Located in Western Australia is what many native Australians consider the country’s last frontier…and a spectacular World Heritage Site in Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungles mountain range, a rugged area that includes restricted Aboriginal lands and eerie rock formations.
It’s a popular destination for hikers and 4-wheel drive enthusiasts, but many people don’t realize that it’s also the world’s single largest source of diamonds! And nearby in the waters off Broome, some of the finest South Sea pearls in the world are harvested. This jewel of Australia draws visitors with its rounded rock towers that are distinctively striped with alternating colors of black and orange, formed by the orange silica deposits and black lichen. Because of the fragile nature of these unique rock formations, climbing their towers that rise as high as 200 meters from the park floor is strictly prohibited.
The majesty of this park is best seen from the air, and flights from Kununurra are available year round. Helicopter tours give visitors a panoramic view of these magical vistas, then sweep in close for a thrilling glimpse of rugged gorges and thickly forested areas. If you do choose to visit by car, time your holiday to travel in the dry season from April through October. In rainy season the unsealed roads – where they exist – become impassable and gorges are often filled with dangerous torrents of water. With adequate safety precautions many people explore the area using 4-wheel drive vehicles.
There are plenty of walking tracks for hikers. Echinda Chasm in the northern part of the park is an hours brisk walk from the car park, similar to the hike to Cathedral Gorge in the south. The long and more challenging hike to Picanniny Gorge is only for experienced and fit hikers, and takes between 8 to 10 hours to complete. There are several designated camping areas scattered within the park. These tent sites are rustic, but water, toilets and firewood are available, and the scenery is magnificent wherever you look. Twice the number of people choose to see the park from the air via small planes and helicopters instead of trying to traverse the uneven terrain by car and on foot. But those who choose to travel this World Heritage Site by land are rewarded with lasting memories and amazing views of the wonders of Purnululu close at hand.