10 days in the Kimberley Region - A Trip Report

Aug 18th, 2008, 06:22 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 297
10 days in the Kimberley Region - A Trip Report

Just returned from a self-drive trip in the Kimberley Region of WA. We (DH and I) had a wonderful time and can't get over just how starkly beautiful this relatively unknown region of Australia is.

We flew from Sydney on a Friday and spent the night at the Darwin Airport Resort so we could catch our early flight to Kununurra the next morning. I had an executive room booked there but they upgraded us to one of the bungalows. Very nice....except....Darwin has crazy flight times and we were awoken at 1:40AM, 2:30AM, 3:00AM and 5:30 Am by VERY loud flights taking off right overhead. I know, it's an airport but gosh.....it was loud

We arrived in Kununurra early on Saturday morning and picked up our 4WD rental car, a Nissan Pilot. I thought it looked a bit big and truckish for our needs, but we were awfully glad to have a big bad truck later in the trip. We wandered around Kununurra for the day, stocked up on supplies (beer, water and some munchies) checked into our Hotel, the Kimberley Grande (very nice...quite new).

The next morning we set off to our first real wilderness destination...the Bungle Bungles. the drive was around 350K or so with the last 53K on a completely 4WD track off the Great Northern Highway that crossed a cattle station called Mabel Downs and led into the Purnululu National Park. It was rough! At first I thought, hmmmm...my 2WD car could do this....then we came to the first river crossing! All told there were about 6 river crossings that did require a high clearance 4WD. It takes about 2 hours to cover that 53K to get into the park.

Our accommodations in the park were at the Bungle Bungle Wilderness Camp which is managed by Kimberley Wilderness adventures. This is a camp of about 30 "luxury tents" in the middle of the park. The tents were very nice complete with their own bathrooms (even a shower) and is powered by solar energy and a battery system. There is a dining hall under the stars and a cool campfire every night. Meals were served family style and were excellent.

Upon arrival we had time to do one of the 4 main hikes in the park. We set off to hike to Cathederal Gorge. This is a beautiful hike that takes you to a pool at the end of a dry creekbed that is undercut by all the erosion over about a zillion years. Its absolutely breathtaking.

The next day was a big one...we tackled 3 additional hikes, Mini Palm Walk, Echidna Chasm and Piccaninny Creek Lookout. All three were unlike anywhere we had ever been before.

Next destination....Home Valley Station
dkw is offline  
Aug 18th, 2008, 11:03 PM
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Thank you so much for your excellant and up to date North west Western Australia trip report.
LizzyF is offline  
Aug 18th, 2008, 11:28 PM
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Oh, but I'm not done just yet

I have segments on our stay at Home Valley Ranch and El Questro yet to come.
dkw is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 01:47 AM
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After 2 nights at the Wilderness Camp we got in our big 4WD and traveled north on the Great Northern Hwy till we reached the famous Gibb River Road. We then turned to the west to travel 69K to our next destination Home Valley Station.

The Gibb River Road seemed to be in quite good condition. We had our largest river crossing on this drive. We crossed the Pentecost River. It looked like it could be deep but was actually quite shallow, however still concerning since there was a crocodile warning sign posted just before the crossing. I made sure the doors and windows were locked and closed, lifted my feet up off the floor of the vehicle and off we went. No Worries!!

Home Valley Station is a working cattle station recently renovated to accommodate guests. Our room there was a typical motel room in what they call the bunkhouse. It was very nicely appointed with an especially large nice bathroom.

The station previously had camping facilities but just opened up 1st Aug for other guests in the bunkhouse and really luxurious riverfront bungalows.

There is an open air dining facility where meals are served buffet style for breakfast and dinner. Lunches are also available there as well.

Our first morning we set off on a hike to the gorge on the property. This is really rough country. Most of the walk was over huge boulders. The payoff was amazing!! The gorge was just spectacular. We were told you can swim there even though there is a freshie that lives in the gorge.....ummmmm....I passed on the swim!!

Later that afternoon we decided to go on a couple of the organised tours offered by Home Valley. We along with two other couples hopped in a "Troopie" with our guide David for a Bogey run (ie swim) at Bindaloo Falls.

David was a great guide and showed us many amazing sites at the station. He also hosts the birdwatching tours at HV8 and was able to lure birds to us with a certain whistle he has mastered. We then went on to the falls and clambered down over huge rocks to our swimming hole. Ahhhh...refreshing! He said there is a Freshie in that swimming hole as well, but didn't seem too concerned. I was keeping an eye out for it myself

We then headed off to our Sunset Lookout point and were treated to wine, beer and a lovely fruit and cheese platter. The sunset over the Cockburn Range was beautiful. David also let us know that the upcoming movie Australia was filmed right in the valley we were overlooking.

After two nights at HV8 we were moving on to El Questro. Since were weren't able to check into our tent right away we drove up to Wyndam and checked out the Croc farm. We arrived at feeding time and i will say...they have some HUGE crocs there!!

We then went on to El Questro and the Emma Gorge Resort there. El Questro is also a working Cattle Station with an immense wilderness park. It was easily the most commercially developed of the three places we went. They also have a variety of accommodations ranging from camping to a super luxurious resort. We stayed in one of their deluxe tents. Again, it was a tent, but with its own bathroom facilities. They also had an open air dining facility with an area for breakfast and buffet dinners and an ala carte restaurant.

When we arrived we had time to do the Emma Gorge Walk right near our section of the park. this is a very rough, rocky trail that leads to a beautiful waterfall with a swimming pond. The water is very cold there, but even so a great number of people were swimming. DH hopped in for a swim....I took pictures and waded around a bit.

The next day we headed off to another area of the station to Zebedee Springs. This is a tropical looking area of hot springs. just gorgeous w/ waterfalls and numerous pools to soak in. Quite a contrast from the water from the day before.

That afternoon we took a Chamberlain Gorge Cruise offered by the resort. The highlight of the cruise is an area where the guide gives you all a tiny piece of bread for you to hold out for the Archer Fish. They then very accurately spit at you. Just Crazy!!

The next day we had to head off to catch our flight from Kununurra to Darwin. We then had an 8 hour layover in Darwin so we went to Mitchell St to get some dinner. We then went back to the airport to catch our red eye back to Sydney.

All in all...a great trip...alot of miles over dusty rough road, but we loved every minute!
dkw is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 08:38 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Thanks dkw. Brings back very fond memories of our trip to the Kimberley in '97, when we saw the Bungle Bungles and traveled the Gibb River Road to Broome over 6 days, though not in such nice accommodations as yours - we slept out under the stars, no tents. I remember well the bone-jarring last 50 kms out to the Bungles - but absolutely well worth it!!! You are right, the Kimberley is indeed starkly beautiful, unknown and unspoiled. It's nice to know such places still exist on this planet.
RalphR is offline  

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