regrow. We also learnt how the winds from the Tanami Desert have sculptured the famous beehive domes and where a fault line runs through the range splitting some of the domes clean down the centre.

Bec sang some indigenous songs for us – she has a beautiful voice. This one is a lullaby for babies.

We hope to come back just after the wet season and do the five day Piccaninny Gorge hike which ends at the ‘Secret Garden’.

Heading back to Derby now to pick up the caravan, do some washing, stock up on supplies, and most importantly HAVE A SHOWER.  Not sure we will ever get the red dust out of our clothes or our skin, but it does give us a healthy glow … especially at sunset.

cheers til next time, Helen and Tim