Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Bungle Bungles

Situated on plains fringing the eastern Kimberleys, this formation is thought to be the eroded and carved up remnants of thick layered sediments that collected in rift valleys that formed as this part of Australia broke away from Gondwanaland about 400 million years ago. The crust that separated from the Kimberleys is thought to have formed part of South-East Asia.

They are comprised of stacks of ancient seabeds with layers of dolomite scattered throughout the stacks. The dolomite layers are the result of the accumulation of the biological waste of the microbes living in the sea at the time of deposition, 1.7-1.6 billion years ago. Among the microbial fossils found in these sediments there were occasional tetrads of cells, a triangular pyramidal formation. At a contemporaneous site 700 km to the east are limestone and shale deposits also containing these tetrads, some of  which also had a single membrane surrounding all 4 cells. Many modern cells also display these 2 characteristics, pyramidal structure and outer membrane in certain stages of their life cycle. Such cells are Eukaryotes that have just undergone meiosis. 

This was a watershed time for life. The arrival of eukaryotes not only made possible the evolution of all the more advanced life forms existing to day, but it also brought old age and death to the world. Prior to the arrival of eukaryotes, bacterial cells (and cyanobacteria), which were the only forms of life present, could divide indefinitely, provided they had access to adequate nutrients and the local environment was conducive to continued life of the cells. Eukaryotes brought death in the form of programmed cell death after a given number of cell divisions. This cell death is the basis of the death of animals and plants. 


The origin of the Metazoa in light of the Proterozoic fossil record

Pernululu (Bubgle Bubgle) National Park

Located in the east Kimberley region close to the border with the Northern Territory is the Purnululu National Park, home to a geological landmark and outstanding example of cone karst in sandstones, the Bungle Bungle Range. Often just referred to as the Bungle Bungle, the face of the park is the beehive-shaped cone towers that have been formed over 20 millions years, an impressive sight and internationally renown among Australia's many attractions. Composed of Devonian-age quartz sandstone, that have eroded into steeply sloping surfaces are distinctly marked by regular banding of horizontal orange and dark-grey cyanobacterial crust (single-celled photosynthetic organisms).

The magnificence of the Bungle Bungle Range is all the more remarkable during the different seasonal changes such as the colour transition that follows rain. The intricate maze of eroded sandstone towers is accentuated by the narrow, sheer gorges that soar up to 250 metres high, and lined with Livistona fan palms. The resulting waterfalls and pools with evocative names such as Echidna Chasm, Frog Hole, Cathedral Gorges and Piccaninny provide a unique experience for visitors.

The turn-off to the park is 250 km south of Kununurra or 109 kms north of Halls Creek.. The park access road is accessible only by 4WD vehicles.

There are camp sites at Walardi or Kurrajong Camp, both sites have toilets and water. Petrol and supplies are available from Turkey Creek on the Great Northern Highway.


Cathedral Gorge is the most visited site, offering a fairly easy walk.
Picaninny Creek and Gorge takes a couple of days and a backpack to explore. You must advise a ranger before setting out.
Echidna Chasm is a narrow gorge on the northern side, and is totally different from those on the southern side.

Scenic Flights
There are helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft scenic flights from within the park or from Halls Creek, Kununurra or Warmun.


Sources & Further reading


Last updated 05/11/2008



Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading