Outback Road Trips

Darwin to Kununurra

Darwin to Kununurra on a 10 day Intrepid 4WD Darwin to Broome Overland”

We were lucky. We booked the last spots in January. 18 cancellations brought the numbers below minimum but a last minute booking meant the trip was on.

We weren’t too sure about sleeping on the ground but we really enjoyed our swags out in the open looking up at the stars.

Saturday 7 August 2021: Darwin to Katherine 400km

We had been along this road on our previous trip to Kakadu (here) but this time we made the short walk to the upper Edith Falls for a swim in the cold waterhole. We slept at the same campsite near Katherine Gorge (here).

Upper Edith Falls
Path through open savannah leading up to the Falls

Sunday 8 August 2021: Katherine to Lake Argyle 560km

This was a long day but on good quality roads. We had been anxious about the WA border crossing with its strict COVID restrictions but we all had our G2G Passes approved by the WA police and were off again in about 20 minutes.

Checkpoint Charlie – WA border near Kununurra
There is some rough dirt road coming up so our leader Clint is adjusting the tyre pressures on our truck
Lake Argyle, the largest man made lake in the world was created by damming the Ord River in 1972

Monday 9 August 2021: Lake Argyle to Bungle Bungles 400km

After a short stop to refuel and resupply in Kununurra we continued 320km on the bitumen to the turn off for the Bungle Bungles. From then on, it was about 80km on a corregated dirt road to our camp in the Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles), a striking geological formation we had wanted to see since it was “discovered” by a mustering helicopter pilot in 1983.

A beautiful big old Boab in Kununurra
There is a Roadhouse offering accommodation, food and fuel about every 100km or so along the road

Echidna Chasm, Bungle Bungles

We made our first stop in the Bungle Bungles at Echidna Chasm, a 2 kilometres return walk. It has a steep-sided gorge with extraordinary red and orange coloured walls up to 200 metres high, barely a metre wide in places. Prehistoric Livistona palms dot the Chasm floor.

In the Chasm, a male Bowerbird has built this bower of twigs and coloured stones to attract a female
After a successful courtship mating takes place in the bower
The female will then build a nest and raise the chicks alone
Nightly routine – everyone pitches in

Tuesday 10 August 2021: Bungle Bungles to Kununurra 380km

Piccaninny Creek and Cathedral Gorge, Bungle Bungles

Today we trekked the Piccaninny Creek and Cathedral Gorge, about two hours and very different from yesterday’s walk. We then took to air in a helicopter with no doors for a birds eye view of the Bungle Bungles domes.

The original plan was to bush camp on the way back to Kununurra but the truck’s clutch failed so instead we went on to Kununurra to wait for a new truck to be ferried from Darwin.

Dawn sun shining on the Bungle Bungles
Piccaninny Creek walk
Termites mound high up on the cliffs
Grass growing in the rock
Piccaninny Creek has been eroded over thousands of years – water rushes down here in the wet
Sandstone dome, colours created by oxidization, microbial colonization and erosion
Rock fall on the track to Cathedral Gorge
Plant in rock
We were lucky to have Cathedral Gorge to ourselves
Classic Bungle Bungles domes
Flowers in the Bungle Bungles
Rock pidgeon

Helicopter

For a different perspective of the Bungle Bungles we took a HeliSpirit helicopter flight. The helicopter had no doors so visibility was great. We were both a bit nervous but the flight was so amazing.

Wednesday 11 August 2021: Kununurra

Our truck’s broken clutch could not be fixed and a new truck was sent from Darwin so we spent the night in Kununurra. The expected arrival time slipped from 4pm to 7pm so it was decided to stay another night there. As it happened there was a 4 hour delay at the WA border due to weak internet preventing the police from accessing G2G Passes and the new truck didn’t arrive till 11pm.

We had a good day in Kununurra exploring the Mirima National Park behind the caravan park and cooling off in the pool.

We slept in swags in Hidden Valley below Mirima NP

Mirima National Park in Kununurra is a “mini Bungles” with its 350-million-year-old sandstone cliffs, amphitheatres, gullies and ridges, which are similar in appearance to the Bungle Bungle Range.

Rock Fig roots
Kangaroo bounding the rocks in Mirima National Park