The Jewels of the Kimberley Region

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.

Kelly’s Knob, Kununurra
Walking up to Kelly’s Knob Lookout in Kununurra
View from Kelly’s Knob
Diversion Dam – constructed to regulate the water flows from Lake Kununurra
Ivanhoe Crossing, Kununurra – a concrete causeway built over the mighty Ord River

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.

Fertile Plains created by the Damming of the Ord River – fields of mangoes, cotton, sandalwood and corn.
Fertile Plains that resulted from the Damming of the Ord River and allowing consistent water for irrigation of crops.
Lake Argyle – it is impossible to understand the scale of this body of water created by damming the Ord River. This area would flood in the wet season and then be too dry in the dry season. The plains around it are fertile but needed a consistent supply of water. Lake Argyle and Lake Kununurra were created to create fertile agricultural plains. It is possible to swim in Lake Argyle as there are only (the more timid) freshwater crocodiles in residence.
Flying over the Kimberley Region- large geological structures seem small from the air, looking almost like puckers in the fabric of the earth.
Flying over the Kimberley – a rare perspective of the geological formations in this region
Flying over the Kimberley – the many varied ways geology can manifest.
Flying over the Kimberley – a number of gorges, like cuts slashed into the Earth can be seen from the air. Many of these would rarely by touched by humans on the ground due to their remoteness.
Flying over the Kimberley – above the clouds
Flying over the Bungle Bungles
Argyle Diamond Mine – now closed

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.

Mirima National Park – only 2km from Kununurra and known as the mini Bungle Bungles
Mirima National Park – known as the mini 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.

Walking Trail to Emma Gorge – interesting ripples in rock
Walking Trail to Emma Gorge
Walking Trail to Emma Gorge
Walking Trail to Emma Gorge
Emma Gorge
Emma Gorge

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.

Lake Argyle- only a tiny part, the vast majority cannot be seen from this vantage point.
Outflows from the Dam at Lake Argyle
Infinity Pool at Lake Argyle Resort
Lake Argyle

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!

Hike to The Grotto
Hike to The Grotto
The Grotto – a beautiful place for a swim to cool off!

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.

Big Croc Statue in Wyndham
Five River Lookout, Wyndham
Five Rivers Lookout

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.

Geikie Gorge – accessed from Fitzroy Crossing

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.

Derby Prison Tree – Aboriginal people used to be locked to or inside this hollow boat tree during transportation to Derby for sentencing
Derby Jetty – the height of the pylons indicates the massive tidal changes

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.

Matso’s Brewery – an institution in Broome – visit to try their chilli beer and mango beer!
Cable Beach in Broome at Low Tide. At high tide, this wide expanse of beautiful beach disappears underwater.
Cable Beach in Broome

Love to hear what you think! Thanks!!