Back to home
in Travel, Travel Australia

The Wonder of The Bungle Bungles

  • March 14, 2017
  • By 50 Shades
  • 16 Comments
The Wonder of The Bungle Bungles

It is no secret that The Kimberley region in North Western Australia was one of the highlights of our trip around Australia. This remote and remarkable vast land is virtually untouched and unchanged by man. It is described as being one of the world’s last great wilderness areas and features the most diverse unique wildlife, mysterious cave systems, spectacular waterfalls, mangrove fringed estuaries, rugged red ranges decorated with sacred Aboriginal rock art and the wonder of the Bungle Bungles.

The Kimberley region stretches from Broome in the west to Kununurra in the east and covers 421,000 square kilometres in area. To reach the Bungle Bungles in the Purnululu National Park you travel north-east of Broome across the sealed Great Northern Highway for a distance of around 800kms, or a drive of 250km south from Kununurra. Once you reach the turnoff for the Purnululu National Park it is a further 53 kms over unsealed road to the Bungle Bungles.

An aerial view of The Bungle Bungles

We stayed a couple of nights at the Bungle Bungles Caravan Park just off the Great Northern Highway on the shores of Spring Creek so that we could leave our caravan and travel the distance over the very rough roads into the Bungle Bungles. However there is also free camping at a highway rest-stop, but probably not as secure as staying in the Caravan Park. Although the drive is rough and dusty and can take several hours, we were not disappointed by the magical sight of these unusual dome-shaped rocks.

Our first sighting of the Bungle Bungles

Unrivalled in their scale, grandeur and diversity of form anywhere in the world, are the Bungle Bungles Range’s extraordinary array of banded sandstone domes. Covering a whopping 45,000 hectares of the park, these dramatically sculptured natural formations are sometimes likened to black and orange striped ‘beehives’.

The Bungle Bungles dome-shaped rocks

Bungle Bungles Discovery

The history of the Bungle Bungles is that until 1982, they remained largely undiscovered. They were known to local cattle stockmen and Aborigines and then a visiting film crew were filming a documentary in the Kimberleys and discovered them from the air. The Western Australian government creating the Purnululu National Park in 1987 and in 2003 the Bungle Bungles was inscribed a World Heritage area.

Purnululu Nationa Park Entrance Sign

The scientific explanation for the unusual orange and dark grey banding on the conical rock formations is that they are caused by differences in the layers of sandstone. The darker bands are on the layers of rock which hold more moisture, and are a dark algal growth. The orange coloured layers are stained with iron and manganese mineral deposits. Hence the black and orange “beehive” comparison.

Entrance into Echidna Gorge Walk

Exploring the Bungle Bungles

There are several options for seeing these natural wonders. You can fly over in a light plane or jump on a scenic helicopter flight out of Kununurra or at the Bungle Bungles Caravan Park, join a 4WD bus tour into the park or drive in yourself. However a 4WD is mandatory as there are several creek crossings and the road has some deep ruts until you reach the entrance to the park where the road improves somewhat.

One of the creek crossings on the drive into the Bungle Bungles

There are several camping spots within the National Park so that you can spend as long as you like exploring the terrain. Walking tracks are the best way to explore the remarkable features of the Bungle Bungles and there are several  trails available from easy 1km loops walks to more challenging two to seven day hikes.

Cathedral Gorge Walk

Bungle Bungles Hikes

Echidna Chasm in the Northern Bungle Bungles area where you can walk into a spectacular 200m chasm with its varying colour hues. The walk starts in a wide creek bed, before getting narrower and narrower as you continue. The mid-point of the wall features sheer walls separated by a thin 1m gap!

Echidna Chasm

Mini Palms Gorge in the Northern Bungle Bungles is a walk that features soaring cliffs, Livistona palms, two viewing platforms and an amphitheatre far below. The gorge ends at a spectacular lookout which gives you a unique view of the sheer, vertical walls.

Echidna and Mini-Palms Gorge

The Domes walk in the Southern Bungle Bungles loops around banded domes towering majestically around you, accessible from the Piccaninny Creek car park and day use area.

The black and orange banded domes

Cathedral Gorge walk in the Southern Bungle Bungles is through striped domes, rock pools, towering cliffs and honeycomb rocks that lead to an amphitheatre and swimming hole.

Entrance to Cathedral Gorge walk

Cathedral Gorge Amphitheatre

Piccaninny Gorge walk is a challenging two to seven day hike into a remote and magnificent gorge leading to a lookout and spinifex covered grasslands. This hike takes you further into the amazing rock formations of the Bungle Bungles and follows the course of a dried creek bed, weaving around for several kilometres taking in a number of attractions.

Massive overhanging rocks in the gorge

I would advise if you only have a day in the Bungle Bungles, like we did, take in Echidna Chasm, The Domes and Cathedral Gorge walks. These are all very manageable and only require a low level of fitness.

The intriguing fact about the Bungle Bungles is their comparatively recent discovery of only 35 years ago. It makes me wonder whether these hidden gems were purposely kept secret to protect it from tourists? It also makes me wonder whether there are more secrets to be unveiled in Australia’s vast remote terrain?

Linking up with Travel Photo Thursday

By 50 Shades, March 14, 2017 Kathy Shade is a 50 something year old who is married with 2 children who has spent most of her life being a housewife, mother and working as an Accounts Administrator in the public school system. She enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, movies, travelling, cooking and blogging! Her friends would describe her as being a 'have a chat' with an outgoing personality and zest for life. Kathy also has a great love of shopping and is known for her bargain hunting prowess!
  • 16

50 Shades

Kathy Shade is a 50 something year old who is married with 2 children who has spent most of her life being a housewife, mother and working as an Accounts Administrator in the public school system. She enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, movies, travelling, cooking and blogging! Her friends would describe her as being a 'have a chat' with an outgoing personality and zest for life. Kathy also has a great love of shopping and is known for her bargain hunting prowess!

16 Comments
  • Red Nomad OZ (Marion Halliday)
    March 14, 2017

    Fantastic! The Bungle Bungles were one of the areas we reluctantly decided to leave off our itinerary because we didn’t have time to do everything. I hope I’ll get there one day! We DID visit Mirima NP in Kununurra which is the Bungles in miniature! We also visited Keep River National Park with similar formations – but I’ll bet NOTHING is as good as the real thing :D

    • Kathy
      March 14, 2017

      I can understand that it is difficult to see absolutely everything when you’re on the road. We felt disappointed that we never visited Karijini National Park in the Pilbara for the same reasons. We didn’t visit Mirima NP or Keep River NP as we kind of rushed through the Northern Territory trying to get back home to Queensland. We intend do the Territory at a later stage. The Bungle Bungles were a huge highlight of our trip and can recommend them highly. :)

  • Jo
    March 14, 2017

    One of the most stunning, and most remote places in Australia. I love your photos and this post as it took me right back to our trip there in 2012. Oh how time flies. Definitely time to go back and do some more exploring before mass tourism gets busy up there!

    • Kathy
      March 14, 2017

      Aren’t they just? I adored The Kimberley – the colours, the remoteness, the landscapes and the history just enthralled me. I need to go back here someday and explore some more as well! :)

  • Linda
    March 14, 2017

    We were in the Kimberleys the year before the Bungle Bungles were “discovered” so need to go back!
    Your photos are all gorgeous – It looks as though it is well and truly worth the rough road in!

    • Kathy
      March 14, 2017

      You have no idea Linda! Our car actually developed a deafening noise as we were about 20 kms into the drive into the Bungle Bungles, so we had to turn around only to find that “turning around” actually solved the problem. It is so fascinating that they were only discovered 35 years ago. It made the experience of visiting these wonders even more intriguing! :)

  • Jane
    March 14, 2017

    What a stunning place, thanks for sharing it! It’s been on my hit list for years and I know people who have only flown over as they thought the drive may not be interesting… how wrong, as you have shown!

    • Kathy
      March 14, 2017

      Yes I wonder why people fly over natural wonders like the Bungle Bungles, (as they do over the Grand Canyon). I think it is mandatory to see things from the ground up and experience the chasms, gorges, towering rockfaces, rock pools and lookouts of the Bungle Bungles. It was a fascinating place. :)

  • Anne
    March 15, 2017

    Amazing! I would love to visit the Bungle Bungles and everywhere in between.

    • Kathy
      March 15, 2017

      The Bungle Bungles are amazing! It is definitely a region that everyone should experience. The Kimberley abounds with beauty. :)

  • Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
    March 16, 2017

    Stunning photos Kathy and this area is definitely on my bucket list. The problem is we keep booking travel for overseas when our own backyard is so gorgeous. Beautiful photographs, thanks for sharing.

    • Kathy
      March 16, 2017

      We’re guilty of this too Sue. We have decided that we should travel overseas whilst we can handle the long distances and effort involved in travelling to far away places. We are also planning another caravan trip early next year tracing the Murray River from Victoria to South Australia, so that should be interesting. I think we need to mix it up a bit and see both overseas and in our own country. :)

  • budget jan
    March 19, 2017

    I didn’t realize the Bungle Bungles had only been on the tourist radar for 35 years. All the more reason to visit. Your photos are gorgeous.

    • Kathy
      March 19, 2017

      Yes they had been kept secret all that time which is pretty cool when you think about it. I did enjoy the Bungle Bungles immensely and was so glad we made the effort to drive into this very scenic national park. The photos probably don’t do it justice. :)

  • Lyn aka TheTravelling Lindfields
    March 26, 2017

    Thanks for all the great information. David and I are off to the Kimberleys in a couple of months and visiting the Bungle Bungles is high on my list.

    • Kathy
      March 27, 2017

      Ok great! The Bungle Bungles are definitely worth visiting. We’re hoping to drive the Gibb River Road one of these days to further immerse ourselves in this dramatic region. I hope you enjoy your trip. :)

Comments are closed.

Subscribe To Blog Via Email

Don't miss new posts! Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
Find us on instagram

@50shadesofage