Darwin to Perth Day 3 – Kununurra to Fitzroy Crossing

The Bungle Bungles seem to go on as far as the eye can see

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.

A standalone sandstone formation in the Bungle Bungles
A standalone sandstone formation in the Bungle Bungles

These sandstone beehive-like rocks are quite literally in the middle of nowhere, the very definition of woop woop.

Sandstone domes at the Bungle Bungles
Sandstone domes at the Bungle Bungles

The Purnululu National Park turn-off is near Warmun Roadhouse, about one-third of the way from Kununurra to Fitzroy Crossing.

Purnululu National Park Entrance
Purnululu National Park Entrance

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.

Rain, mud and a boab tree at Kununurra
Rain, mud and a boab tree at Kununurra

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.

Warmun Roadhouse Helispirit Office
Warmun Roadhouse Helispirit Office

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.

Matt with our helicopter pilot, Luke
Matt with our helicopter pilot, Luke

I cannot emphasise enough how glad we are that we went.

Rain coming over the hills at Warmun
Rain coming over the hills at Warmun

 

The Bungle Bungles truly are breath-taking.

Darwin to Perth Day 3 - Kununurra to Fitzroy Crossing

It’s hard to believe something like this is still so inaccessible, yet in a way, that adds to its mystery and majesty.

Darwin to Perth Day 3 - Kununurra to Fitzroy Crossing

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 Bungle Bungles seem to go on as far as the eye can see
The Bungle Bungles seem to go on as far as the eye can see
The Bungle Bungles incorporate so many rock formations and the Ord River
The Bungle Bungles incorporate so many rock formations and the Ord River

The sandstone hive formations and gorges rise up out of nowhere and dominate the landscape.

Darwin to Perth Day 3 - Kununurra to Fitzroy Crossing

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.

Darwin to Perth Day 3 - Kununurra to Fitzroy Crossing

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.

Darwin to Perth Day 3 - Kununurra to Fitzroy Crossing

Before we knew it, our 30-minute flight was over, and we were back on the ground.

Warmun Helipad
Warmun Helipad

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.

Darwin to Perth Day 3 - Kununurra to Fitzroy Crossing

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.

Warmun Community
Warmun Community

Next stop: Halls Creek.

Halls Creek

Halls Creek is a remote town in WA about halfway between Kununurra and Fitzroy Crossing.

Welcome to Halls Creek
Welcome to Halls Creek

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.

Matt at the Halls Creek China Wall
Matt at the Halls Creek China Wall

This quartz is believed to extend for hundreds of kilometres, all the way to the West Coast and up to the Bungle Bungles.

China Wall Panorama at Halls Creek
China Wall Panorama at Halls Creek

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.

The entry to China Wall is on private property just out of Halls Creek
The entry to China Wall is on private property just out of Halls Creek

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.

Fitzroy Crossing

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.

Fitzroy River Lodge
Fitzroy River Lodge

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.

Darwin to Perth Day 2 – Katherine to Kununurra via Nitmiluk

Matt at the Western Australia-Northern Territory border crossing quarantine station
Driving between Katherine NT and Kununurra WA
Driving between Katherine NT and Kununurra WA

Day 2, driving from Katherine, NT to Kununurra, WA is long but pretty amazing. I thought I’d start with a quick summary of the adventure:

  1. An early start to go on the sunrise cruise at Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge).
  2. Headed West towards the WA border.
  3. Stopped at Victoria Crossing roadhouse for fuel.
  4. Drove through Timber Creek.
  5. Crossed the WA/NT border and had our van checked at the quarantine station
  6. Turned off to Lake Argyle and checked out the lookout and shop there.
  7. Got to Kununurra, got a few more groceries, checked into the Hidden Valley caravan park and then went to Miramar National Park to see the striped hive formations there.
  8. Back to the caravan park for dinner and bed.

We covered about 620km’s, so it was a pretty long day, and there isn’t much of anything along the road. The sunrise cruise at Nitmiluk though was fantastic and well worth doing.

Read moreDarwin to Perth Day 2 – Katherine to Kununurra via Nitmiluk

14-Day Darwin to Perth Roadtrip Itinerary

14-Day Darwin to Perth Roadtrip Itinerary

In September this year we flew to Darwin, hired a camper van and road tripped to Perth following as close as we could to the coastline within the limitations of the van that required we only use sealed roads with some small exceptions. There are a lot of unsealed roads in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, so there are a lot of places we had to miss, but at the same time, 2 weeks or 14 days is not a huge amount of time to do the road trip in either. We didn’t really have the time to have done any more than we did. Our original itinerary actually did have more in it but we had to revise some parts of it due to time constraints and availability of the Horizontal Falls Tours as well as doing extra things we saw along the way. In fact, if you do your research, a lot of people would recommend taking a lot more time to do this trip than we did. However, if you really want to do it, are used to driving long distances, and are willing to pack as much in as possible, then it is possible to see and do an awful lot. In short, there is a LOT to do, so consider this just a portion of what you could do and see if you really want to push it and pack everything in you can.

One thing to note, the approximate driving times here are just driving and are not including stops or detours to places along the way. Those add more time, sometimes lots of it!

Read more14-Day Darwin to Perth Roadtrip Itinerary