Out of this World Australian Landscapes

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Stranger from another Planet, Welcome to our shores, the landscape here is pretty wild but I’m sure you’ll feel at home

"Stranger from another Planet, Welcome! to our shores, the landscape here is pretty wild but I’m sure you’ll feel at home."

You are forgiven for thinking you’re facing a James Cameron Sci-Fi set, and one certainly not modeled on anything you would expect to find on this planet. Australia has more than it's fair share of extraterrestrial looking landscapes that have inspired onlookers for millennia. Here are just a few to inspire you off the beaten track to see beautiful Australian landscape …

The Bungle Bungles

The Kimberley is one of the nine regions of Western Australia and home to Purnululu national park or more commonly known as the Bungle Bungles, is one of Australia's greatest natural wonders. Although this bizarre landscape of beehive-shaped massifs is over 350 million years in the making, it was remarkably known only to Aborigines until the mid-1980s, when it was "discovered" by a television crew, and then awarded the title of the world heritage site in 2003. Beautifully remote the Bungle Bungles are located 110km (68 miles) north of Halls Creek and 250km (155 miles) south of Kununurra, this journey is well worth the effort – after all, nowhere on earth will you find another landscape like this. Bulbous formations made of orange and black stripes reach out as far as one can see, forming a landscape of natural waves shimmering under the intense outback sun. Hidden between them, you will find a labyrinth of gorges, canyons, and chasms, which beckon to be explored - there are trails of all lengths running through - professional guides are recommended and can be easily be arranged en-route. If the idea of hours of rocking around in a 4WD to get there doesn't tickle your fancy, then you can take off from Kununurra either by fixed-wing aircraft or by helicopter – a scenic flight you won't forget in a hurry. 

The Bungle Bungles

The Pinnacles

These peculiar Limestone formations can be found in Western Australia in the Nambung National Park. They are a series of eerie limestone formations scattered over vast rippled sand dunes 27 kilometers (17 miles) long. Each block varies in size, with some of the largest approaching four metres in height that create an alien or moon-like atmosphere Located near the Cray fishing town of Cervantes (pop 750) the Pinnacles are  245km (152 miles) or a three-hour drive north from Perth city. Cervantes makes a wise overnight stop to give you time to enjoy the desert at sunset when the light is sublime and cast spectacularly long shadows over the rippling yellow sand dunes. Surprisingly the desert teems with wildlife, most animals are nocturnal and it is not uncommon to see western grey kangaroos, emus and many sorts of reptiles and birds hanging around these strange stones. The raw material for the limestone that makes up the pinnacles came from sea shells millions of years earlier when the area was rich in marine life. Over time the shells were broken down into lime-rich sands and carried inland by winds forming high sand dunes. The regions slightly acidic rain dissolved the small amounts of calcium carbonate as it drained through the sand and as the dune dried out during summer, the calcium cement around grains of sand in the lower levels of the dunes, binding them together and eventually producing a hard limestone rock, known as Tamala Limestone.

The Pinnacles

Little Sandy Desert

Very vast, very empty and very red, is the description of the Little Sandy Desert. Located in Western Australia, south of the Great Sandy Desert and west of the Gibson Desert, you can find it to the east of Great Northern Highway south of Newman and approximately 200 kilometres north of Wiluna – Plan well, it has little or no rainfall and not a lot of help at hand if things go wrong. The Little Sandy Desert is characterised by dune-fields and low ranges. The vegetation is mainly a shrub-steppe of acacia over spinifex. This is Aboriginal land and Parnngurr is one of the smaller Aboriginal communities in the region. It is a cousin of the Great Sandy Desert in so far as it has a similar landform and ecology, but obviously a lot smaller. To the north of the desert is Lake Disappointment, a vast salt lake. Within its boarders, the desert has numerous rocky outcrops and small rangeland areas which rise like islands in the vast sea of sand. The best known of these are Durba Hills, a popular stopover on the Stock Route, but there are also others, like the Calvert Range and Constance Headland which contain spectacular local Aboriginal rock art galleries.

little sandy desert australia

The Natural Bridge and the Gap

Torndirrup National Park on the Southern Ocean is 400 kilometres (249 miles) southeast of Perth and 10 km (6.2 miles) south of Albany in Western Australia. The Park covers almost four thousand hectares and is home to the famous 'Gap' and 'Natural Bridge' rock formation (seen below), which have formed over hundreds of thousands of years after being slowly worn away by the Great Southern Ocean - leaving this naturally sculpted Bridge. The Gap is a 24-metre chasm to the ocean floor where the waves rush in and out with an audible tremendous force. The Blowholes are made from a crack line in the granite that 'blows' air and occasionally spray - the noise is impressive. Walking, sightseeing and rock climbing are the most popular activities. Known for its wildflowers, Torndirrup's flowers are open between October to January. Whale watching is popular between the months of May to October. There are numerous lookouts and walking trails in the park with barbecues, tables and toilets available for all to use.  

Natural Bridge and Gap

Lake Mungo 

Lake Mungo is found in the World Heritage Area located in Mungo National Park 987 km (613 miles) west of Sydney and is one in a series of ancient dry lake beds on the plains of southwestern New South Whales. Considered a significant archaeological site because of the discovery of the remains of Mungo Man, the oldest human remains found in Australia and thought to be over 40,000 years old. The Lake covered 135 square kilometers (84 square miles) and was about 10 metres deep (32 Ft.) It existed about 45,000 years ago and dried up about 14,000 years ago. Many now extinct animals such as the Tasmanian tiger, giant kangaroo, large hairy-nosed wombat and an extinct giant marsupial called the zygomaturus have been found at the site. These dry lakes helped preserve the longest continuous records of Aboriginal life in Australia, dating 50,000 years ago through to the present The Dating of ancient burials shows that these remains are the oldest known fully modern humans outside of Africa.

This article was updated on the 10th of November 2018 by Brent

Mungo National Park

For inspirational itineraries contact us at First Light Travel Australia.


Elizabeth Marshall
Submitted by
Elizabeth Marshall
: 1 Jun 2019 (Last updated: 18 May 2021)

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