Covering nearly 423,000km² (163,000mi², the Kimberley region offers some of Western Australia’s most unique wilderness, as well as several coastal and outback towns that offer vastly diverse experiences.
This incomparable and ancient region is home to Purnululu National Park and Bungle Bungle Ranges, Mitchell River National Park, Geike Gorge National Park and Kunumurra. All are easily reached from Broome – considered the gateway to both the Kimberley and Pilbara regions.
Explore ancient gorges, swim in freshwater pools under plunging waterfalls and experience the quintessential Australian landscape of blue skies, red earth, gum trees, wallabies and crocodiles.
Follow ancient cave systems in Tunnel Creek National Park, walk through the spectacular Windjana Gorge, cruise the vast inland sea of Lake Argyle and discover the world’s second largest meteorite crater at Wolfe Creek Crater National Park.
Don't miss the Kimberley's pristine coast where you can discover some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, untouched coral atolls and rugged islands – home to an amazing variety of marine life. At Rowley Shoals Marine Park you can swim with more than 650 species of fish.
North of Broome lies the Dampier Peninsula, accessible via the Cape Leveque Rd, a partly unsealed road that stretches 220km (136mi) to Cape Leveque.
Heading east from Broome, you have the choice of taking the Gibb River Road to Wyndham or the Great Northern Highway (GNH) via Fitzroy Creek to Purnululu National Park, Lake Argyle and Kununurra.
The mainly unsealed Gibb River Road – accessed by 4WD in the dry season only – offers access to the Mitchell River National Park and numerous hidden gorges, eroded ranges and sweeping savannah of the Kimberley interior and its remote northern coastline.
The bitumen, all-weather Great Northern Hwy (GNH) crosses the Fitzroy River at Willare Bridge, just before Derby, and tracks further south linking the Kimberley towns of Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek, before heading north to the Purnululu National Park, Devonian Reef National Park, Lake Argyle and Kununurra. At this point, the GNH continues east into the Northern Territories.
Discover the striking contrast of pindan cliffs, white-sand beaches and clear turquoise waters on the Dampier Peninsula.
Learn ancient hunting techniques, taste bush foods and experience the culture and traditions of the local Bardi and Nyul Nyul peoples.
Swim in the sparkling waters, go snorkelling, mud crabbing and fishing, or simply relax and enjoy the wide-open stretches of pristine beaches.
A short drive north of Broome takes you to the Willie Creek Pearl Farm and the northern beaches at James Price Point.
Further north lies the Aboriginal community at Beagle Bay, home to the heritage listed Sacred Heart Church, hand built in 1917 by the indigenous Nyul Nyul people and Pallotine monks. Local pearl shell decorate the church's whitewashed walls, the altar and three-storey square bell tower.
Highlights further north of Beagle Bay include the communities of Pender Bay, Lombadina and Kooljaman at Cape Leveque – an award-winning remote wilderness camp owned and run by the indigenous Bardi Jawi communities.
On the eastern side of the Peninsula sits Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, from which you can take tours of the working pearl farm, join cultural and sea safari tours as well as enjoy the restaurant and pool facilities. Overnight accommodation is available for longer stays.
At Ardyaloon (One Arm Point) – the northernmost community on the Dampier Peninsula – day visitors (permit required) may visit the beaches, the trochus shell hatchery, and watch the amazing tidal movements of the King Sound from Round Rock Lookout.
The Dampier Peninsula is accessed via Cape Leveque Road – a 200km (124mi) trip north of Broome to Cape Leveque. While the Cape Leveque Road is partially sealed, high-clearance 4WD vehicles are usually necessary for the unsealed sections.
Located 220km (136mi) east of Broome along the Great Northern and Derby Highways, Derby is the ideal place to begin or end a Gibb River Road adventure.
Just a few hours drive away lie stunning gorges, waterways and national parks, with wilderness retreats, station stays and camping providing a choice of overnight accommodation.
The natural attractions of Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge can be visited on a day trip from Derby and the town is also a popular embarkation point for scenic flights to the Horizontal Waterfalls.
Established in 1883, Derby was the first town to be settled in the Kimberley. Derby is also famous for the incredible tides of King Sound – the largest tidal movements in the Southern hemisphere.
Explore the surrounding natural bushland and try to spot some of the more than 210 bird species including migratory waders in the outlying mangroves. Then head to the Derby Jetty – the best place to enjoy the beautiful sunsets and see the huge variation between low and high tides.
Derby’s historic wide streets are lined with boab trees which were laid out to allow horse and bullock teams to turn easily.
To discover the town’s pioneering past, follow the Derby Pastoral Trail; along the way visit the Wharfinger House Museum, Pioneer Cemetery and the Old Derby Gaol.
The Mowanjum Art Centre, ancient Boab Prison Tree, Joonjoo Botanical Trail and Pigeon Heritage Trail all offer a glimpse into Derby’s fascinating past.
Derby is the closest point to the Buccaneer Archipelago, a group of around 1,000 rugged islands located north of Derby, and accessible by light aircraft or boat cruise.
Embark on a true outback odyssey by going ‘over the range’ on one of Australia’s most unique 4WD tracks.
The Gibb River Road offers a truly unique Aussie outback adventure through the Kimberley’s vast untouched wilderness and cattle stations the size of small countries.
Originally constructed in the 1960s to transport cattle from outlying stations to the ports of Derby and Wyndham, the 660km (410 mi) long 4WD trail is the best way to uncover the natural treasures of the Kimberley’s wild interior.
Discover spectacular scenery, including numerous gorges, waterfalls and rivers, with plenty of opportunities for hiking and taking a refreshing swim in fresh water pools beneath plunging waterfalls.
Allow at least 14 days to fully immerse yourself in the experience of Windjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek, Lennard Gorge, Bell Gorge, Galvans Gorge, Manning Gorge, Drysdale River Station, Home Valley Station and El Questro Wilderness Park. Or short-list the must-see sights for a shorter, but no less exciting adventure.
Along the way, look out for authentic Aboriginal rock art that may be seen along the bush walk tracks leading to several gorges, including at Tunnel Creek, Adcock Gorge, Manning Gorge, Galvans Gorge and Wunaamin Miliwundi Ranges (formerly known as the King Leopold Ranges).
A detour off the Gibb River Road on the unsealed Kalumburu Road leads to the Mitchell Plateau – home to spectacular vistas of wild escarpments, tropical rainforests and the tiered waterfalls of the Mitchell River National Park.
This region of the northern Kimberely offers a changing tropical landscape of natural diversity including dense stands of Livistona palms and eucalyptus forests that support a variety of mammal, bird and reptile species.
The park is home to more than 50 species of mammal, and 86 species of amphibians and reptiles. The area’s tropical savannah habitats are also important for many bird species and more than 220 bird species have been recorded.
Mitchell Falls – The four-tiered Mitchell Falls – an iconic Kimberley attraction, and one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Australia – is a must-visit.
Also known as Punamii-unpuu to the traditional Wunambal people, the falls are created by the Mitchell River rushing through centuries-old carved sandstone channels into a series of water pools from which the waters tumble from one to the next.
The falls are equally stunning in the Dry, or in the Wet during February and March when the waterfalls are at peak flow and scenic flights are the only way to visit.
The waterfalls can be viewed by air, or up close by following the Punamii-unpuu walking trail to the falls.
Fixed-wing scenic flights operate year round from Kununurra, and seasonal scenic flights from Drysdale River Station. Helicopter tours give you a birds eye view of the Mitchell Falls and operate from the nearby camp ground.
In the Dry, access to the falls is via the unsealed Kalumburu Road and Mitchell Plateau track. You have the choice of walking or flying both ways, or taking a helicopter flight one way and the other by foot.
Punamii-unpuu Trail – This trail is a moderate 8.6km (5.3mi) return walk, that requires some rock hopping, with little shade in some areas. You can expect to complete the walk in around three hours, once you factor in several swims.
The trail meanders through spinifex, woodlands and gorges that are dotted with Wandjina and Gwion Gwion rock-art sites and secluded waterholes. Along the way, look out for lizards, wallabies and brolga.
Swimming is not permitted below the falls, however you may swim in the pool above the falls; and there are some good swimming spots along the trail itself.
Attractions along the way include the waterhole below Little Mertens Falls, 800 metres along the trail, and Mertens Gorge with its dramatic waterfall, a further 2.3km (1.4mi) along the trail.
Aboriginal rock art can be found under the cliffs close to the trail. Note: Individual visitor passes must be purchased online before arrival.
Another not-to-miss attraction is Aunauyu (Surveyors Pool), a scenic pool and waterfall surrounded by blocky layers of sandstone. Surveyors Pool is located around 37km (23mi) from the camp ground – a moderate 2km (1.2mi) return walk, taking around one hour.
The Mitchell Plateau is also home to some of the finest examples of Kimberley rock art. The Munurru art site features art in both the Bradshaw and Wandjina traditions, which you can experience on a tour with the Unuguu Rangers.
Further north, sits Western Australia’s most remote and isolated Aboriginal community at the historic Kalumburu Mission. This ancient and rugged landscape has been home to the Kwini, Gambra and Walmbi people for many thousands of years, and their stories are told in the Kalumburu Museum.
Discover an expanse of largely untouched wilderness comprising impressive red pindan cliffs, pristine white sands and clear turquoise waters teeming with marine life.
Here, you can ride a camel train into the sunset on Cable Beach, walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs at Gantheaume Point, flight-see the world’s only two horizontal waterfalls and cruise the islands or play castaway on the beaches of the Buccaneer Archipelago.
The Buccaneer Archipelago is made up of more than 1,000 rugged islands, with secluded white-sand beaches, lush rainforest and pristine mangroves all surrounded by a turquoise sea.
Watch humpbacks breaching, see turtles nesting, meet snubfin dolphin and spot some of the more than 300 bird species that flock to one of the last true wilderness areas on Earth.
The Australian snubfin dolphin – only recognised as a new species in 2005 – can often be found playing, swimming and fishing in Roebuck Bay and along the Dampier Peninsula coast.
The tropical waters of Lalang-garram/Camden Sound Marine Park are the breeding and birthing grounds for thousands of humpback whales making their annual migration from Antarctica.
These waters are considered to be the most important humpback whale nursery in the southern hemisphere.
For snorkelling and diving enthusiasts, Rowley Shoals Marine Park offers the tantalizing opportunity to examine 233 varieties of colourful corals and swim among the 688 species of fish that call this place home.
The Kimberley coastline and its offshore islands offer significant rock art sites. Join an expedition cruise to see rock art at Vansittart Bay, Eagle Falls, Raft Point and Munurru. Local cultural guides are on hand to explain the meaning of these ancient art forms.
The many unspoiled and secluded beaches along the Kimberley coast can be explore by cruise boats, as well as by 4WD, with several coastal camps and resorts offering accommodation in splendid isolation. Scenic flights are also available.
The Horizontal Waterfalls are one of the most spectacular features of the Kimberley coastline: huge tides – often varying by up to 11 metres – squeeze through two narrowly aligned cliffs in Talbot Bay.
The water flow can reach up to 30 knots as it's forced through two narrow gaps – 20 metres and 10 metres wide – resulting in a 'waterfall' reaching 4 metres in height.
Tours leave Derby (and Broome) during the Dry by air, sea and a combination of both. You can even 'ride' the tide change through the gorges on a high-powered speedboat. Note: there is a risk element involved and accidents have occurred in the past.
Scenic flights are the quickest and cheapest option and some seaplanes will land and transfer passengers to a waiting speedboat for the adrenalin hit.
You can also see the falls as part of a longer cruise through the Buccaneer Archipelago. Tours can be booked at the Derby and Broome visitor centres.
The traditional owners – the Dambimangari people – recognize that the Falls are a tourist attraction, but don't themselves travel through them on the tide change, in respect to the Wongudd (creator snake), said to be the tide itself.
Located on the Great Northern Highway around 390km (242mi) east of Broome and 300km (186mi) west of Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing is a great base to explore the Devonian Reef National Parks of Tunnel Creek, Windjana Gorge and Danggu Geike Gorge.
The Mimbi Caves – also part of the Devonian Reef system – lie to the southeast of Fitzroy Crossing.
While in Fitzroy Crossing take time to explore the original town site, including the town's pioneer cemetery and the Crossing Inn, which dates back to 1897. The old post office building and memorial to the Australia Inland Mission Hospital also provide insight into the town's early days.
The Fitzroy Valley is home to five language groups – the Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Nyikina, Wangkatjunka and Walmajarri, each with their own distinctive language and customs. Aboriginal art and culture is strong in the area, with several galleries open to visitors.
The Devonian Reef National Parks of Windjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek and Danggu Geike Gorge cover an area that is part of a 375 million-year-old Devonian reef system.
This remnant reef is seen today in the limestone ranges and gorges of the West Kimberley, and also in the Ningbing Range north of Kununurra.
Must-see sights in the Devonian Reef National Parks, include…
Carved by the Lennard River, the Windjana Gorge is more than 3km (1.8mi) long with 300 metre-high walls.
At the base of the gorge, deep freshwater pools surrounded by native fig, cadjeput and liechardt trees attract flocks of noisy corellas, fruit bats and freshwater crocodiles sunning themselves on the riverbank.
Several trails allow you to experience first-hand the beauty of this natural wonder, including…
Savannah Walk Trail – a short walk takes you alongside the south-eastern wall of the gorge, with descriptions of plants and animals to be found here;
Time Walk Trail – discover several marine life forms fossilized within the limestone of the gorge walls. Look out for freshwater crocodiles that are often seen in the pools, especially at Bandigan Rock;
Gorge Walk Trail – here the trail winds through the Gorge for 3.5km (2.1mi). Note: Make sure to bring sufficient drinking water for the 7km (4.3mi) round trip.
Within the Windjana Gorge National Park you can also visit the ruins of a homestead constructed from the local limestone in 1884 for the King Sound Pastoral Company. In 1893 it became a police outpost – the site is known as Lillimilura Police Station ruins.
This region is of cultural importance to the local Bunuba people, and was the base for Jandamurra, the Bunuba man who led an ill-fated armed rebellion against European settlers in the 1890s.
A range of day and extended tours operate from Derby and Broome. Parks and Wildlife also operate a camp ground at Windjana Gorge National Park, which is suitable for tents and caravans.
Windjana Gorge National Park is 150km (93mi) from Fitzroy Crossing and 145km (90mi) from Derby.
The only access is via the unsealed Fairfield-Leopold Road; a 4WD vehicle is recommended. During the wet season, from December to March, the roads into the park can be closed due to local flooding.
Explore the Danggu Geikie Gorge National Park, where the Fitzroy River carves its way through the Geike and Oscar Ranges on its way to Fitzroy Crossing creating a spectacular waterway, with soaring weathered cliffs and abundant wildlife.
The Danggu Geike Gorge is home to the Balga (freshwater barramundi), the rare Galwanyi (Leichhardt’s sawfish) and Baya Gawiy (Coach Whip stingray).
WA Parks and Wildlife Service offer one hour boat tours from May to mid-October. Indigenous tours also offer an excellent insight to local Aboriginal history and culture, including bush tucker and medicine.
Several bush trails allow you to experience first-hand the beauty of this natural wonder, including…
Jarrambayah Trail – a 4.4km (2.7mi) return walk along the sandy bank of the Fitzroy River to the west wall of the gorge, passing limestone reef outcrops sculpted by seasonal flooding; allow two hours.
Balili Rarrgi Trail – this short 1.6km (1mi) return trail on a mainly sandy surface branches off the Jarrambayah Walk and showcases weathered remnants of the ancient Devonian Reef; allow one hour.
Bun.gu Trail – sign-age on this 1.2km return trail offers an insight into the local Bunuba people’s knowledge of plants, animals and landscape. The trail follows the river downstream to a sandbar (bun.gu walyarra) where the Margaret River meets the Fitzroy River; allow 30 minutes.
Larrgari Trail – a 1.75km (1m) return loop that follows the banks of the Fitzroy River to savannah woodland and then connects with the Bun.gu Trail; allow one hour.
Danggu Geike Gorge is located 20km (12mi) north east of Fitzroy Crossing and is the most accessible of the three Devonian Reef parks; the road accessing the park is sealed bitumen and a 4WD vehicle is not necessary.
The park is for day use only, with facilities limited to toilets and an information kiosk; no overnight camping is permitted.
Tunnel Creek National Park is Western Australia's oldest cave system.
The cave has been carved out by the waters of Tunnel Creek flowing beneath the Napier Range, and is part of the same ancient Devonian reef system as Windjana Gorge and Geike Gorge.
In the Dry, it's possible to explore the tunnel by torchlight for around 750 metres underground by wading through knee-deep freshwater pools.
Along the way, check out the many beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations; just watch out for the bats which call this place home as well as the occasional freshwater crocodile (that are relatively harmless).
The tunnel is about 15 metres wide and 12 metres high in sections and, depending on the time of the year, the water can reach waist-high. About halfway you’ll come across a caved-in section allowing light to stream into the cave.
Aboriginal rock art is located near both entrances of the tunnel.
Tunnel Creek was famously the hideout of Jandamarra, a Bunuba man who waged a guerrilla war against police and white settlers for three years before he was killed at the entrance to Tunnel Creek in April 1897.
The site is of cultural significance for the local Bunuba people, who run guided tours during the dry season.
Access to the park is via the unsealed Fairfield-Leopold Downs Road, not far from the Gibb River Road, about 35km (21mi) southeast of Windjana Gorge National Park and about 100km (62mi) west of Fitzroy Crossing.
Day and extended tours to include Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge operate from Derby and Broome.
Tunnel Creek National Park is a day-use area only, with facilities limited to toilets and an information shelter. No overnight camping is permitted and access is limited to the dry season only usually between April – November.
Located at the northern edge of the Great Sandy Desert and Tanami Desert, Halls Creek is the gateway to the World Heritage listed Bungle Bungle ranges of Purnululu National Park and Wolfe Creek Crater.
Halls Creek was the site of Western Australia’s first gold discovery in 1885. Today, you can wander around the foundations of the old mine shaft and see sections of the old post-office and cemetery, where many Kimberley pioneers are buried. Halls Creek was also the last stop for farmers driving cattle along the legendary Canning Stock Route.
From Halls Creek you can easily join a tour or scenic flight to Purnululu National Park and Bungle Bungle Range, visit the meteorite crater at Wolfe Creek Crater National Park and marvel at the China Wall, a six-metre high wall of quartz rock believed to be part of the longest single fault of its type in the world.
Don't miss the old Halls Creek town site on Duncan Creek, a reminder of the town’s mining history. Enjoy the peace and beauty of the fresh water springs at Palm Springs or Caroline’s Pool, then head out to Sawpit Gorge for a swim, picnic and a spot of fishing.
Halls Creek straddles the Great Northern Highway, around 290km (180mi) east of Fitzroy Crossing, around 680km (422mi) east of Broome and 360km (223mi) south of Kununurra.
The World Heritage listed Purnululu National Park is home to the incredible ochre and black striped 'beehive' domes of the Bungle Bungle Range as well as a wide array of wildlife, including more than 130 bird species.
The distinctive rounded rock towers are made of sandstone and conglomerates moulded by rainfall over millions of years. Their stripes are the result of oxidised iron compounds and algae.
Purnululu means ‘sandstone’ to the local Kidja people, while Bungle Bungle is possibly a corruption of 'bundle bundle', a common grass.
Purnululu National Park is located 108km (67mi) from Halls Creek and 53km (32mi) south of Warmun along the Great Northern Highway (GNH).
From the GNH into the Park, it's 4WD only on the unsealed, twisting 52km (32mi) long road to the visitor centre near Three Ways junction. Along the way, there are five deep creek crossings; you should allow 2 hours 30 minutes.
Kurrajong and Walardi camps have fresh water and toilets. You can book campsites online at www.parkstay.dpaw.wa.gov.au. Rangers are based here from April to November only: the park is closed at all other times.
Must-see sights in Purnululu National Park, include…
Rising 300 metres above grass-covered plains, the orange and black sandstone domes known as Bungle Bungle are one of the world’s most fascinating geological landmarks.
Explore the Bungle Bungle range along several walking trails of varying lengths, including the Echidna Chasm Walk, Mini Palms Walk, Cathedral Gorge and the Domes Walk. Along the way, discover narrow chasms and hidden gorges.
Stroll through gorges and dry creek beds that have names such as ‘Outstation Canyon’ and ‘Mini-Palm Canyon’ and discover rock fig vines filling crevices and clinging to the steep walls.
Along the way, look out for some of the 130 bird species found here and some unique native animals, including the nailtail wallaby and short-eared rock wallaby.
Many of these formations are inaccessible, so a scenic flight offers a good way to see more of the Bungle Bungle Range.
The bee-hive striped domes of the Bungle Bungle Range are found in the southern end of the park as is Cathedral Gorge, while Echidna Chasm is found in the northern end.
The Djaru and Gija Aboriginal people are the custodians of Purnululu National Park and most of their activities revolve around the Ord River and nearby waterholes.
Sights at the Northern End of Bungle Bungle, include…
Discover a spectacular long and narrow chasm featuring striking colour variations, depending on the time of day and angle of the sun.
The trail to the gorge begins at the Echidna Chasm car park, about 19km (12mi) north of the visitor centre. The 2km (1.2mi) return walk is short but has some challenging rocky sections that require moderate climbing near the end. Expect to take between one to two hours to walk there and back.
You walk into the heart of this 200 metre high narrow gorge by following the rocky creek bed before entering the Echidna Chasm itself.
Along the way, marvel at the amazing conglomerate boulders strewn along the path, which provide a clue to the sedimentary origin of the Bungle Bungle Range. Tall Livistona palms provide a spectacular setting near the gorge entrance.
Once deep within the gorge the ever-changing sunlight penetrating into the gorge creates ever-changing colour hues. Note: Even during the winter months, it can be incredibly hot inside the gorge, so take sufficient drinking water.
There are two car-parks at this end of the park – Echidna Chasm and Bloodwoods. A walking trail links the two car-parks, allowing visitors to combine several walks into one, or to choose one or two shorter walks. Both Echidna Gorge and Bloodwoods car parks have shaded picnic areas and toilets.
One trail from the Echidna Chasm car park leads to a lookout, with views over the dry, wild and rugged Osmand Range – enjoyable at any time of day but spectacular in the early morning or late afternoon light.
The most popular time to visit Echidna Chasm is in the morning just before midday when sun shines vertically into the chasm and lights up the chasm walls.
More popular walks in and around Echidna Chasm, include…
Escarpment Trail – This walk follows a route along the base of the escarpment and links the Echidna Chasm and Bloodwoods car parks.
The trail is a 3.6km (2.2mi) walk along reasonably flat surfaces. From the Echidna Chasm turnoff, it’s 2.6km (1.6mi) walk to the Mini Palms Gorge turn off plus a further 1km (0.6mi) to the Bloodwoods car park.
Mini Palms Trail – This trail gradually ascends to two viewing platforms within the gorge: the first overlooks an arena of rocks and palms, while the second platform – reached by a staircase – overlooks the deepest part of the gorge.
Mini Palms walk is a moderately challenging 5km (3mi) return walk, taking around three hours. The trail is relatively easy at the start but becomes progressively more difficult. Walkers will need to scramble through some boulders on one section of the trail.
Homestead Valley Trail – This trail follows a path from the Bloodwoods car park, ending inside Homestead Valley Gorge and offers beautiful views of the red rocks of the escarpment.
This is a 4.4km (2.7mi) return walk, and starts close to the Bloodwoods car park. There are some short steep sections along the trail, with handrails offering assistance to walkers and a shaded seating area at the end of the walk.
Sights at the Southern End of Bungle Bungle, include…
Some of the best sights and walking trails in and around the striped domes of the Bungle Bungles are located at the southern end of Purnululu National Park.
Several trails depart from the Piccaninny Creek car park, and visitors can choose to combine several walks, or to take one or two shorter walks. There are toilets and shaded picnic areas at Piccaninny Creek car park.
This is the largest of all the gorges in Purnululu National Park.
During the wet season, water flows along the creek between the red and black beehive domes, but during the dry season it's an easy walk along the dry creek bed.
Piccaninny Gorge has no marked track as such and no defined endpoint so hikers must rely on their own navigational skills to complete the walk. To fully explore the gorge requires a multi-day hike.
Piccaninny Gorge Walk – This is a Class 5, 30km (18.5mi) return multi-day hike through the gorge for experienced bush walkers only.
The moderate 7km (4.3mi) return walk to the gorge entrance (the Elbow) takes a full day, while the more difficult 30km (18.5mi) return walk through the entire gorge system requires overnight camping.
The track is moderately easy up to the gorge entrance, after which it becomes more difficult within the gorge itself, with walkers having to negotiate around fallen boulders, loose rocks and along creek beds.
Bush walkers planning to undertake the Piccaninny Gorge walk must first register at the visitor centre before setting out, and again on their return.
Bush walkers must be fully prepared and take all appropriate equipment, including food and water (at least five to eight litres of water per person per day) and a fuel stove for cooking as camp fires are not permitted. Note: there is no reliable drinking water in the gorge.
Bush walkers are expected to take a first aid kit, EPIRB, map and GPS and should wear supportive footwear, adequate clothing, a hat and sunscreen and take warm clothing and sleeping gear – temperatures can go below freezing at night.
Bush walkers must also carry out all rubbish including toilet paper; and human waste must be buried at least 150mm deep and 30 metres from any water. Flash flooding can occur in the gorge between December and April.
Some tour operators lead group hiking trips into Piccaninny Gorge, and this is an adventurous way to explore a part of Purnululu National Park that people rarely see.
There are also options for shorter walks along the creek bed to lookout points and into one of the smaller gorges. Highlights include…
Piccaninny Creek Lookout – The walk to Picaninny Creek Lookout is the easiest section of Picaninny Creek to explore, and offers wonderful views across the creek bed to the Bungle Bungle Range from the elevated viewpoint.
The lookout is a 2.8km (1.7mi) return walk from Piccaninny Creek car park. Allow around 1 hour 30 minutes.
The Window – A natural window that has eroded through one of the domes frames a beautiful view of the Bungle Bungle Range. The viewing point is around 20 minutes from the Piccaninny Creek Lookout.
Whipsnake Gorge – Discover a small, shady gorge filled with ferns, figs and brittle gums, around 5km (3mi) along Piccaninny Creek. The signposted trail leads away from the creek bed and into the narrow gorge that features a small rock pool at the end.
Explore the magnificent Cathedral Gorge – a breathtaking natural amphitheatre of red rock, created by millions of years of water erosion.
During the Wet, a waterfall cascades from the roof of the gorge into the centre of the amphitheatre forming a pool of water.
Domes Trail – This is the most accessible walk in the area, and offers a 1km (0.62mi) return walk that meanders its way through the red and black striped domes, allowing visitors to get a sense of these ancient formations.
There is also a short side trail which ends at a small natural amphitheatre. Allow up to one hour to complete the circuit.
Cathedral Gorge Trail – This moderate 3km (1.8mi) long return walk is a continuation of the Domes Trail, and many walkers undertake both at the same time. You walk through a narrow gorge, with 200 metre high cliffs towering above you on either side.
The walk is mostly easy, with some short difficult sections; steps and handrails are provided to assist walkers in the steeper sections.
Driving Track – On this trail you can enjoy spectacular vistas of the Bungle Bungle Range, with several viewing points along the way where you can stop to take in the scene.
Explore one of Australia's most remarkable outback landscapes – the massive Wolfe Creek Crater.
A short 100 metre walk from the car park takes you to the crater, with the last section involving a steep climb to the edge of the crater. Climbing down into the crater is not permitted because of loose rocks and the steep terrain make it dangerous.
Wolfe Creek is the second largest meteorite crater in the world, measuring around 880 metres across with a depth of about 60 metres. The ridge of the crater stands about 35 metres above the surrounding flat sandy plain. The outer edges slope at a gradual 15 degrees, but the much steeper inner walls fall away at about a 50 degree angle.
Scientists believe Wolfe Creek was formed by the impact of a meteorite roughly 300,000 years ago. Aboriginal people believe this circular crater was formed when a giant mythological snake raised its head from the ground back long ago at the time of creation.
The turn off to the Wolfe Creek Crater National Park is located around 154km (95mi) south of Halls Creek along the Tanami Road in flat and arid country on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. From the turn off, it is around 23km (14mi) to the car park.
Due to the unsealed roads, it's best to travel in a 4WD vehicle. Facilities at the nearby camp site include toilets only. Note: there is no water available.
Scenic flights over the crater can be booked in Halls Creek with Northwest Regional Airlines.
At Lake Argyle, discover one of the largest man-made lakes in the southern hemisphere. Created by the damning of the Ord River, this immense freshwater lake is home to more than 70 islands and is classified as an inland sea.
The lake offers a wide range of adventure activities, most of which begin at Lake Argyle village. Take a cruise of the lake's shoreline and islands to discover the incredible variety of native fauna, from fresh water crocodiles, fish and wallabies to more than 240 species of birds – almost one third of Australia's total known species.
A network of bush walking trails as well as a mountain bike trail offer the opportunity to enjoy the scenery and tranquillity of Lake Argyle at your own pace.
The sealed road gives access across the dam wall to a picnic area at the base of the dam, with shaded picnic tables and amenities. Some scenic lookouts are located along the road and along the top of the dam wall itself. Note: caravans may not be towed along this part of the road.
There are also fishing opportunities along the foreshore as well as water skiing opportunities at the lake.
Lake Argyle is located around 75km (46mi) from Kununurra via the Victoria Highway. Take the scenic 40-minute drive from Kununurra through the Carr Boyd Ranges to Lake Argyle, or to truly appreciate its immensity, hop aboard a scenic flight. You can even land on the lake by float plane or cruise from Kununurra along the Ord River to Lake Argyle.
Accommodation and camping is available at the Lake Argyle Resort and Caravan Park.
As well as forming one of the most significant waterways in Australia, the Ord River and Lake Kununurra offer numerous boating, fishing and birdwatching activities for visitors.
From its source beneath the Wunaamin Miliwundi Ranges at Mount Wells, the Ord River flows more than 650km (403mi) around the edge of Purnululu National Park through Lake Argyle and along the western edge of Kununurra before draining into the Cambridge Gulf at Wyndham.
Since the Ord River was dammed, new ecosystems have evolved and the lower Ord River’s floodplain, Lake Argyle and Lake Kununurra have been declared internationally important wetlands. The Ord River is a habitat for more than 75 bird species, including significant breeding and migrant populations.
The best way to enjoy the spectacular scenery, wildlife, flora and fauna found along the way is to cruise the Ord River and Lake Kununurra on a boat tour.
At Swim Beach and Ski Beach, situated just off the Victoria Highway near the Diversion Dam, you’ll find grassed picnic and BBQ areas with changing facilities.
As a crocodile controlled area, Swim Beach is a great spot for a refreshing swim, while Ski Beach is a designated zone for water sports, including water-skiing.
Recreational fishing on the Ord River and Lake Kununurra offers a year-round fishing environment to catch barramundi. Popular fishing spots include Lake Kununurra, Ivanhoe Crossing, Mambi Island & Boat Ramp and Buttons Crossing along Parry Creek Road and Skull Rock on the Carlton Hill Road.
Gateway to the eastern end of the Gibb River Road, Kununurra is a great base to join tours to some of the region’s major attractions, including Mitchell Falls, Lake Argyle and the Bungle Bungles.
Kununurra is located on the banks of the Ord River around 360km (224mi) east of Halls Creek on the Great Northern Highway and close to the Northern Territory border.
Join a 4WD safari to best explore this intricate ecosystem of rivers, wetlands and lakes: Kununurra's many waterways and nearness to Lake Argyle make it an excellent spot to join a scenic cruise or fishing tour.
Explore Lake Argyle by boat to spot wallabies and hundreds of species of birds or by air to appreciate its size. Spot jabiru, black swans and brolgas.
Connect with nature and experience the spring-fed waterfalls and swimming holes located within a short drive of town, and don't miss the unique rock formations at Mirima National Park, often described as the mini-Bungles.
For a glorious sunset over the majestic hills and ranges surrounding Kununurra head to Kelly’s Knob Lookout located just a short distance from town. The 1.2km (0.74mi) return trip to the lookout is steep in places and may be challenging for some people.
Local attractions include…
Often referred to as a mini version of the Bungle Bungle Range, Mirima National Park (Hidden Valley) is located just north of Kununurra and is accessible year-round.
The eroded gorges of Hidden Valley are home to brittle red peaks, spinifex, boab trees and abundant wildlife. Several walking trails lead to lookouts; early morning or dusk are the best times for sighting fauna.
Join a tour group or self-explore on a choice of bush walking trails to enjoy stunning views over the East Kimberley and discover fascinating rock formations estimated to be 350 million years old. The region is of significance for the local Miriuwung people.
Unwind at one of the many scenic waterfalls close to Kununurra, including Homestead Creek, The Grotto, Blackrock, Molly Springs and Valentine Springs – all are accessible by 4WD from Kununurra.
Some waterfalls are spring fed and can be seen year round while others are seasonal and are dependent on rainfall in the wet season.
Enjoy a cruise on the Ord River and view waterfalls tumbling off the Carr Boyd Ranges or take a scenic flight over Revolver Falls, a spectacular but remote waterfall on the edge of Lake Argyle.
At more than one million acres in size, El Questro Wilderness Park offers a great variety of amazing landscapes and multiple opportunities to touch base with nature.
Paddle down the Chamberlain Gorge or enjoy the relaxing thermal pools of Zebedee Springs, photograph butterflies, fish for barramundi or join a 4WD safari through the El Questro Wilderness Park.
Ride a horse through the bush, spot brolgas, black cockatoos, magpie geese and saltwater crocodiles.
Take a scenic helicopter flight through canyons and gorges, past waterfalls and above caves for an unrivalled view of the immense parkland’s.
Or explore the natural beauty of the park on a choice of easy to difficult self-guided hikes and discover palm-fringed waterholes, ragged cliff faces and chance encounters with the local wildlife.
El Questro Gorge Trail – For an energetic adventure through the park, hike to El Questro Gorge – one of the most challenging of the recommended walks at El Questro but also one of the most fun.
The rock-strewn trail follows a spring-fed creek past palm and fern clad escarpments to a small, crystal clear swimming hole, partially blocked at one end by a huge boulder that you need to climb up and around if you want to continue into the gorge. This marks the half-way point on the trail.
The second half of the El Questro Gorge trail follows the creek through the narrow, steep-sided gorge across a mix of boulders and large rocks. The trail is rugged and only recommended for people with a good level of fitness.
However, the reward of continuing on for another 1.5 hours is to reach the top of the gorge where another crystal clear pool and waterfall await you – another one of the Kimberley’s great water holes – and perfect for a cooling swim.
El Questro Gorge Trail is a 7.2km return trip, taking from three to five hours, excluding stops and swims.
Note: The first part of this trail to the half way point is relatively easy with some sections of broken rock and riverbed. From that point on it becomes more difficult. From the pool to the top the trail becomes less obvious and gets more challenging, this section is recommended for the fit and adventurous.
Surrounded by cliffs and adorned with green vegetation, the 65 metre high waterfall and plunge pool at Emma Gorge provides a tranquil, natural spot to unwind and swim.
A small thermal hot spring located on the right hand side against the rock wall provides welcome warmth from the freezing cold waterhole.
Emma Gorge Trail – The rocky trail is well worn and easy to navigate with some moderate to difficult rugged creek crossings and should take around one hour to reach the large waterhole.
Set at the base of towering 65 metre high cliff, the waterhole features a droplet waterfall and a small thermal water outlet, which trickles down from the surrounding rocks.
The 3.2km return walk should take around two hours to complete.
El Questro Wilderness Park is located on the Gibb River Road.
From Kununurra, El Questro Station lies 58km (36mi) on the Great Northern Highway towards Wyndham, 36km (22mi) on a sealed section of the Gibb River Road, with the remaining 16km (10mi) on a gravel road. You require a 4WD vehicle to reach El Questro Station.
Perched beneath the Bastion Range, Wyndham sits at the mouth of the King, Pentecost, Durack, Forest and Ord rivers in the Cambridge Gulf.
Surrounded by some of the Kimberley’s most spectacular landforms, rivers and wetlands, Wyndham offers a host of outback adventures.
Five Rivers Lookout – The lookout rises to the east of the town offering a dramatic viewpoint overlooking five rivers (the Durack, King, and Pentecost to the south, Forrest to the west and Ord to the north) and the vast mud flats which sprawl in every direction.
Parry Lagoons Nature Reserve – Slip into a bird hide or keep watch from the board-walk at Marlgu Billabong to spot migratory birds that arrive from as far away as Siberia to visit these wetlands, located just 25km (15mi) from Wyndham.
Then head to Telegraph Hill to enjoy the sunset view. Nearby Parry Creek Farm has a small camp ground and raised rooms overlooking a billabong, perfect for birdwatching.
Moochalabra Dam – Located 26km (16mi) from Wydham, this is a lovely spot for a picnic under the huge Boab tree as well as a good base from which to explore the nearby Aboriginal cave paintings and watch the local wildlife.
Wyndham is located on the Great Northern Highway around 105km (65mi) north-west of Kununurra and 1037km (644mi) northeast of Broome.
The best time to visit the Kimberley region is during the dry season, when you can expect clear blue, sunny skies, with warm days and cool nights.
May, June, July and August are considered the best months to visit the Kimberley.
The Kimberley experiences a hot semi-arid climate with two seasons: the dry season – known locally as The Dry – from May through October, and the wet season – or The Wet – from November through April.
More information about weather in the Kimberley…
Latest update: The Kimberley, Sights & Attractions: 8 October, 2020
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