Whether you want to reconnect with nature, or each other; the Kimberley is an awe-inspiring wonderland waiting to be discovered. There will be invigorating adventure, off-the-beaten-track luxury, rekindled romance under the outback sky and simple moments where there’s nothing else to do but stop. Breathe. And absorb the wonder.
From the expansive white sands of the Indian Ocean at Cable Beach, to the steep gorges and magnificent waterfalls that decorate the red earth, the 4WD adventure of the Gibb River Road and the iconic beehive-like rock formations of the Bungle Bungle – The Kimberley will inspire you, challenge you, reinvigorate and connect you. And, like any adventure worth having, oh, the tales you’ll have to tell!
While every WA journey is unique, one thing is for sure – the Kimberley’s vast plains and varied landscapes absolutely spoil you for choice. So whether you’re up for a 4WD adventure or more laid-back exploration of the sights, we’ve put together an edit of the most unmissable experiences The Kimberley has to offer for you to rediscover yourself, reconnect with nature and rekindle that romance.
There’s no escaping the fact that The Kimberley is both massive and magical. It is 1.7 times bigger than the UK, the expansive ranges are grand and majestic and at sunset, change into rich red hues typical of the Australian outback. Boab trees are scattered across the region and lush tropical forests can be found all year round. The legendary Gibb River Road – originally built for cattle transportation – is where you’ll see some of this ever-changing landscape in action and of course, it’s the route connecting the most jaw-dropping gorges and swimming holes in the country.
Like most of the region, the best time to visit here is from April to November, just before the rainy season starts again. You can go it alone if you have some 4WD experience, or take any number of guided tours. Here are five gorges that will blow your mind…
1. Windjana Gorge: Aside from the humbling fact that it’s about 250 million years old, it’s the sheer size of the cliffs at Windjana that will take your breath away while marvelling at the oranges, reds, whites and greens of this natural wonder.
2. Mannings Gorge: A little hike and a relatively easy river crossing will spit you out into the awesome spectacle that is Mannings Gorge. And, skinny dippers take note – this is one for you! Languish in the cool, deep pool in front of the thundering waterfall and for an out-of-this-world experience, swim behind the falls for one of the most romantic spots on the planet. Nature’s bliss at its best.
3. Cathedral Gorge: Nestled in the Purnululu National Park (about 350km south of Kununurra), this spectacular gorge sits amidst the magical 360-million-year-old Bungle Bungle Range (more on this later!). While this whole region exudes that very special magic of the Australian bush, Cathedral Gorge is a place to stop, take a breath and dream. The gorge itself is like a huge natural amphitheatre with eerie acoustics and a magic unto itself. If perspective is what you’re looking for, immerse yourself because this sacred place will deliver it in bounds.
4. Emma Gorge: Setting foot in Emma Gorge is like stepping into a land of myth and legend. Huge hanging gardens of jade green ferns and age-old gnarly tree roots adorn the sheer cliff faces while the cascading waterfalls dance from a dizzying height of 65m in the distance. If you’re fortunate enough to be staying at the famous El Questro Station (more on this later!), Emma Gorge is on the south-eastern aspect of the Cockburn Range on this enormous luxury property.
5. Galvans Gorge: Easily accessible from the Gibb River Road, Galvans Gorge is nothing short of postcard picture perfect with a horseshoe shaped rock pool surrounded by 20m high cliffs that are steeped in history and culture with Aboriginal paintings. Serenity is the overriding feeling here with clear water and the sounds of nature gently whispered on the breeze in your own private oasis.
Purnululu National Park & Bungle Bungle Range
Nothing says ‘other worldly romance’ like a natural wonder and the World Heritage Purnululu National Park is home to the iconic black and ochre striped ‘beehive’ domes of the Bungle Bungle Range. These iconic rounded rock formations have been handcrafted by Mother Nature, moulded by rainfall over millions of years and their distinctive stripes are the result of oxidise iron compounds and algae. Purnululu is manned by rangers from April to November and is closed outside this time. 4WD’ers are welcome with high-clearance vehicles as are campers, with two campsites in the area. A popular and more scenic way to experience the Bungle Bungle is to take a full day adventure on the Kimberley Aerial Highway where you can also drink in the famous Horizontal Waterfalls, the Buccaneer Archipelago and the King George River – to name a few. A series of airstrips make up the Aerial Highway (be sure to book flights and accommodation in advance), which land you in some of the region’s most unique accommodations from Cape Leveque to Home Valley Station and El Questro Wilderness Park.
Buccaneer Archipelago & The Horizontal Waterfalls
1000 tiny islands and islets, patches of untouched rainforest, secluded pristine beaches and magical mangroves set amidst azure tropical waters – the Buccaneer Archipelago is a sailing and fishing paradise. North West of Derby, this stunning untouched region of WA is probably best known for the magnificent natural phenomenon of the Horizontal Waterfalls of Talbot Bay. A scenic flight will give you an unrivalled view, but joining a Kimberley cruise or jet boating on the Horizontal Falls will get you up close and personal with the amazing tropical landscape. Ancient rock formations, natural tidal formations that will blow your mind and fishing that is out of this world are just some of the adventures you can have here. Cruises, scenic flights and other tours can all be arranged out of Broome.
Rugged & Pristine Cape Leveque
This rugged slice of The Kimberley on the top of the Dampier Peninsula north of Broome is famous for both its indigenous heritage and the striking red colours of the Australian landscape. The scenery is simply breathtaking where dramatic red earth cliffs meet pristine white sands and turquoise water. Popular for boating, swimming, snorkelling and whale watching as well as learning about the Aboriginal culture of the area, Cape Leveque offers a diverse range of accommodation options to suit every taste. From camping and rustic eco beach shacks to fully decked out safari tents for the ‘glampers’ overlooking the sea – you can sleep under the stars or lap up the luxury. Driving from Broome is around 3.5hrs along the partially unsealed Cape Leveque Road and you can also reach Cape Leveque on a tour, or enjoy a scenic flight over the area.
Broome & Cable Beach
It’s not hard to find your own little slice of paradise somewhere on the 22 kilometres of pristine sand and clear blue water of Broome’s Cable Beach. Whether you visit for the day or stay in one of Broome’s resorts, this is the perfect place to relax after your adventures around The Kimberley. Watch a spectacular ocean sunset, join a camel train or discover the finest pearls in the world – Broome is a great place to base yourself while exploring the Kimberley Coast and surrounds. Enjoy the natural phenomenon of the Staircase To The Moon along the coast or witness first-hand how Broome’s famous pearls are harvested or revel in the cultural melting pot where Japanese, Filipino and Malay heritage make Broome the multicultural hub it is today. Now, let’s talk accommodation…
WHERE TO STAY
Base Yourself: Many travellers choose to base themselves in Broome in the west Kimberley or Kununurra in the east Kimberley to explore the wider Kimberley region and there are accommodation options for all walks of life and budgets from campsites to cabins and resorts to eco-villas or luxury resorts. Visit Western Australia Tourism for a range of accommodation options. A couple worth a special mention in the spirit of reconnecting and romance…
Cable Beach Rd, Cable Beach, Western Australia, 6727, Australia.
Heaven on earth is one way to describe the famous Cable Beach Club and if you have a penchant for seaside serenity, swaying palms and sunsets then this coastal gem on Broome’s Cable Beach is for you. This award-winning resort is the only accommodation option that overlooks the long stretch of beach and set against the backdrop of the Kimberley outback, the resort offers 231 diverse room choices, styled to reflect the Asian and colonial cultures which shape the identity of Broome. The interior is adorned with an impressive art collection, boasting commissioned works from Australian icons such as Sir Sidney Nolan and is complemented by acres of landscaped gardens hosting artefacts from around the world. Perfect for a romantic retreat taking in the best of the beach and the Kimberley beyond.
23 Coucal Street, Broome, Western Australia, 6725, Australia.
Broome’s Billi Resort offers the perfect tranquil escape in Cable Beach to use as a base for your explorations. Bright, fresh and contemporary, Billi offers a range of accommodation options from one to two bedroom villas or ultra-luxurious Eco Tents complete with freestanding baths, kitchenettes and sumptuous decor – all with private outdoor entertaining areas and set amongst stunning gardens. All amenities are easily at hand and make this the perfect budget friendly place to launch to the rest of the Kimberley from.
Gibb River Road, East Kimberley, Western Australia 6743, Australia.
This outback luxury resort in a beautiful and remote Kimberley Plateau location is the stuff dreams are made of. Swim in pristine watering holes, trek spectacular river gorges, fish for tasty barramundi and relish the all-inclusive luxury and warm intuitive service of this Western Australian gem. Offering one million acres of Kimberley scenery to explore around the grounds of El Questro, this is a luxury wilderness adventure not to be missed – if the bank balance allows! Offering four different types of accommodation to suit different tastes and budgets from five-star cliff edge villas to tented safari camps surrounded by 80km of untamed and largely undiscovered Kimberley ranges, this is one wilderness retreat adventure to tell your friends about.
Kimberley coast via Kununarra, Western Australia, 6743, Australia.
One of the most unique escapes on the north Kimberley coast, Berkeley River Lodge is unique, luxurious and in one of the most stunning locations on Earth. Between the breathtaking Timor Sea sunrises and the Berkeley River sunsets, the ultimate Kimberley escape and refined indulgence awaits you at this ‘one in a million’ retreat. And, getting there is half the adventure! The lodge is only accessible by air and its remoteness will force you to leave modern life far behind and relax into the rhythms of nature in your ocean-view villa floating atop the coastal dunes. Or, be one of the privileged few to set eyes upon breathtaking wilderness landscapes by river cruise or helicopter flight. If you’ve taken on a Kimberley 4WD challenge, then the Berkeley River Lodge might just be the ultimate way to end your adventures with a few days of indulgence and pampering.
Diamond Coast, North Kimberley, Kununurra Western Australia, 6743, Australia.
If waking every morning in your sea-facing cabin, showering while overlooking the Timor Sea, exploring secluded beaches and in the evening basking in the glow of a prepared campfire sounds like your cup of luxury tea – then this camp is for you. The Faraway Bay experience offers one of the most remote wilderness retreats in the world. A truly unique and awe-inspiring Aussie outback experience, this exclusive resort takes only small numbers of guests at any time where your days move only with the tides and the sunsets. Cast away to a remote location at the very edge of the Kimberley, this authentically Australian camp sits on a cliff top overlooking an astonishingly beautiful and protected bay near Cape Londonderry – accessible only by sea or air. At Faraway Bay they say “you’ve never been this far away” – and while you’ll pay for your exclusivity and remoteness, if you’re willing, it’s well worth it. A few days here can feel like a week, and a week can change the way you feel forever.
Purnululu National Park, Warmun (Turkey Creek), Western Australia, 6743, Australia.
This state-of-the-art wilderness lodge really raises the bar on ‘glamping’. Reconnect with nature without sacrificing your creature comforts in these exclusive tented cabins with a ‘no bush toilets and no roughing it’ policy. Crisp linen, dreamy beds and a solar powered hot water plant are the niceties, but the clincher is the idyllic location of this award-winning lodge in Bellburn Creek in the heart of World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park. Enjoy dinner under the stars with delicious home-style meals and facilities to rival any urban five-star retreat, this is one Aussie outback experience which is as intimate as it is unforgettable.
WHEN TO GO
The Kimberley has two distinct seasons, the dry and the wet. During the dry season, which runs from May until October, the temperature is warm and comfortable with blue skies and easier access to beautiful gorges, waterfalls and swimming holes. The wet season, which extends from November until April, is characterised by heavy and short downpours in the evening or late afternoon, providing a refreshing change to the heat of the day. The wet is when the landscape is refreshed and transformed into a lush, green environment with overflowing rivers and spectacular waterfalls.
Fly: Regular flights are available to Broome from all major cities in Australia with Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar.
Drive: A 4WD is an essential to navigate and get the most out of exploring The Kimberley region. Major airports have car hire.
For more information on planning your trip to The Kimberley & Broome in Western Australia visit Western Australia Tourism
This is a sponsored post by Tourism Western Australia. All opinions expressed by the author are authentic and written in their own words.