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How to have an outback adventure in the Kimberley, Western Australia

Bungle Bungle Ranges
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As I gaze out the window of a Cessna 208 Grand Caravan plane, an expanse of beehive-like rock formations come into view. We are entering the Purnululu National Park, and these are the Bungle Bungle Ranges. The Bungle Bungle Ranges were eroded over a period of 20 million years into the stunning striped domed cones that we see today in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It’s an area of incredible beauty and diversity, with a seemingly endless array of stunning landscapes to explore. Bungle Bungle Ranges (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet) (Picture: Jean-Bernard Carillet) Accessible via direct flight from Perth, Kununurra is the area’s biggest town and a good base for exploring East Kimberley. From here a number of aviation companies operate scenic helicopter and plane flights to and across the region. A flight from Kununurra to the Bungle Bungle Ranges (known as the Bungles), flies over a number of Kimberley icons, including the Ord River Dam, Lake Kununurra and the huge Lake Argyle. The views are stunning, the low flying plane allowing for the most spectacular panoramas while our pilot talks us through the history and geology of the region. We land at Bellburn, an unsealed airstrip in Purnululu National Park, easily the smallest and most remote runway that I’ve ever been to. Here we meet our guides, Mick and Collier, stopping for a cup of tea before heading off on a hike through the park. Our plane (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet) Close up, the Bungles are even more beautiful, with orange and black stripes looping the huge domes. As we walk Collier tells us about the traditional owners of the Bungle Bungle ranges – the Karjaganujaru people – and that the Bungles are an incredibly sacred place to them. We pause as he shows us aboriginal rock art – stencils of hands and boomerangs. (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet) Continuing on, our destination is Cathedral Gorge, a natural amphitheatre with incredible acoustics. In the wet season, a waterfall cascades into the gorge, leaving a pool of water. It’s the start of the dry season now, and after a bad (meaning little rain), wet season, the only evidence of the waterfall is the blackened rock where water would have fallen. I can’t resist singing to test out if the acoustics really are as good as they say, and my voice carries through the gorge with amazing volume and with a gentle echo. Compared to the heat we experienced on the walk, it’s remarkably cool in here, and we stop and enjoy a picnic lunch in the shade. Cathedral Gorge (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet ) Back in our tiny plane, there’s more incredible scenery, including the Argyle Diamond Mine – famous for its rare pink diamonds. For those wishing to see the mine up close, there is an option to land at the airstrip here too.

Bungle Bungle Ranges

 


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