For many, the Kimberley is considered Australia’s final frontier. Wild and remote, it’s a massive region that is three times the size of the UK (and bigger than 75% of the world’s countries!) The raw beauty of the region must be seen to be believed. Whether you see the Kimberley by land or sea, you will leave here feeling enriched and spellbound by the raw beauty of this isolated part of Australia.

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The Kimberley Australia

5 WALKS TO DO IN THE BUNGLE BUNGLES (SOUTH)

Is Purnululu National Park really that good? The answer is yes, and it’s better than you could imagine. Explore the Southern part of the park on foot with these great walking trails.

Piccaninny Creek Walk. Image by Chris White.

BUNGLE BUNGLES (SOUTH)

Unlike other national treasures, the Bungle Bungles has only been known to white Europeans since the early 1980s when a film crew showcased the area to the world. The 240,000-hectare national park has now received UNESCO World Heritage listing. Of course, Purnululu was known to Indigenous people long before that, and the Gija and Jaru people are recognised as its traditional custodians.

The huge national park can be split into two – the North (including Echidna Chasm and Mini Palms) and the South (see below). There is a campground in both the North and the South. This blog post focusses on the walks in the South.

Blog post words by Melissa Connell, photos by Brinkley Davies, Sean Scott, Elise Cook, Chris White and Scotty Connell. All photos are copyright to their respective owners.

Would you hike the Bungles in a dress? Elise Cook did! Image by Elise Cook
Image by Elise Cook

1. CATHEDRAL GORGE

A GIANT, HOLLOWED OUT ROCK WITH INCREDIBLE ACOUSTICS

Cathedral Gorge is a stunning natural amphitheatre that you can walk into, and a real highlight of Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles). It’s one of Australia’s most striking geological landmarks and it’s a great place to reflect and relax in. This red-rock gorge was carved out over time by wet season rains that caused whirlpools to swirl and scour within.

Cathedral Gorge. Pic by Brinkley Davies

If you thought the acoustics in your shower were good, try singing in Cathedral Gorge. Voices carry around the gorge and you can hear the conversations of people on the other side.

A spectacular walking trail to the gorge sets out from Piccaninny Creek car park, leading you past the striped, beehive-shaped domes that Purnululu National Park is most famous for (4km return). Allow 1-2 hour return walk to/from carpark into gorge. Mostly easy with some short difficult sections.

Purnululu National Park. Image by Sean Scott.

2. DOMES WALK

HUGE, TIGER-STRIPED DOMES

Purnululu National Park is best known for its striped ‘beehive domes’. The unique tiger stripes are caused by cyanobacteria, a type of algae, which create the dark colour that contrasts beautifully with the rusty, red stripes of oxidised rock. Beneath the surface is white sandstone. The domes are impressive from the ground and a walk through them is unforgettable. The Dome Walk is a detour from the Cathedral Gorge walk – an easy 1 km circuit along a sandy trail. Allow 20 minutes-1 hour, depending on how slow you’re wanting to take it.

Picaninny Creek with Bec Sampi (Kingfisher Tours). Pic by Brinkley Davies

3. PICCANINNY CREEK

WALK FOR 7KM AND TURN AROUND, OR DO THE FULL 30KM’S AND CAMP OVERNIGHT

This text has been obtained from Parks & Wildlife website.

Piccaninny Gorge has no marked track and no defined endpoint so hikers must rely on their own navigational skills to complete the walk. The 7 km return walk to the gorge entrance (the Elbow) takes a full day. To explore the entire gorge system, a total of more than 30 km, hikers need to camp for at least a night. The track is moderately easy up to the gorge entrance.  It then becomes moderately difficult in the gorge itself, with hikers having to negotiate around fallen boulders, loose rocks and along creek beds.

Bushwalkers planning to camp overnight must register at the visitor centre before setting out and on their return. Carry plenty of water (5 -8 litres of water per person per day) and a fuel stove for cooking as campfires are not permitted and take a first aid kit, EPIRB, map and GPS. Take warm clothing and sleeping gear – temperatures can go below freezing at night.Flash flooding may occur in the gorge between December and April. Carry out all rubbish including toilet paper. Bury human waste at least 150mm deep and 30m from the water.

Kimberley Spirit Tours at Piccaninny Lookout. Image by Chris White.

4. PICCANINNY CREEK LOOKOUT

GLORIOUS VIEWS OF THE DOMES

Following the creek bed for 2.8km return from the Piccaninny Creek car park and you’ll enjoy amazing views of the Bungle Bungle Range. This spot is magic at sunset.

5. WHIP SNAKE GORGE

10KM WALK ALONG PICCANINNY CREEK INTO A STUNNING GORGE

Continue along Piccaninny Creek for another 20 minutes and you’ll find Whip Snake Gorge (from the carpark, 10km return, approx 3 hours – excluding the diversion to Cathedral Gorge). Enjoy a shady gorge filled with ferns, figs and gums.

These walks can get very hot, so we recommend starting early in the day. Carry plenty of water and remember to register with the visitor centre if you’re planning on going for the full 30km and overnight camp (mentioned in # 3).

Purnululu National Park. Image by Sean Scott.

Thanks for reading! Drop back from time-to-time and please – if any of the information has changed or if you know of more great spots – leave them in the comments below 🙂

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