The name Bungle Bungle was 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 Purnululu National Park was established in 1987 and is is 239,723 ha in size. In 2003 Purnululu NP was made a World Heritage Area, thanks to its outstanding geological value and its incredible natural beauty.

The sandstone formation of the Bungle Bungle ranges is estimated to be 350 million years old. The domes are 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. The dark layers in the sediment/rock have a higher clay content and hold the moisture better. The lighter coloured layers have less clay, are more porous and dry out quickly. The raging waters of the wet seasons have washed out wide creeks and deep canyons, Cathedral Gorge is the result of a massive wet season whirl pool..

The Purnululu National Park is now jointly managed by CALM and by the Aboriginal Djaru and the Kija people. .