Amazing! Everyone has seen photos of Purnululu (Bungle Bungle)and they are every bit as impressive up close in real life. I had heard that you really need to see them from the air so I was a bit dubious as to how impressive they would be on foot, but there was no need to worry. They were great.
The drive in is along about 50km of unsealed road which has a bad reputation but which wasn’t too bad for us. There were some bad corrugations in the first 10km or so but after that the road was fine. As we drove in and got closer to the Bungle Bungle Range the stunning views gave us a taste of what was to come.
The main attractions in the park are separated between a northern and southern section, with one campsite in each section. It’s an easy drive between the two sections so the whole park is accessible from either campsite. We chose the Kurrajong campground in the northern section, mainly because it’s the one that doesn’t allow generators.
We were amazed when we got there at how empty it was. There’s 106 sites in the campground so it could easily be very busy but there was only a handful of groups there with us. We seem to be here very late in the season as the weather starts warming up so we’ve missed peak season. However, we haven’t found the weather to be at all bad. It has been hot during the days (high 30s) but the nights have been quite nice and cool. The campsite itself is nothing particularly special – it’s very open and dusty with very little shade and would be pretty average if it was full.
For our first day in the park we headed to the northern walks in the morning. Matthew and Izzy enjoyed poring over the map as we drove and telling us all the details of the various walks. Matthew played tour guide and first led us into Echidna Chasm. After a short walk in the open, the track led into a long, incredibly narrow gorge – only just wide enough to walk through in some places. And apparently the cliffs either side are 180m tall! It was great fun walking through and the kids particularly liked this one.
Next up was Mini Palms Gorge which was also nice, but probably not as exciting as Echidna Gorge. It was much wider and with palm trees growing in it. It was getting hot and the first part of the walk was quite exposed, but once inside the gorge the temperature dropped dramatically and it was quite pleasant.
After lunch we drove down to the southern section of the park and walked into Cathedral Gorge. The track first follows a creek past The Domes, the famous ‘beehives’ we all think of when thinking of the Bungle Bungles. Then the track turns and follows a second creek upstream through a gorge that gets progressively narrower until in suddenly opens out into a large amphitheatre with a lovely beach surrounding a not so lovely stagnant pond. The amphitheatre is in fact the dry plunge pool for what must be a quite impressive waterfall during the wet season, but late in the dry season when we were there was very little water. In fact we didn’t really see any water anywhere in the park other than that small, stagnant pool in Cathedral Gorge.
The kids enjoyed playing around on the beach on the cliffs surrounding the gorge and making some very impressive echoes. The place had terrific acoustics!
For some reason there were plenty of dead cane toads around and somebody had set up a game of a group of them into a cricket match. That really captured the kids’ imaginations and they have since actually made up a song about ‘cane toad cricket’.
While we were preparing dinner at the end of that day, the campground host came round to tell us we had to leave the campground by 8.00am the following morning due to a nearby bush fire. We had seen the bush fire in the distance on the way in but hadn’t been concerned about it. It didn’t seem particularly close but the rangers had decided to back burn so needed to close the campground. It was lucky we had done the walks in the northern section that day because they were also closed the next day.
So we packed up the next morning and drove back round to the southern section. This time we walked up Piccaninny Creek. This was the highlight of our visit for me. We followed the dry creek bed upstream for about 3km and the views of the range with its amazing rock formations just kept getting better and better. And I kept dropping further and further behind Lindy and the kids as I stopped to take more and more photos. The formation of the rocks, both high up on the side of the range and in the creek bed itself could have kept me and my camera intrigued all day.
The creek keeps going much further than we could walk and eventually into Piccaninny Gorge. You can keep walking about 15km up the creek/gorge and overnight camp up there which would be amazing.
We had planned to stay three nights, but after having to pack up due to the fires we decided to move on and headed to Wyndham.