Ben checks out the spectacular Bungle Bungles from the best seat in the house.
Western Australia enjoyed being the final frontier of tourism for a very long time. To visit the remote Bungle Bungles by road was a real challenge, and one that not many people or their vehicles could undertake.
The Bungle Bungles are in one of Australia's most remote corners. They are a series of mushroom-shaped domes formed by alternating layers of coloured sandstone. Originally part of the bed of an ancient sea, over millions of years it was forced upwards to form a block which split under further movement. Wind and water carved the fissured plateau into isolated segments and eventually the formation was eroded and smoothed into the present-day ranges.
They are home to desert-and-oasis-dwelling creatures, including the lilac-crowned wren, one of our rarest birds. The ranges are fragile and easily damaged, so are protected by law from climbers and souvenir gatherers. The northwest corner of the region became a National Park in 1987.
They stand inland, away from coast and rivers, and were once almost inaccessible because of the rugged, inhospitable terrain of the plateau. A major highway was built through the region in 1986, allowing more people to enjoy the beauty of the area.
Native rock paintings, which are thousands of years old, adorn cliff faces and overhanging rocks. The area would have been very important to the indigenous people and Aboriginal lore tells of characters such as the giant Rainbow Serpent, responsible for making mountains and valleys.
Alligator Airways is Kununurra's longest-standing scenic air charter company, operating in the Kimberleys since 1983. They offer hotel pick-up and return and a choice of tours.
The tour taken by Getaway left Kununurra at 6am in a high-winged aircraft which gives maximum views. The flight goes over Lake Argyle, Lissadell and Texas Downs stations, the Osmond Ranges and Bungle Bungles, before landing at Bellburn Airstrip.
Passengers are taken on a tour of Piccaninny Creek and Cathedral Gorge in an air-conditioned 4WD and can enjoy a guided walk through the open gorge and beehives of the Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park.
After lunch, the tour goes to the western face of the massif, walking up Echidna Chasm with its sheer walls and Livinstona palms. Wildlife appears all along the way. The chasm was created by millions of years of wet season erosion and is one of Australia's most spectacular walking places. In places it is just two metres wide, with sheer rock faces on both sides up to 150 metres.
Then it's time to settle into the permanent camp for the evening.
Next morning after breakfast, you transfer to the airstrip for the scenic flight, which leaves at 7:15am. It returns to Kununurra via the Argyle Diamond Mine and the Ragged Ranges.
Passengers receive full commentary from their pilot and are given an in-flight information book.
Kununurra in Western Australia
Alligator Airways overnight Bungle Bungles air and ground tour costs $795 per person. They run from April to October, depending upon the weather. .
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.
Hangar 5, Kununurra Airport,
PO Box 10, Kununurra WA 6743
Reservations: 1800 632 533
Ph: (08) 9168 1333
Fax: (08) 9168 email@example.com
Qantas: 13 13 13