Perched on the northwestern hump of the loneliest Australian state, only half as far from Indonesia as it is from Sydney, the Kimberley remains a frontier of sorts. The first European explorers, dubbed by one of their descendants as "cattle kings in grass castles," ventured into the heart of the region in 1879 to establish cattle stations. They subsequently became embroiled in one of the country's longest-lasting conflicts between white settlers and Aborigines, led by Jandamarra of the Bunuba people.
The Kimberley remains sparsely populated, with only 35,000 people living in an area of 351,200 square km (135,600 square miles). That's about 12 square km (4½ square miles) per person. The region is dotted with cattle stations and raked with craggy ocher ranges, croc-infested rivers, tropical forests, and towering cliffs. Several of the country's most spectacular national parks are here, including Purnululu (Bungle Bungle) National Park, a vast area of bizarrely shaped and colored rock formations that became widely known to white Australians only in 1983. Facilities in this remote region are few, but if you're looking for a genuine Outback experience, the Kimberley represents the opportunity of a lifetime.