Gorge your way through the Kimberley on the adventure of a lifetime at one of the last remaining wilderness areas on the planet.
Experience the majesty of the Kimberley’s chiselled lands on an inspiring journey across the countryside, creating lifetime memories in one of the most forsaken regions in the country. Join us as we traverse the Kimberley’s sunburnt lands on an iconic road trip down the Gibb River Road.
The first stop on our pulsating journey through the Kimberley is the idyllic country town of Derby – 220 km northeast of Broome. Derby headlines proceedings as the western gateway to the iconic Gibb River Road and is only a hop skip and a jump from some of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders the world has ever seen. Extreme tidal movements envelop the King Sound coastline where Derby resides, with tidal variations soaring upwards of 11 metres high, laying claim to the largest tides in the Southern Hemisphere. These extreme tidal movements have given birth to “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world” as depicted by the legendary David Attenborough – the Horizontal Falls. Spy the Kimberley’s breathtaking seascape on a scenic flight over the Buccaneer Archipelago, with front-row seats to over 1,000 remote islands and the perilous seas that encompass the falls. Back in town, drop by the Norval Art Gallery & Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre for an enchanting insight into the rich history and culture of the Kimberley’s local indigenous communities. Equipped with a newfound appreciation for mother nature, stop past the show-stopping 1,500-year-old Boab Prison Tree, a culturally significant site shrouded in obscurity before soaking up the gorgeous Kimberley sunset overlooking the ocean down at the Derby Jetty.
Beat the heat by starting early, hitting the Gibb at first light for the two-hour drive to the wonderfully wild Windjana Gorge National Park. A highly sacred and spiritual aura encircles this truly magical park, home to the local Bunuba people and the stunning Windjana Gorge. The gorge forms sections of the Napier Ranges, meticulously carved out by the mighty Lennard River over 350 million years ago. Extending over 3km long with titanic walls the size of skyscrapers (100m), it is hard to believe that this otherworldly natural wonder remains the remnants of an ancient coral reef. Deep freshwater pools permeate at the base of the gorge supporting an array of endangered wildlife and home to a large contingent of freshwater crocodiles. It’s advised to keep well clear of the water to avoid any unfortunate run-ins with these shy, yet formidable creatures. On the hiking front, the 3.5km Gorge Walk Trail traverses through the gorge and along the sandy banks of the Lennard River, while the 1.4km loop Savannah Walk offers an enthralling insight into the park’s savannah environment. Steeped in history, the gorge was famously used as a hideout by former aboriginal leader Jandamarra in the late 19th century and is home to the discovery of the world’s oldest hafted axe (axe with a handle), found on the site in the 1990s.
Back on the Gibb, head 1.5-hours northeast through the ethereal Kimberley countryside to the Silent Grove Road turn-off. Off the beaten track, follow the corrugated road over the horizon to one of the Kimberley’s most prestigious natural marvels – Bell Gorge. A stunning melange of sun-bleached rocks entwined with lush riparian flora offers the perfect backdrop to the park’s sparkling U-shaped waterfall. A diamond in the rough, this striking cascading waterfall paints a sea of colour against the gorge’s raw, weathered facade. Soak up the grandeur perched atop the enchanting natural infinity pool or bathe in the pellucid waters of the seductive plunge pool below. A sensory overload, Bell Gorge is one of the most scenic gorges in the Kimberley, striking a chord with many locals and tourists alike. Get there early to reserve a spot, as once the car park is full, local rangers shut up shop until the crowd slowly subsides. If you are looking nearby for a place to stay, you can grab some shuteye at the Silent Grove Campground, 10 km out from Bell Gorge.
From one epic location to the next, head a further 2-hours along the Gibb until you find yourself face to face with the Mt Barnett Roadhouse. Pay a small fee to enter the grounds then make the short drive to the campground’s carpark. A stunning exponent of natural beauty, there is no dry July at Manning Gorge, its sparkling seasonal waterfall bursting to life, cascading down its archaic rocky exterior. Fed by the wet season rains, this beautiful, tiered waterfall features a large plunge pool with crystal-clear waters, the perfect place to cool off and escape the Kimberley’s searing heat. The hike to the gorge itself can be quite challenging, involving an adventurous 3 km hike and river crossing at Manning River. Once upon a time, swimming was the only option, nowadays there is a small dinghy on hand with a rope attached to help get visitors across the river safe, dry, and out of reach of freshwater crocodiles. A hot yet rewarding hike, the treasure at the end of the rainbow is well worth the effort, notably after the wet season rains when the gorge’s radiant waterfall is back in full flight.
As we near the end of our vivacious Kimberley Road trip, we have one more stop to make before the final climb to Kununurra. Cue the snacks and in-car tunes for the 5-hour drive to the unforgettable El Questro Wilderness Park. A million acres of pure bliss, a true wilderness experience awaits those souls lucky enough to grace its lands. From enigmatic ancient gorges to idyllic thermal springs, cascading waterfalls to majestic lookouts – this is a genuine outdoor adventure and a fantastic place to create lifelong memories. Bathe in the tranquil waters of Zebedee Springs, natural thermal springs set within the serene surrounds of prehistoric Livistona palms and shady Pandanus trees. Scale the rocky terrain on a scenic hike to the heavenly Emma Gorge waterfall, cooling off in its gorgeous turquoise plunge pool lying 65m below towering sandstone cliffs. Explore the spellbinding El Questro Gorge, a challenging yet rewarding hike to a mesmeric waterhole or spy the blazing Kimberley sunset over the Pentecost River paired with a few cheeky sundowners at the Pigeon hole Lookout. You can easily spend a few days getting lost in the luxury of this wilderness wonderland with several camping options available within the park. Stay as little or as long as you need, soaking up the rustic ambience of one of the last true remaining wilderness areas in the world.