How the Bungle Bungles got their stripes

Feb 17, 2023

If you do either of our pack-free guided walks to northern WA’s Kimberley region, one of the most striking area’s you’ll visit is Purnululu National Park.

The Bungle Bungle Range – lying fully within the national park and with elevations as high as 578m – is famous for the sandstone domes – unusual and visually striking with their striping in alternating orange and grey bands.

Bungles walking tour

The story of the Bungle Bungles begins 360 million years ago with a river not so different from the Ord River that flows nearby today.

That river flowed downhill towards the ocean until it hit a broad low basin. There, it spread out, slowed down and deposited its load of sediment before drying up.


Every wet season and every flood, the river left the sand and stone it carried behind, layer upon layer.

After a few million years, the landscape shifted upwards. The plateau formed mountains and hills, and the river began to flow downstream again.

After megayears of adding new layers, the rivers began to take them away. In that time, the earliest layers buried kilometers below the surface had become sandstone.

But unlike regular sandstone, the Bungle Bungles are held together by nothing but pressure.


Once that soft sandstone was uncovered, wind and water carved through it easily. A surreal landscape reflecting the twisting paths of rivers and streams emerged, and the layers deposited years ago were exposed to the elements.

Once they were exposed, each layer reacted differently. Layers slightly richer in iron developed a rust-colored red color, as the iron percolated through to the surface and oxidised.

Other layers, richer in clay, were able to hold onto more water. These became home to colonies of dark-colored cyanobacteria, sometimes called blue-green algae.

The good news is you’ll be able to experience Purnululu National Park in the air on a helicopter and on the ground when the chopper drops you off deep in the national park where you’ll spend the day exploring this amazing location.


And after you’re walk you helicopter will be waiting for you to take you back to your lux accommodation.

Earlybird special, save $500 per person on either our 7-day or 11-day Kimberley tours!


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