Travelling in the Kimberley Region, Western Australia.
A "never-to-be-forgotten-experience", great photo opportunities and a few useful travel tips ...
Kimberley - a "widescreen" adventure
If you're into red landscapes, "gorgeous gorges", fairytale waterfalls and miles of beaches you'll get the whole package by visiting Kimberley in the north western part of Australia. The Kimberley region is a true paradise to a photographer. Check out some of my favorite photos in the Kimberley Photos Gallery.
This is where the film director Baz Luhrmann found the perfect setting for his movie Australia in which Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman were faced with the challenge of driving a large herd of cattle through this fantastic terrain. In fact, the scenery is even more spectacular than what you see in the movie.
There are gorges so deep and narrow that you feel dwarfed into insignificance when a sun ray penetrates the depths at midday. And there are plains so wide that you will need a map of the entire Australia to see how far you are from civilization - just in case you decide to head towards the distant horizon.
The rock pools beside the waterfalls are great for cooling off and at the west coast there are beaches so wide that a large Danish beach pales in size. But why isn't this magical place overrun with tourists -yet?
Echidna Chasm is a humbling experience
Photo: Rikke Folkersen
Gibb River Road
The serpent in paradise (or the challenge if you like) is the 660 km gravel Gibb River Road. A 4x4 is a must and even then you may run out of spare tyres if you don't take it easy and keep your speed down, especially along the rocky sections. At times the surface is quite even - at least for a gravel road - but suddenly it can feel like you're driving on corrugated iron.
To complete the challenge you have to cross the Pentecost River, which is full of salt water crocodiles and subject to tidal variations. Nevertheless, if you have the right car and adjust your speed to the conditions, you'll experience some of the worlds most spectacular scenery.
There is only one tarmaced road linking east and west Kimberley - the Great Northern Highway. With a two-wheel drive, which runs on petrol, sticking to the main road is almost your only option.
To visit the the famous rock formations Bungle Bungle, it's a 2-3 hour journey by 4x4 from the highway even though the road is only 52 km long. But go for it! You'll have to cross several creeks and the track twists and turns between the rocks. Sometimes you wonder which way - or if - the track will continue beyond the crest of a hill - but "no worries, mate" as the Australians say.
Providing you retain a spirit of adventure you'll have a lot of fun. Bungle Bungle. Gallery: Kimberley Photos
In fact Bungle Bungle or Purnululu National Park is one of the most fantastic sights, I've ever seen. As indeed are all the "gorgeous gorges", the waterfalls, the colourful ranges and the rock pools and ... why not see for yourself.
You can find a great travel guide to Kimberley in Western Australia here: Kimberley Australia Travel Guide. If you are not up for going it alone, there are plenty of links to package tours in 4x4 busses or you kan join a "tag along" tour and drive in a small convoy with other 4x4s.
Other useful links:
Gibb River Road, the Kimberley, WA: About the road, the gorges and accomodation.
Road Conditions, Kimberley Region: About the main roads, opening/closure, maintenance in progress etc.
Facts about Kimberley
Kimberley is in the north western corner of Australia.
Kimberley is about three times the size of England.
The total population is around 40,000.
The western most town is Broome and the town furthest to the east is Kununurra.
Only three towns have more than 2,000 inhabitants and some cattle stations are the size of the main island of Denmark, Zealand, or the county of Devon in the UK.
Only two roads run from west to east – or vice versa.
One of them is the Great Northern Highway, which is tarmaced. The other is the 660 km gravel Gibb River Road.
There are several side tracks, which can be as long as 100 km, that branch off the main roads. A journey of 50 km can depending on the road conditions take hours on such a track.
The Gibb River Road and some of the side tracks take you through stunning landscapes and several creek or river crossings (with no bridges). Some are more tricky than others. The Pentecost River (home to numerous saltwater crocodiles) is the best known. But again: With the right speed, the right car and the right spirit - it is usually not a problem in the dry season.
A 4x4 is essential. Caravans, standard camper vans and the like will not be able to withstand the rough terrain. The locals say they’ll simply disintegrate. (I saw one that did!)
The distances are huge and the roads are tough. Don’t expect to get anywhere quickly! But just reduce your speed and enjoy the scenery.
In the wet season, typically from October/November to April/early May, all roads are closed most of the time. Children attend the School of The Air and the Flying Doctor Service serves the remote areas.
Sunrise over Cockburn Range og Pentecost River. More pictures in Kimberley Photos
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