For getting the most out of Purnululu

WORDS & IMAGES BY GLENN MARSHALL

HOT TIPS

Ready to venture into the most remarkable national park in WA? Here are some things you need to know before you leave the highway.

Only recently discovered in terms of natural wonder, Aboriginals have known about Purnululu for thousands of years. Once part of a massive cattle station, some of the gorges were used as mustering points to trap the cattle before herding them out. These days it is one of the most visually stunning, world heritage listed, national parks in Australia.

The landscape is 350 million years in the making with deep gorges and the striped sandstone “beehive” domes and surrounded by savannah country. The walking trails lead you to some of the most spectacular sights, and a bird’s eye view from above will just magnify Purnululu’s magic. Whether you decide to commute from the caravan park, bush camp or live it up at the Lodge you will not be disappointed by your experience.

TRAVEL Purnululu

  • 8.2m² of cover and easily mounted
  • 2 models available
  • Designed for easy set up/pack down
  • Strong and lightweight construction
  • Optional walls available (sold separately)
  • Massive 11.5m² of shade cover
  • 2 models available
  • Designed for easy set up/pack down 
  • Strong and lightweight construction 
  • Optional walls available (sold separately)
  • 4m² of cover easily mounted to rear
  • 4.6m span and hinged from both ends
  • Designed for easy set up/pack down 
  • Strong and lightweight construction 
  • Optional walls available (sold separately)
ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

Drop your tyre pressures and slow down
The road into Purnululu is grumbled about by every Tom, Dick and Margaret, mostly because they are ignorant or lazy. Sure, it’s 52km of corrugations, water crossings and the occasional washout, but if you reduce to tyre pressures by at least 30% below your highway pressures and slow down, you’ll find it an absolute invigorating drive.

BELOW Take your time and take in the views

BELOW The corrugations are real, but it makes life easier when you remove that hot air

Take your time and stop at the water crossings to take some happy snaps. Enjoy the stunning ranges as you twist and wind your way through them. In fact, the drive has to be included as one of the highlights to the park as the scenery is that bloody good.

But I don’t have an air compressor! Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s an air-compressor available for use by all travellers at the Bungle Bungle Caravan Park, so now you have no excuse.

ABOVE I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I didn’t

1

“The best way to escape the heat and really refresh after a long day exploring Purnululu is in the pool."

Pre-purchase your WA Parks Pass
The easiest way to pay for a WA Parks Pass is online before you get there. You have the choice between a holiday pass for $46 (valid for four weeks) or an annual all parks pass for $92. The benefit of a parks pass is it covers several national parks and if you’re exploring the Pilbara, Coral Coast and Kimberley you will save a load of cash. These passes don’t cover camping fees, they are an additional cost.

BELOW Piccaninny Creek is visually stunning

BELOW Pre-purchasing a Parks Pass makes it easier to see places like this

You must register at the Purnululu Visitors Centre on arrival to the park and show your Parks Pass to the ranger. If you decide not to pre-purchase, you can buy a pass for $13, however, you can only do it during opening hours of 8am – 12noon and 1pm – 4pm daily (early April until mid-October).

ABOVE Just print it out and keep it on your dash or keep a copy on your phone

2

Where do you want to camp?
There are two campsites within the national park, Kurrajong to the north and Walardi to the south. Both sites have pit toilets, picnic tables, some shade and water taps (non-potable water). You can get a nice visual of the campgrounds on the Department of Parks and Wildlife page, but they are not always up to date, there was not a blade of green grass to be seen when I was there.

BELOW The acoustics in Cathedral Gorge will give you goose bumps

BELOW The Stonehenge trail explains the significance of the trees to the Aboriginals

Kurrajong campground is close to Echidna Chasm, Mini Palms Gorge, Homestead Valley, Stonehenge and Kungkalanayi while Walardi is the nearest campground to Bellburn airstrip, Elephant Rock, Cathedral Gorge, The Window and Piccaninny Creek.

You can pre-purchase online or do it all at the Purnululu Visitor Centre ($13 per adult per night). There is also a Wi-Fi hotspot outside the centre that enables you to pay park entry and camping fees online.

ABOVE Keep an eye out for dinosaurs in Mini Palm Gorge

3

ABOVE Echidna Gorge at midday is the perfect time

Check it out from the air
The best way to see how stunning Purnululu really is on a scenic helicopter flight with HeliSpirit. Based within the park at Bellburn airstrip you have a few choices of which flight you can enjoy:

  • 18-minute domes flight
  • 30-minute Bungle Bungle flight
  • 42-minute Long Look flight

The most awesome flight on offer is a full day heli-hike that lands you near the mouth of Piccaninny Gorge and where it splits into five fingers. An Aboriginal guide then leads you on a 10km return hike explain the cultural significance of Purnululu. How I wish I had known about this before I left the park!

There’s a minimum of two passengers per flight and free tea and coffee for all passengers. HeliSpirit operates its flights from April through to October.

BELOW HeliSpirit have a good range of flights to choose from

BELOW The only way to see the best of Purnululu is from the air

4

Do it in style
The Bungle Bungle Savannah Lodge is the most comfortable place to immerse yourself in Purnululu. Located within the national park you will enjoy the ambience and the comfort of a modern cabin with ensuite. The lodge relies totally on solar power to keep it running and thankfully the hot water is backed up by LPG gas as it can be very cold in the mornings.

BELOW A pool has never been so welcomed

BELOW The Savannah Lodge cabins were the comfort I needed after so many nights in a swag

The best way to escape the heat and really refresh after a long day exploring Purnululu is in the pool. The water will certainly take your breath away, but it will help cool down your core and get you ready for an evening under the stars.

All meals are prepared onsite by the experienced chefs with breakfast, lunch and dinner available. The Bungles Bar is open daily and there is no better way to finish the day sitting next to a fire with a beverage, chatting with fellow travellers.

ABOVE The perfect place to end a day

5

Bring heaps of water
Dehydration is a real risk in the Kimberley, especially during the dry season. Temperatures can get hot and hiking along trails to visit gorges can use up a lot of energy and make you sweat more so you need to replenish what you lose. There are water taps at both campgrounds, but the water is not suitable for drinking.

Remember that in conditions like this you should carry 10 litres of water per person per day. Don’t just carry it though, make sure you use it. The Royal Flying Doctor recommends you may need to drink a litre of water every hour if you are not used to the hot, dry conditions.

BELOW I was drinking more water than this each day

BELOW Water from the taps is suitable for monkeys, but not humans

6

DESTINATION DETAILS
WHERE IT’S AT: Purnululu is located 300km south of Kununurra and 160km north of Halls Creek.

TRIP STANDARD: Purnululu is only accessible for 4WD vehicles and single-axle off-road camper trailers and off-road caravans.

TIME TO GO: April to December (conditions permitting) but the coolest (and busiest) period is June to August.

WHAT TO TAKE: Drinking water, food, air compressor, tyre repair kit, wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, bug repellent, a sense of adventure, your credit card (for that last-minute flight). No food is sold at the Visitors Centre, only cool drinks. Closest fuel is at Warmum Roadhouse 55km north of the Purnululu turn off.

MORE INFO: 
WA DPAW
Visit Kununurra

 

ABOVE There are a couple of Bower Bird nests if you keep your eye out

TRAVEL Purnululu

For getting the most out of Purnululu

WORDS & IMAGES BY GLENN MARSHALL

Only recently discovered in terms of natural wonder, Aboriginals have known about Purnululu for thousands of years. Once part of a massive cattle station, some of the gorges were used as mustering points to trap the cattle before herding them out. These days it is one of the most visually stunning, world heritage listed, national parks in Australia.

The landscape is 350 million years in the making with deep gorges and the striped sandstone “beehive” domes and surrounded by savannah country. The walking trails lead you to some of the most spectacular sights, and a bird’s eye view from above will just magnify Purnululu’s magic. Whether you decide to commute from the caravan park, bush camp or live it up at the Lodge you will not be disappointed by your experience.

Ready to venture into the most remarkable national park in WA? Here are some things you need to know before you leave the highway.

HOT TIPS
  • 8.2m² of cover easily
    mounted to vehicle
  • Massive 11.5m² of 

    shade cover

  • 4m² of cover easily 

    mounted to vehicle rear

  • Easy vehicle mounting, set up/pack down
  • Strong and lightweight construction 
  • Optional walls available (sold separately)

SCROLL TO CONTINUE
ADVERTISEMENT

BELOW The corrugations are real, but it makes life easier when you remove that hot air

BELOW Take your time and take in the views

ABOVE I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I didn’t

Take your time and stop at the water crossings to take some happy snaps. Enjoy the stunning ranges as you twist and wind your way through them. In fact, the drive has to be included as one of the highlights to the park as the scenery is that bloody good.

But I don’t have an air compressor! Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s an air-compressor available for use by all travellers at the Bungle Bungle Caravan Park, so now you have no excuse.

1

Drop your tyre pressures and slow down
The road into Purnululu is grumbled about by every Tom, Dick and Margaret, mostly because they are ignorant or lazy. Sure, it’s 52km of corrugations, water crossings and the occasional washout, but if you reduce to tyre pressures by at least 30% below your highway pressures and slow down, you’ll find it an absolute invigorating drive.

“The best way to escape the heat and really refresh after a long day exploring Purnululu is in the pool."

ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

BELOW Pre-purchasing a Parks Pass makes it easier to see places like this

BELOW Piccaninny Creek is visually stunning

ABOVE Just print it out and keep it on your dash or keep a copy on your phone

You must register at the Purnululu Visitors Centre on arrival to the park and show your Parks Pass to the ranger. If you decide not to pre-purchase, you can buy a pass for $13, however, you can only do it during opening hours of 8am – 12noon and 1pm – 4pm daily (early April until mid-October).

2

Pre-purchase your WA Parks Pass
The easiest way to pay for a WA Parks Pass is online before you get there. You have the choice between a holiday pass for $46 (valid for four weeks) or an annual all parks pass for $92. The benefit of a parks pass is it covers several national parks and if you’re exploring the Pilbara, Coral Coast and Kimberley you will save a load of cash. These passes don’t cover camping fees, they are an additional cost.

BELOW The Stonehenge trail explains the significance of the trees to the Aboriginals

BELOW The acoustics in Cathedral Gorge will give you goose bumps

ABOVE Keep an eye out for dinosaurs in Mini Palm Gorge

Kurrajong campground is close to Echidna Chasm, Mini Palms Gorge, Homestead Valley, Stonehenge and Kungkalanayi while Walardi is the nearest campground to Bellburn airstrip, Elephant Rock, Cathedral Gorge, The Window and Piccaninny Creek.

You can pre-purchase online or do it all at the Purnululu Visitor Centre ($13 per adult per night). There is also a Wi-Fi hotspot outside the centre that enables you to pay park entry and camping fees online.

3

Where do you want to camp?
There are two campsites within the national park, Kurrajong to the north and Walardi to the south. Both sites have pit toilets, picnic tables, some shade and water taps (non-potable water). You can get a nice visual of the campgrounds on the Department of Parks and Wildlife page, but they are not always up to date, there was not a blade of green grass to be seen when I was there.

ABOVE Echidna Gorge at midday is the perfect time

BELOW The only way to see the best of Purnululu is from the air

BELOW HeliSpirit have a good range of flights to choose from

4

Check it out from the air
The best way to see how stunning Purnululu really is on a scenic helicopter flight with HeliSpirit. Based within the park at Bellburn airstrip you have a few choices of which flight you can enjoy:

  • 18-minute domes flight
  • 30-minute Bungle Bungle flight
  • 42-minute Long Look flight

The most awesome flight on offer is a full day heli-hike that lands you near the mouth of Piccaninny Gorge and where it splits into five fingers. An Aboriginal guide then leads you on a 10km return hike explain the cultural significance of Purnululu. How I wish I had known about this before I left the park!

There’s a minimum of two passengers per flight and free tea and coffee for all passengers. HeliSpirit operates its flights from April through to October.

Do it in style
The Bungle Bungle Savannah Lodge is the most comfortable place to immerse yourself in Purnululu. Located within the national park you will enjoy the ambience and the comfort of a modern cabin with ensuite. The lodge relies totally on solar power to keep it running and thankfully the hot water is backed up by LPG gas as it can be very cold in the mornings.

BELOW The Savannah Lodge cabins were the comfort I needed after so many nights in a swag

BELOW A pool has never been so welcomed

ABOVE The perfect place to end a day

The best way to escape the heat and really refresh after a long day exploring Purnululu is in the pool. The water will certainly take your breath away, but it will help cool down your core and get you ready for an evening under the stars.

All meals are prepared onsite by the experienced chefs with breakfast, lunch and dinner available. The Bungles Bar is open daily and there is no better way to finish the day sitting next to a fire with a beverage, chatting with fellow travellers.

5

Bring heaps of water
Dehydration is a real risk in the Kimberley, especially during the dry season. Temperatures can get hot and hiking along trails to visit gorges can use up a lot of energy and make you sweat more so you need to replenish what you lose. There are water taps at both campgrounds, but the water is not suitable for drinking.

Remember that in conditions like this you should carry 10 litres of water per person per day. Don’t just carry it though, make sure you use it. The Royal Flying Doctor recommends you may need to drink a litre of water every hour if you are not used to the hot, dry conditions.

BELOW Water from the taps is suitable for monkeys, but not humans

BELOW I was drinking more water than this each day

6

DESTINATION DETAILS
WHERE IT’S AT: Purnululu is located 300km south of Kununurra and 160km north of Halls Creek.

TRIP STANDARD: Purnululu is only accessible for 4WD vehicles and single-axle off-road camper trailers and off-road caravans.

TIME TO GO: April to December (conditions permitting) but the coolest (and busiest) period is June to August.

WHAT TO TAKE: Drinking water, food, air compressor, tyre repair kit, wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, bug repellent, a sense of adventure, your credit card (for that last-minute flight). No food is sold at the Visitors Centre, only cool drinks. Closest fuel is at Warmum Roadhouse 55km north of the Purnululu turn off.

MORE INFO: 
WA DPAW
Visit Kununurra

 

ABOVE There are a couple of Bower Bird nests if you keep your eye out

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