Purnululu National Park: Everything You Need To Know

byAlex Pantazis
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Planning a trip up north? Be sure to include this incredible National Park, home to the unique striped domes of the Bungle Bungle Range, on your travel list! 

What is it?
This National Park is home to the iconic orange and black beehive-shaped domes of the Bungle Bungle Range as well as a number of great chasms and gorges to explore and a range of hikes – from short walks to multi-day treks. The Bungle Bungle Range has only recently come to be well known; brought to national attention by a television documentary ‘The Wonder of Western Australia’ in 1983, the area became a National Park in 1987 and was UNESCO World Heritage Listed in 2003.

Where is it?
Located in the East Kimberley, the turn-off to the National Park from the Great Northern Highway is about 100 kms north-east of Halls Creek or around 250 kms south-west of Kununurra. From the highway it’s another 52 kms along an unsealed road (Spring Creek Track) which is usually pretty slow going, and can be steep in sections, so allow about two hours. 

What to do?
Pack your walking/hiking shoes! Head over to the southern end of the park where you’ll find the unique Bungle Bungle Range, a series of striped sandstone domes – the best example of these sandstone formations in the world. Hit the domes trail or make your way along Piccaninny Creek to see these incredible formations up close. You can continue along the creek to Nature’s Window and Whipsnake Gorge or keen hikers can continue on for an overnight or multi-day day trek down Piccaninny Gorge to ‘The Fingers’ (but must register at the visitors centre before and after doing so). Also in the southern area of the park is Cathedral Gorge, a large natural amphitheatre which has amazing acoustics. 

In the northern region of the park you’ll find Mini-Palms Gorge and Echidna Chasm – the narrow, 750 metre walk takes you over loose river rocks, up ladders, between boulders to the narrowing end of the chasm – less than a metre wide in sections! Around midday the overhead sun makes the 200 metre high chasm walls glow a deep orange colour.

There are two campsites within the park – Walardi Campground (closer to the domes and Cathedral Gorge) and Kurrajong Campground (closer to Echidna Chasm and Mini Palms Gorge) which has its own sunset viewing area and walking trail. Both campgrounds have only very basic facilities (bore water and drop toilets) and should be booked online in advance.

What not to do:
Don’t climb the domes – the sandstone is fragile and easily damaged. Being a National Park, flying your drone here isn’t permitted without prior approval. The road into the park is accessible by 4WD and single-axle (high-clearance) off-road trailers only; caravans can be stored at the Caravan Park near the highway. Campfires are also banned at the campgrounds. 

Anything else:
There are very limited facilities within Purnululu National Park. You’ll need to carry everything you need in and out of the park with you, and make sure you have plenty of water and fuel. The Gija and Jaru people are the traditional owners of Purnululu National Park, and archaeological sites within the park indicate that the area has been inhabited for at least 20,000 years.

Scenic flights are a great way to grasp the vast scale of the National Park and see the Bungle Bungle Range from above; they’re available from within the park but also from Warmun, Kununurra and Lake Argyle.

Check out our article on the best things to do in Purnululu National Park here!

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The Best Spots Along the Gibb River Road
The Best Things to do in the Pilbara
The Best Things to do in Broome
The Best Things to do in Karijini National Park

All research, words & photos by our North-West correspondent @alex.vp.photography (give her a follow on Instagram!)