How and When To Travel In The Kimberley, Australia

 In this blog post we are going to share a little bit about this wonderful region called the Kimberley and an account of one of our most remote tours through this area of Australia. 

 

Kimberly sign2
Where is The Kimberley?

The Kimberley is between Darwin in the Northern Territory and extends to Broome in Western Australia. The area it covers is larger than 75% of countries in the world. The unsealed 660km Gibb River Road is the main route to take. If like us, your not an experienced 4WD driver then a guided trip is the best way to see this incredible real aussie landscape.

 

How and when should you visit The Kimberley region?

The trips we have here at Real Aussie Adventures are all 4WD. It allows you to get even more off the beaten track and means the group size is small, so adventurous and personal. You feel very privileged to have done the walks in a small gang and sleep in bush camps with no one else around for miles. The best time to travel The Kimberley is between April and October.

 

Carla from Real Aussie Adventures tells us about her Kimberley tour From Darwin to Broome.

This trip changed my life. At first the thought of 8 days without phone signal threw me out of my comfort zone. What followed was an unforgettable travel experience that changed me forever. After leaving Darwin we visited Edith falls and the hot springs in Katherine. On this trip you can learn about the native trees and birds of the Kimberley region. Everyday I learnt new words and how to recognise things in nature, all without google. Our guide was so knowledgeable about plant life, animals and history of the area. He had so many stories to tell that I will be remembering and retelling for many years to come.

We drove to Lake Argyle. It’s the largest man-made lake in Australia. On The Kimberley Adventure tour trip you get on a private boat and cruise around the lake. We sailed around, swam with a cider in hand, fished and crocodile spotted, then watched the sunset. After 6 peaceful hours out on this boat and finally we arrived at the island where we would spend the night. We set up a basic camp and cooked some Kangaroo on the Bbq.

Day 3 we awoke to sunrise on the island, it was the best sunrise yet, you could see freshwater crocodiles swimming around and lots of bird life. I was so sad to leave the Island, I could have lived there. That's something Kimberley Adventure Tours do that other trips do not, is take you out to your own private island to sleep on. Amazing!

We then drove to Kununarra for some phone signal (yey Facebook withdrawal was kicking in) and so our guide Tommy could do the big shop to get us through the next 6 days! We then drove on our first dirt road to the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu National Park). We were pumping the tunes and having a proper road trip singalong and the time flew by!

Day 4, Tommy got us up at 4am in the morning to hike, in the dark to the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu National Park). So all we could see were these big mounds and shadows. Then as the sun rose the colours of these huge rock formations appeared. We were the only ones out there at that time and we all sat in silence and enjoyed the moment. It was so special. I am not a morning person, but that was well worth it!

Then we walked into Cathedral Cove and I pretended to be living there, in the cave, no one spoke for ages to keep the peaceful atmosphere, and because it was early, we again were the only ones around. Perfect to take in the moment.

We then hiked into Echidna Chasm, which I loved. The colours of the rocks in there were stunning and we sat and watched the sun move over the chasm and cast different shadows.  We luckily had a photographer on the trip and she was saying it was so hard to get the exposure of shots right with the lighting, blue sky, orange rocks and sun casting its rays on everything. It really is only with your own eyes some of these moments can be captured- which is why everyone should go there.

We then drove to my favourite bush camp by a billabong and had a little evening swim. Bliss.

Day 5 by this point we are all getting on so well, lots of in jokes and laughs. Lots and lots of road trip music playing. Its so much driving doing the Kimberleys, but I enjoyed that just as much as any place we went too. Getting to know my fellow tour mates on the drives and listening to loads of great tunes while looking at the vastness of the countryside and spotting wildlife will be part of the things that I will take with me forever from this trip.

Today we did a hike to Emma Gorge, by far the longest walk we did so far. Quite tough for people as a lot of rocks and stepping over things. 40 mins in and out. But when you get there amazing.

My favourite animal is a frog, so I pretended to be a frog for ages in this gorge. There is water dripping down the walls, coldest water you will find in the Kimberley. But with little pockets of hot water in certain areas. And we saw a snake slithering up the walls of the gorge. Again the sun cast such lovely light into the gorge and I never felt rushed, we relaxed in there for hours.

 

After lunch we then had a wine in the bar at the resort there and listened to a guitarist play Paul Kelly. Loved it. Its not all dirt roads in the Kimberley.

We then drove to El Questro campsite. That night we camped close to other groups and it felt so weird to be in ‘civilisation’ after bush camping and being in our own little bubble for days.

We decided to take in a lookout point for sunset which was our most extreme 4wd as it was so steep up there and back. Some great photos for that one and I had a cider or two!

That night we had the most amazing food cooked in the bush oven on the fire. Roast lamb! It was so good. It was a great day- only a tiny bit of driving and lots of walking and swimming and of course a few drinks in the evening.

Day 6. This morning we went at 6,45am to Zebedee Hot Springs. The gate opens at 7am and Tommy said we wanted to be the first group in there because it can get packed pretty quickly. They are only open 7am-12 everyday. We were there as the ranger opened the gate and sitting in these hot springs was such a great start to the day. I felt like a jungle explorer in my leopard print sarong. I have never laughed so much before 7 am in my life great morning.

We then had a lot of driving this day to our bush camp, we stopped for a photo shoot of the red dirt and the bus driving on the dirt. It passed in such a blur though, with music and chatting, I had such a good day. Pasta for dinner that night- yum yum.

Day 7. Could be the winner for best day. We hiked 1 hour to Manning Gorge, this place was pretty busy with people and we could make lots of friends. We spent hours here. Walking around the gorge, on top of the waterfalls, swimming, swimming, swimming. Tommy had got up so early to make banana bread damper and we enjoyed that in the gorge. We then wanted to give the rest to some german backpackers I met over on a rock, Tommy tried to swim it across the gorge resting on his wide brimmed aussie hat- and it fell in the water. It was hilarious.

We went exploring looking for rock art, doing little rock slides and got covered in leeches. We saw some bradshaw art, which the aboriginal people say they didn’t do…it looked African. Very interesting. I saw my first FROG. Yey! It was tiny. We then walked back and had a little drive to the bus camp, first with a stop and swim at a scenic gorge called Galvins gorge.

Another early morning on day 8 hike in the dark- Tommys favorite, not my favorite! He had a stick and was bashing through the bush, not on a path to reach Adcock Gorge by sunset. I was cursing under my breath, slipping on rocks because I was still sleeping. But well, again, it was so worth it to see the sunrise on this pretty gorge.  I saw my first Kimberley rose tree in full bloom, lovely pink red flowers.

We then went to Bell Gorge, Walked in for an hour and it was beautiful. Waterfalls and infinity pools. Lots of black monitor lizards sunbaking on the rocks and lunch in our bags when we got there!I felt like I was in Jurassic park, although I couldn’t remember the theme tune to it I kept expecting a dinosaur to walk past at any minute.

Was so tired that night I nearly fell asleep at the dinner table.

The last morning, Woken at 5am and I swore at Tommy from my tent, I was not happy as the mornings grew colder as we went on and didn’t want to get out of my swag. It was also my last night in the swag, which I had loved sleeping in.

Glad I did get up though Tunnel Creek blew my mind! We started walking in at 5am when no one was around, we kept really quiet so we could feel the atmosphere. Then I got really,really scared. We could see crocodiles (freshies) on the banks and lots of red eyes peering out of the water. Tommy tells me we have to wade through it to get into the caves. I was so so frightened, I thought I might have chickened out and go back to the van but I did it. We could hear thousands of bats on the roof of the cave but could see a thing. Tommy made us turn off the torches, stand in the dark, and he told us about a guy who had lived in the cave for 5 years hiding from people who were after him. It was a sobering experience, I don’t know how this man managed that.

On the way out of the cave, we climbed into a hidden bit, where the limestone rocks and tuned into shimmering marble like rock, it was beautiful. I had such an adrenaline rush once we got out of the cave, couldn’t believe I had done it and got out alive! Haha. Perfect decision to go at 5am, as we left we passed so many cars and tour groups piling into the car park, the whole atmosphere would have been spoilt with 40 people chatting away and splashing in the water, the crocs would have been scared off. Worth getting out of bed for, it certainly got the blood pumping!

We then took a really chilled walk into Windjana Gorge, for  some crocodile spotting, They are all laying on the beach and if you are slow and quiet you can lay really close to them.(they are fresh water cros not salt water)  The sun was shining, I couldn’t believe it was the last walk I would do in the Kimberley. What a simple life, I was so happy.

On the drive to Broome, we stopped for lunch at the boab prison tree. It was a somber reminder of the atrocities the aboriginals went through when the white settlers first arrived. They used to chain the aboriginals around the tree until they could transport them to pearl farms to work as slaves. Boab trees are an important part of Aboriginal culture, making this history even sadder. But, it was still an important site to see and I was glad we stopped there.

The rest of the journey was filled with lots of laughs and sharing our favorite stories from the tour. We made a quick stop in Derby to buy a bottle of champagne then rocked up to Cable Beach for a gorgeous sunset over the ocean and to cheers to a great tour that I will never forget.

So, to conclude, well the food was amazing, 3 meals a day, snacks, freshly made bread, I ate like a king. Sleeping in the swags under the stars every night. So many sunsets and sunrises over the beautiful country side.

It’s a once in a lifetime experience that I would recommend to you all!

I DID THE DARWIN TO BROOME 4WD TOUR. BROOME TO DARWIN IS ALSO POSSIBLE, AND USUALLY MORE POPULAR.

If you would like to read more about Carla's trips Around Australia you can here:

Road trip up the West Coast Perth to Exmouth

Can you go to Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks during the Wet Season?

Happy Travels!

Tours to get you there





Explore the wonder of the Kimberley region

9 Day 4WD Darwin To Broome Tour

This small group 4WD tour takes in all the Top End sights you can think of. Adventure tours don't get much better than this, with Lake Argyle and The Bungle Bungles being the highlights.
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