The Kimberley is a massive area encompassing the northern part of Western Australia. It includes the towns of Kununurra, Broome, Derby, Wyndham, Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing and some other smaller places. The most visited town in this region would be the touristy Broome but there are interesting sights in Kununurra that warrants a look. This region is marked by spectacular red rock formations that rise up from the Earth, long stretches of remote, dusty outback and boab trees. To orient yourself in Kununurra, hike up Kelly’s Knob to the lookout.
The best way to see the countryside and to get an understanding of the scale of how humans have changed it, a scenic flight is recommended. These are however very expensive. On this lucky occasion, the cost was offset by some vouchers offered by WA Tourism to stimulate this part of the country. We flew in a 14 person Cessna over the agricultural lands opened up by the building of dams, Lake Argyle, the Bungle Bungles and the now closed Argyle Diamond Mines. Due to the small size of the aircraft and the pilot flying quite low to give the best vantage of the sights, the flight was quite bumpy and jerky at times. Best to take some motion sickness pills if you are prone to it.
After flying over the Bungle Bungles, it’s worth the short trip to Mirima National Park. This is in the outskirts of Kununurra and allows a close-up view of similar rock formations as the Bungle Bungles.
Venturing out from Kununurra, it is worth making a day trip to Emma Gorge. This is the only site in the El Questro area readily accessible to 2WD. The hike to the waterhole takes about an hour and is quite rugged in parts. It’s worth it for the spectacular landscape on the way as well as the magical, cool, waterhole. Coming upon this beautiful waterhole at Emma Gorge makes the sweaty hike worthwhile. Swimming is OK in the cool, refreshing waters of the waterhole but beware a resident freshwater crocodile! To the right most side of the waterhole is a small thermal spring which is lovely if the water is getting too cold for you.
For a closer look at Lake Argyle and the dam, head to Lake Argyle Resort. Bear in mind, despite the vastness of the lake from the various vantage points in this area, the actual lake is much, much bigger and cannot be seen in it’s totality from the ground.
On the way to Wyndham, a “must see” stop is The Grotto. There is a hike down of 144 steps to get to a gorgeous, refreshing swimming hole. This is really a special place!
When in Wyndham, after passing the big croc (because every Australian town must have a big statue as it’s claim to fame!), head up to the Five Rivers Lookout. This is where 5 Kimberley rivers meet and flow out to the ocean.
It’s a long drive from Wyndham to Derby, passing the towns of Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing on the way. Stop for a quick walk at Geikie Gorge about 20km from Fitzroy Crossing. This is pretty but probably not worth the detour.
Just before you get to Derby, pull off to see the Prison Boab Tree. Head through town to the original old Derby where the jetty is. Derby has massive 12m tide ranges hence the massive pylons at the jetty.
After days of adventuring in the Kimberley outback, we headed to Broome for some civilization. Broome is a lovely touristy town with great restaurants, shops and a pearling history. Re-group for onward adventures at the Matso’s Brewery, a Broome institution. Their mango beer has a beautiful fruity fragrance and their chilli beer packs a spicy punch! Swim at the famous Cable Beach! Whilst there could be saltwater crocodiles at this beach, it is considered relatively low risk as the lifeguard is watching for them and numerous scenic flights go up and down the beach daily. As the aqua ocean waters are clear, crocs are easy to spot from the air. Any croc sightings are reported and the beach gets closed.