Purnululu National Park

The Bungle Bungle Range is one of the most fascinating geological landmarks in Western Australia. Contained within Purnululu National Park, the range is best known for its striped, beehive-shaped domes and amazing rock gorges and canyons. The National Park was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003.

From an aircraft, the Bungle Bungle Range is an imposing sight. The orange and black stripes across the beehive-like mounds, encased in a skin of silica and algae, are clearly visible as you approach from the south. As you sweep further over the range a hidden world of gorges and pools is revealed, with fan palms clinging precariously to walls and crevices in the rocks.

Although the Bungle Bungle Range was extensively used by Aboriginal people during the wet season, when plant and animal life was abundant, few Europeans knew of its existence until the mid-1980s. The area has been a national park since 1987 and its unique appearance has captured the public imagination. The park offers a remote wilderness experience.

Cathedral Gorge

With its huge dome-like cavern, Cathedral Gorge is regarded as one of nature's grandest amphitheatres. The entrance to Cathedral Gorge is lined by steep, almost vertical, rock faces. The amphitheatre has acoustic properties which, over the years, have encouraged many self-proclaimed singers to try and impress others with their vocal offerings.

Mini Palms Gorge

It is difficult to appreciate the scale of Mini Palms Gorge, a place where the afternoon sun creates a beautiful ethereal glow. Access to the gorge is via a walking path along an ancient river bed between 500 Million year old conglomerate sandstone walls on which miniature Livistona palms cling precariously. Where the gorge walls appear to close in on themselves, a lush garden of head-height palms has sprung up. At the very rear of the gorge, a large cave offers a deliciously cool lunch spot, once our eyes had adjusted to the gloom.

Echidna Chasm

One of Australia's most spectacular walking destinations. It is an easy 2 km walk to Echidna Chasm along a trail dotted with Livistona palms through towering bright orange cliffs. The cliffs slowly close in on each side until the trail is only a metre wide and in a crevice a hundred metres high. The light reflects off the orange domes above and creates an eerie fluorescent glow on the creek bed below. It is simply stunning. Similar to Standley Chasm in the Northern Territory, Echidna Chasm is actually far more spectacular at about triple the length and with great surrounding views. Created by the rains of a million wet seasons, this is without doubt one of the most spine-tingling places of Australia.

View Larger Map

Where is it?

2,997 kms north east of Perth

How to get there

By road, 2,997 kms north east of Perth. The turn-off to the park is 250 km south of Kununurra or 109 km north of Halls Creek on Great Northern Highway. The park access road is accessible only to four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Scenic flights over the massif by helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft are available within the park or from Halls Creek, Kununurra or Warmun. This is the best way to gain a perspective of the Bungle Bungle's massive size and spectacular scenery.

The best time to go

The park is open only between April and December 31 (weather permitting)

About the Bungle Bungles

Purnululu is the name given to the sandstone area of the Bungle Bungle Range by the Kija Aboriginal people. The name means sandstone or may be a cordon of bundle grass. The range, lying fully within the park, has elevations as high as 578 metres above sea level. It is famous for the sandstone domes, unusual and visually striking with their striping in alternating orange and grey bands. The banding of the domes is due to differences in clay content and porosity of the sandstone layers: the orange bands consist of oxidised iron compounds in layers that dry out too quickly for cyanobacteria to multiply; the grey bands are composed of cyanobacteria growing on the surface of layers of sandstone where moisture accumulates.


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 gray bands of cynobacterial crust (single cell photosynthetic organisms). The plateau is dissected by 100-200 m 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 stabilized 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.

Design by W3Layouts | Content © 2013 Phoenix Group Co. | Sales: phone 1300 753 517, email: sales@pleasureholidays.com.au