The Kimberley is one of Australia’s quintessential ‘must see Aussie locations’ if you ask us. With an abundance of wide open spaces, rich red pindan dirt, giant boab trees and a variety of unique experiences – both with the local indigenous and wildlife. You will no doubt leave with a bunch of dusty red clothes and a bit of Kimberley magic imprinted on your heart.
With loads to see and do in the region we spent a good few months experiencing all that we could, so here are our top 6 Kick-ass places YOU HAVE TO EXPERIENCE for yourself in the Kimberley.
1. Cape Leveque and The Dampier Peninsula
Famous for its red dirt, vibrant waters and remote awesomeness, this whole Peninsula needs to be explored. We braved the bumpy corrugations (which we believe will soon be tarred), and pulled up for a few nights at James Price Point to free camp. Our days were full of 4×4 adventures, mud crabbing with the help of a local friend and cooking our catch over the hot coals of the fire – Can it get any better?!
Continuing further north we pulled our rolling home into Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm where we enjoyed learning all about the history of Australian Pearl farming and explored the Buccaneer Archipelago on a safari boat tour. We learnt about the indigenous history here and the immense tidal movements (which enables them to grow some of the finest pearls in the world!!). I put my order in for an A-mazing pearl necklace…BUT, I’m STILL waiting for it from Rob?!
Our favourite experience here at Cygnet Bay was an indigenous walking tour with Terry Hunter – a proud Bardi man, 4th generation worker on the farm and all round legend. Terry took us exploring through the tidal flats. We plucked spinifex grass from a nearby hill, then stuffed it amongst the oysters at the waters edge, and set it on fire. This process smoked all the oysters and in turn, opened them ready for us to eat! Genius! …and of course, our crazy ‘Z-man’ Ziggy couldn’t get enough of it, happily eating as much as he could.
We all loved hearing Terry’s tales and insight into the rich indigenous culture and his love of the land – we definitely recommend booking in a tour with Terry.
While using Cygnet Bay as our ‘home base’ we adventured to Kooljamon to explore this amazing part of the region, catch some fresh fish for dinner as well as visit the Ardyaloon Trochus Shell Hatchery at One Arm Point. With a great display of live fish and shells, the kids were in awe and whilst there, we purchased a book that was written by the local Bardi Jawi clan. It’s written by the school children about how they traditionally hunt and gather their food. It’s one of our favourite books and we highly recommend it for families as a memento of your travels and also to support this remote community.
2. Broome Town
No trip to the Kimberley is complete without visiting Broome. The town has a friendly charm and a lot of history. A few must do’s include a trip to Cable Beach to watch the sun go down and to see the famous camel train meander past, or better yet, you could jump on for a ride!
At low tide you can pay a visit to Gantheaume Point, to view the fossilised dinosaur footprints. These tracks are 130 million years old and you can easily walk the trail down to the flat sandstone rocks on which the footprints are preserved. It’s also a beautiful part of Broome to explore.
Discovering the fossilised Dino prints at Gantheaume Point, Broome
The Japanese cemetery is an interesting visit, as well as the old jetty and of course, you have to wash it all down with a Mango beer from Matso’s Brewery. If you time your visit for a full moon, you’ll have the added treat of viewing the famous ‘staircase to the moon’. The best place to do this is at Town Beach Reserve and the Broome Night Markets, where you can enjoy the local stalls, food and good tunes from local performers.
A short 15 minutes drive away you will also find the famous Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park which is full of crazy crocs and other Australian animals. We definitely recommend that you visit a croc park when travelling this country, not only to see how amazing these huge prehistoric dinosaurs are, but also to learn from the presentations how to be croc wise in croc country.
A visit to Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park is a great way to see and learn about crocodiles
3.Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek
Windjana Gorge National Park is one of the Kimberley’s most stunning gorges, with water-streaked walls that rise majestically to heights of 100 metres, but it’s what lurks on the banks of the river that was the major drawcard for us. Loads of fresh water crocodiles can be found here, usually sunning themselves along the waterline giving you an up close wild experience no other place can provide. (Note: keeping a safe distance at all times is obviously recommended and also enforced by the park rangers)… while keeping our distance we snapped a family selfie with a few sleepy crocs on the bank.
We camped the night here at Windjana Gorge enjoying a fire and the magic of the clear Kimberley night sky before heading a little further down the road to explore Tunnel Creek National Park.
This place is unreal, and yep, just as its name suggests it’s a limestone tunnel with a creek flowing through it. A quick google search tells me it’s also a 350 million-year-old Reef system #mindblown!
Once there, you have to be prepared to get wet and a head torch is a MUST. You could use a normal torch but you will want to use your hands to help you wade through the (at times) chilly waist deep water.
The trek through the tunnel runs underground for about 750 metres. At least five species of bats live in the cave, including ghost bats and fruit bats. Stalactites descend from the roof in many places, and you can see how the famous Aboriginal outlaw Jandamarra used this cave as a hideout for years with all the pockets and hidden caverns within the tunnel.
Deep into our tunnel walk we noticed some little beady eyes staring back at us from the dark edges of the water, which were (harmless) Freshwater crocodiles!! Eeep! Obviously bored of another set of humans walking in their home they stayed far away from our path and that’s how we liked it.
At the end of the cave system there’s a nice area to enjoy a bite to eat and we recommend taking the time to look around the rock walls and to find some aboriginal art.
5. El Questro Wilderness Park
Located in the East Kimberley, El Questro Wilderness Park is 700,000 acres of vast, stunningly beautiful terrain. We camped here for four nights and enjoyed all that was on offer.
A visit to Zebedee Springs is a must. Open to the public from 7am – 12pm we recommend going as early as you can. Start at the top pool and work your way down. It is pure magic to sit back, soak in the mineral rich thermal springs, and marvel at the red cliffs and lush palms.
A cruise down Chamberlain Gorge is also highly recommended too, where you will learn all about the local flora and fauna and be treated to a sparkling wine and fresh fruit platter. The highlight is of course a fantastic show from the cheeky, spitting Archer fish and large Barramundi who are not shy to swim right up close to the boat.
A trip to Branco’s lookout will have you in awe of this magnificent county. It’s most rewarding to visit for sunset and be sure to look down into the water below as we spotted one huge MONSTER of a Croc ruling his territory and making sure we all knew who was boss! If that doesn’t leave you with fond memories the bumpy 4×4 drive back to camp in the dark sure will! You will LOVE IT!
An adventure out to Emma Gorge is also rewarding as you are treated at the end with a large cooling waterhole, perfect for a well-deserved swim. Set at the base of towering 65m cliffs, the waterhole is graced by delightful waterfall, and make sure you find the small thermal water outlet, which trickles out from the edge of the water to the right.
As with all walking adventures in the Kimberley, make sure you start early to take advantage of the cooler parts of the day and pack loads of water as it gets very hot.
6. Bungle Bungles and Cathedral gorge
Purnululu National Park is a World Heritage Site and home to the famous Bungle Bungles – which can only be described as giant orange and black striped ‘beehive-like’ mounds. There’s nothing like it in the world and to see these babies in person is sure worth the remote bumpy, dusty adventure it takes to get you there.
Packing the tent and camping gear we waved goodbye to our van for a few days and tackled the crazy 4×4 corrugated track into the national park. Spending a few nights here with the kids allowed us to truly explore all that was on offer and really take in the magic of the region.
A walk into Cathedral Gorge takes you past the monster beehives with a finale in the biggest cathedral shaped cave we have ever seen, and the acoustics here are epic!!!
After years of water pounding through here in the wet-season it has created a huge amphitheatre of red rock with a pool of water in the middle (make sure you bring a wide-angle camera lens or your gopro to get it all in your shot).
To our surprise our favourite part of this national park was Echidna gorge – a spectacular long, narrow chasm full of striking colour variations, depending on the angle of the sun.
As you start the walk the landscape feels very ‘Jurassic Park-esque’ and it feels like a dinosaur or pterodactyl will do a fly-by at any moment. Stepping carefully over thousands of round boulders strewn along the path you have to steal glances above to take in the gorgeous red cliffs, which are lined with Livistonia palm trees waving back down to you 200 meters below. It really is a special place.
6. Lake Argyle
This immense freshwater lake formed by the damming of the mighty Ord River has created an amazing marine environment. It’s the biggest man-made lake in the southern hemisphere and is even classified as an inland sea. At its peak it can hold a staggering 32 million cubic metres of water – that’s more than 20 times the size of Sydney Harbour, and it can even be seen from space! Hooley-Ba-Goolie guys!
It’s not until you take to the water on a wildlife cruise that you get a true sense of just how big it is. After taking in all the sights which includes fresh water crocodiles, fish, wallaroos and over 240 species of birds, you get to enjoy a few nibbles, drinks and a swim while you watch the sunset – it sure is magic and something you have to experience.
We stayed at Lake Argyle Caravan Park which also features one of the best infinity pools in Australia as well as some great nightly entertainment and food.
Yep, we told you they were awesome. We hope you are now inspired to go and explore this epic part of Australia for yourself – and if you have already been, there is no doubt you will be keen to go back again to check off any places you may have missed, we sure have plans to visit again soon.
Have you been to the Kimberley? Share your favourite places with us in the comments below, have we missed any?
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