For most Australians, just getting to The Kimberley is a major undertaking. The distances are huge, the time required is significant and the time of the year is critical. Some choose to fly to the area and hire a vehicle while others enjoy the journey and take in the many and varied sights along the way. Whichever you choose, being well prepared is key to a fun and exciting trip.
Having recently spent 3 months on the road travelling from Adelaide to the Kimberley and down the west coast with a caravan and tent in tow, it soon became clear that some inside knowledge was very useful in making the trip enjoyable.
So here are some important tips I’ve learned and lived by along the way that has helped me to love visiting The Kimberley.
The best time of the year to visit the Kimberley Region
Travel to The Kimberley is best between May and September.
If you want a powered site in a caravan park, book months ahead
Be there by 3 pm if you want any choice of a site in a campground – whether it be a free park or a National Park.
However, be prepared for the crowds. If travelling between May and September, you won’t be alone.
Take a tent even if you’ve got a caravan
Many of the great sites are along The Gibb River Road, which is a rough road but is constantly being improved. Even if you are a caravanner and have a 4WD, you can only go into Purnululu National Park with a 4WD, and caravans are not allowed, so your best bet is to keep a tent with you in case.
Fortunately, many caravan parks will store your van while you go off on a tenting adventure for a few days. It would be a great pity to travel that far and miss out on some of the most spectacular scenery.
Have plenty of food and water
Make sure you prepare and bring everything you will need on the trip.
Check your vehicle before you go
Your vehicle should be in tip-top condition and carry at least basic spares – especially if travelling on the Gibb River Road or heading up to Mitchel Falls.
Don’t go too fast
Don’t travel at high speed, especially on dirt roads. Apart from the fact that you will miss some great scenery, showering fellow travellers with stones is never a good look.
Have your headlights on during the day
The extra visibility is significant, especially on dirt roads.
Strolling along the Derby Wharf in the Kimberley.
Don’t rush your trip to The Kimberley
To get true value for the effort of getting there, spend at least 2-3 weeks exploring. Plan this trip well ahead and ensure you can get enough time off work to really do justice to the area.
Beware of crocodiles!
Don’t camp at the water’s edge in isolated areas or swim in any un-patrolled beaches or rivers that have not been cleared by park rangers. This is crocodile country and a hungry croc will eat first and worry about the consequences later. Make sure you’re not the meal.
Don’t be hassled by crowds, slow moving caravans or corrugated roads. If these things are really going to upset you, it’s probably better to go somewhere else.
Watching as a Seaplane goes by.
Don’t overtake if it’s too dusty to see
Don’t pass vehicles on dirt roads if the wind is not blowing the dust away for you to see well ahead. Meeting an on-coming truck in the middle of a dust cloud is a guaranteed disaster.
Visit the Northern part of the Dampier Peninsula
In the north of Broome. It is a most spectacular coastal area that is owned and managed by the local aboriginal communities that provide magnificent campgrounds, great fishing opportunities and a true remote country experience.
Take a half-day trip to the Horizontal Waterfalls
Save up your pennies and take a half-day trip to the horizontal waterfalls. Board a seaplane in Broome or Derby for an hour’s flight over the Kimberley and land on the water between towering mountains.
This is a buzz that you won’t forget for a very long time. If you can only afford one big spend item on your trip (about$700 per person), this is it. Book well ahead here.
If this hasn’t already got the adrenalin pumping, then the super fast boat ride travelling into the rushing waters of the horizontal falls will probably do it.
Walk through Tunnel Creek
Visit Tunnel Creek and walk through the pitch black tunnel that weaves under a small mountain before emerging 800 metres later on the other side.
To add to the fun, most of the walk is through waist deep water.
Take a torch and shoes that can be worn in the water and challenge your fears – it’s a buzz.
Windjana Gorge in the Kimberley.
Just pop into the Visitor Centres
The Kimberley is a stunning place to visit, and planning and a reasonably laid-back attitude will ensure you get the most from the experience. Happy Travels.
Have I whetted your appetite for a fantastic adventure in The Kimberley? Or have you already had the opportunity been? If so, where would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.
About the writer...
After experiencing camping, and being a boy scout as a child, I developed a love of the outdoors and the outback. I’ve taken every opportunity to travel across the outback through South Australia, the Northern Territory, and down the Western Australian Coast. In more recent times, after becoming an empty nester, I have organised and led many outback trips for family members, friends and acquaintances, to explore some of the more remote places across the country.