Northern Territory

An Australian Outback Adventure The Kimberley’s & Broome

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. www.kununurratourism.com

Kununurra the Kimberley

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.

El Questro the Kimberley

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!

Mornington Camp the Kimberley

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!

Rock Art the Kimberley

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.

The Kimberley

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. www.broomevisitorcentre.com.au

A holiday adventure of a lifetime to remember!

 

Facts:

  • 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.

Boab Tree the Kimberley

 

Australia

Travel Down Under Australia is a fabulous holiday with variety and fun for the whole family.

Our Australia Holiday By Amy Mellinger

One of my lifelong dreams has been to visit Australia. Its distance from my home country (the U.S.), its natural beauty and those fabulous accents have long captured my imagination.

Last December we took our dream vacation. My husband, three children (ages 8, 10 and 14) and I boarded the 10-hour overnight flight and awoke in Sydney to begin our Australian adventure.

Sydney

We made Darling Harbour, a neighboring inlet of Sydney Harbour, our base in Sydney and it was ideal for both beauty and convenience. From our hotel, the Grand Mercure, we were within a walk or short cab ride from numerous restaurants and activities. On our first day we took a ferry across Sydney Harbour to the Sydney Zoo. The ferry ride was an attraction itself, with its views of Sydney’s most famous landmarks, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Our favorite exhibit was the area dedicated to Australia’s native wildlife specifically the koalas and kangaroos. But the zoo’s biggest highlight isn’t zoological at all it’s the awe-inspiring vistas. The Sydney Zoo sits on a prime piece of real estate and the views from the summit are stunning. The next day my husband and two older children woke up early for the wildly popular Bridge Climb. They were so excited they couldn’t get out the door fast enough. The Bridge Climb is a three and a half hour guided climb along catwalks and ladders all the way to the summit of the Harbour Bridge, 134 meters above the water. It’s so popular that my husband booked the climb a month before our trip (the minimum age is 10). When they returned they reported the experience was awesome and not too difficult. Even our 10 year old, who was a little nervous, returned all smiles.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Australia

Claire(11), Charlie (14) Mellinger do the Bridge Climb 123 meters above the water to Harbour Bridge in Sydney

Later that afternoon we sought out more adventure on the jet boats. The boats take you on a roller coaster-like ride around the harbor at speeds up to 80 kilometers/hour. Tour operators abound at each harbor. We loved ride but be warned it does get rough and you’ll get wet very wet if you sit in the back row as we did (children must be at least 1.3 meters to ride).

We spent our last day at Manly Beach, seven miles northeast of Sydney and just a ferry ride from Sydney Harbour. We chose Manly as surf shops on the beach offer surfing lessons (try the Manly Surf School which offers lessons for all ages). A two-hour lesson is 55 AUD for adults and 45 AUD for children. My husband and the kids took a lesson while I relaxed on the beach. Afterwards, my youngest, who was wary at first, proclaimed, I want to surf everyday for the rest of my life!

Surf lesson at Manly Beach Australia

Surf lesson at Manly Beach are a blast for the whole family.

Port Douglas

From Sydney we headed to Port Douglas, the closest gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and a gorgeous seaside destination. We flew into Cairns, an hour drive from Port Douglas, and transferred to the Peppers Beach Club which we highly recommend for the rooms, pool and staff. The beach is just a block away and the town is an easy walk.

The all-day trip to the Great Barrier Reef made three stops along the reef with time at each for snorkeling and diving. It was spectacular! We saw corals in vivid blues and pinks and fish in every color of the rainbow. From a parent’s point of view the guides were great, providing a program including snorkeling tours and a bit of reef education between stops. They pointed out various sea creatures that otherwise could be easily missed and also put the kids at ease in the water, showing them pictures of sea creatures they may see and assuring them that they were harmless. At 160 AUD for adults and 110 AUD for children (12 and under) it’s expensive but still well worth it.

Another Port Douglas highlight is Mossman Gorge, part of the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest. Twenty minutes from Port Douglas, the Mossman River tumbles through a steep-sided valley lined with huge granite boulders that create freshwater swimming holes. You can take a full-day tour of the area but it’s not necessary. We had a tour bus pick us up at the hotel (10 AUD/person) and drop us at the top of the trail. From there you can walk along a 2.7 kilometer loop trail or hike across the suspension bridge crossing the river. We stopped along the way for a picnic lunch and a swim the river water is cold but feels good after a hike.

After 11 days our dream trip ended. But now I have a new dream to return. What we saw of Australia was spectacular and the people themselves were wonderful (as were their accents).

Trip Planning: We recommend Australia Expat Travel Owner Vicki Baensch. She planned a fantastic trip that included all the family-friendly details, http://www.ausxpattravel.com.au.

Port Douglas Australia