The Bungle Bungle
23.06.2017 - 25.07.2017 33 °C
At Purnululu (The Bungle Bungle) you need to pre-book online for a camp site in one of the two camp areas, Kurrajong or Walardi, but you aren’t allocated a specific site, it is first in gets the best spot. With that in mind we left Kununurra early and arrived at the visitor centre around 12:30 pm to check in and get the tag to display on your dash. Each camp area has a generator and non generator section and after reading other travellers blogs the advice was to choose the generator section as the sites are larger and more spread out. We chose Walardi as it is closer to the southern section of the park where the walks to the Domes, Cathedral Gorge and Piccaninny lookout are located. These walks need to be done early morning as it gets very hot early in this area and also the early morning light is when the domes reveal their true splendour. The camp sites vary in size and shade cover and we did well getting a grassy site with afternoon shade and an open area for the solar panels. Even though we were in a generator area there was only a generator running for 2 hours in the afternoon on 2 out of 3 days and it was quiet and far enough away that you could barely hear it.
In the afternoon of the day we arrived we just relaxed and kept out of the sun as it was very hot. It was the same each afternoon, too hot to be walking so we planned our walks for the early mornings to beat the heat and the crowds. The rest of the day was spent reading in the shade back at camp until late afternoon when we drove out to the Kungkalanayi Lookout to watch the sunset from a high hill with 360 degree views. As the sun got low in the sky the west side of the range out to our east lit up with a red glow providing great photo opportunities. We got talking to a keen photographer who had been to Purnululu a number of times and he was very interesting to talk to, with some great stories about his time here and some good information on chasing the light.
Purnululu is all about the light, the domes in the early morning light are an incredible sight to see but by 9am when we had finished our walk through Cathedral Gorge, Piccaninny Lookout and The Domes the light show was over and the domes looked dull. The same importance of timing the walks applies to Echidna Chasm where the sun needs to be overhead to get the red/orange glow lighting up the entrance to the chasm. This occurs between 10:30 to !!:30 am and is a wonderful sight.
By getting an early start we managed to get Cathedral Gorge to ourselves for 20 minutes after another couple beat us in there but left as we arrived in the cathedral. The walk into Cathedral Gorge is stunning as you walk between the beehive domes and up the gorge with towering walls either side. On our way out of the gorge a tour group was coming in, they are always noisy and would have ruined the silence and peace in the cathedral.
Next we walked to the Piccaninny Lookout which takes you up the stony Piccaninny Creek then through more of the domes to a high lookout with sweeping views over the treed plain below with more domes in the distance. Again we had this amazing view all to ourselves while we sat and had some morning tea in the shade. We were back at the car by 9am passing lots more hikers on the way. That afternoon we rested and kept out of the heat which seems to be a lot more intense here.
Another early start saw us drive to the northern part of the park, which is around 40km from camp, to tackle the Mini Palms Walk. This walk takes you up a creek bed into a steep gorge lined with livistonia palms, soaring cliffs and large rocks to climb over and around. At the end there are stairs up to viewing platforms which look back into the gorge from a high vantage point. The gorge ends at a natural amphitheatre with very high cliffs opening to a narrow band of sunlight. This was a wonderful walk with interesting scenery and no other people until we had almost exited the gorge. Highly recommended.
After walking back to the car we drove another 4km to the car park for the Echidna Chasm walk which again follows a rocky creek bed into a gorge lined with livistonia palms. The gorge gets more narrow as you walk along until you come to the entrance to the chasm where you walk into a narrow passage with vertical walls reaching up to the sky. The chasm then expands into a chamber before continuing around a corner into a very narrow section leading to some boulders which at first look to be as far as you can go. Lots of people stop here and turn back not realising that you can climb up and around the rocks and proceed further to a couple of sets of stairs which take you up to the end of the chasm.
When the sun is directly over the chasm the walls at the entrance to the chasm light up in yellow then orange then red light creating an amazing sight. We were a bit early into the chasm so explored its length while nobody was around then sat and waited in the chamber till 11.00am when we went back to the entrance area to view and photograph the light show. On the way to Echidna Chasm is a slight detour off the track to Osmand Lookout which gives great elevated views of the lush valley and escarpments in this northern section of the park, well worth a look.
The road into the park is 53km of dirt from the Northern Highway to the visitor centre. The road is very scenic with a number of shallow water crossings and lots of twists and turns and ups and downs which make it a great 4wd track to drive. The road was in great condition when we drove it and it took about 1.5 hours to reach the visitor centre. Purnululu was absolutely incredible and the photos won’t do it justice, way better than anticipated and a must see for all Australians. This was easily the highlight of the Kimberley for us and a place that will stay in the mind and heart forever, a place like no other, absolutely incredible.