Bungle Bungles geology
The Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park is one of Australia’s most fascinating geological landmarks. The imposing orange and black beehive-like mounds rise up to 578m from the surrounding woodlands and grass covered plains, pitted with steep cliffs and gullies that break up the range into a complex of ridges and domes. From the sky you gain a unique perspective of the extensive reach of this maze of rocky domes, however it’s only on foot that you can get a true appreciation of the remote and breathtaking sights within the Purnululu National Park. Stumbling across hidden gorges and pools of water, it’s only while sheltering from the sun under the cool shade of fan palms clinging to the walls and crevices of the rocks that you realise exactly how remote and remarkable this landscape is.
The birth of the Bungle Bungles occurred between 250-275 million years ago, when active faults altered the landscape and sedimentary formations were deposited into the Ord Basin. The sandstone layers were compressed and then lifted to form a mountain range, before years of erosion from streams and rivers transformed the range into the beehive-shaped domes we see today. Contrary to its appearance, the sandstone domes are incredibly fragile, and water flowing over their surface exploits cracks or joints in the rocks to erode the narrow channels that separate the towers.
Any photo of the Bungle Bungles highlights the distinct orange and grey banding that likens the mounds to a beehive – but how did these come about? The mounds are made up of layers upon layers of rock. The darker bands of rock are more permeable, allowing water to move through them relatively easily, which means moisture is able to seep through the rock surface and promote algae growth. This explains the darker rings on the mounds. The orange layers in between, however, are stained with iron and manganese mineral deposits, creating the vibrant orange colouring.
Although the Bungle Bungles area was used by Aboriginal people for many years, it was largely undiscovered by the wider world until the mid 1980s, when a visiting film crew flew over the area to film a documentary. It was only after this that the Western Australian government declared the area the Purnululu National Park in 1987, and inscribed the Bungle Bungles as a World Heritage area in 2003
Our Bungle Bungle Piccaninny Gorge 5 day walking tour is not just walking up gorges and river beds, it also involves swimming through beautiful waterholes that were left behind from the wet season. With more than 130 bird species, the area is a haven for bird watchers, and it’s not uncommon to spot rainbow bee-eaters and flocks of budgerigars on a daily basis. Don’t miss this chance to experience Australia’s most captivating geological landmarks on your own two feet on this exciting walking tour. Experience It.
The unique appearance of the Bungle Bungles has captured the public imagination, and is one of the most remote wilderness experiences available in Western Australia. With few facilities available, travellers must carry in all food and water, and with no established route through the park, walks are exploratory – meaning no deadline, no final destination, and few other visitors. On our guided walking tours we explore as much or as little as we want – which makes the experience relaxing and exciting at the same time as our groups are forever looking ahead and wondering ‘What’s around that corner? Let’s go and find out!’.