About eight years ago I was fortunate enough to catch a ride on a small aircraft from Kununurra, flying over Lake Argyle, the Argyle diamond mine and the Bungle Bungle range.
About eight years ago I was fortunate enough to catch a ride on a small airplane from Kununurra, flying over Lake Argyle, the Argyle diamond mine and the Bungle Bungle range.
We landed at a camping spot at the southern end of the Bungles, where we picked up some tourists who had camped overnight. It was a fantastic scenic flight, and ever since then I’ve been itching to get into the Bungles, to experience first-hand what those tourists had seen on the ground. Now I’m not so sure.
To get there, you start with a 250-kilometre drive from Kununurra along the Great Northern Highway. This included some impressive ranges along the way. We also drove past several mining operations – Panoramic Resources’ Savannah mine and the Ridges iron ore mine, as well as Argyle diamonds – which seem to coexist peacefully with the region’s environmental value.
That is followed by a dirt road into Purnululu National Park that is very tough going, with the 53km to the visitor centre taking about 90 minutes.
Not only is it corrugated, it has more twists and turns than Shirley Temple’s hair and more ups and downs than Kevin Rudd’s opinion poll ratings. After reaching the visitor centre, it’s 20km north to Echidna Chasm and 20km south to Cathedral Gorge and The Domes.
When the Bungle Bungle range first comes into view, it’s an amazing sight, with the oddly shaped sandstone towers looming above the surrounding scrub. But from the ground it looks much the same as the photos in all the tourism brochures and picture books. No better, no worse. And having seen it from one vantage point, there isn’t a great deal of variation.
We hiked into the special attractions – Echidna Chasm, Cathedral Gorge and The Domes. They were mildly interesting to view, but there wasn’t the wow factor I’d been expecting.
My tip for travellers is to take a flight from Kununurra or a chopper from the Great Northern Highway turn-off. That will give you a much better appreciation of the vast scale, enormous variety and sheer majesty of the Bungle Bungle range, with much less hassle.
This is an edited version of Mark Beyer’s blog post, which can be read in full at http://markbeyerontheroad.wordpress.com/