Close your eyes. Think of a place you’ve visited where you’ve felt extremely at ease, like the atmosphere beckoned you to this very corner of the planet, and you obliged willingly. Now imagine the wind blowing softly through you, and the soil beneath you pulling your spine straight up and down, like this magnificent place called to your entire body and being. Now open. Where were you?
For us, this place was the Kimberley region of Australia. A vibrant jewel drawing the light to northern Western Australia, with everyday a new facet to discover.
It’s hard to describe this sensational part of our great land. It’s so many things, yet so simply one whole being. From harsh outback and cattle yards to sparkling turquoise water to rich, red soil to rugged gorges and forests. This is a world mostly untouched. A world few dare to explore and a world best kept a secret. It’s a world tied closely with its indigenous heritage and therein lies its brilliance.
Our journey began in the eastern Kimberley – a somewhat inoffensive town of Halls Creek where the people smiled, the grass grew green, and the experiences of the Kimberley beckoned. We moved through quite quickly, edging our way towards the town of Fitzroy Crossing – a somewhat similar town to Halls Creek, only the place was alive with the buzz of the area’s yearly social mecca – the Fitzroy Crossing Rodeo.
We’d stumbled upon this event quite unknowingly, and given the hype about the event across local mouths, we jumped at the chance to take a look. Amongst cowboy hats and boots, whips and hooves, we discovered the hidden ingredient to the magic of this place we’d just become acquainted with, and we knew we were going to love this region of Australia.
It has a warmth and an enthusiasm for life and the outdoors that we’ve not yet seen across the entirety of this great nation. The people glowed with warm kindness and a humorous flare for joy, and from that moment, we were in love.
It’s near impossible to describe each and every great experience in thick detail, so instead, I will lay it out for you in a way you’d best understand. Do. Just Do. There’s no ‘don’ts’ where the Kimberley is concerned, it’s a place that welcomes new experiences and calls for you to enjoy this fantastic part of the world. An adventurer’s playground and a homebody’s haven.
DO’S OF TRAVELLING THE KIMBERLEY
Take the time to visit the towns less sought after
Fitzroy Crossing is a perfect example. We were given many reasons not to check out the town, and maybe it was simply an effect of the electric atmosphere sparked by the rodeo, but we found the town to be warm, welcoming and optimistic. The locals greeted us with smiles and waves, and staff were invested in conversation. We spent two nights here, met some incredible people, and left this fascinating little place with big smiles.
Halls Creek is another example, so too is Kalumburu, which stands proudly on its own as a remote jewel in the Kimberley crown. We were blown away with this little Aboriginal mission town, with stunning coastline, kind locals, and abundant fishing to cure the craving for wetting a line. This place is a well-kept secret and still celebrates the perks of being situated far away. An incredible place well worth venturing far off the Gibb River Road to visit and by far one of our favourite destinations to date.
Further towards Kununurra, Wyndham surprised us completely. The Kimberleys’ oldest town and major port hub for the region, this area still relishes in its past while offering new experiences for travelers of all ages. From a famous ‘Barra Pie’ at the Croc Bakery to the gorgeous boab tree lighting up the local caravan park, this area is brilliant for a sleepy getaway – somewhere to slow down and relax. With brilliant fishing opportunities and scenery you can only gasp at, we truly loved our time in this special place.
Be with nature
This incredible part of the world gives you every opportunity to experience this wonderful land in its full, natural aura. From mountain hikes, to lake swims, to gorge climbs, to bush walks, to beach sunsets, the Kimberley has it all.
The Kimberley Region is probably best known for its dazzling archipelagos and rugged landscape, and everywhere you turn, you get a glimpse of a natural, beautiful Australia as you’ve never seen it. It’s where the outback meets the ocean, and the colours dancing before your eyes are out of this world.
A great way to capture the Kimberley at its finest is to experience the Gibb River Road and its surrounds. This 4wd road spanning 660 kilometers from Derby to Kununurra winds its way through some of the most stunning country we’ve ever laid our eyes on, and there are countless locations to delve into – whether you’re up for a hike or a swim, or simply somewhere to pull up a chair and get lost in a book. There’s no shortage of fresh air, and its vastness only further sparks your craving for adventure. Having said this, we did find the Gibb quite crowded and having the pups with us made it a little more difficult. Best do your research beforehand and work out what is best for you. Avoid school holiday time at all costs!
Try the ‘touristy’ things
You may be the type to pen your own journey – away from crowds and status quo, but this is a region which relishes in tourism.
This is a region which experiences two main seasons of the year – the dry and the wet. The dry season doubles as its tourist season, and the Kimberley really comes alive at the height of the winter months as scores of tourists flock to the area to escape the cold elsewhere across the country, or to experience the region at its best from afar.
The Kimberley Region really knows how to care for its travelers, and we were fortunate to experience some of the region’s most iconic events and tours.
While we didn’t get to experience arguably the region’s most iconic attraction – The Horizontal Falls – we’ve definitely penned that one down as something not to be missed – something we will experience when we return to this great land, and we will be back.
There’s something for everyone in this place, including food and wine, hikes, swims, fishing, town tours, history and pearling tours, wildlife experiences and stunning lookouts you can get lost in for hours.
This region knows the importance of the tourist season, and while some would turn away from the crowds, it’s important to remember these operators rely on your dollars. Not only are they fantastic at what they do, they truly want you to enjoy your time – because at the end of the day, tourism is an integral part of the region’s economy.
Spend time in the region’s economic ‘hubs’
Broome, Derby, Kununurra. Three main hubs for the Kimberley and three locations offering rich and diverse experiences.
For us, Broome was the pinnacle Kimberley experience. We loved every minute of being in this iconic town, and we only walk away from it wishing we’d stayed longer.
From its signature coastline of rich red into turquoise blue, to its vibrant multicultural scene and rich pearling history, this town is not one to miss.
A town booming with personality, we truly felt at home in this captivating part of the world. Local cuisine spanned across multiple cultures, community events flowered right across the calendar, and its laid-back attitude made it the perfect spot to get away and relish in the wonder of the region.
From Matso’s Brewery to the historic tramway, to Malcolm Douglas’s Crocodile Park, to high end pearl boutiques, Broome has something for EVERYONE. If anything, we’d only wished we could visit at a different time of year so we could enjoy this beautiful place all to ourselves.
Derby is a smaller town with the biggest tides you’ll ever see in the country. It has a rich port history and is worth a look on your journey throughout the region.
Kununurra reminds us of a more tropical version of Alice Springs. A key hub in the region nestled in dazzling country, and the base for your Kimberley experience. It’s a town for families, and we adored the celebration of the town’s key waterways. The dogs loved a big play and paddle at the ‘Swim Beach’ off leash area, and we loved exploring the Ivanhoe Crossing and the stunning river environment snaking its way through the area.
Consider visiting in the wet season
Of course, the region may come alive in the dry season as travelers from all over converge on this brilliant region to get a slice of it at its best, but the wet season could only offer more wonder if you’re willing to give it a try.
Everywhere we went, locals were encouraging us to return in the wet, not just because it helps to drive the economy all year round, but it’s truly something to experience. It offers the Kimberley in a completely different light and while you may feel a little warmer and the rain can be more common, it would absolutely be worth it – even just to see the region in its quiet phase.
We can only imagine the colours of the stormy skies opening up over this sensational landscape and the calm aura of walking down empty streets and visiting landmarks without the click of a thousand iphones and the busy chatter of a place teaming with tourists.
We plan to return in the wet one day. We are craving to see the swelling creeks and rivers and the dazzling picture shows put on by the heavens above. We want to meet the locals during a quieter time, when the clock runs that little bit slower, and the heat forces you to rethink your way of exploring. We’re hungry for more.
Stay at Lake Argyle
Another unforgettable experience and our last slice of the Kimberley – Lake Argyle.
We knew we’d enjoy this magnificent place, but we could never have imagined how one small piece of Australia could move us the way that this beautiful blue beauty did.
The team at Lake Argyle Resort truly understand what it means to be a tourism provider. Affordable all year round, with live music, a café, tours, dinners, and that stunning infinity pool, this is a place you never have to leave.
The lake itself has a fascinating history and it’s worth popping down to the Durack Homestead museum to get a true grasp of how Lake Argyle came to be.
While we weren’t fortunate enough to make it on a sunset tour, we are told by many sources that this experience is not one to miss when you visit. A trip out on the water, drinks, nibbles, somewhere to cool off… it has all the ingredients for the optimum Argyle experience.
You can hire paddle boards and boats, you can fish or hike or simply spend the day watching the colours change over the lake. It’s a brilliant place for the whole family and extremely pet friendly, which means it ticks every box for the perfect getaway.
So we hope this has given you a small insight into a region so phenomenal, you simply have to see it to believe it. We can show you all the photos and give you all the advice you’d ever need, but it’s best experienced first-hand.
If there is any ‘DON’T’ for the spectacular Kimberley, it’d be this… Don’t miss it!
Cable Beach Sunset, Broome
A lover of the written word.
Journalist by trade, writer by hobby. Writing fuels my soul and I promised myself I’d string words together more often, so here I am.
A collection of pieces that describe the inner workings of my mind.