The 4WD track into World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park stars in many Australian travel horror stories but the 53km drive can sometimes be a gentler creature. Whether it takes 3 hours or half that (on a good day) the time is well spent because it grants you access to an extraordinary place for bushwalking Western Australia.
Central to the park, in the state’s northern Kimberley region, is the Bungle Bungle Range (or just “Bungle Bungles”). This is a labyrinth of gargantuan orange-and-black beehive domes, here joined shoulder-to-shoulder like clay figures, there sliced through with gorges, some open only to a few indigenous elders. The symbol of the park and the Kimberley, these ancient rocks feature in the Dreaming stories of Kimberley Aboriginal people.
Easy walks – Cathedral Gorge, Echidna Chasm, Mini Palms Gorge – put you among colonies of fragile karst domes (don’t touch) and up narrowing gorges where the stone is centimetres from your face.
Temperatures can soar during the middle of the day here so walk early morning and late afternoon and rest from 11 to 2, perhaps with a bird book to identify the wildlife. Peaceful doves, gregarious double barred finches, rainbow bee-eaters and black male mistletoebirds with blood-red breasts are among about 150 species recorded in the park. Take a scenic helicopter flight for an unforgettable birds’ eye view of the Bungle Bungle Range.