The Gorgeous


The title of this page is a play on words because the Kimberley region of Australia is known for its fantastic gorges.   For those of you who are unfamiliar with Australia's geography, the Kimberleys are in the remote north western part of Australia (see map below).  Recently I spent a month exploring the area between Kununurra and Broome and I could have easily spent another 3 months there.  

On 2nd August 2001 I left Canberra and travelled to Kununurra by plane via Melbourne and Perth, a distance of 5446 kilometres (3381 miles) - the total flying time was approximately 8 hours and involved 3 changes of aircraft.  When I left Canberra (which is in the south eastern part of Australia) the temperature was zero degrees (it was winter), in Kununurra where we started our month long adventure it was 32 degrees C. (about 90 degrees F).

I had always imagined that the north western part of Australia would be hot with very little water except in the "wet season".  I was right about the heat and completely wrong about the water - it was everywhere!  From the huge dams of the Ord River and Argyle to delightful rivers, creeks and billabongs everywhere.  There had been an early "mini" wet season a few weeks before my arrival and much of the countryside was beautiful green grassland.

Canberra to the Kimberleys and return - a distance of well over 10,000 kms.

We spent a few days in Kununurra and Wyndham before travelling to Derby down the Great Northern Highway with the caravan.  From Derby, where we left the caravan, we travelled north again up the Gibb River Road to explore the gorge country.  The Gibb River Road is not for the faint hearted and there is absolutely no way you can do this trip unless you have a 4 wheel drive and are prepared to camp - by that I mean pitch a tent.  Those people who know me well will also know that until this trip, my idea of "camping" was the Sheraton or a similar 5 star establishment so I was a little apprehensive to say the least.

My enduring impressions of the Kimberleys are of the red rocks, vast blue sky, enormous expanses of flat grasslands and of course the gorges.  The  photographs on the following pages do not do justice to this part of the world.

First stop ...... Kununurra.

The first thing you have to remember about this region of Australia is that you are in crocodile country.  There are two species of crocodile - freshwater and saltwater.  According to the experts "freshies" are not generally aggressive but if provoked will give you a nasty bite, however saltwater crocodiles are another matter entirely.  "Salties" can grow to over 6 metres (over 20 feet long) and they are very aggressive.   Consequently there are signs everywhere warning people not to swim, fish or even stand near the waters edge. 

Ivanhoe Crossing which was closed due to flooding.

Lake Kununurra. There are several large dams in the Kununurra area and the countryside has benefitted greatly.  Sugar cane, melons, bananas and pumpkins are now grown there as a result of the irrigation.  The Lake Kununurra just outside of town has abundant birdlife and of course crocodiles.