The best time of the year to visit the Kimberley happens to be when it’s cold and wet down here in Perth and that makes it the perfect place for a winter escape. From the magic of the red pindan soil and the pristine waters of remote waterfalls and ancient gorges, to the striped beehive domes at Purnululu National Park – it’s a must-see on everyone’s list.
In a region that’s three times the size of England, the list of things to do is never-ending, but here are ten of the best, courtesy of photographer Alex Pantazis, who also provided all of the stunning photos (follow her on Instagram).
GO CHASING WATERFALLS
Ignore TLC, DO go chasing waterfalls, and there’s no shortage of them in the Kimberley. Some of the more popular, and safe ones to swim at, are located along the Gibb River Road and include Bell Gorge, Manning Gorge, Galvans Gorge, and Emma Gorge. However, one of the most picturesque waterfalls, Mitchell Falls, is a four-tiered fall that is located in the far north of Kimberley on the Mitchell Plateau. It is accessed by helicopter or a 4WD-only track off the Gibb River Road.
The Kimberley is also home to the world’s only horizontal waterfalls. Located in Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago, David Attenborough has described the falls as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”.
WATCH SUNSETS ON CABLE BEACH
There’s no better place in Broome to watch sunset from than Cable Beach. With 22 kilometres of pristine white sand and turquoise water, it’s perfect for swimming or spending the afternoon on the beach, with deck chairs and beach umbrellas available to hire. Cable Beach is also famous for its camel rides and in the late afternoon you’re able to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean from one of the many camel trains that operate daily in the dry season.
TEST OUT THE ACOUSTICS IN CATHEDRAL GORGE
Cathedral Gorge is located within the Bungle Bungle ranges at the southern end of Purnululu National Park. A natural amphitheatre, the acoustics in Cathedral Gorge are amazing – don’t forget to have a go singing here (or bring a friend who can!). The trail to get to the gorge takes you past the iconic red and black striped beehive domes formed by millions of years of erosion. Purnululu National Park was World Heritage listed in 2003 and is one of only two World Heritage listed sites in Western Australia.
EXPLORE AN UNDERGROUND CREEK AND CAVE SYSTEM
Tunnel Creek is a 750 metre long underground tunnel and is Western Australia’s oldest cave system. It was once a hideout for Aboriginal (Bunuba) leader and resistance fighter, Jandamarra. Part of the walk involves wading through pools of water in the dark – so bring along a good torch, a pair of shoes you don’t mind getting wet and a sense of adventure! Keep an eye out for the freshwater crocodiles that live there as well as aboriginal rock art on the walls by the entrances.
SLEEP BENEATH THE STARS
That camping cliché ‘why settle for a five star hotel when you can sleep under a thousand star sky’ is nowhere truer than the Kimberley. With some of the darkest skies in the world (thanks to the absence of light pollution) spotting the Milky Way (and its core), constellations and even the Magellanic Clouds has never been easier. Bonus points if you manage to set up your swag beneath a boab tree. Unique to parts of the Kimberley, some of the trees have been dated as being over 1500 years old.
HIT THE GIBB RIVER ROAD
The 660km unsealed road was first established as a way to transfer cattle from the outback Kimberley stations to the towns of Wyndham and Derby. It’s now described as one of Australia’s ‘greatest 4WD adventures’. Allow at least a week to explore the many gorges and aboriginal art sites in the region.
GO CROC SPOTTING AND SEARCH FOR FOSSILS
Windjana Gorge is a 3.5 km gorge that was part of an ancient barrier reef system. 375 million years ago the southern part of the Kimberley was underwater and the fossilised remains of marine life from this period are found in the gorge’s limestone walls. A highlight when visiting is spotting the many freshwater crocodiles that call the gorge home and are usually found lining the water’s edge.
ENJOY THE VIEW FROM ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S BEST INFINITY POOLS
The Lake Argyle Caravan Park has the pool with the best views in the Kimberley, if not all of Australia. You can access the pool for a small $10 fee even if you’re not staying at the caravan park and with a view like this it’s well worth it! Lake Argyle is Australia’s largest man-made lake and about 18 times the size of Sydney Harbour.
EXPLORE ECHIDNA CHASM
Echidna Chasm is located at the northern side of Purnululu National Park and worth the drive to that side of the park. The chasm is 750 metres long and in places less than a metre wide. We’ve always tried to time our visits to Echidna Chasm for around midday when the sun is directly overhead making the 200 metre high chasm walls glow a deep orange colour.
EXPLORE SOME ANCIENT GORGES
The Kimberley is filled with ancient gorges and many, like Bell, Manning and Galvans gorge are saltwater crocodile-free and safe to swim and explore. While you’re at Manning and Galvans gorge keep an eye out at for the Bradshaw and Wandjina rock art on the gorge walls. Boat tours also operate in a few of the gorges such as Chamberlain Gorge at El Questro station and Geikie Gorge, near Fitzroy Crossing, where the Fitzroy river has carved a 30 metre deep gorge through the ancient remains of the limestone reef system.
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