How to Explore the Bungle Bungles on a Day Tour
On my trip to Kununurra, I chose to go the easy way and explore the Bungle Bungles on tour. As driving to Purnululu National Park is only allowed by 4WD, joining a guided tour was the best option for me as a solo traveller.
This is a full-day tour into the ancient Bungle Bungle Ranges, which combines a round-trip flight from Kununurra and a hike to Cathedral Gorge.
The combination of flying and walking is an excellent way to see the Bungle Bungles Range from the air and experience foot the Purnululu National park’s natural beauty.
This was definitely one of the best things to do around Kununurra on a day trip.
As you know, I love to travel solo around Australia and explore as much as I can on my own. However, now and then, I like to take a break and enjoy a group tour where circumstances are appropriate. I would not have expected to see so much in one day.
Here below a wrap-up of what I did on a day trip from Kununurra to Bungle Bungles.
What we did on our East Kimberley Round-Trip Flight from Kununurra
Our Bungle Bungles flight departed from Kununurra in the morning. After the pick up at our accommodation, we drove to the airport, where we departed on board a Scenic Flight. A great advantage of flying over the Bungle Bungle Ranges is that you can see much of the whole area between Kununurra and the ranges, and this means saving 4 hours of four-wheel-drive on dirt roads.
From Kununurra, the plane flew over the Ord River to reach lake Argyle, a human-made lake formed by the Ord River’s damming. It corresponds approx 27 times the size of Sydney Harbour. From the air, you get a stunning view of the many lake inlets and islands formation. And we were amazed to learn that this area of North-Western Australia was completely rugged and dry before man created this water system.
The morning flight was slightly bumpy due to the strong wind, making it difficult to take photos or filming. Once we landed at the Bellburn Airstrip of the Purnululu National Park. There we could stretch our legs and have a cup of tea before getting on a four-wheel-drive vehicle to the beehive-shaped-domes and world heritage site, the Bungle Bungles Ranges. The morning flight takes a bit over one hour from Kununurra to the national park.
On the way to the walking trail, we stopped to take pictures of the Bungle Bungles’ beautiful vegetation. Jools told us interesting facts about the geological rock formations of the tiger-striped ranges and the significance of Purnululu to the indigenous people.
The most impressive thing about the Bungle Bungles geology and its rock formations is its extremely fragile texture. Below the surface of the distinctive orange-striped skin, there is a fine white underlying sandstone that can be easily wiped off with the palm of your hand.
Can you see the white hole from the photo? This is why you cannot climb this world heritage site or access any of these Aboriginal sacred sites.
The beautiful walks in the Purnululu National Parks
The one-day Bungle Bungles Tour included two shorts walks to the Cathedral Gorge and along the Piccaninny Creek to the lookout. I visited in June, so we got to walk along a dry-white-stone-river bed. In the wet season, the heavy rains fill the Piccaninny Creek to create dramatic scenery. But it will be impossible to access the park in the wet months.
The walks in the Purnululu National Park are easy. The Cathedral Gorge is spectacular, with over 250 meters of overlapping sandstone walls. You will be standing in awe once you are inside the gorge. It is indeed a special place with remarkable silence and peacefulness. There isn’t much light inside the gorge, and my photos don’t do justice to this place’s beauty.
Afternoon Tea at the East Kimberley Bushcamp
After lunch, we walked the way back to the car park and stopped to view the rock sites of Purnululu. Before starting our return flight to Kununurra, we had a stop at a Bushcamp for afternoon tea. This Bushcamp is really worth a visit. It has a beautiful, quiet and lovely camp atmosphere. We only stopped for a short break to chill out and linger in conversation over a good cuppa.
Jools, the tour guide, gave us a leaflet about the bushcamp; when I read it back in town, I knew why I felt like staying there overnight. It is a 360° ecological bushcamp and with a rather impressive setting. Much is done to conserve the ground and surface resource of the dry and fragile environment of the Purnululu National Park. This tour company is extremely committed to minimising the impact on camp settings’ ecology by providing all necessary functional areas and facilities.
Return Flight from Bungle Bungles to Kununurra
This was the best part of the Kimberleys scenic flight. The afternoon flight back to Kununurra was smooth, with gentle gliding over this spectacular East Kimberley. We relished the beautiful colours at sunsets. Thus we had the perfect conditions to view the Bungle Bungle Ranges from another aerial perspective.
Here are a few photos of the stunningly beautiful Bungle Bungles from the air.
An aerial shot of the Argyle Diamond Mine. Not many people know (me included) that this diamond mine in Kimberley Australia produces almost 95% of the rare pink diamond.
An aerial view of Lake Argyle we got to see on the flight back to Kununurra.
A few facts about the Eastern Kimberley
With a size of Germany or 8 times Switzerland, you can quickly get a picture of how vast the Kimberley Region is. The Eastern Kimberley encompasses Kununurra, located 835 km south-west of Darwin, a small Outback town and the perfect gateway to many Kimberleys attractions, like the Bungle Bungles, Lake Kununurra, Ord River, Lake Argyle and more.
From Kununurra, you can hire a four-wheel-drive vehicle and access the Purnululu National Park. The distance is about 4 hours one way.
If self-driving is not for you, you’d better off joining one of the East Kimberley tours. There are many types of road trips, with 4WD and camping overnight or the one I did with 2 scenic flights and walks in the national park if you only have 1 day to spend there. The tour I did was a good value for money.
Thanks to this tour, I could gain knowledge and a feeling of the place in such a short time, which is pretty amazing.
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First published in 2015, last updated Jan 2021
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