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A Guide to Purnululu National Park

Discover one of Australia’s greatest emerging destinations, Purnululu National Park. Though the local Aboriginal tribes have held this spot in high regard for over 40,000 years, it is relatively new to the tourist map. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, Purnululu National Park is full of remarkable phenomena unlike anywhere else on the planet. This spectacular park boasts 250 meter-high cliffs, the distinctive beehive-shaped sandstone formations of the Bungle Bungle Range, and stunning gorges. It’s a spectacular paradise for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an adventure in the rugged outback.

PURNULULU NATIONAL PARK FACTS

Number of annual visitors  27,000
Size 2400 sq. km
Entrance fee/permits* Vehicle entrance fee: USD 9.30, campsites: USD 10 and must be booked in advance through the Parks and Wildlife Service
Common animal sightings Cattle, donkeys, wallabies, wallaroos, echidnas, bats, cane toads, lizards, monitors, skinks, pythons, fish, rare birds such as the Gouldian finch
Best Season to Visit May – November. Note the park is closed during the wet season from December to early April.

Highlights

  • Tour the Bungle Bungles and otherwise inaccessible areas of the park by helicopter for unrivaled panoramic aerial views
  • Camp in the Australian wilderness for an authentic outback adventure
  • Hike through towering gorges and refresh with a dip in exhilarating natural pools
  • Go off-roading on a four-wheel drive safari

Lowlights

  • Areas of the park remain largely inaccessible by land due to its remoteness and its location within a monsoonal area.
  • It is a relatively new discovery to tourists, meaning the area lacks in modern conveniences and infrastructure. 

ACTIVITIES IN THE PARK

Hiking

Purnululu National Park in Australia has some of the best natural monuments
Hiking around the national park is a great way to feel the immensity of its natural monuments.
Cathedral Gorge is lies in one of the hiking trails in Purnululu NP
The Cathedral Gorge is a huge amphitheatre and a great place to go on a hike.
There are lots of hiking trails in the park to enjoy the parks' attractions
The lookout at Purnululu National Park from where you can view the Bungle Bungle Range.
Besides the Bungle Bungle Range, the Cathedral Gorge is another highlight.
A view of the sandstone walls at the Cathedral Gorge.

 Feel the immensity of monumental geographical formations as you walk a number of wilderness trails in the park. The many hikes and bush walks range in degree of difficulty, but the park has something for everybody.

An easy walk along the sandy Domes Trail will lead you at the base of the incredible tiger-striped beehive domes. A slightly more energizing 3 km walk to Cathedral Gorge passes over ledges to the impressive natural sandstone amphitheater surrounding a delightful watering hole. Echidna Chasm is another trail you won’t want to miss with a narrow passage through 200-meter high sandstone walls. Travelers seeking a bit more challenge can try Mini Palms Gorge for a hike that ends with a boulder-climbing adventure for a scenic overlook amidst lush Livstona Palms.

Other popular walks include Piccaninny Creek Lookout, Whip Snake Gorge, the Northern Escarpment Walk, the Domes Walk, and Kungkalanayi Lookout. You could spend days exploring by foot, so maximize your time by camping or taking a tour!

Four-wheeling

Purnululu NP has diverse terrains and a FWD is a great way to see it all.
If you're looking for adventure in the national park, a FWD is the way to go.

Though every way of seeing this extraordinary national park is thrilling, four-wheeling will excite you in unparalleled ways. With its rough terrain, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is imperative in the park and offers the only other way of touring by land besides walking. Choosing a four-wheeling tour allows greater exploration of otherwise inaccessible areas of the park, taking you further into the untamed outback. Follow scenic ridge-lines and cross through rivers, stopping along the way to admire interesting flora and fauna. Tours can also provide excellent insights into the long history of aboriginal life in the area.

Helicopter Flights

The Bungle Bungle range is best viewed from up in the air
A trip to Purnululu National Park would not suffice without a helicopter ride to catch an aerial glimpse of the Bungle Bungle range.

Aerial Bungle Bungle tours are a must do when visiting this national park. Taking a helicopter, you’ll enjoy amazing views of this iconic range and capture stunning photographs of the banded cones. From the air, the contrasting stripes and shapes of the sandstone formations can be fully seen. Passing over stunning gorges, waterfalls, and pools won’t disappoint either. To make the day even sweeter, many tours provide extended options to other attractions in nearby Kimberly.

Culture & History Tours

Guided tours through Purnululu can give you an interesting perspective on the Aboriginal culture, one of the oldest living cultures in the world. Only “discovered” by outsiders in 1983, Purnululu has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years and holds great significance to the local tribes. Tours typically employ local Aboriginal guides who are eager to share about their cultural history, beliefs, and practices. Along the way, guides point out ancient art and fossils and share enriching stories. This is a highly recommended way to engage responsibly and immerse in the culture of the land you’re exploring.

Camping

With the impressive number of natural sights, staying overnight in Purnululu National Park Australia is advisable. Camping is one of the most popular activities here as it is one of the most special places in Australia to camp in the aboriginal lands. Tucked away from development, you’ll be hard-pressed to find stargazing this good anywhere else in the Australian outback. Primitive campsites are located in both the north and south areas of the park, giving you the option to venture around different areas. Do remember to pack-in plenty of food and water for your stay. Additional camping options are also available outside of the park in Kimberly.

Good to Know

Besides the monuments, you can also discover the native wildlife.
Discover native plants and flowers near the Bungle Bungle Range.
  • Two primitive campsite areas are located within the park with water and bush toilets available.
  • Campfires are not permitted in the park. However, some nearby private campgrounds outside of the park do provide this option.
  • Water is not potable, so be sure to bring your own water, prepare to boil water, or bring proper sanitation equipment.
  • A 4x4 vehicle is necessary. 2WD vehicles are not permitted in the park. Fuel up before leaving the Great
  • Northern Road as no stations are available within the park.
  • The Kununurra Visitor Centre in Kimberley can provide detailed information, not just about navigating the park but also about activities, events, and nearby local attractions.

Visiting Purnululu National Park makes for a trip-of-a-lifetime as it offers adventures through some of the most unique terrain in the world and remains largely a secret to major tourism tracks. This national park in Australia is accesible from Broome. Take the less road traveled to venture here and you will be among the few who have experienced the hidden gems of this truly special destination.

*Prices of entrance fee permits are as per 2017 rating.

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