Cover photo full
Purnululu National Park
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrPurnululu National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located in the east Kimberley region of northwestern Western Australia. The town of Kununurra lies about 300 kilometers to the north, while Halls Creek lies 100 kilometers south of the park. This national park covers an area of almost 240,000 hectares. The strikingly odd-shaped Bungle Bungle Range lies entirely within the border of Purnululu National Park. The main features of this mountain range are the dome- or beehive-shaped, karst sandstone hills and their horizontal orange and grey bands. The beehives rise up for hundreds of meters out of the surrounding wilderness. It is a truly unique sight and has become one of the symbols for the national parks in Australia. Besides the Bungle Bungle, the national park also consists of gorges, caves, and rock pool fringed with palm trees.
The Bungle Bungle Range is one of the main attractions in the Kimberley. Located in the southern parts of the national park, it got its name from a local cattle station. Also in the south of the park lies the impressive Cathedral Gorge, famed for its natural acoustics. The northern Purnululu National Park is home to many different landscapes, consisting of narrow gorges and chasms, cliffs and caves.
HistoryThe area has existed for a stunning 350 million years and has been inhabited by Aboriginal people for 40,000 years. Several archaeological sites suggest that the area has been occupied and used intensively by humans for a long, long time.
The first European survey was conducted in 1879. In 1880, the very first colonist arrived. A few years later, in 1885, gold was found in the region, yet cattle breeding became the main economic activity. The first cattle were brought in in 1884; by 1902 there were more than 45,000 cattle. This, of course, led to overgrazing and landscape erosion. Many Aboriginal people were laboring for free on huge cattle farms (pastoral farms), essentially slaves. As a result of cattle ranching, the original food sources of the indigenous peoples diminished and the Aboriginal population was halved.
In 1967, it was attempted to reverse this destructive process by controlling stock and establishing revegetation programs. From 1985, huge numbers of cattle were removed from the area, and in 1987 the Purnululu National Park was officially declared UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The area still has several Aboriginal communities who live according to tradition and use the natural landscape to harvest food and as a social gathering place.
The Bungle Bungle Range lies only about 100 kilometers from a major highway, yet it was only discovered by Westerners (a film team to be specific) in 1983. The region’s cattle rangers were aware of the existence of this extraordinary mountain range, but, living a harsh life, they had more important things to worry about. It wasn't until the film crew started shooting footage of the orange-and-black beehives that the Bungle Bungle Range got any recognition.
In 2003, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its exceptional natural beauty.
ActivitiesThere are a few major activities in Purnululu National Park. Hiking and camping are hugely popular, as are 4-wheel-driving and helicopter flights.
Every visitor to Australia’s remote Kimberley region should spend at least one night camping in the Bungles. Setting up a tent and gazing at millions of stars at night is an unforgettable experience. Day activities include swimming and hiking. Visitors, however, are recommended to pay a visit to the visitor center first. They provide updated information on the park’s conditions and have detailed trail maps. Hiking into acoustic Cathedral Gorge is highly recommended, as is the scenic hiking trail to Piccaninny Creek. It is possible to camp in Piccaninny Gorge. Short hikes in the northern part offers views of sheer rock cliffs, Aboriginal caves, and palm tree-lined trails.
Most visitors will arrived at the park by car – 4WD is required. The park offers some excellent 4WD driving opportunities. A great way to see the Bungles is by plane. Scenic flights by helicopter or small plane leave from Halls Creek and Kununurra.
How to Get ThereThe Great Northern Highway passes by the national park about 100 kilometers away. Purnululu National Park can be accessed along Spring Creek Track, which lies off the highway, about 250 kilometers south of Kununurra. The track is a little more than 50 kilometers long and ends at the visitor center. It is normally only accessible during the dry season and always only by 4WD. As it is an unpaved track, it takes about three hours to get to the park. Purnululu National Park can also be reached by air. Helicopters and small aircraft can land at Bellburn Airstrip, located inside the national park.
Similar LandmarksAs unique as Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungle are, there are some similar national parks in Australia. Other famous wilderness and Outback parks are, for example, Kakadu National Park and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, both located in the Northern Territory.
Serra das Confusoes National Park in Brazil has similar geological formations.
Do you see any omissions, errors or want to add information to this page? Sign up.
Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Oct 10, 2014