Last updated on March 4th, 2017 at 10:19 pm
This one really is a tough one because between Kununurra and Fitzroy Crossing is Purnululu National Park, home to the Bungle Bungles, arguably one of the most remote but spectacular rock formations in Australia.
These sandstone beehive-like rocks are quite literally in the middle of nowhere, the very definition of woop woop.
The Purnululu National Park turn-off is near Warmun Roadhouse, about one-third of the way from Kununurra to Fitzroy Crossing.
It’s then a dirt road into the park that is four wheel drive only and can take a couple of hours each way. Top it off with no facilities inside the national park, so you really need to be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least one night, maybe more depending on how much hiking you want to do. In other words, you can’t just rock up. You need to figure out exactly what you are doing before you leave Kununurra.
Being in a hired camper van there is no way we could take that road without breaching our hire contract. The only other way to see the Bungle Bungles was by air.
There are scenic plane flights from Kununurra airport or helicopter flights from Warmun Roadhouse. Both are around the $399 per person price. However, the plane flights from Kununurra are 2-3 hours long compared to the helicopter flight from Warmun that is only 30 minutes long. To top it off, it rained for half the night and was still raining in the morning, so everything was pretty wet.
Originally we had planned to book a scenic flight from Kununurra, but it turned out that the flights were not running on the day we were there, so we continued on to Warmun.
Warmun and the Bungle Bungles
We stopped at Warmun Roadhouse for a break and to make a decision on whether to do the helicopter flight or not. We almost decided not to worry about doing a flight at all, it is expensive, and the formations are meant to be similar to Mirima National Park, just on a much larger scale. So we thought maybe we could leave it for another time if there ever is another time.
In the end, the helicopter pilot convinced us that it was worth the money and he was available to fly straight away without a booking so we did it.
I cannot emphasise enough how glad we are that we went.
The Bungle Bungles truly are breath-taking.
It’s hard to believe something like this is still so inaccessible, yet in a way, that adds to its mystery and majesty.
We didn’t see them from ground level but thinking about Mirima National Park and Kata Tjuta (we went there on a previous trip) I don’t believe it is possible to actually grasp or admire their vastness and their combined beauty unless you see them from the sky.
The sandstone hive formations and gorges rise up out of nowhere and dominate the landscape.
From above seeing these rocky domes appear to go almost as far as you can see makes it hard to imagine what it must be like from the ground where your view is limited to only a few immediately around you.
Our pilot, Luke, was of the opinion that the birds-eye view is far better than the view from the ground. I think we need to see them from the ground before we can really compare.
Before we knew it, our 30-minute flight was over, and we were back on the ground.
It didn’t seem to go for long enough, but in the end, it was a good thing. If we had taken a plane, we would have lost a few hours from our day. As it was, we only got into Fitzroy Crossing at sunset. This shorter flight allowed us to see the Bungle Bungles but still keep to our schedule without pushing our arrival too late after dark.
There is a small community, but there isn’t much at Warmun itself except for the roadhouse and helipad, so after some morning tea in the back of our van, we got on the way again.
Next stop: Halls Creek.
Halls Creek is a remote town in WA about halfway between Kununurra and Fitzroy Crossing.
It has a large Aboriginal population, predominately of the Jaru and Kija tribes, and the local council laws around alcohol sales and consumption are a bit different, so it is worth reading up on them if you are planning to bring alcohol into the town, purchase it, or consume it while you are there.
One of the highlights of Halls Creek is China Wall, an exposed quartz vein just out of town that rises up out of the ground looking like a miniature Great Wall of China.
This quartz is believed to extend for hundreds of kilometres, all the way to the West Coast and up to the Bungle Bungles.
The access road for China Wall is located on Duncan Road, on the left as you enter Halls Creek from the North. There is a small sign at the turn-off. It is on private property so do be sure to close the gate after you, and keep an eye out in the carpark for the zebra rocks.
They are really cool rocks made up of lots of different coloured layers that give them the appearance of zebra stripes. You actually follow the wall for part of the way to the carpark, and you can see the top of the exposed section from the carpark.
It is, however, a short walk, maybe 40 metres, down to where you can get a better view of the wall as it comes up out of the ground and goes over the hill.
Back in Halls Creek, it is worth checking out the visitor centre and learning about the history of the town. It is quite fascinating actually with some amazing stories, and if you need it, there is free wi-fi.
If we had done the plane flight instead of the helicopter flight to the Bungles we were going to stay here. If you do, as at the time of writing this, though, there is only a Coles Express supermarket/service station and some independent stores. No major shops.
Arriving in Fitzroy Crossing just before dark we went straight to the caravan park, Fitzroy River Lodge, which is located before the Fitzroy river just as you enter the town from the north.
They don’t take bookings, so it is first in, best dressed. Fortunately for us it was quiet, and we had our pick of sites. So we settled in for the night and got an early one after the long day.
Bungle Bungles Photo Gallery
For those that want to see more of the Bungle Bungles I’ve included our photo gallery below with lots more photos.