The Ultimate Guide to Purnululu National Park and Camping at the Bungle Bungles

The Ultimate Guide to Purnululu National Park and Camping at the Bungle Bungles

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The Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park must be one of the most awe-inspiring places we have visited in our road trip around Australia.

Some 360 million years old, the Bungle Bungles in Australia are recognizable for their beehive-shaped domes which are colored with striking bands of orange and black. Despite being more than 50 times the size of Uluru, The Bungle Bungles remained relatively unknown in Australia until 1983, today they have become an iconic symbol of Kimberley and outback Western Australia. The spectacular monoliths and the surrounding network of canyons and gorges are one of Australia’s geological marvels, and truly worthy of the effort it takes to visit the remote Purnulu National Park.

Camping at the Bungle Bungles is in our opinion the best and cheapest way to immerse yourself in the impressive Purnululu National Park. Within the park, walks and lookouts reveal the stunning and ancient rock formations. For those wishing for a little more amenity, a variety of tours, and accommodation options are available.

Read on to discover everything you need to know about Camping at the Bungle Bungles and Purnulu National Park.

Where Are the Bungle Bungles Located?

Hiking at the Bungle Bungles Australia in Purnululu National Park

If you haven’t heard of the Bungle Bungles you are not alone. Located on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, in a remote corner of the Kimberley, the Bungle Bungles aren’t exactly close to anything. So just where are the Bungle Bungles? Purnululu National Park is located in north-east Western Australia close to the Northern Territory border. The closest (tiny) town is Halls Creek, but most people will set out for Purnulu from the town of Kununurra.

From Kununurra to Purnululu National Park, it will take you approximately 5 hours (338 km) to reach the national park along the Great Northern Highway. The final hour (or so) is spent tackling the 53km Spring Creek track to the national park entrance a four-wheel drive is strongly recommended.

It is also possible to reach the Bungle Bungles from the coastal town of Broome. To reach the Bungle Bungles from Broome, it will take you 10 hours traveling over 880 km.

Camping at the Bungle Bungles

There are a couple of things to consider when deciding on the best Bungle Bungles camping. Do you want to be close to the Cathedral Gorge or the Echidna Chasm? Are you using a generator? Do you want to hike in and camp? Answering these questions will help you determine the best camping at the Bungle Bungles.

Kurrajong Campground

The Kurrajong campground is located in the northern end of the Purnululu National Park. The Kurrajong camping area in the Bungle Bungles is best for exploring the Echidna Chasm and Mini Palms Gorge.

The facilities at the Kurrajong campsite include basic toilets and drinking water. No generators are allowed while camping at the Bungle Bungles at the Kurrajong campground.

The cost to camp at the Kurrajong campsite is $13 per person ($3 per child between the ages of 5 – 16) and should be booked in advance on the national park website.

Walardi Campground

The Walardri campground is located in the southern end of the Purnululu National Park. Camping at the Bungle Bungles in the Walardi campground is best for exploring the Cathedral Gorge and Piccaninny Creek.

The facilities at the Walardi campsite include basic toilets and drinking water. There is a separate section of the Walardi campground for those traveling with a generator.

The cost to camp at the Walardri campground is $13 per person ($3 per child between the ages of 5 – 16) and should be booked in advance on the national park website.

Overnight Camping at the Bungle Bungles in the Piccaninny Gorge

Camping at the Bungle Bungles Australia
Camping at the Bungle Bungles in Picanniny Gorge is one of the best things to do in Purnululu National Park

Hiking into Piccaninny Gorge to camp amongst the Bungle Bungles, is one of the best hike-in camping experiences in Australia and a true wilderness camping adventure. It is one we were thrilled to stumble on given the lack of information that was available online about the overnight hike in Piccaninny Gorge.

To walk amongst the incredible formations of Purnululu and experience camping at the Bungle Bungles the overnight hike follows the Piccaninny Creek bed for eight kilometers. The creek reaches a sharp left hand turn known as the Elbow signaling the start of Piccaninny Gorge, the largest of the gorges in Purnululu National Park.

Although eight kilometers might not sound intimidating, expecially without elevation, the walk to the Elbow is undeniably tough. The flat rock creek bed at the beginning of the hike quickly descends into pebbles and sand making the eight kilometers feel a lot longer and harder than you might expect. The hike is very exposed and the fierce Western Australian sun can quickly sap your energy.

Once you reach the Elbow, continue onward to Black Rock Pool another 0.5 kilometers, the gorge’s most reliable water source. Just outside of the fissure leading to the Black Rock Pool, many people choose to camp in the shadow of the gorge along the sandy bottom of Piccaninny Creek at the start of Piccaninny Gorge.

Those looking to continue the journey can trek another 3.5 kilometers from Black Rock Pool to the start of what is known as the Fingers. The Fingers are a series of five side gorges (or fissures) each extending further and further into the Picaninny Gorge. The first of the Fingers is approximately 4 kilometers from the Elbow and the furthest of the Fingers (Finger 3) is an additional 3 kilometers past the first finger (a total of 7 kilometers from the Elbow). These distances are only to the start of the finger and  exclude any exploration into the fingers themselves. The start of the Fingers is another spot people choose to base themselves when camping at the Bungle Bungles in Piccaninny Gorge.

The hike deeper and deeper into Picaninny Gorge includes steep climbs and boulder hopping which may come as a relief after trudging through pebbles and sand for over eight kilometers. you can extend this hike into a multi-day hiking adventure by attempting to explore each of the fingers.

The overnight hike in the Bungle Bungles is a remote experience and should be attempted by experienced bushwalkers. There are no markers along Piccaninny Creek once you pass Whip Snake Gorge. A personal locator beacon (PLB) is required to complete the hike. If you do not have one (or if yours is expired like ours was), then these must be rented from the visitor’s center for $30.

Registration is required at the visitor’s center before attempting the overnight hike to Piccaninny Gorge and de-registration is required upon return to avoid having a search and rescue launched and a hefty bill. The visitor’s center is only open between 8:00 am – 12:00 pm and then 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Make sure to plan you plan to be back with plenty of time to d-register. Camping at the Bungle Bungles in the Piccaninny Gorge costs $8 per person per night.

Lastly, make sure to carry sufficient water for your Piccaninny Gorge trek. There is no reliable water source in the Piccaninny Gorge  especially later in the dry season. If you do find water, make sure you treat it first with either purifying tablets, by filtering or by boiling.

Other Bungle Bungles Accommodation

If camping in the Bungle Bungles is not for you, don’t worry. There are a hanful of other Bungle Bungle accommodation options to suite all types of travelers and budgets. From caravan parks and to luxury resorts all just minutes from the stunning Purnululu National Park.

Bungle Bungle Caravan Park

It wouldn’t be Australia if there wasn’t a caravan park nearby. The Bungle Bungle Caravan Park is located approximately 1 kilometer from the Great Northern Highway. It is a great option for caravaners and campers. As well as travelers without access to a 4WD, which is needed to self drive to Purnululu National Park. The Bungle Bungle Caravan Park includes a range of accommodation options including campsites, self-contained cabins, and safari tents.

The Bungle Bungle Caravan Park also offers Bungle Bungle Tours by land with a 4WD bus or,the by taking to the skies in a helicopter.

Bungle Bungle Savanna Lodge

The Bungle Bungle Savanna Lodge is a great Bungle Bungle accommodation option when visiting the Purnululu National Park. The Bungle Bungle Savanna Lodge is located within the national park and offers cabin style accommodation with both two person and four person cabins. The facilities include a pool, fire pit and paid wifi. Breakfast and dinner are both included in the price of your stay.

The Bungle Bungle Savanna Lodge also offers guided walking tours with three different Bungle Bungle tour options to choose from.

Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge

The Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge is the premier Bungle Bungle accommodation. Located within the Purnululu National Park itself near Cathedral Gorge, it is the best of the best. The accommodation is set up with safari tents to blend into the surrounds. Each glamping tent sleeps two with an ensuite bathroom with solar heated water and beautiful porch to sit outside and enjoy the abounding nature.

Each booking includes breakfast and a three-course meal. Alcohol is available for purchase at the lodge.

A trip to the Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge will be a memorable experience and is a great way to experience the Bungle Bungles in Australia!

Booking.com

The Best Bungle Bungles Walks

One of the best ways to experience the Bungle Bungles in Australia is to venture on foot into the heart of the Purnululu National Park. The Purnululu National Park is divided into two sections, the north and the south. There is no rivalry between the two and each are impressive in their own right.

The Northern Bungle Bungles Walks

The Bungle Bungles walks in the north are markedly different from their southern counterparts. The iconic domes are replaced withrocky escarpments interrupted by narrow gorges covered in fan palm trees. An entirely different landscape, but just as enjoyable to visit. Here is a list of the northern Bungle Bungle walks.

Echidna Chasm

The Echidna Chasm was one of my favorite places to visit in the Purnululu National Park. Unlike the other gorges within the park, the narrowness of the chasm is something to behold. The Echidna Chasm trail is a 2-kilometer in and out track. The first section follows the creek bed to the start of the chasm. From here, you make your way further and further into the chasm as the chasm becomes narrower and narrower. Pause and take a moment to imagine the amount of water and the length of time that it took to make this special place.

Echidna Chasm in Purnululu National Park
Exploring the canyons early in the morning, before the crowds is a highlight of camping at the Bungle Bungles

Homestead Valley Trail

Another 4.4-kilometer trail starting from the Bloodwoods, this trail cuts deep into the range through the Homestead Valley. Take in sweeping views over the valley along this trail. Allow between 1 – 2 hours to complete the trail depending upon your fitness level.

Mini Palm Gorge

Mini Palms Gorge in Purnululu National Park
Exploring Mini-Palm Gorge while camping at the Bungle Bungles

The Mini Palm Gorge is a 4.2-kilometer return journey along a dry creek bed deep into the heart of the Osmond Range. Along the walk both high and low Livistona Fan Palms sway in the breeze. The walk culminates at a viewing platform overlooking the 200-meter tall walls of the sandstone gorge. 

Escarpment Trail

The escarpment trail is a 3.6 kilometer one-way (7.2 kilometer return) trail that connects the Mini Palm Gorge and Homestead Valley (the Bloodwoods) to the Echidna Chasm. The trail follows along the range which runs parallel to the road.

The Southern Bungle Bungles Walks

Hiking along Piccaninny Creek to the Bungle Bungles Australia

The southern Bungle Bungles walks are probably the most recognizable of all of the walks in Purnululu National Park. The southern portion of the national park is where the largest concentration of the Bungle Bungles is located.

All of the southern Bungle Bungles walks can be found along Piccaninny Creek, so it is best to visit all of these on one return trip to avoid walking the same path more than one time. The list below is in order from the closest to the furthest away.

Domes Walk

The shortest of the southern Bungle Bungles walks, this 700 meter loop is an easy hike to see the Bungle Bungles in Australia up close and personal without the hassle of trudging through sand and pebbles.

Cathedral Gorge

The jewel of the Purnululu National Park, the Cathedral Gorge is one of the most impressive gorges in Australia. Approximately 500-meters from the carpark is the turn off to Cathedral Gorge. And from here it is another 500-meter track the into the heart of the Bungle Bungles where the Cathedral Gorge in all its glory awaits. This gorge is a natural amphitheater with a permanent pool and is easily the most stunning of all of the gorges within the Bungle Bungles. 

It is best to visit the Cathedral Gorge early as the track is heavily trafficked. It is also best to hike in the mornings to limit your exposure to the heat and the sun.

If you can time your trip right, experiencing the Catherdral Gorge during the full moon is supposedly an amazing, unforgetable experience!

Piccaninny Creek Lookout

This 2.8 kilometer return journey continues further along Piccaninny Creek from Cathedral Gorge. From the turn off to Cathedral Gorge another 800 meters, you will find sweeping views over Piccaninny Creek and of course, the star of the show, the Bungle Bungle domes.

Taking in the view from Piccaninny Creek
Walking amongst the Bungle Bungles is awe-inspiring

The Window

If you continue further along Piccaninny Creek another 2.4 kilometers you will find The Window. This natural window in the Bungle Bungles is a scenic spot to visit in the Bungle Bungles.

Whip Snake Gorge

Whip Snake Gorge is the furthest of the day hikes in the Bungle Bungles. This 10-kilometer journey passes by all of the previous northern Bungle Bungles walks and can be combined into a longer hike. The turn off to Whip Snake Gorge is 3.4 kilometers from the car park and another 1.6 kilometers from the turn off.

The journey involves walking through sand, pebbles and boulder climbing as you venture further into the gorge. Make sure to bring plenty of water on this hike as the first and last 3.4 kilometers of the journey are exposed to the sun.

Other Bungle Bungles Tours

For a unique experience, consider taking to the skies and seeing the Bungle Bungles in Australia from a bird’s eye view. There are several tour operators that offer scenic flights and helicopter rides for panoramic views over the famed Bungle Bungles. Scenic flights are offered from Kununurra by Bungle Bungle Guided Tours. Bungle Bungle Guided Tours also offers scenic helicopter flights from Kununurra, Lake Argyle, Warmun (Turkey Creek) and the Bellburn Airstrip in Purnululu National Park!

Scenic helicopter rides can be arranged at the Bungle Bungles Caravan Park who have partnered with HeliSpirit to bring you a range of flight options from 30 minutes to 1 hour flights.

When to Visit Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungles in Australia

Wildflowers in the Bungle Bungles Australia

Knowing when to visit Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungles in Australia is important as the national park is not open year round. To be able to camp at the Bungle Bungles in Australia, you need to visit during the dry season which runs from May to September each year.

You may also be able to time your trip with the wildflower season to see beautiful wildflowers blooming along the walks!

Items to Pack When Visiting the Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungle Range

  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick with SPF
  • Wide brim hat
  • Camera
  • Water – There is no reliable source of water in the Bungle Bungles, so make sure that you bring plenty of drinking water for your hike. The hikes are exposed to the sun and are tougher than expected given the distances traveled.
  • Snacks – Pack plenty of snacks to boost your sugar levels on the hike

Important Things to Know for Visiting the Bungle Bungles in Australia

Walking in Piccaninny Gorge in the Bungle Bungles Australia
Hiking along Piccaninny Creek to the Piccaninny Gorge is one of the best things to do in the Bungle Bungles in Australia

As with any national park, visiting the Purnululu National Park there are a few things that you should know.

  • While this may seem like a given, do not attempt to scale the gorge walls while visiting the Bungle Bungles in Australia. No one wants their holiday to end up in a hospital.
  • Rocks do fall occasionally in the gorge, so wear a helmet. JK. No helmets are needed but do be alert when walking along one of the many Bungle Bungle walks.
  • The Bungle Bungles in Australia can face extreme temperatures. Temperatures can soar to 45 C between the months of September and December and drop as low as 10 during June to August. Make sure to check the weather before heading out on a walk and especially before attempting the Piccaninny Gorge trek.
  • There are no toilets along Piccaninny Creek or any of the Bungle Bungle walks. Bury human waste at least 15cm deep and do not leave toilet paper within the gorge system instead carry a small sealable bag to dispose of this.
  • A vehicle pass is required for visiting Purnululu National Park. A single day pass can be obtained online or at the visitor’s center and costs $15 per vehicle. Alternatively, holiday passes ranging from two – four weeks or an annual pass can be obtained from the Western Australia National Parks System. If you plan on visiting at least eight (8) national parks during your time in Western Australia, then an annual pass is the most cost effective.

Looking for More Australia Travel Inspiration?

Australia has no shortage of great national parks to visit. If you are interested in outdoor adventures and love hiking, camping and all things nature, then check out one of our other articles for more Australia national park travel inspiration!

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Are you ready to go camping in the Bungle Bungles? Are you excited for all of the amazing Bungle Bungle walks to experience in Purnululu National Park? Let us know in the comments below!

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