Purnululu National Park is located in the Australian state of Western Australia and is best known for its unique beehive-shaped sandstone towers, the Bungle Bungle Range.
Purnululu National Park is located in the east of Australia's Kimberley region in the state of Western Australia and covers an area of about 240,000 hectares. The area is best known for its chain of giant beehive-like sandstone formations, the Bungle Bungle, which also earned it the UNESCO World Heritage designation in 2003. The fascinating national park is one of our top 10 sights in Australia.
The area had already been under nature protection since 1976, as it had been severely damaged by grazing. The geological feature was discovered more by chance than anything else. In 1982, a pilot took aerial photographs of the unique mountain range and published them in the media. Documentary filmmakers took notice and were soon followed by the first tourists. Only five years later, the Purnululu National Park was founded.
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Journey to Purnululu National Park
A good 60km east of the Great Northern Highway and 100 kilometres to the next settlement of Halls Creek, the Bungle Bungle Range lies in the middle of Australia's wilderness and is still only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicle. The journey via the 53-kilometre-long Spring Creek Track to the Visitor Centre takes 2-3 hours. No wonder the area is also called the "lost world".
What has only been known to the so-called western world for a few decades has been the home of the Australian aborigines for tens of thousands of years. The Aboriginal tribe Kija still lives there today; the name "Purnululu" (sandstone) also comes from them. It is still unclear today whether this name was mistakenly derived from Bungle Bungle or where else it came from.
Bungle Bungle - polished sandstone
The original mountain range of the Bungle Bungle was formed about 20 million years ago and has since been carved by wind and rain into 200-300 metre high rounded sandstone towers. Over time, rivers have carved their beds through the soft sandstone, creating deep gorges and crevices that make the "lost world of the Bungle Bungle" seem even more mysterious.
Another remarkable structure in the sandstone is the 7-kilometre-wide Piccaninny Crater, created by a meteorite, but it can only be visited from the air due to the inaccessible terrain.
This is not the only reason for a scenic flight over the area. From the air, the Bungle Bungle Range with its orange and black stripes is even more spectacular. The extent of the "lost world" with its dark gorges, palm-fringed watercourses and craggy mountains with fan palms clawing into their flanks can only be truly appreciated from a bird's eye view. A must for every visitor!
The impassable land is also the reason for the comparatively little exploration of the flora and fauna in the Bungle Bungle Area. Climbing the round giants is forbidden so as not to further erode them, and so a multitude of endemic plants thrive in the green islands between the rock domes, many of which do not yet have a name.
The green patches of acacia and eucalyptus forests are a feast for the eyes in the otherwise red and yellow, gently undulating sandy landscape. The biodiversity of the flora and fauna is enormous; a total of 600 plant, 40 mammal, 80 reptile and 150 bird species have been catalogued in the Purnululu National Park.
On the road in Purnululu National Park
The activities that can be undertaken in Purnululu National Park are similarly varied. Individual hikes are possible as well as guided tours, campers, photographers, hobby researchers and nature lovers will get their money's worth in any case! No matter how you move through the awe-inspiring sandstone towers, you feel transported to other spheres - there is nothing comparable anywhere else in the world.
Also worth seeing are the Echidna Chasm in the north of the Bungle Bungle hills, which hikers will remember above all for its extremely narrow crevices, or the huge Cathedral George cave. A separate hiking trail leads to this breathtaking natural structure.
Best time to visit Purnululu National Park
During the rainy season, from January to April, the park is closed, but depending on the weather, the park may open earlier or later. The landscape is most fascinating at the beginning of the dry season in early May, when the flora is still in its full splendour.
Road closures due to bushfires are possible during opening hours. There have also been unexpected rainfalls that have led to closures. However, nature lovers should not be put off by this, the closure usually only lasts a few days and anyone who has already been there should not go again without having marvelled at the Bungle Bungle Range.
Most visitors come between June and August, and the park can be quite crowded at this time. In September, the temperature rises, but the park shows its desolate, dusty side. In October, an oven of up to 50°C can develop between the rock domes.
Tip: In July, temperatures can drop below freezing at night! Campers, pack warm sleeping bags!
You should definitely take a few days to visit Purnululu National Park - those in a hurry will curse the poor roads in the park. The comparatively poor infrastructure in the park denies access to coaches and package tourists with a small budget. The Purnululu National Park has thus (still) been spared from mass tourism. Shops are occasionally available, but you should definitely bring your own water supplies!
Detailed information about Purnululu National Park incl. fees, campsite facilities and directions.