The Kimberley is Western Australia’s sparsely settled northern region. It’s known for large swaths of wilderness defined by rugged ranges, dramatic gorges, semi-arid savanna and a largely isolated coastline. The mostly unsealed (unpaved) Gibb River Road runs 660km through the region’s heart, passing by Windjana Gorge National Park, which has towering limestone cliffs and pools where freshwater crocodiles gather.
By Georgia Rickard
Three times larger than England and with a population of less than 40,000, the Kimberley region – spread over Australia’s entire north-western corner – is one of the world’s last wilderness frontiers. Here you’ll find prolific wildlife, majestic canyons, freshwater swimming holes and several outback stations, as well as one of Australia’s greatest 4WD road trips. Despite the area’s remoteness, it’s also a place of great food, luxury accommodation, friendly locals and one of the most romantic beach towns on Earth.
THINGS TO DO AND TOP ATTRACTIONS IN THE KIMBERLEY
Enjoy Broome’s many delights
The thriving town of Broome is one of Australia’s most iconic destinations, loved for its magenta sunsets, frangipani trees, tropical weather and beautiful, white beaches. Here, you’ll find two of Australia’s most important cultural phenomena – the outback and the beach – combined in a unique, laid-back atmosphere. Stay at one of several five-star hotels, such as Cable Beach Club, sample a locally brewed mango beer at the wildly popular Matso’s Brewery, ride a camel along Cable Beach at sunset, see ancient fossilised stegosaurus prints in the bright red rock at Gantheaume Point, browse the open-air weekend markets in front of the pretty Courthouse building and shop for precious Pinctada maxima pearls, grown locally in the shimmering aqua waters nearby.
Cruise the Kimberley coastline
There are a dozen reputable companies offering cruise expeditions around the Kimberley coastline, in vessels small and large. Some cruise companies, such as True North and Great Escape, also have on-board helicopters for expeditions. Cruise routes vary but all travel around the north-western edge of Australia, a raw, wild coastline dotted with about 2,600 islands (many of which are unnamed). Along the way you’ll view ancient Aboriginal rock art, splash at freshwater swimming holes, picnic on white sandy beaches and see prolific wildlife, including birds, whales, dolphins and saltwater crocodiles.
Take a road trip on ‘the Gibb’
The Gibb River Road – or “the Gibb”, as locals call it – is a 4WD-only track stretching 660 kilometres (410 miles) from east to west through the middle of the Kimberley. Several smaller roads off either side lead to breathtaking gorges, friendly outback stations and lodges, freshwater swimming holes, camping grounds, Aboriginal communities and conservation sanctuaries with accommodation such as Mornington Wilderness Camp. It is one of Australia’s most epic road journeys. You can hire 4WD vehicles at Broome and Kununurra.