Kimberley Region

May 1st, 2001 Features, Scoop Traveller

Things to do

Hire a motorcycle or 4WD and drive the Gibb River Road from Derby to Kununurra. If you plan properly and take advantage of the services and farmstay on the way you’ll see the wild Australia you’ve always dreamed about.

Tour the Argyle mine, the worlds biggest diamond mine. Make a booking because it’s a closed operation.

Many of the attractions are located in designated National Parks to protect them. One of the best known is the stunning Bungle Bungles. Ideally you’ll get to drive and fly there as well, there’s just so much to see in the gorges amid the peaks and from the air looking down on the whole range. The range is magical because of its isolation.

Fly over Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater, the world’s second biggest, and if you get the chance to drive to it as well, it’s an awesome site standing on the edge of the kilometre-wide rim.

Near Halls Creek, look for the ruins of the old town and China Wall, a ribbon of quartz running up a rise of limestone that looks just like the Great Wall of China. Go swimming in the gorge nearby or at Caroline Pool.

Go fishing or just exploring throughout the Buccaneer Archipelago. Camp on the beach under a million stars, collect oysters, swim or snorkel, but take sunscreen.

Explore one of the world’s biggest inland reefs from prehistory, dotted with gorges and natural oddities like the 750 metre creek cave through the centre.

Get a little city life in Broome, one of the most multicultural cities in Australia. Wander through Chinatown or the commercial pearl showrooms that display the area’s spoils. Watch a movie under the moonlight, go out for a luscious Asian meal, or ride a camel along a pristine beach at sunset at one of the many resorts.

Fish for the big ones in the water’s off Broome in a charter game fishing tour.

About the region

The Kimberley is one of the world’s last wildernesses and looks likely to stay that way — the relatively small ports like Broome and Wyndham don’t have transport capacities any bigger than the amount of pearl, iron, diamond, beef and zinc they can export.

But more importantly, every summer season (November to April), the entire region is affected by the big wet that turns dry beds into swollen rivers, renders unsealed roads impassable in areas and creates inland oceans of floodplain run-off.

The region hides some of the most beautiful natural treasures, some that have been tapped by technology and provide substantial export income for the state.

The Kimberley shows its proximity to Asia in its people. Resort town Broome has one of the highest Asian population per capita in the world outside Asia, a population that burgeoned with the onset of both the gold and pearl rushes (which, while not the free-for-all it once was, still provides steady employment in the area).

Despite its size of more than 420,000 square kilometres, it’s home to only 25,000 people, making it the mostly sparsely populated developed area on Earth. The few people share the land with one of the densest populations of Australia’s wildlife.

The sandstone and limestone plateau has been shaped over the last billion years and is the site not only of a 1000km inland reef, but the world’s second biggest celestial cataclysm — a body of rock that hit northern Australia 300,000 years ago hard enough to create a kilometre-wide crater.

Travel along the Gibb River Road or Canning Stock Route, stay in resort luxury in Broome or sleep under the stars miles from anywhere. See it from the air or the ground, but if you like the idea of the earth as it’s supposed to be, the Kimberley is your oyster.

Main page

A sign leading into the Kimberley region warns that the region isn’t ‘inherently’ dangerous, but even more so than the sea is unforgiving of those with no preparation or patience.

Proof was in an early find in the region of an explorer’s tent with a note telling of a thirst that drove him mad, bequeathing his discoverer to his belongings provided they return his stickpin to his mother. Dingoes had scattered his bones around the area.

WA’s wild north would have been terrifying for early settlers. The tropical summer skies unleashed furious electrical storms and torrential rains.

The Kimberley’s real beauty is that it’s the same today. There’s more roads, industry and people, but it’s nice to think there’s a place we’ll never conquer because of it’s vast distance and the command of nature.

Tropical bush crowds the shores and the inland gradually gives way to the Great Australian Desert. In between are lands of deep river gorges with cliffs towering above, billabongs full of wildflowers, Ranges of rock that turn blood red in the sunset and beaches that stretch further than most city coasts.

Untamed and wild, the Kimberley can be enjoyed if you’re sensible, respectful and well prepared. If you do it the right way, Mother Nature will be happy to show off her best handiwork.


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