Purnululu and The Bungle Bungle Range

Visiting The Bungle Bungle Range (apparently not Bungle BungleS as I
previously wrote) in Purnululu National Park has always been on what you might call my bucket list. I remember doing a school assignment on these banded sandstone domes shortly after they were “discovered” in the 80’s and finding them mysteriously magical way back then. So, as we got closer and closer to them I began to secretly imagine that I might actually get to spend my birthday in Purnululu National Park wandering around the imposing domes – there may have even been background music playing in my head!

The cold, harsh reality was that I spent my birthday on the side of the road, in a free camp area just outside of Fitzroy Crossing! Although my birthday occurs on the same day every year it still manages to naughtily creep up on Paul and surprise him every time! The doubly price reduced flowers from Coles along with Derby stubby holder were, however, a nice touch!

Mary Pool Rest Area

The following night’s camp was at Mary Pool Rest Area which we thought was extremely busy with approx. 60 camping groups. We heard that the following night there was something like 130 groups all packed in! It was anice spot and I  think people stay longer than just overnighters like us. There was a croc warning sign up but there were none around as there it was fairly dry with no moving water.

The 53km road into Purnululu is notoriously rough so we knew
that we would have to leave Stanley behind. We also knew that we didn’t want to
just day trip into the park, intending to camp one night. The issue was where
to leave Stan. We toyed with the idea of leaving him at the lock up in Turkey
Creek for $10 a night but as this is north of the park it seemed silly to drive
there and back and there again. There is a new caravan park at the entrance
(those guys are going to be laughing) where you can also lock up your van for
$20 per night and we considered this too. Most people we had spoken to had left
there vans at Spring Creek Rest Area, also near the park entrance, while other
campers have kept their eyes on the van. I was reluctant to do this at first
but as we were going to camp there the night before and after going into the
park and having spoken to people already there, it seemed silly to pack Stan
up, move him to the caravan park, move him back to the rest area and setup
again especially when we were likely to be tired and dirty after camping. So in
the end we locked Stan up and left him in the rest area.

We did consider staying at the new caravan park but it is a little expensive and we really liked Spring Creek. As the name implies there is a creek which we all enjoyed a couple of splashes in.

With all our camping stuff ready to go we had an early start
and drove onto the road leading into Purnululu at 7.30 am. We were surprised to
be stopped at the gates to the Mabel Downs station, which you pass through to
get the park and charged a $20 toll for the roads upkeep. We found out after
that this had only been introduced a few days prior and was supposedly to
compensate for the loss of income due to the banned export of live cattle to
Indonesia. We kept a mental count of the cars we passed and decided this would
be a nice little earner for the station. Frankly, I’m a little surprised they
didn’t already charge and didn’t mind paying, however, if there continues to be
a charge even after the ban is lifted I do hope the money IS spent on the road.

We had a pretty good run in and the drive took is about 1
hour & 40 minutes to reach the visitors centre. From here we headed off to
the north of the park to see Echidna Chasm. This was pretty amazing. The walk
is about 2 km long and you enter a chasm that is at times only 2 metres wide
with walls reaching 200m high. Just as you get to what you think is the end you
find a short little climb over some rocks to reach the end. As we were leaving
the sun was just starting to enter the chasm and the colours were amazing.

Echidna Chasm

After the chasm we visited a couple of lookouts on our way
back to the Walardi Campsite in the south of the park. From these lookouts we could see over the Osmand Ranges and the western side of the Bungle Bungle
Range. The campsite was great. There were lots of large sites to choose from with the prices being the standard $11 per night for an adult and $2 for each child plus the $11 park entry fee (once again covered by our National Parks
Pass). After setting up camp we chilled out for a while, met some of the neighbours and went on a short walk. We  then had something to eat around the communal campfire and hit the sack, not expecting to be woken up a few hours later by dingoes howling! I have never seen or heard a dingo in the wild before and it certainly added a new dimension to the whole experience.

Emma in the swag at Walardi Campsite

In the morning we had brekkie, packed everything up and set
off for Cathedral Gorge and the much anticipated Bungle Bungle Domes walk. The Cathedral Gorge walk is a 3km return trip and ends in a huge amphitheatre. The kids had a good climb around and loved clapping their hands and listening to the sounds. There was a small pool of water which was pretty stagnant but we
did meet a girl whose uncle used to be a caretaker in the park and she
remembered coming in years ago after the wet season and swimming in the amphitheatre and other pools scattered around.

The walk into Cathedral Gorge

I am pretty sure that I spent much of my time walking around
with my mouth agape, I just loved it. Unfortunately there was no music playing
in the background only the melodic sound of a 6 year complaining about sore
legs! We finished up with another stroll down an unnamed gorge where we saw
some aboriginal rock painting and finally a 1km walk around some of the domes.
Before leaving we took photos of each other standing in front of a lone dome.
It was here that Reardon posed the question – ‘if all together they are The
Bungle Bungle Range does it mean that this one is just a Bungle?’

Deep, man!

A Bungle?

We completed the drive out again in a similar time although
for some reason it seemed a little rougher. We spotted one number plate along
with a few other car parts scattered along the road, not to mention a trailer
from one of the tour buses that had come a cropper. If you do drive this road,
do take care.

I was very happy to see Stan right where we left him and the kids were very happy to jump back into Spring Creek.

Next stop Kununurra – only 36 km from The Northern Territory
Border. Yay! It looks like we might finally make it out of the state…….or will
we?

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8 responses to “Purnululu and The Bungle Bungle Range

  1. Wonderful! So glad you camped in there! And, happy birthday! Btw we are in Dampier!

  2. Dampier? I thought you were staying in Point Samson!

  3. Looks like you guys are having a blast, Im loving the blog.
    We just returned from a family holiday in Bali which was lovely.
    Enjoy your trip and look forward to reading all about it.
    Jo and Phil

  4. Hi Guys,
    Have just joined up so we can follow your family capers. We are heading off clockwise from NSW for 6 mths round Oz trip in our trusty 4.2L Patrol and camper trailer (no flash caravan like your Stan). Just wondering how Pat is coping with the 5 occupants (how do you store stuff from all the kids without having an explosion everytime the back doors open to hop out)? And here’s one for Paul – is Pat Diesel or Petrol and how are you going for fuel economy. We are also planning to Homeschool and wondering how you fit this into your day (ie at a certain time each day or just do when you are not sight seeing)? Anyway, keep having fun – thanks for the tips about Dampier/Karratha and accommodation, we’ll factor this one in. Did you get an idea of what the cost was for the 3 day stay in Karratha in case we don’t find a lovely family who’ll let us use their driveway?
    The Moores

    • Hi there Moores!
      Don’t worry, there are LOTS of people out here travelling with camper trailers and one of the advantages you will have is the access into areas Stan can’t get into. Most of our storage is either in Stan or on the roof rack. We have a Waeco fridge in the back of Pat and there has been the odd explosion when we go camping which can be VERY frustrating. Although there is often the urge to just shove everything in and slam the door (my preference) it really does work better if, like Paul, you are a bit more methodical. Lots of people have fancy drawers and slide out systems in the back of there car but I am pretty sure home made or cheap, ready made drawers etc are just as effective. Pat is a Diesel and Paul doesn’t like to talk about the fuel economy. Driving into Karratha was a nightmare, there were really strong head winds and he said he could literally see the gauge moving towards empty. For the 8500km travelled it has cost approx. $2700 in diesel. I guess thats another advantage with the trailer, you won’t be towing a 2.5 ton brick behind you. The schooling is not going anything like I expected. Some days you just don’t have the time. How we tackle it is constantly changing. Every time we visit a place the kids have to read any info available and at the end of the day recall some facts/figures and explain their understanding. Structured lessons at this time are hit and miss, although we do try to do regular journal writing. When we did enquire about accomodation costs in Karratha it was $80 a day and you had to sign papers about not overstaying your time as well as there being rules about the age of your vehicles/vans etc. The transit park in Dampier might be the better option. Its not pretty and has limited services but is easier to get into. It’s a bit of a hike into Karratha but closer to The Burrup Peninsula. Otherwise, buy someone a carton (thats the currency in The Pilbara) and they’ll probably let you park in their driveway! Thanks for reading and good luck with your plans. What are the must dos in your neck of the woods? Safe travel, Helen

  5. You are all class there Paul with the marked down flowers! Belated happies Helen. Safe travel guys!!

  6. Yes Helen – Happy Belated Birthday from the Moores. It appears that your Paul has more in common with my husband than just the Patrol! Hopefully he’ll make up for it later in the trip! Re where to go in NSW, we are just putting together a list, but definately Broken Hill/Silverton (Pro Hart Gallery etc), Katoomba (Three Sisters & Skyway etc), Byron Bay is very spectacular and Sydney has lots on offer if you have plenty of cash. Will get back to you shortly. Did you have a rough route in mind for NSW?

    • ssshhh Leisha just between you and me, there MAY have been a Broome pearl purchased for my birthday but the Derby stubby holder and marked down flowers made a much better story! Would be interesting to see your NSW list of places to visit. We have friends in Sydney that we will be catching up with but apart from that we have no solid plans although Paul has mentioned Bathhurst. To be honest my East Coast geography is sadly lacking.We have a sister we will be catching up with in Brisbane so will probably cross the border near the coast. What route would you recommend to get to Broken Hill? Are the Blue Mountains caravan friendly? Have I given you a headache yet?!

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