The Kimberley region of north Western Australia is one of those true frontiers a place to be revered for the majestic country and adventure it beholds.
So it was with this in mind our family of five began our Kimberley adventure in Kununurra, the gateway to the East Kimberley. Aptly named ‘meeting of big waters’, the picturesque township of Kununurra is located on the banks of Lake Kununurra and the Ord River. Kununurra is a hub of local industry for agriculture, mining and a host of great holiday experiences. You can take a four-wheel drive tour, join a lake and river cruise or charter a flight over some of the most spectacular landforms in the world. Visit the largest open cut diamond mine on the planet (Argyle Diamond Mine), explore wilderness parks like the world heritage listed Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles), canoe down the Ord River, hire a houseboat or try abseiling.
We collected our trusty four-wheel drive rental, grabbed some provisions at the supermarket and headed for Broome 1000km to the west. Our first stop which is 100km out of town is El Questro Wilderness Park. This park is one million acres in size, and is truly a uniquely Australian holiday experience. It is definitely one of my all-time favourite places to visit and enjoy. We made our base for 4 nights at the Emma Gorge Resort in safari-style tented cabins (very much glamping as each tent has its own ensuite, and deck to relax at dusk and enjoy the sounds of the bush!). We particularly enjoyed the sounds of the birds and animals at sunrise, as well as the magnificent meals in the restaurant. Of particular note are the many gorges you can hike to and swim in the pristine waters, the Chamberlain Gorge Cruise, Horseriding & barramundi fishing, as well as listening to the stories/songs of the Jackeroos in the evening at the El Questro Station around a camp fire.
With much anticipation we left El Questro and headed west along the famous Gibb River Road. The Gibb River Road offers people the unique opportunity to experience the real outback Australian lifestyle – explore life on the cattle stations, learn about the rich aboriginal and pastoral history of Australia’s Great North West, visit aboriginal communities, and meet the true, genuine characters of the Australian bush. We headed to a cattle station 300km west of El Questro called Mount Elizabeth Station. This was an overnight stop with many surprises. The station cook rustled up a lovely dinner for all the staff & visitors, and early morning provided a great walk around the station watching the daily rituals of the working station, with plenty of kangaroo watching too! Mount Elizabeth Station provided us with one of the best swimming gorges of the entire trip with soft sand included!
We then headed deep into the heart of the Gibb River Road. Plenty of stops enroute to enjoy a quick dip in a gorge take plenty of photos and admire Aboriginal art. We met a cyclist who was traversing the entire length of the road from Cape York to Broome all 2500km of it. Very enthusiastic and fit!
Our next stop was the amazing Mornington Wilderness Camp, a wildlife Sanctuary. Mornington Sanctuary covers more than 3,000 km2 of spectacular gorges and tropical savannah dominated by the Fitzroy River and King Leopold Ranges. It is a naturalist’s paradise, providing refuge for over 200 species of birds and a diverse range of other wildlife. All proceeds from the Wilderness Camp are dedicated to the conservation of wildlife in the Kimberley. Unfortunetly we only stayed 2 full days, you could easily enjoy 3 nights/4 days in the Sanctuary. Again the accommodation was superb safari style luxury tents, and accompanied by another wonderful restaurant with delicious food. Our highlight here was canoeing in Dimond Gorge. It is a spectacular gorge, and we enjoyed meandering along in the canoes, swimming on the way and exploring at all opportunities. Such awe inspiring isolation at nature’s best.
Our Gibb River Road/Kimberley adventure was nearing completion as we headed due west to our final destination Broome. Home to the famous Cable Beach, and with lots to see and do, it was the ideal place to finish our Kimberley adventure. We spent 7 nights here relaxing and enjoying some chill-out family time: We rode camels along Cable Beach and experienced the magnificent sunset, caught a light plane up to the Aboriginal managed camp at Cape Leveque, visited many art galleries/cafes, shopped for pearls in Chinatown, we enjoyed an outdoor movie in deck chairs at the cinema and spent plenty of time relaxing at the beach.
A holiday adventure of a lifetime to remember!
- Winter season (May to October) is traditionally the most popular time to visit. The daytime temperatures range around 30 degrees Celsius and the nights are cool. Perfect weather for all activities.
- The Gibb River Road extends for approx. 900km from Broome to Kununurra. It is in a wilderness location and driving in this area should not be taken lightly. An alternative would be to catch a domestic flight from Broome to Kununurra (flight time 1:20 mins) and experience the surrounds at both ends. This will still deliver the outback experience with less risks for overseas travellers.