Photographer's Note

Most people refer to Purnululu National Park as "the Bungles", or "the Bungle Bungles".

The maze of curious orange and black striped beehive shaped domes in Purnululu National Park is without a doubt one of Australia's most unusual and fascinating landforms.

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Where the name Bungle Bungle comes from is not clear. The Kija Aboriginal people, who have lived here for over 20,000 years, called the area Purnululu, the Kija word for sandstone.

Bungle Bungle may be a mangled version of that name, or maybe it stems from the name of the bundle bundle grass that grows in the region. (Not that that name makes any more sense...)

The name Bungle Bungle was first given to a nearby station in 1930. And in 1983, when the Department of Lands And Surveys had to call the range something, they named it after the station.

The sandstone formation of the Bungle Bungle ranges is estimated to be 350 million years old, give or take a few millions.

Like the reefs at the Geikie and Windjana gorges the range was formed during the Devonian period. But the Bungle Bungle range isn't part of a reef. It is the sediment of an old river bed. The sediment was laid down in layers, compressed into sandstone and eventually lifted up to form a mountain range.

Originally it was all one big block, with joints and weak areas as a result of the movement. Weathering caused more cracks and the edges wore away in the millions of years of torrential wet season rains, winds, combined with alternating winter freezes and 50 plus degree heat in summer.

The dark layers in the sediment/rock have a higher clay content and hold the moisture better. They support cyanobacteria (primitive organisms, previously called blue-grey algae). The bacteria only grow on the surface, a few mm into the rock. But that's enough to form a protective outer layer and prevent erosion.
Orange domes in Purnululu

The lighter coloured layers have less clay, are more porous and dry out quickly.

Cyanobacteria can't grow here and without the protective coat the surface is exposed to "rusting".

Oxidisation of the iron in the sandstone gives the range the beautiful orange colour.

The sandstone is very soft and fragile. The raging waters of the wet seasons have washed out wide creeks and deep canyons, steep sided rifts and chasms, not to forget the astounding circular Cathedral Gorge, the result of a massive wet season whirl pool.

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These photos were taken with my little point and shoot Kodak digital.

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Photo Information
  • Copyright: Sue Brown (Renroc) (26)
  • Genre: Places
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 2006-05-00
  • Categories: Nature
  • More Photo Info: view
  • Photo Version: Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2009-11-15 21:58
Viewed: 1751
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