Our experience began in Kununurra, where we met at the Aviair terminal to be checked in for our flight to Purnululu National Park. After a quick safety briefing from our pilot, we were then taken out our plane for boarding.
The flight departed from the Kununurra airstrip and instantly the views were breathtaking. We soared over the lush farmlands, past Kununurra icon, Elephant Rock and followed Lake Kununurra as it wound its way through rugged mountains and ranges to meet Lake Argyle. The immense size of Lake Argyle is something that can only be truly appreciated by air. With the lake going out as far as the eyes can see, there is no surprise that it contains over 18 times the volume of water contained in Sydney Harbour. We continued over the impressive Carr Boyd and Osmand Ranges and before we knew it, the remarkable view of Purnululu stood before us.
The iconic black and orange banded Bungle Bungle domes came to sight and it was fascinating to see all the different formations below us. Our pilot circled around Bellburn Airstrip before landing, giving us an chance to see how remote this part of Australia really is.
After a smooth landing, the dust settled, and we had arrived! Once disembarked from the aircraft, we were met by our tour guides Pete and Gabe, who led us over to the shaded area for a morning tea and debrief of the day. As we devoured freshly made chocolate chip muffins, Pete showed us where we will be walking and what we could expect to see.
We then boarded the Bungles 4WD bus and drove the 25 minutes to the start of the hike. It was a beautiful drive, with the enormous stripey domes coming closer into view. Once we had arrived, we had another quick debrief from our guides and given our lunch bags to carry for the hike.
The walk started along a rocky trail the lead us amongst the huge domes. What appeared small as we flew over them, the beehive domes truly dwarfed us as we walked beside them. Despite thousands of years of harsh winds coming from the Tanami Desert, these sandstone formations remain distinctively shaped and rich in colour. We walked towards Piccaninny Creek, where the creek bed had recently dried up after the heavy wet season rain before making our way towards the lofty cliffs leading into Cathedral Gorge. Pete and Gabe shared information about the history and cultural significance to both the Jaru and Gija people, who use parts of the area as traditional meeting places.
The path turned from rocky creek bed to soft sand and the large gorge walls engulfed us in welcoming shade. We continued on our way, enjoying the cool change before reaching the spectacular views of Cathedral Gorge. This natural amphitheatre leaves you with a feeling you cannot describe and is impossible to capture on camera. We settled in to enjoy our packed lunch in the gorge, revelling in the silence of being the only ones there.
After lunch, we made our way out of the gorge and headed back towards the Bungle Bungle beehive domes. Following a slightly different track back to our bus, the sheer volume of these sandston formations still left us bewildered by the impressive feats of Mother Nature.
Back at the airstrip, we said our goodbyes to our Pete and Gabe and hello to our pilots. While it was nearing the end of our adventure, the flight back to Kununurra still had some beautiful sights to surprise us with. Taking off from Bellburn Airstrip, we made our way over the rugged, rocky formations and watched as the landscape transformed from distinctive domes to behemoth gorges.
We waved goodbye to Purnululu National Park and flew over the untouched East Kimberley landscape. Soon we were orbiting over the old Argyle Diamond and as we viewed the deep walls of the mine, our pilots informed us of its history and significance.
Soon the town of Kununurra came back in the view, glowing under the beautiful afternoon sun. We orbited around the airport and over the Ord River before coming into land and end our tour.
Thank you to the team at Aviair and Bungle Bungle Guided Tours for taking us on this amazing journey through Purnululu National Park.
Find out more about this incredible tour through one of Australia's best-kept secret here.