Your guide to Purnululu
When to go: Don’t delay – go as soon as you can after the wet season. The park opens in April. The vegetation is at its freshest, there probably will still be water in the pools, and there are less people than in June-August.
Where to stay: Treat yourself to a stay at the APT/KWA Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge (www.kimberleywilderness.com.au) or at EKT’s Bungle Bungle Bushcamp (www.eastkimberleytours.com.au). The tucker is laid on, the staff friendly and they will organise 4WD tours around the park. What’s more, you can fly in from Kununurra, avoiding the drive and enjoying the view from the air on the way in and out (www.alligatorairways.com.au). The two public camping grounds (a small fee charged) have pit toilets and untreated bore water. Walardi campsite is probably the pick of the two.
Length of stay: For a brief look at the four main gorges, you’ll need to stay at least one full day (preferably two nights), but if you’re prepared for the challenge, spend several nights hiking up Piccaninny Gorge, exploring The Fingers.
Take: A hat and water on all walks. Away from the gorge walls there’s little shade and the heat is sapping. From late April to September, you may also need warm clothes as night-time temperatures may drop, getting down to near 0°C during June and July.
Piccaninny Gorge: Walkers on this multi-day hike need to log in and out at the visitor centre. Do not rely on drinking water being available and take great care to keep waterholes free of pollutants such as sunscreen.
Climbing: Don’t. The sandstone is extremely fragile and vulnerable to erosion.
Scenic Flights: Highly recommended. An exciting 30-minute helicopter flight from the airstrip will show you the main sights in the park. Fixed-wing flights are also available.
Other Attractions: There are plenty of things to do in and around Kununurra. Take a cruise or canoe down the Ord River (www.triplejtours.net.au), enjoy a scenic flight to Mitchell Falls , cruise on Lake Argyle, study pioneering history at the Argyle Downs Homestead Museum, admire the artwork at the Lovell Gallery in town, or take a walk through Mirima Natinal Park, which is like a mini Purnululu.
Bungle Bungle Range, Dean Hoatson et al., Commonwealth of Australia 2004.
Journey to the Bungle Bungle, Nadeen Lovell, Lovell Gallery 2001.
Contacts: For park information, contact the Department of Environment and Conservation (www.naturebase.net, 08 9168 7300) or the Department of Environment and Heritage (www.deh.gov.ay/heritage/worldheritage/sites/purnululu/index.html). For general tourist information about the area, contact Austrtalia’s North West Tourism (www.australiasnorthwest.com, 08 3185 0189) or Kununurra Visitor Centre (www.kununurratourism.com, 08 3185 0189).
Source: Australian Geographic Issue 86 (Apr – Jun 2007)