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Home > Travelogues > 2008 Travelogues Index > Purnululu Northern Section
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Purnululu – the spectacular Bungle Bungle Range 2008.  We start our exploration at the northern end of the Purnululu National Park.

A change of plans took us to Purnululu from Kununurra, rather than from Halls Creek as was our original intention.  This proved to be a good move, because the road from the junction of the Great Northern Highway (to Wyndham) and the Victoria Highway (to Kununurra) heading south was a pleasant and scenic drive with rugged red ranges on either side of the road which would have missed seeing.  Bridgeworks and road re-alignments were in progress, making this section of the highway even better.  Many of the single lane bridges are being replaced.  As road trains are frequent, they announce approaching the narrow bridges on UHF two way radio so other traffic can give way. 

 

After turning off onto the Spring Creek Road into the Purnululu National Park, driving required caution.  Some sections were narrow, and with little visibility in places, there was a need to travel slowly and watch out for oncoming traffic.  The day after we came through, someone overturned and damaged their camper trailer when they hit a sandy patch.   There is always the likelihood of meeting someone travelling too fast where visibility is poor, and accidents have occurred caused by these drivers.  Allow up to three hours for this fifty kilometre track although conditions and traffic will vary and you may not take that long.  Four wheel drive must be engaged to avoid damage to the track.  We were not able to take our # caravan on the access track, so we had left the caravan at Kununurra and were ready to camp out. 

The rock faces in the northern section are very different to the banded domes in the southern section of the park. 

Light reaches through the narrow chasm in the middle of the day.  The profile of this narrow section can be seen in silhouette when looking outwards.

After camping for the night at the Kurrajong campsite towards the northern part of the range, we returned to the Osmand Lookout next morning to have the sun behind us as we looked across the Red Rock Creek valley to the Osmand Ranges.

The domes were originally layers of sediments that have formed the sandstone 350 million years ago; some containing cyanobacteria (one of the earliest forms of life) and some containing iron oxide.  

 

Erosion has carved the dome like shapes, with the continuity of the parallel bands of colour showing that they were once part of one huge slab of sandstone.  

 

Cyanobacteria grew on the layers with high clay content and moisture retention and on the surface show as a dark grey colour.  Layers with lower clay content dried out quicker which impeded the growth of the bacteria.  Iron oxide on the surface has weathered to a rusty colour. 

 

Purnululu has always been known as a special place by the local Aborigines.  The Aboriginal name of Purnululu means sandstone. When pastoralists opened up stations in the area, this rocky area was considered worthless land.  It was only in 1983 that the world was shown what an amazing place it is.  In 1987 it was declared a National Park, and in 2003 placed on the Word Heritage register. 

 

Walk trails have been made to strategic points and, apart from exploring Piccaninny Creek, public access is limited to these marked walk trails.   Helicopter rides can be taken over the massif to see the full extent.

 

Purnululu can be very cold at night in winter, sometimes below freezing, while most days will be hot.  In summer, temperatures above 50ºc can occur. 

 

The origin of the name Bungle Bungle is obscure and there are several theories as to why a nearby station was given this name. The massif was named Bungle Bungle after this station in 1983. 

Looking back to the edge of the Bungle Bungle Range near the entrance to Echidna Chasm from the Osmand Lookout.

Steps have been constructed in strategic places to make the walk easier as we climb into the gorge.

After paying our fees at the visitor centre, we entered the National Park, first stopping at the Kungkalanayi Lookout which gives good panoramic vistas of the western face of the Bungle Bungle massif in the afternoon sun.  Seats are provided on the crest of a ridge, making it an ideal sunset viewing point. 

Looking north and west from the Kungkalanayi lookout, there are spinifex plains and further hills which we crossed when entering the park. 

We headed to the northern section of the park, where bands contain conglomerate of stones between the clay layers with rock formations are very different to the traditional Bungle Bungle dome shapes of the southern section. 

 

We took the walk into Echidna Chasm.  Near midday sunlight shines through the narrow clefts.  It was cool and shady, with some very narrow passages through the fascinating 200 metre long chasm. 

 

From a viewing platform at the top of a flight of steps, we look down into an ‘amphitheatre’ area of the gorge.  To climb down into this would be difficult and this platform is the end of the marked trail and authorised access.   

 

This large piece of rock near Echidna Chasm shows the size of the stones in the conglomerate rocks of the northern part of Purnululu. 

There were some narrow sections where rock falls had almost blocked the passage and climbing through required agility.  One well built lady became firmly wedged between the rocks and needed help to go back.  She was unable to continue the trail through the chasm. 

We also took the Bloodwood walk into the Mini Palms Gorge in the morning.  Like the nearby Echidna Chasm, this gorge is also formed by a cleft in the rocks.  Palms grow through the gorge.

Further towards the south west, dust can be seen on the Spring Creek track; the only public access to Purnululu National Park.

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For an overview of Purnululu National Park open the link then click on Media Tab for a video flight across the Bungle Bungle Range and a look at some of the walks within the range. 

 

Take a long flight over Purnululu from Youtube

For more about the campgrounds we stayed at while visiting Purnululu, see Purnululu here
# Access by high clearance 4WD with low range gears only.  Camper trailers and caravans must be single-axle only and capable of travelling on loose, rutted surfaces and may need to be towed across running water. Dual-axle trailers and caravans are not permitted.
 
Four wheel drive must be engaged to avoid track damage. 
 
Where to leave your caravan?
 
Caravans can be left at the Bungle Bungle Caravan Park is accessed one kilometre in from the start of the Spring Creek access track for a fee.  Coach tours and flights are also available from this caravan park for those who do not have a suitable vehicle.
 
Caravans are often left at theSpring Creek Main Rroads Rest Area, as the previous owners of our caravan did. This is 500 metres south of the Spring Creek access track to Purnululu. 
 
There is secure parking for leaving caravans at Warmun 53 kilometres north of the Spring Creek access track to Purnululu turnoff.
 
Halls Creek is a further 108 kilometres south from the turnoff, and is not a preferred option for leaving a caravan.