Purnululu National Park – spectacular sandstone domes

Purnululu National Park


Nestled deep within the rugged Kimberley region of Western Australia lies a natural wonder that has captured the imagination of visitors from around the world.

The Purnululu National Park, a UNESCO Word Heritage listed in 2003 , is home to some of the most striking geological formations on the planet – the Bungle Bungle Range.

These spectacular sandstone domes, with their vibrant orange and black stripes, have been shaped by millions of years of weathering and erosion, resulting in a landscape that is both beautiful and awe-inspiring.

Join us as we take a closer look at this remarkable national park and discover why it is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Western Australia.


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How it started

The history of Purnululu National Park is long and rich, stretching back thousands of years. The area has been inhabited by Indigenous Australians for at least 40,000 years, and their cultural heritage is deeply intertwined with the landscape.

The traditional owners of the land are the Kija and Jaru peoples, who have a deep spiritual connection to the area. For them, the Bungle Bungle Range is a place of great cultural significance, and they have been instrumental in its protection and preservation.

The first European explorers to visit the area were the Durack brothers, who were exploring the Kimberley region in the late 1800s. However, the rugged terrain and remoteness of the area meant that it remained largely untouched by Europeans for many years.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that the area was formally recognised as a national park and given protection under Australian law. Since then, it has become a popular destination for tourists, who come to marvel at the striking sandstone formations and learn about the area’s rich cultural history.

Today, Purnululu National Park is one of Australia’s most iconic natural landmarks, attracting visitors from around the world who come to experience its beauty and unique cultural heritage.

What is the best time to visit the Bungle Bungle Ranges

The best time of year to visit the Bungle Bungle Ranges is during the dry season, which typically runs from April to October. During this time, the weather is milder and there is less rainfall, which makes it easier to access the park and explore its many walking trails. The temperature during the day can be warm, but the nights can be cool, so it’s a good idea to bring layers of clothing to stay comfortable.

Additionally, the dry season is a great time to view wildlife, including wallabies and various bird species, which are more active during this time. It’s worth noting that the Bungle Bungle Ranges can get quite busy during peak season, so visitors should plan ahead and book accommodation and tours well in advance.

There is a park access fee.

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Access & how to get there

The Bungle Bungle Ranges are located in Purnululu National Park, which is in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia. The most common way to get to the park is by driving, although there are also tours and flights available.

Driving: Purnululu National Park is located 250 kilometers by road south of Kununurra and 100 kilometers from Halls Creek. The park is accessible via an unsealed road that is only suitable for 4WD vehicles. The road is approximately 53 km long and takes about 2 hours to drive. It’s important to note that the road can be rough and challenging, especially during the wet season, so visitors should ensure they have a reliable 4WD vehicle and take appropriate precautions.

If you have a caravan or bigger trailer you can leave it in Halls Creek, Warmun Roadhouse, or Bungle Bungle Caravan Park.

Tours: There are several tour operators that offer guided tours to the Bungle Bungle Ranges, which can be a good option for visitors who are not confident driving on unsealed roads or who want to learn more about the area from an experienced guide. Tours typically depart from nearby towns such as Kununurra and Halls Creek.

Flights: For those who want to see the Bungle Bungle Ranges from the air, there are scenic flights available from Kununurra and other nearby towns. These flights provide a unique perspective on the sandstone formations and the surrounding landscape.

Bungle Bungles - Spring Creek Track
Bungle Bungles – Spring Creek Track

How were the Bungle Bungle Ranges formed

The Bungle Bungle Ranges were formed over 350 millions of years of erosion and weathering. The unique banding pattern of the rocks is believed to be the result of different layers of sandstone being exposed to different levels of weathering.


Accommodation options near the Bungle Bungle Ranges are limited due to its remote location, but there are a few options available for visitors who want to stay overnight in or near the park.

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Camping is the best option to explore Purnululu National Park. It is cheap so you can stay longer as some walks are quite long. There are two campgrounds; one on the north – Kurrajong and one on the south – Walardi. Fires are prohibited in the park.

Both offer basic facilities such as toilets and showers, and are suitable for tents and camper trailers. Bookings are essential and can be made through the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife website.

Book the campground through WA Parks and Wildlife Service online

Kurrajong Campground 

4 WD Access Only
Bore Tap Water
Tent, Camper Site
Single Axe Camper Site
Dogs NOT Allowed

Located 12 km south of Visitors Centre.  Suitable for 4WD camper trailers and tents. Located close to Echidna Chasm and Mini Palm Gorge. GPS position: 17 23 20 S  128 19 50 E

Caters for 70 vehicles. Kurrajong has been converted to only a non-generators site.

Walardi Campground 

4 WD Access Only
Bore Tap Water
Tent, Camper Site
Single Axe Camper Site
Dogs NOT Allowed

Located 7 km north of Visitors Centre.  Suitable for 4WD camper trailers and tents. Located close to Echidna Chasm and Mini palm Gorge. GPS position: 17 31 16 S  128 18 02 E

Caters for 100 vehicles. Walardi is the only campground with and without generators area.

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Caravan Parks

Bungle Bungle Caravan Park

2WD Access
Community Fire Pit
4G Access
Power Sites
Tent & Cabins
Dogs Allowed

Located only 1 km from Great Northern Highway and accessible by 2WD. Offers cabins, safari tents, and powered/unpowered sites. You can also leave your trailer or caravan and go exploring Purnululu National Park.

You can book a 4WD Bus Tour or a scenic helicopter flight.

In the evening you can enjoy outback gourmet food and a licensed restaurant. Bungle Bungles caravan park is open only between 1 April and 30 September.

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Bungle Bungle Savannah Lodge

4WD Access
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Bungle Bungle Savannah Lodge offers luxurious accommodations in one of their 26 ensuite cabins. The cabins are designed for 2 people, but there is one family cabin for up to 4. Dinner and breakfast are prepared by an onsite chef.

In summary, their facilities include:

  • 26 ensuite cabins
  • Swimming pool
  • Licensed bar
  • Open outdoor fire and shaded deck area
  • Credit card facilities
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The Bungle Bungle Ranges in Purnululu National Park offers a range of spectacular walking trails, each providing a unique perspective on the park’s stunning sandstone formations and rugged landscape.

This is also the main reason for visiting Purnululu National Park – its amazing landscape. You can enjoy it by attending several walks, either in the north or south part.

We recommend staying in Kurrajong campground first and doing Echidna Chasm, Homestead Valley, Mini Palms Gorge, and the lookouts around.

Depending on your pace it takes 1-2 days to complete the walks.

Then, you can move to Walardi campground to do the remaining walks: The Domes, Cathedral Gorge, and Whip Snake Gorge.

Piccaniny Gorge is a longer walk but it is really worth it if you have time.

Echidna Chasm

The Echidna Chasm Walk is one of the most popular walks in Purnululu National Park and is famous for its narrow and winding sandstone chasm. The walk is approximately 2-3 kilometres round trip and takes about 1-2 hours to complete, depending on your fitness level and how long you spend exploring the chasm.

The walk starts at the end of the access road, where there is a small car park and an information board. From there, the trail leads through a grassy valley and into the mouth of the chasm.

The walls of the chasm tower above you, rise up to 200 meters high in some places. As you make your way through the chasm, the walls narrow and become more constricted, until you reach a point where the sky is just a thin strip of blue overhead.

The chasm is home to a variety of unique and rare plant species, including ferns, palms, and cycads. The walls of the chasm are also covered in interesting rock formations and patterns, including stripes of orange and black that have been formed by mineral deposits.

At the end of the chasm, there is a small waterfall and a shallow pool of water that is often used for swimming. This is a great spot to rest and take in the beauty of the chasm before making your way back to the car park.

It’s worth noting that the Echidna Chasm Walk can be quite challenging, with some narrow and steep sections that may require climbing over rocks or scrambling up steps. Visitors should also ensure they have appropriate footwear and plenty of water, as the walk can be quite hot and exposed in the middle of the day.

Bungle Bungles - Echidna Chasm
Bungle Bungles – Echidna Chasm

Mini Palms

The Mini Palms Walk is short and easy in Purnululu National Park, located in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The walk is approximately 1 kilometre round trip and takes about 30 minutes to complete.

The walk starts at the Mini Palms car park, which is located off the main access road in the southern part of the park. From the car park, the trail leads through a dry creek bed and into a narrow gorge. As you make your way through the gorge, you’ll be surrounded by towering cliffs of red and black striped sandstone.

As you approach the end of the gorge, you’ll see a small grove of Livistona palms, which are unique to the area. The palms are an oasis in the middle of the rugged desert landscape, and provide a striking contrast to the surrounding sandstone cliffs.

The Mini Palms Walk is a great option for visitors who are short on time or looking for an easy walk that provides a taste of the park’s unique landscape. It’s also a great spot for photography, with the palm trees and sandstone cliffs providing a dramatic backdrop.

The walk is relatively easy, but it can be quite hot and exposed in the middle of the day, so it’s best to visit in the early morning or late afternoon.

Bungle Bungles
Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles) – Mini Palms

Homestead Valley

The Homestead Valley Walk is a moderate 5-kilometre round trip walk that takes about 2-3 hours to complete in Purnululu National Park, Western Australia. The walk begins at the Homestead Valley car park and takes visitors through a scenic valley with steep cliffs, unique rock formations, and a lush green oasis.

The walk starts with a descent into a dry creek bed, where visitors will be surrounded by towering red and black striped sandstone cliffs. From there, the trail continues through the valley, passing a series of interesting rock formations such as beehive-like structures and balancing rocks. As the walk progresses, the trail narrows and visitors will need to navigate over some rocks and through some small waterholes to continue.

After approximately 2.5 kilometres, the trail opens up to the oasis of Homestead Valley. This is a beautiful area with a large pool of water surrounded by green vegetation, such as ferns and Livistona palms. This is a great spot to relax, take photos, and have a picnic before making the return journey back to the car park.

The Homestead Valley Walk is a great option for visitors who want to experience the unique landscape of the Bungle Bungle Ranges and the oasis of Homestead Valley.

Similar to Mini Palms you see Livistona palms and a stunning valley.

The Domes

The Domes Walk is one of the most popular walks in Purnululu National Park. Easy 700 return walk that goes around banded domes. Allow 30 minutes. The walk starts at the Domes car park, which is located off the main access road in the northern part of the park. From there, the trail leads through a grassy plain with a spectacular view of the Bungle Bungle Range. As you walk closer to the domes, the track climbs over a small hill.

Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles) - The Domes
Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles) – The Domes

Cathedral Gorge

Moderate 2 km return walk with short steep slopes and narrow ledges.

Cathedral Gorge is an impressive amphitheatre with towering sandstone walls that reach up to 100 meters in height. The walls of the gorge are streaked with orange and black bands, formed by mineral deposits over millions of years. The acoustics in the gorge are also impressive, and visitors can often hear the sound of their own voices echoing back at them.

After exploring Cathedral Gorge, the trail continues along the western edge of the Bungle Bungle Range. This section of the walk offers breathtaking views of the sandstone domes, which rise up to 250 meters above the surrounding landscape. The trail leads visitors past a number of smaller domes before arriving at the base of the Beehive Domes, the most iconic and recognizable formations in the park.

Bungle Bungles - The Cathedral
Bungle Bungles – The Cathedral

Whip Snake Gorge

Moderate to challenging 10 km walk to the end of Whip Snake Gorge. Occasionally you get uneven surfaces of soil, sand, and rock. 

This walk provides a great opportunity to explore the rugged and remote southern part of the park.

The walk starts at the Whip Snake car park, which is located off the main access road in the southern part of the park. From there, the trail descends into a dry creek bed and winds through a narrow gorge with high red rock walls. The gorge can be quite challenging in places, with some steep climbs and descents over rocks and boulders, so it’s important to wear appropriate footwear and take plenty of water.

As you make your way through the gorge, you’ll pass by some interesting rock formations and small waterholes. Eventually, the trail opens up to a wide and sandy valley, where you’ll find the Whip Snake Pool, a tranquil oasis in the middle of the desert. This is a great spot to take a break, have a picnic, and cool off in the refreshing water.

After relaxing at the pool, the trail continues along the valley floor and climbs up onto a plateau, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape. From here, you can see the Bungle Bungle Ranges in the distance, as well as the rugged red rock formations that make up the southern part of the park.

Allow at least 4 hours.

Picccaninny Gorge

Difficult to very difficult 15 km walk. The first 7 km part is relatively difficult, then it becomes even more challenging as you go deep into the gorge and have to negotiate fallen boulders and loose rocks.

The trailhead for the Piccaninny Gorge Walk is located at the southern end of the park, accessible by a long and rough dirt road. The trail leads through some of the most remote and spectacular terrain in the park, including narrow gorges, high cliffs, and rocky escarpments.

The walk follows the Piccaninny Creek through the gorge, which can be dry or flowing depending on the season. Hikers will need to cross the creek numerous times and navigate through rough terrain, including boulder fields, steep ascents, and descents. Along the way, there are several campsites where hikers can set up their tents and rest for the night.

The highlight of the Piccaninny Gorge Walk is the stunning views of the gorge itself. The walls of the gorge rise up to 300 meters in height, and the rock formations are an impressive display of red and black stripes, formed by millions of years of sedimentation and erosion.

The route is unmarked and without any facilities.

If you decide to undertake the challenge you must register at the visitor centre and hire a personal locator beacon (PLB) from the office.

Take enough food, water, and clothing. During the dry season, the nights can be very cold. Prepare to stay for 1-night camping on the way.

Piccaninny Creek Lookout

It is situated on the western edge of the Piccaninny Creek, overlooking the deep and narrow gorge that cuts through the heart of the park.

The lookout is accessible by a short and easy walking trail, which starts from the Piccaninny Creek Car Park. The trail is well-marked and takes about 30 minutes to complete, offering visitors stunning views of the surrounding landscape along the way.

Once you reach the lookout, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of the Piccaninny Creek and the surrounding Bungle Bungle Ranges. The view from the lookout is truly stunning, with the deep red rock formations contrasting against the blue sky and green foliage.

The Piccaninny Creek Lookout is a popular spot for photography, and many visitors choose to visit at sunrise or sunset to capture the stunning colours and light of the changing sky. It’s also a great place to relax and take in the beauty and serenity of the park.

Other Lookouts

There are many lookouts on the way to the main trails. Usually, there are located a short distance off the main track (except for Piccaninny Creek Lookout walk).

North: Kungkalanayi Lookout, Osmand Lookout, and The Bloodwoods Lookout

South: The Window

Bungle Bungles Map
Bungle Bungles Map

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Can you climb the Bungle Bungle Ranges?

Climbing the Bungle Bungle Ranges is not permitted due to the cultural significance of the area to the local Indigenous people. However, there are several walking trails throughout the park that provide stunning views of the rock formations.

Here are some interesting facts about the Bungle Bungle Ranges

  • Aboriginal heritage: The Bungle Bungle Ranges have been home to the indigenous Kija and Jaru people for thousands of years, and they hold great cultural and spiritual significance for these communities.
  • Unique flora and fauna: The park is home to a wide range of unique plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on earth. Some of the most notable species include the spinifex pigeon, the black-flanked rock wallaby, and the elusive marsupial mole.
  • Remote location: Purnululu National Park is located in a remote and isolated part of Western Australia, and it can only be accessed by 4WD vehicles or light aircraft.
  • Geological curiosity: The sandstone domes that make up the Bungle Bungle Ranges are a geological curiosity, with their distinctive striped appearance caused by different layers of sedimentary rock.
  • Largest National Park in Western Australia: Purnululu National Park is the largest national park in Western Australia, covering an area of over 239,000 hectares.
  • Stunning night skies: The Bungle Bungle Ranges offer some of the clearest and most stunning night skies in the world, making it a popular destination for stargazing enthusiasts.
  • Filming location: The Bungle Bungle Ranges have been used as a filming location for a number of movies and TV shows, including Baz Luhrmann’s “Australia” and the BBC’s “Planet Earth II”.
  • Ancient history: The rocks that make up the Bungle Bungle Ranges are among the oldest in the world, with some dating back over 1.8 billion years.
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Our Experience & Tips

We had an opportunity to visit Purnululu National park during our 10-month trip around Australia. Nell, our daughter was only 3 years old, but she bravely walked most of the trails.

In our opinion, there is nothing better than camping right in the park and going for walks every day. This way you are close to nature and you can enjoy it fully.

Below are a few tips from our visit to Bungle Bungles:

  • Plan ahead: The park is located in a remote area, so it’s important to plan your trip well in advance. Make sure you have enough food, water, and fuel for your journey, and check the weather and road conditions before setting out. Bore water could be unavailable, carry your own water
  • Be prepared for the heat: The Bungle Bungles can be very hot, especially in the summer months. Bring plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and dress in lightweight, breathable clothing.
  • Take suitable footwear: The terrain in the park can be rough and uneven, so it’s important to wear sturdy, comfortable shoes or boots with good grip.
  • Book your accommodation in advance: Accommodation in the park is limited, so it’s important to book in advance to avoid disappointment. There are also camping options available both inside and outside the park.
  • If you arrive at your camping spot early but still want to go for an afternoon walk, make sure you leave your table and chairs on spot so nobody takes your place.
  • Toilets are non-flush
  • There are no showers in the park
  • Enjoy the walks: The Bungle Bungles offer some spectacular walking trails, so take the time to explore and enjoy the scenery. Make sure to carry plenty of water and snacks, and take breaks when needed.

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4WD Equipment Checklist

GPS Navigator or compass

Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction

Tire Deflator – deflate tires quickly when going on dirt or 4WD

Air Compressor – inflate tires quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)

Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)

UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency

Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road

High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks

Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking

Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places

Additional fuel canisters

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