Bordered by the Great Sandy Desert and the pristine waters of the Indian Ocean, the wild and remote area known as the Kimberleys is one of Australia’s last great frontiers. Until recently, the Kimberleys rugged landscape was only for hardened pioneers and prospectors, and even they found the going tough. But with the introduction of the National Highway, the Kimberleys was on the tourist map, tempting travellers to venture further from the beach mecca of Broome for the first time. Those that do are treated to breathtaking scenery dotted by hospitable and tourist-geared township’s, combining to create one of the most rewarding travel experiences you’ll find anywhere in the Outback of Kimberleys Australia.
Ride a camel at sunset down Broome’s Cable Beach and soar over the towers of the Bungle Bungle Ranges. Cruise huge Lake Argyle and see tides taller than a building in the Buccaneer Archipelago. Four wheel drive the Gibb River Road past gorges and mighty rivers, or follow the red-dirt track from Broome to the remote Dampier Peninsula. Welcome to the Kimberley – a world of vast horizons, ancient gorges, weird rock formations, welcoming rock pools and golden beaches.
Broome: beaches, pearls and dinosaur prints
Ride a camel along the white sand of Cable Beach, the place to watch a blazing sun sink into the Indian Ocean. See 130 million-year-old dinosaur footprints preserved in rock at Gantheaume Point. Have a picnic dinner on Town Beach and watch the ‘Staircase to the Moon’, a spectacular, silvery illusion created by a rising full moon reflecting off the tidal flats of Roebuck Bay. It’s visible for three nights a month between March and October. When night sinks over the natural attractions, head to Broome’s Outdoor Picture Garden for movies under the stars. Broome was once the centre of the world’s pearling industry, and today you can buy pearls, tour a pearl farm, visit a pearling museum or see the headstones dedicated to some 900 Asian pearl divers.
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Kununurra: big waters, beehives and diamond mines
Take a scenic flight over the towering orange-and-black striped rocks of the Bungle Bungle Range in World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park. Or camp and explore them by four wheel drive or foot. These fascinating geological landmarks rise up to 578 metres above sea level, sheltering gorges, crystal-clear pools, fan palms, rich wildlife and living Aboriginal history. Kununurra means ‘big water’ in the language of the traditional Aboriginal owners, and here you can also cruise down vast Lake Argyle past freshwater crocodiles, wallabies, wetland birds and dramatic cliffs. Or appreciate its 1,000 square kilometers of grandeur by air. Canoe Lake Kununurra and swim in a deep waterhole under Black Rock Falls. Then visit the Argyle Diamond Mine and see the rare pink diamonds extracted from this ancient rock each year.
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Dampier Peninsula: beach beauty and Aboriginal history
Four wheel drive the red-dirt road from Broome to Cape Leveque, where you can stay in the Aboriginal wilderness camp of Kooljaman. Sleep in safari-style or paper bark cabins, then snorkel, reef walk and explore old mission ruins with a local Aboriginal family as your guide. Camp at Middle Lagoon and charter a boat or go mud crabbing with a local guide from Lombadina. Stay in the remote communities of Mudnunn, Chile Creek and La Djardarr Ba and visit Beagle Bay. The Sacred Heart Church here was built by Pallotine monks and Aboriginal people in 1917, all the way down to its mother-of-pearl shell altar.
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Derby and the Buccaneer Archipelago: islands, history and huge tides
See the sun set over the King Sound from Derby Wharf and fish from tides as tall as 12 metres. Learn about Aboriginal leader and outlaw Jandamurra on the Pigeon Heritage Trail and discover the art of the Mowanjum Aboriginal Community. Don’t miss the 1,500-year-old Boab Prison Tree, with its girth of more than 14 metres. From Derby, you can take a boat or fly to the islands of Buccaneer Archipelago, home to South Sea Pearl farms and the famous Horizontal Waterfalls. Take a scenic flight and see how massive tidal movements force the seawater ‘waterfall’ through a narrow gap in the cliff walls.
Gibb River Road and the Mitchell Plateau: gorges and great off-road adventure
Four wheel drive the 660-kilometer Gibb River Road from Derby in the west to Kununurra in the east, taking in Windjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek and the mighty Pentecost, and Ord Rivers. Travel into the remote Aboriginal community of Kalumburu, where you can stay; fish from the reef and rivers and camp on the beach at Honeymoon Bay and McGowan Island. For a really rugged adventure, discover the Aboriginal rock art and native vegetation of Mitchell River National Park. Trek Mitchell Plateau and see the majestic Mitchell Falls – a series of four waterfalls – cascade over layers of rock into a deep pool.
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