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 to the plane to board.
The flight ascended from the Kununurra airstrip and instantly the views were incredible. We soared over the lush farmlands, past the iconic Elephant Rock and followed Lake Kununurra as it snaked its way through rugged mountains and ranges to meet Lake Argyle. The vast 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 stunning Carr Boyd and Osmand Ranges and before we knew it, the formidable view of Purnululu was in front of us.
The iconic black and orange banded domes came to sight and it was interesting to see all the different formations below us. Our pilot circled around Bellburn Airstrip before landing, giving us an opportunity 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, who led us over to the shaded area for a quick morning tea and debrief of the day. As we devoured freshly made banana bread, Pete showed us where we will be walking and what we could expect to see.
We then boarded the Bungles 4WD adventure bus and drove the 25 minutes to the start of the hike. It was a beautiful drive, with the large black and orange 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 track the lead us amongst the giant domes. What appeared to be 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 towering cliffs leading into Cathedral Gorge. Our guides shared information about the history and cultural significance to both the Jaru and Gija people, who utilise parts of the area as traditional meeting places.
The path turned from rocky creek bed to soft sand and the sheer gorge walls engulfed us in welcoming shade. We continued on our way, enjoying the cool change before reaching the stunning 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 striped beehive domes. Following a slightly different track back to our bus, the sheer volume of these rocky formations still left us bewildered by the impressive feats of Mother Nature.
Back at the airstrip, we said our farewells to our guides and hello to our pilots. While it was nearing the end of our adventure, the flight back to Kununurra still had some incredible 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 giant gorges. We waved goodbye to Purnululu National Park and flew over the desolate and 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 to 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.
Find out more about this incredible tour through one of Australia’s best-kept secrets here.
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