How to discover the Kimberley Region
It's only recently that the Kimberley Region has uncovered its beauty to the world. In fact till the 90s the Kimberleys were known to Indigenous people and the local Aussies only. Lately in 2003, Purnululu National Park entered the World Heritage Listings, and a few years ago, in 2011, the West Kimberley was added to the National Heritage List.
So, while Unesco has recognized the natural and cultural significance of the Kimberley Region, more and more international travellers are keen to discover the of North Western Australia on their Aussie adventure.
Where in Australia is the Kimberley Region
With an area eight times the size of Switzerland and the size of Germany, the Kimberley Region is located in North Western Australia, between the Outback towns of Kunnunurra and Broome. This huge and remote area is home to stunning contrasts. A rugged Outback landscape, covered by massive rock formations and unique gorges, mighty rivers and creeks peppered with rich vegetation in a tropical setting. The Kimberley Region encompasses the coastal area of the Buccaneer Archipelago too, with over 1000 little islands.
How can you explore the Kimberley Region
You can discover the Kimberley Region by land, air and sea, or altogether. You can start either from Broome or from Kunnunurra. If you set off from Broome you can either explore the western region or extend your tour to reach Kunnunurra, which is the gateway to the Eastern Kimberley. To see the entire region you need at least 10-14 days on a four-wheel road trip. However bear in mind that you will need to have a certain level of experience for touring the region on your own, as most of the area is accessible only by four-wheel-drive. .
If you travel Australia alone you are probably better off to see these places by joining a Kimberley Tour. There are a few local tour companies that offer 10-14 days-tour, but you can also choose among a variety of Kimberley Tours, from day-tours and specialty-tours for a specific area of the Kimberleys. Cruising is also a great way to discover this region and Kimberley Cruises are becoming popular among the locals as well as international tourists.
While there are countless spots in the Kimberley Australia, that can fit into a travel guide of its own, these are some Kimberly Attractions that will give you a taste of the area:
Purnululu National Park, a.k.a. as the Bungle Bungles, is a massive plateau that formed over 360 thousand years ago and over the time eroded into hundreds of impressive orange and black striped sandstone formations. Its peculiar dome-shape makes it unique and photogenic. You can only tour this area by four-wheel-drive or take a scenic flight to the Bungle Bungles. I went on a scenic flight, from Kunnunurra, and the view from the air was amazing. The highlight of Purnululu is the Piccaninny Creek Walk which takes you along the rocky bed of the empty river through striking landscape into the imposing Cathedral Gorge, with over 250 meters overlapping sandstone walls. Camping is the only way to stay overnight. All facilities are offered, from basic to luxury campgrounds.
Lake Argyle is located 70 km south west of Kunnunurra. To get there you can hire a car and drive by yourself, as it's on sealed roads, you don't need to worry about four-wheel-drive! The best way to explore lake Argyle is to go on a boat cruise. You can spot its rich wildlife and birdlife as well as learn about its history. From the realization of the initial irrigation system to the realization of the Ord River Dam and the Kunnunurra Dam, which has almost 18 times the capacity of the Sydney Harbour. On a boat tour you will have the opportunitiy to learn about the fascinating story of the pioneering family Durach, who started in 1879 a 4 years journey across the country from South to North West, searching for new fertile land.
The Gibb River Road is one of the most scenic dirt roads in Northern Australia. It stretches for over 650 km form Derby, in the western region, to Kunnunurra, in the eastern region. You can only access it by four-wheel-drive. The Gibb River Road is a must for adventurous travellers who love to drive this route and access gorges, waterfalls and cross rivers. It's open only during the dry season, and it's completely closed from November to March, when the rain sets in. It's always advisable to check the road conditions with the nearest tourist information centre before setting off. The main attractions here are Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek National Park and Bells Gorge.
Fritzroy Crossing is an old Outback town, located on the Fritzroy River banks and known for its pastoral and mining history. Just out of town you can visit the Geikie Gorge National Park, a magnificient gorge which formed by the river cutting through an ancient limestone reef, which is estimated to be 350 millions of years old. The same for Tunnel Creek, is a 750 metre tunnel, a unique formation created by waters of the creek.
Horizontal Falls. Although they are called falls, they are not really falls, as the water flows horizontally. This is a truly unique natural phenomenon. In fact it's created by massive tidal currents between two narrow gorges that form a waterfall effect. There are two gaps, one is 30 metres wide and the second is only 10 metres. You can cross over by boats to witness this spectacular scenery.
No matter how you choose to travel around and discover this ancient and remote Outback area, for sure the Kimberley Region is going to stay long in your memories.