After visiting the Bungle Bungles Ranges four years ago, I was lucky enough to be able to explore more of Australia's ancient Outback region in North Western Australia. A few weeks ago I went on a tour with a local Operator, who specializes in Adventure Tours across the Kimberley.
I joined the tour for the 8-day-leg, from Broome to Kununurra, to experience the famous Gibb River Road.
The Kimberley Australia Tour in a few words
In 8 days we covered over 1200 km of dirt roads, walked through creeks and rocky terrain, swam at spectacular lush gorges, waded a 750 meter underground tunnel, crossed over 30 creeks and marvelled at stunning landscapes and sunsets.
A Kimberley Adventure is very much about camping. We stayed at five different campsites, cooked and ate around a campfire, gazed at skies covered by millions of stars. But we also learnt how to set up a tent, roll up a swag, deflate and inflate truck tyres. And first and foremost we cherished the company of fun-loving, caring tour mates and our fabulous tour guides.
Let me now take you on a virtual tour of my amazing Kimberley Australia.
Kimberley Australia – Road Tripping the Gibb River Road
As you may know the Kimberley Region is located in North Western Australia and encompasses a huge area, pretty much the size of Germany. The main route that everyone raves about is the glorious Gibb River Road. This dirt track starts near Derby, 200 km north west of Broome and stretches across the northern region of the Kimberley to Wyndham for over 650 km. The Gibb River Road is the heart and the soul of the Kimberley wilderness. Corrugated red dusty roads, spectacular landscape peppered with boabs trees, dramatic gorges and lush rock pools is the perpetual scenery.
After long hours of driving with 32+°C on bumping dirt-tracks, walking to a gorge for a swim was the best reward we could ask for!
Here are a few of the many Kimberley Gorges we stopped along our Gibb River Road Adventure.
Kimberley Australia – The Gibb River Road Attractions
Tunnel Creek- impressive and unique cavern of the Kimberley
Tunnel Creek is a must-see. This 750 meter long tunnel was formed by limestone and remains of an ancient reef, 350 millions years old. It's hard to believe this area was a former ocean. While we made our way through the tunnel wading along the rocky bed river we wereso lucky to spot fresh water crocs, hiding in the water.
Most of Tunnel Creek is completely dark and you need a good torch to walk across and see the limestone rock walls. When the light breaks through, it creates beautiful water reflections.
Windjana Gorge – Deep Solitude and wildlife at its best
I had seen many photos of Windjana Gorge before going on this tour, and yes it truly is as stunning as the photos. The walk along the Lennard River allows plenty of vantage points for admiring the spectacular gorge with its high walls. In the dry season there isn't much water in it, but it's the only time of the year when access is possible to this 3,5 km long gorge. A great place to spot fresh-water crocodiles sunbathing on the river edges. You will see dozens of them! We stayed overnight at the nearby campsite, only 5 min walk from the gorge. Handy for an early morning walk and watching birdlife.
Look at the proportion of these limestone walls you get a picture of the size.
Kimberley Australia – Bell Gorge – Idyllic Oasis
Bell Gorge is another popular gorge and waterfall in the Kimberley. One of the prettiest gorges but probably the busiest among all Kimberley gorges. We got there from our Silent Grove Campsite. After 10 km on dirt track, a 20 minutes walk along the Bell Creek leads to the main rock pools on the upper part of the gorge. We could admire the waterfalls downstream. And peacefulness at its best when people have gone… Most visitors head down to the waterfall and U-shaped base through a steep path. We didn't stay there long and spent our time on the upper part of the gorge only, which was rewarding.
The Bell Gorge Waterfall photographed from the upper plateau.
Kimberley Australia – Manning River and Gorge with tropical oasis
Manning River is of my favourite places on the Gibb River Road. The beach is only a couple of minutes walk from walk from the campsite, which is great. I love this place with a shady beach on one edge, a rich tropical vegetation, and huge rocks sticking out of water that create natural oasis for sunbathing or a chill out. You can also cross the river by boat and from there start a 7 km return walk to the Manning gorge. The only walk that I missed out, unfourtuntately. I would have preferred having this walk early in the morning, but logistically it didn't work out.
Well I'll keep it for my next Kimberley adventure! To cross over the Manning River you jump onto this quirky boat and pull the rope…
Kimberley Australia – El Questro and Home Valley Stations
When we got to Home Valley Station beautiful Boab-Tree-shaped gate, we knew an upgraded campsite was welcoming us and this meant time for some serious washing! We wanted to get all that dust off our clothes, bummer! We were delighted to get extra perks. Live music in a real Outback Station, at the Dusty Bar. The first sign of civilization after days of Ouback isolation!
El Questro is a very popular destination in the Eastern Kimberley Australia, and for those who are not keen campers, the resort offers a pretty high standard of comfort and accommodation for all budget and type of travellers. From the very luxury homestead down to bushcamping.
El Questro encompasses a huge area within Cockburn Ranges and Pentecost river. It takes a lot of time to visit and two days don't do justice to this place. The land around is magnificient and I believe the varied offerings of outdoor activities make El Questro stand out among all Outback Resorts in Australia.
This was our campsite at El Questro with Adventure Wild Tour.
In two days we did the walk to El Questro Gorge, spent an hour at Zebedee Hot Springs which was packed with many visitors. On our last day we did the walk to Emma Gorge in the Cockburn Ranges.
The contrasts in the Kimberley are incredible. From barren red rocks to lush tropical vegetation. Yes, hard to believe that the dusty Kimberley are at the Tropics. This is the scenery in August, the last month of the dry season. In a few months torrential rain will completely change the scenery to this magic land.
Kimberley Australia – A paradise for Birdlife
The Kimberley Australia is home to hundreds of native birds species that are unique to this region. Most of times birds are not visible to a naked eye, we were lucky to have a couple on tour, who were passionate bird lovers and keen to spot many native birds. With the help of binoculars I spotted some beautiful birds, I had never seen before.
Here is a photo of a majestic red-tailed black cockatoo captured at Gibb River's edges.
We were lucky to spot many Kimberley native animals. Water-monitor-lizards, a Dingo, rock wallabies, Kangaroos, donkeys, camels, and many cows, of course!
Kimberley Australia – Sublime Sunsets at El Questro
It's hard not to have pretty sunsets in the Kimberley. Even the sunlight reflection peering through high trees and rock formations makes it for a pretty sunset. The most picturesque sunsets are from lookouts or with Boabs trees, creating a black silhouette on orange and pink painted sky.
This is the Durack Boab Tree at the Branco's lookout overlooking the Chamberlain River. This mighty Boab Tree at Sunset is absoulety amazing.
On our second night at El Questro, we experienced a memorable sunset at the Pigeon Hole Lookout, overlooking the Pentecost River. We packed chairs+tables, cheese platters, chilled drinks and voilà, we had the best sunset scenery ever!
Kimberley Adventure – Cooking around a campfire
There are certainly many ways to stay in the Kimberley. From cabins and eco-lodges to luxury homestay accommodation. But to really understand this ancient landscape and dive into the essence of what the Kimberley is all about, I believe you need to be one with nature and camping is the only way of being with nature. It's part and parcel of any Kimberley Adventure.
There is nothing like sitting around a campfire, cooking, eating, sipping a glass of wine and contemplating the things you have just discovered and experienced during the day.
This is why evenings were special moments of the tour. Because it's when we listen to our tour mates' story and share our knowledge and experiences. On the 8 days we spent together, we had time to talk to each other, share our passions, say what motivates us to travel and why we were there.
The group was fantastic, I have never see such an efficient team work, with positevely minded people, high in spirit, always ready to help, no matter what happens.
After all, we were there for the same reason. We all had something in common. A deep passion for the sunburnt country, to cite Dorothea Mackellar's quote:
I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains. I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea, her beauty and her terror – The wide brown land for me!
Joining a tour is all about creating connection, engaging and developing a genuine bonding with your tour mates who share the same passion for the great Southern Land.
This tour really got me out of my comfort zone and has taught me how to be a better team-player. I have learnt new things, have been inspired from fascinating personal stories, and last but not least I have made new lovely friends! Yay!
This Kimberley Adventure Tour has been an eye-opener for me and made me realize how group-travel and the bonding experience can have a beneficial impact on my life and travels. It has definitely contributed to broaden my perspective in many ways.
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Now over to you:Have you been to the Kimberley Australia? If so, what did you like most of your experience? Share your insight by leaving a message here below.