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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

Australia: Purnululu (Bungle Bungles)

The beehives of Purnululu
The strange beehives of Purnululu

The Bungle Bungles – or Purnululu National Park, to give the park its official title – is one of those places that is not only totally unique in the world, it's also breathtakingly weird and completely inexplicable. Access to the park is off Highway One at Turkey Creek, south of Kununurra, but it's not for the fainthearted: it's definitely only for four-wheel drive vehicles, and even they find it tough. From the highway to the park is just 53km (33 miles) away, but it takes over two hours to do that stretch, so I took a tour as it was the only practical way to get there.

A shot of the inside of the beehives, Purnululu
Into the beehives...

The Northern Bungles

The beehives of Purnululu
The contrasting colours of Purnululu are like nowhere else on earth

On the second day in the park we went on three walks in the northern end of the Bungles. The first was along Mini Palm Gorge, a scramble up a gorge to a sheltered, sandy area that was full of tiny, squat palm trees; it looks for all the world like a palm nursery. Climbing gorges in the Bungles is an experience, with a lot of scrambling over what looks like pebble-dash and concrete blocks; the area is made up of conglomerate rock, a strange mixture of sandstone and pebbles, washed there by prehistoric rivers. All along the gorges grow luscious palms, with some trees growing in the most amazingly unfriendly spots, like halfway up cliffs. Although they're gorges, they're not like the others I've seen, they're more like river-beds that flow steeply down from the top of the range, and you climb up the fissure created by the flow. It's like another world.