If you plan to explore North-Western Australia, there are many unique Kimberley attractions that can quickly fill up your Outback trip itinerary. With such a huge area as big as Germany the Kimberley Australia is one of the most ancient and spectacular Outback destinations that stretches over 1200 km from Broome to Kununurra. Its landscape dramatically changes through the seasons, from lush vegetation, gorges and waterholes, to red earth roads, rugged rock formations, golden spinifex plains and mountain ranges.
Some of the best East Kimberley attractions
On this post, I have picked 12 of the natural Kimberley attractions that in my opinion are worth checking out. You may not be able to see them all on one trip, but they will give you an idea of what you can do while you are there on your explorations.
The Bungle Bungles in the Eastern Kimberley
Many people tend to associate the Kimberley with the Bungle Bungles. The orange striped and beehive-shaped domes are a world heritage listed site and one of the most spectacular Outback landmarks of Australia. Unfortunately, this place is unknown to many first time travellers to Australia though, who prefer other destinations for their first trip.
1. See the Bungle Bungle Ranges on a scenic flight
The Bungle Bungles are located in the Purnululu National Park, which can only be accessed by 4WD. A scenic flight is an excellent alternative to four-wheel-driving and the best way to see the hidden gorges and the rocky outcrops from the air.
2. Enjoy a walk to Cathedral Gorge
Walking trails take you to Cathedral Gorge and along the Piccaninny Creek’s bed. If you have little time, the best way is to take a scenic flight from Kununurra and do this short walk which. But if you have more time, plan in to stay overnight at the Kurrajong Camp, this is one of the best sustainable campsites you can find in Australia. If you can, you get to go on a 4WD Tour as this is the best option to explore more of this unique region.
3. Take a lake Argyle Cruise
The area with Kununurra, Ord River and Lake Argyle encompasses the largest and spectacular human-made irrigation system of Australia. Only one hour drive, lake Argyle is surrounded by ranges and wetlands with abundant birdlife and wildlife. The best way to visit Lake Argyle is from the air on a scenic flight to the Bungle Bungles and on a sunset cruise.
4. Explore the lost city of Mirima National Park
If you plan to use Kununurra as your base for your day trips, then Mirima National Park is another must-see place. Locals call it The mini Bungle Bungles, as they are very similar to the real Bungle Bungle ranges. With rugged ancient sandstone hills and rock formations, it’s a beautiful small national park. Walk across tall, old Boab Trees, late afternoon, for spectacular sunlight reflections and enjoy the flora and fauna of the park.
The legendary Gibb River Road
Driving along the Gibb River Road is one of the places on everyone’s bucket list. The unsealed route across the Kimberley stretches for over 660 kilometres, from Derby to Kununurra. You will need a 4WD to drive through on the ungraded surface. And you must also be prepared to get one or two flat tyres (make sure you have spare-tyres and everything with you) as this part of the adventure.
5. Go on a Gibb River Road Trip
It’s an amazingly adventurous route. And I’d say for expert Outback drivers. It requires a high degree of driving preparation and equipment with water, fuel, food and spare tyres, (no way to survive this road without), though the thrill is immense, the experience of driving through its dramatic rugged landscape dotted with spectacular waterholes and ranges is one of the most unique natural Kimberley attractions.
The scenic Kimberley Gorges
Kimberley gorges make this region truly unique; they add that tropical touch to the rough Outback environment. After long hours of driving on dusty and bumpy Outback tracks, there is no better reward. Here below are my picks among all the best places to see in the Kimberley. More gorges worth checking out are the Manning Gorge, the Manning campsite Gorge, Galvans Gorge, El Questro Gorge, Chamberlain Gorge.
6. Spot crocodiles at Windjana Gorge in the Western Kimberley
Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek are the two first places in the Kimberley you got to see if you start your tour from Broome. This Kimberley gorge is a fantastic place, a 3,5 km long gorge, an ancient limestone reef created in Devonian times. There is not much water in the canyon, and this is the only gorge were you are not supposed to swim. The biggest highlight here is the abundance of animals and birds. We saw lots of freshwater crocodiles, and spotted fantastic native birds and marvelled at its stunning limestone formations.
Also, Tunnel Creek is 40 minutes drive from Windjana Gorge. You can visit this cave by wading through the creek waters that tunnels through the Napier Ranges.
7. Chill out at the edge of Bell Gorge
Before setting up the campsite nearby, walk the 2.5 kilometres long trail to this cold rock pool. Taking a refreshing swim and watch the sunset colours paint the rocks with orange, yellow and reflecting onto the water. On my road trip across the Kimberley, we visited six Kimberley Gorges. I loved Bell Gorge. To me it’s the most picturesque gorge I have seen in the Kimberley. There is also a path linking the upper part to the lower pool, surrounded by tropical trees and large boulders.
Staying at El Questro Station
You will have to camp out on the Gibb River Road and there are campsites, some have the basic facilities and some are really well equipped and with cabins and lodges, restaurants and offering a great location, for all excursions. We stayed at 4 campsites, and 2 stations, one of these is El Questro Station. It’s a sort of high-end place but also basic camping facilities are offered. From there you can walk to all other attractions.
8. Walk to Emma Gorge
Emma Gorge is located within the El Questro resort with a beautiful and long walking trail, that takes you through a stunning landscape of contrasting vegetation. Towering palms, the golden spinnifex grass and red rock formations with smaller pools all along the way. The Emma Gorge is the end of the walk, with a large deep pool enclosed by high sandstone walls. It’s best to do this walk early in the morning, to enjoy the cooler morning hours.
9. Take a dip at the Zebedee Springs
The Zebedee Springs are a very unusual attraction of the Eastern Kimberley. You wouldn’t expect hot springs in a tropical region but this is a natural springs that you can access in the dry months. This region offers a wealth of contrasting vegetations. From the unique Livistona Palms which can grow up to 18metres to the tall red rock walls and the dense Outback vegetation, the Zebedee Springs is a popular place to visit in the Eastern Kimberley, that must be on your trip.
10. Go on a Chamberlain River Cruise
If you want to chill out and take a break from long walks and explorations, a good thing to do in going on Chamberlain River cruise. It takes only 2 hours and it’s a great opportunity to see native animals, lots of fish jumping out of the water and birdlife as well. The best time is to go there at sunset. The boat tours offer a glass of champagne with a platter of local tropical fruits to enjoy the smooth floating on the calm waters of the Chamberlain River.
11. Soak in the sunset at Pigeon Lookout
In the East Kimberley there are many beautiful spots for gorgeous Outback sunsets. The Durack Boab Tree at Pigeon Lookout is one of the most visited places by tourists and locals alike. It’s very scenic and the colours at sunset are simply terrific. Make sure you have got all your photographic equipment to make fabulous shots of this area.
12. Fly over the Mitchell Falls Northern Kimberley
The northern Kimberley is the roughest and most challenging area that you access by 4WD, only. That’s why most travellers opt for one of the many scenic flights offered by local helicopter services or package tours. You can also choose a walking trail to the Falls and a return flight back to the camp. While
I haven’t been there on my Kimberley trips, but I have heard that a scenic flight to the Mitchell Falls is a fantastic experience with breathtaking views of the falls, that create a series of water cascade through a deep, red sandstone gorge.
Why visit these unique places of the Kimberley
These are my picks for the best and unique Kimberley attractions that will fascinate active travellers and give you an idea on how to build your Outback Road Trip. There is of course much more to see, but you would need weeks to take a good look at this vast region.
The best time to visit the Kimberley is April to September as October to March is a no-go due to the dense tropical rains. You can also check out this article for more tips on how and when to visit Australia and its Outback attractions.
In my opinion, the best time to travel to the Kimberley region is April-June, these months tend to very busy though, so if you can bear with higher temps, then August till the middle of September will be less hectic and a really good time of the year for a road trip to the Kimberley.
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How to plan your Kimberley Trip
90% of this ancient Outback region of Australia an be accessed by 4WD only, and while exploring the area by four-wheel-driving is quite a challenging experience, (for expert 4-wheel-drivers too), there are many ways to visit the region. So, first assess what you can visit by yourself and when to join a tour. You may prefer self-driving if you are travelling with a companion and feel confident to handle the demanding Gibb River Road.
If you only have a few days, then a good thing to do is to pick an area and focus on this. You may want to go on self-driving explorations of the Eastern Kimberley from Kununurra and go on a cruise or a scenic flight from there too.
If you decide to hire a 4WD vehicle and travel on your own make sure you are adequately prepared for this adventure and a detailed Kimberley Map with you all the times. 10-14 days would be an ideal time to explore the entire Kimberley region.
I have been twice to the Kimberley in North-West Australia. My first trip to the Eastern Kimberley was on my own. I went on a scenic flight over the Bungle Bungles and spent a few days exploring Kununurra and its beautiful surrounding by car. On my second trip I went on a 4WD Kimberley Adventure from Broome to Kununurra.
last update August 2019
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