The Best Spots in the Kimberley (Part 1 – the West Kimberley)
The Kimberley is a vast region covering over 423, 000 square kilometres – larger than a number of European countries and three times the size of England. The list of things to see and do in the Kimberley is endless, but here are some of the best spots in the Kimberley, starting with the western side of the region:
Often described as where the outback meets the sea, the town of Broome is located on the edge of the Indian Ocean and is well known for its pearling history. There’s no shortage of things to do in Broome, from sunset drinks on Cable Beach, exploring Gantheaume Point, searching for dinosaur footprints, and watching ‘Staircase to the Moon’. For more things to do, see here.
Road trip to Cape Leveque
There are many great spots to explore on a road trip north of Broome to Cape Leveque, where the red pindan cliffs meets the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, including Coconut Well, Willie Creek and James Price Point. Further north on the peninsula one of the first places to stop is Beagle Bay, renown for its church where the altar is made entirely of pearl shells. Also on the Dampier Peninsula is Lombadina, Middle Lagoon, One Arm Point and Kooljaman at Cape Leveque – a remote wilderness camp perfect for beach-side camping and relaxing. There are a number of tours run on the peninsula including cultural tours and talks, whale watching, fishing, mud crabbing and learning about bush foods with local guides. Guided tours are also run at the hatchery at One Arm Point and Cygnet Bay’s pearl farm. The road is due to be fully sealed by 2021 allowing for easier access (currently 4WD only).
Explore the Kimberley Coast
The Kimberley coast is home to a number of incredible waterfalls, reefs and islands accessible by boat or a scenic flight from Broome or Derby. These include the incredible King George Falls (Western Australia’s highest twin waterfalls), King Cascade and Cathedral Falls along the Prince Regent River, as well as the pristine Crocodile Creek. The Kimberley coastline is also home to Rowley Shoals Marine Park, a perfect spot for diving, snorkeling, and swimming, the Buccaneer Archipelago and Montgomery Reef.
See the World’s only Horizontal Waterfall
Once described by Sir David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”, the Kimberley is also home to the world’s only horizontal waterfall. Located in Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago, you can either take a scenic flight or boat ride from Broome or Derby to see this natural phenomenon where the fast moving tides rush through a gap between two narrow gorges.
Derby, a few hours north east of Broome, is home to boab tree lined streets and has Australia’s highest tides (over 11 metres). You can see this change in tides from the Derby Wharf, which is also a great spot to watch sunset. Derby is home to a number of art galleries, where you can both see and purchase aboriginal art, including Mowanjum Aboriginal Art and Cultural Centre, which holds an annual festival around July each year, and Norval Gallery. Also just out of town is the Boab Prison Tree, a 1500 year old boab thought to have been used as a holding area for aboriginal prisoners while being transported. Derby is the last town before the Gibb River Road, making it a great place to stock up for last supplies before hitting the road.
Cruise Danggu Geikie Gorge
Located near the town of Fitzroy Crossing, Danggu Geikie Gorge was once part of an ancient limestone barrier reef system and boat tours down the gorge are available daily during the dry season. There are also bushwalking trails nearby taking you along the gorge and the banks of the Fitzroy River. Further east from Fitzroy Crossing, but also part of the same limestone reef system, is Mimbi Caves. Take a guided tour through the extensive cave system which has high cultural and geological significance.
Explore Ancient Gorges
Also part of the Napier Ranges and the same ancient reef system are Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek which are located just before the start of the Gibb River Road (a 660 km long unsealed road; see the best spots along the Gibb River Road here). At Windjana Gorge keep an eye out for the many freshwater crocodiles that line the water’s edge and call the gorge home (which are harmless unless provoked!). You might also spot a freshwater croc, or two, at Tunnel Creek, a 750 metre long subterranean tunnel beneath the Napier Ranges that has been naturally carved out by water over millions of years.
Cover photo of Roebuck Bay in Broome by Salty Wings