Purnululu National Park

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UNESCO World Heritage Site
Purnululu National Park
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Purnululu2.jpg
The Bungle Bungles, a predominant feature of the area

Location East Kimberley region, Northern Australia
Type Natural
Criteria vii, viii
Reference 1094
UNESCO region Asia-Pacific
Coordinates 17°27′47″S 128°33′51″E / 17.46306°S 128.56417°E / -17.46306; 128.56417Coordinates: 17°27′47″S 128°33′51″E / 17.46306°S 128.56417°E / -17.46306; 128.56417
Inscription history
Inscription 2003 (27th Session)
Purnululu National Park is located in Australia
Purnululu National Park
Location of the Purnululu National Park on the Australian continent
Purnululu National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Sunset, Purnululu NP..jpg
Sunset, Purnululu National Park
State Western Australia
Nearest town or city Halls Creek
Area 2,397.23 km2 (925.6 sq mi)[1]
Established 1987
Managing authorities WA Department of Parks and Wildlife
Website Purnululu National Park
See also List of protected areas of
Western Australia

The Purnululu National Park is a World Heritage Site in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. The 239,723-hectare (592,370-acre) national park is located approximately 300 kilometres (190 mi) south of Kununurra, with Halls Creek located to the south. Declared a World Heritage Site in 2003, the park was inscribed as follows:[2]

...[is a] remote area managed as wilderness. It includes the Bungle Bungle Range, a spectacularly incised landscape of sculptured rocks which contains superlative examples of beehive-shaped karst sandstone rising 250 metres above the surrounding semi-arid savannah grasslands. Unique depositional processes and weathering have given these towers their spectacular black and orange banded appearance, formed by biological processes of cyanobacteria (single cell photosynthetic organisms) which serve to stabilise and protect the ancient sandstone formations. These outstanding examples of cone karst that have eroded over a period of 20 million years are of great beauty and exceptional geological interest.

— Brief synthesis of Purnululu National Park as inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Purnululu National Park World Heritage site[edit]

Aerial view of the domes and a canyon.
Echidna Chasm.
The Domes Walk, Purnululu National Park. The beehive-shaped domes are Devonian calcareous sandstone, with regularly alternating, dark gray bands of cynobacterial crust.

The World Heritage status of the region was created and negotiated in 2003, and the adopted boundary of the existing national park.[3] Since its listing, the Government of Western Australia has reserved additional areas located adjacent to the World Heritage Area, including the Purnululu Conservation Park and the Ord River Regeneration Reserve.[2] The site was gazetted on the Australian National Heritage List on 21 May 2007 under the Environment and Heritage Legislation Amendment Act (No. 1), 2003 (Cth).[4]

Etymology[edit]

Purnululu is the name given to the sandstone area of the Bungle Bungle Range by the Australian Aboriginal Kija peoples. The name means "sandstone" or may be a cordon of "bundle grass".[citation needed]

The traditional owners of the area are the Kitja peoples.[5]

Features[edit]

The Bungle Bungle Range, lying fully within the park, has elevations as high as 578 metres (1,896 ft) above sea level. It is famous for the sandstone domes, unusual and visually striking with their striping in alternating orange and grey bands. The banding of the domes is due to differences in clay content and porosity of the sandstone layers: the orange bands consist of oxidised iron compounds in layers that dry out too quickly for cyanobacteria to multiply; the grey bands are composed of cyanobacteria growing on the surface of layers of sandstone where moisture accumulates.

Geology[edit]

The Bungle Bungle Range is one of the most extensive and impressive occurrences of sandstone tower (or cone) karst terrain in the world. The Bungle Bungles were a plateau of Devonian sandstone, carved into a mass of beehive-shaped towers with regularly alternating, dark gray bands of cynobacterial crust (single cell photosynthetic organisms). The plateau is dissected by a 100–200-metre (330–660 ft) deep, sheer-sided gorges and slot canyons. The cone-towers are steep-sided, with an abrupt break of slope at the base and have domed summits. How they were formed is not yet completely understood. Their surface is fragile but stabilized by crusts of iron oxide and bacteria. They provide an outstanding example of land formation by dissolutional weathering of sandstone, with removal of sand grains by wind, rain and sheet wash on slopes.[6]

Access[edit]

Access to the park by road is via Spring Creek Track, from the Great Northern Highway approximately 250 kilometres (160 mi) south of Kununurra, to the track's end at the visitor centre. The track is 53 kilometres (33 mi) long and is usable only in the dry season (about 1 April to 31 December), and only by four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicles. Safely navigating it takes approximately three hours. Access by air is less demanding; helicopter flights are available, from Bellburn Airstrip in the national park, and light aircraft, from both Warmun, 187 kilometres (116 mi) south of Kununurra.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Hoatsan, Dean et al.(1997) Bungle Bungle Range : Purnululu National Park, East Kimberley, Western Australia : a guide to the rocks, landforms, plants, animals, and human impact Canberra : Australian Geological Survey Organisation. ISBN 0-642-25010-3

External links[edit]