Kimberley (County of Australia)
A county the size of Sweden or Norway (423,517 km²), Australia’s population is just 40,000 people. It offers a wealth of rugged landscapes, dramatic waterfalls, lush green reserves and a rich sense of history.
The Kimberley stretches along the Timor Sea from Broome in the west to the state border in the east. Tourists generally visit the region via Broome and Kununarra airports. The Gibbs River Trail cuts through almost the entire county, connecting the region’s most famous attractions, farms, Aboriginal settlements and rivers where crocodiles are often found.
Recommended time to visit the Kimberley is June to August, when temperatures range from 14-32°C and the rainy season starts in November and ends by April.
Often described as one of the “last strongholds of wildlife”, it boasts a wealth of flora and fauna, stunning canyons, lagoons and river inlets, and of course, superb safari routes. Despite its remote location, the region is rich in authentic local food, luxury lounges and hotels, friendly locals and the most romantic coastal towns on earth.
How to get there?
The most convenient ‘gateway’ to Kimberley is Broome Airport with daily flights from Perth. During the high season (April to October), charter flights are also available from Melbourne, Briesen and Sydney. The city itself is famous for its 22-kilometre long white sand-fringed coastline – Cable Beach – and for its daily sunset camel rides.
The second largest and most visited town in the county is Kununarra, which receives flights from both Perth and Darwin.
When to go?
There are two distinct seasons in the Kimberley – the dry season (May to October) and the wet season (November to April). Average temperatures over the year range from 5°C at night to 40°C during the day.
Summer (November to April). It’s very hot during the day and the nights are mild and pleasant. The rainy season is accompanied by heavy but brief rainfall in the afternoons and evenings. Tropical cyclones (typhoons) are the real scourge of the rainy season, with each approaching cyclone receiving advance warning in the media (accompanied by severe thunderstorms, heavy rainfall and gale force winds). There are three stages of warning: blue alert – cyclone has formed and may reach the region within 48 hours, yellow alert – cyclone will reach the region within 12 hours, red alert – cyclone has reached the region, destructive wind gusts may follow.
Pros: few tourists, thunderstorms of amazing beauty, picturesque sunsets, full-flowing powerful waterfalls, lush flowering flora and active fauna.
Cons: hot days, rainfall, tropical cyclones; some attractions are closed due to rising water levels and flooded road sections.
Winter (May to October). High season with daytime temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C – ideal for walks and trips, outdoor activities. On the coast the nights are cool with fresh breezes, but inside the continent the night winds from the desert bring cold air, dropping the temperature close to zero.
Pros: warm but not hot, low rainfall, abundant vegetation, open access to all attractions, charter flights from Sydney and Melbourne.
Cons: lots of tourists, low temperatures at night inside the continent.
What to do?
The city is popular with international travellers and much loved by Australians themselves. Red sunsets, plumeria blooms, tropical climates and beautiful white beaches provide two of Australia’s most iconic features in the landscape: picturesque coastlines and bushland wilderness with red rocks and canyons. In the west Broome is a handy base for off-road enthusiasts heading into the heart of the Kimberley on the Gibbs River Circuit. This is also the starting point for most cruises along the rugged coastline to the north-east, towards Wyndham and Darwin. However, Broome itself is worth staying in for a few days at one of the excellent 5-star hotels: The Pearle of Cable Beach, Kimberley Sands Resort & Spa, Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa, Oaks Cable Beach Sanctuary. At Matso’s Broome Brewery, a small brewery, you should definitely try a mango beer (as well as chilli, ginger, lychee), take a sunset camel ride on Cable Beach, explore the real footprints of the stegosaurus, Walk the weekend fair at Courthouse Park and browse the souvenir shops for precious, locally grown sea pearls.
19 reasons to visit Broome as soon as possible!
Some have vegetable gardens on the outskirts of town. Some have jungles. Some have swamps. But the people of the Australian town of Broome have the ocean and the Great Sandy Desert. The place is popular with tourists. As well as the desert, Broome has been known as the “Pearl Harbour” for two centuries.
Broome is a magical kaleidoscope of colours
The scenery in Broome bewitches you and will haunt you for a long time to come.
A cruise along the Kimberley coast.
Cruises vary in intensity, duration, level of service and ship size and some have helicopter landing sites which are essential if you want to view waterfalls, river valleys, reefs and backwaters from the sky. The wild, rugged landscape of North Western Australia, with its rugged, rocky coastline and 2,600 islets, is unforgiving. Aboriginal rock art, clear-water river lagoons ideal for swimming, picnic-perfect white beaches, lush lush forests of exotic plants, birds, whales, dolphins and even crocodiles – the Kimberley is for the romantic and adventurous!
Four wheel drive along the Gibbs River Road, ‘the Gibbs’.
Not every section of this ‘track’ is paved, with hundreds upon hundreds of kilometres of alternating red, yellow and brown roads winding through the heart of the Kimberley, descending into sunken lowlands, curving across wide green plains and rising up into red plateaus. The main road branches off to stunning gorges, family friendly farms, crystal clear backwaters beneath waterfalls, campgrounds, Aboriginal villages, and national parks and reserves, such as Mornington Wilderness Camp. It’s one of Australia’s most scenic and popular drives. You can hire a car in Broome or Kununarra.
El Questro Homestead.
You have to see it to believe it exists. The 400,000 hectare farm in the East Kimberley is located near Kununarra, close to the Gibbs River Trail. From majestic canyons, to lagoons and creeks near waterfalls, to hidden footpaths on hillsides and the cliffs and ranges of the sunset painted by Aboriginal people, you’ll discover something new every day. The estate has camping grounds, cottages for hire, a shop, and an airfield. Stay at the 4-star Emma Gorge Resort, or indulge in the luxury of The Homestead 5* deluxe lodge, which sleeps a maximum of 18 guests and often plays host to well-known politicians and film stars.
Deep in the heart of the Kimberley are several exclusive lodges which vary in their level of service and quality of accommodation. The Berkeley River Lodge is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World and is situated on a hill above the sea, accessible only by helicopter or hydroplane – no roads near the area. Other examples of such unique holidays are Home Valley Station, Kimberley Coastal Camp, Faraway Bay and Eco Beach Resort.
The red domes of the Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park are often compared to beehives because of the black and orange crossbars. One of the recommended ways to see the site is by helicopter from Kununarra. For inner peace, hike into Mitchell River National Park and spend a few nights on the banks of Geike Gorge National Park and explore the cave system of Tunnel Creek National Park, Walk through picturesque Windjana Gorge, take a boat ride across the inland sea of man-made Lake Argyle and visit some of the world’s largest meteorite craters in Wolfe Creek Crater National Park.
For a fascinating insight into the extraordinary Aboriginal culture of Western Australia, take a day trip to the Dampier Peninsula. You’ll discover cave art in local national parks and learn at the Aboriginal Cultural Centre, along with Aboriginal history and Dreamtime myths about the creation and making of the world. You can go Wilderness fishing, making your own spears, or collect your own bush food.
Diamonds and pearls.
The Kimberley is renowned for its 120-year history of mining and pearl farming. One of the most unique adventures in the region is a sailing trip for pearls. You can visit pearl exhibitions and shops in Broome or go down to Argyle, the largest operating diamond mine in the world (Argyle Diamond Mine).