Purnululu is the name given to the sandstone area of the Bungle Bungle Range by the Kija Aboriginal people, and the national park is also known as the Bungles National Park. The range is situated within the park, rises up to 578 m (1896 feet) above sea level and is famous for the unusual and striking sandstone domes striped with alternating orange and grey bands. The banding of the domes is due to differences in clay content and porosity of the sandstone layers. The grey banding is cyanobacteria which grows on the layers where moisture accumulates. The orange bands are layers of oxidised iron compounds that dry out too quickly for the cyanobacteria to form.
The Bungle Bungle Range is one of the most extensive and impressive occurrences of sandstone tower (or cone) karst terrain in the world. The Bungle Bungles were a plateau of Devonian sandstone, carved into a mass of beehive-shaped towers with regularly alternating, dark grey bands of cyanobacterial crust (single cell photosynthetic organisms). The plateau is dissected by 100–200-metre (330–660 ft) deep, sheer-sided gorges and slot canyons. The cone-towers are steep-sided, with an abrupt break of slope at the base and have domed summits. How they were formed is not yet completely understood. Their surface is fragile but stabilised by crusts of iron oxide and bacteria. They provide an outstanding example of land formation by dissolutional weathering of sandstone, with removal of sand grains by wind, rain and sheet wash on slopes.
Flora and fauna
Access to the park by road is via Spring Creek Track from the Great Northern Highway approximately 250 km (155 miles) south of Kununurra. The track is 53 km (33 miles) long and is only usable in the dry season (1 April to 31 December) for 4WD vehicles. It will take approximately 3 hours to negotiate that distance to the visitor centre. Access by air is less painful and helicopter flights are available from Turkey Creek Roadhouse (Warmun), 187 km (116 miles) south of Kununurra, or by light aircraft from Kununurra.
Fees and permits
$9 upon entry
All the roads in Purnululu National Park are unpaved so you will need a 4WD to get around most of the time.
Budgerigars, wallabies, bungle bungle range, gorges, rock pools, sandstone towers and fan palm trees in crevices in rocks.
- 1 Scenic Helicopter Flights, Bellburn Airstrip, ☏ . There are helicopter tours from Bellburn Airstrip allowing better views of the 360 million year rock formation, offered by HeliSpirit. Parks WA website.
- 2 Kungkalanayi Lookout, Ord River. Provides views of the spectacular Bungle Bungle range, and it holds a secret surprise at sunset.
There are no places to eat, and all you will end up having is what you brought.
- 1 Bungle Bungle Caravan Park (Bungle Bungle Expeditions), Turn off the Great Northern Highway toward Purnululu Nat Park 1km (1km along the Purnululu National Park access track - accessible to all vehicles.), toll-free: 1300 286453, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This Station Stay Caravan Park was established on Mabel Downs Station in 2010. Facilities are "bush" style and basic but has a great atmosphere. Meals available. For those that don't wish to brave the long rough track into the National Park a full day 4wd Bus tour leaves from here May to October. Caravan sites $35 Luxury Safari Tents $120.
There are two public campgrounds in the Park - Walardi to the south, near Cathedral Gorge and Picaninny Creek, and Kurrajong to the north near Echidna Chasm. They are basic campgrounds which offer water, shared fireplaces with a limited supply of wood provided (no collecting because it's a National Park) and pit toilets. Booking ahead is advisable since you don't want to be turned back after the long drive in from the highway.
- Piccanninny Creek
- Ord River
- Panton River