The goal with the Gold Standard is to save you time, energy and money.
We want to help you avoid the pitfalls of your next Kimberley pilgrimage.
You might only do it once, and you don’t want to waste your time with second-rate mobs.
So, here we go, here’s your spotlight on ten Kimberley icons. Featuring everything from station stays to holiday parks, this is a guide that’s built to cover the full gamut of experiences and budgets…
Go north young man, to the tip of the Dampier Peninsula and hang a hard right in the direction of Mission Bay, here you’ll find Australia’s best known pearl farm and a springboard to so much more.
Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm has been a must-stop for decades for all who ply the western flank of the Kimberley, either by 4WD or by boat.
It’s a destination that has it all, and that’s before you even start touring the irridescent waters of the Buccaneer Archipelago.
THE SETTING: The peculiar tidal flow at King Sound has made it the ultimate place to cultivate pearls since chancers arrived here 140 years back. Here at ‘lands end’ you’ll find one of the most famous pearl farms anywhere on earth, though these days it’s often overshadowed by its tours and accommodation options.
THE STORY: The pearl farm was founded by Dean Brown in 1946. Dean was navigating the Kimberley coast in a wooden lugger when he discovered the secluded and unspoilt beauty of Cygnet Bay along with the precious gift of the Pinctada Maxima pearl shell.
This is where his pearling dream was realised, with the creation of the first Australian owned and run South Sea pearl farm, before this only the Japanese had the expertise to culture pearls. Dean’s son Lyndon, was the first non-Japanese to successfully culture pearls and to do so in a commercial manner.
With the same respect and connection to the sea, the Brown family are proud custodians of their grandfather’s 70-year legacy. As one of only three remaining pearl farms in the Broome area – the Browns are proud to welcome you into their family story and share in the rich history of the area.
THE ATTRACTION: The tours at Cygnet Bay are put together with the same meticulousness that they bring to their pearling operations. They have a range of time-proven experiences that will see you really involved with this particular nook of the Kimberley. They’ve gained a nationwide rep, especially for their giant tides and Waterfall Reef Sea Safaris. Our enduring favourite each time we’ve been through here would have to be the ‘Sunset In Style’ tour.
THE DRIVING: Are you kidding, this is the Dampier Peninsula! If you can’t find epic beach runs and challenging corrugations to get your wheels dirty out here, then you might need to pack it in. And this is your last chance to do it, with the paved road being opened at the end of 2020.
THE ACCOMMODATION: Master Pearler’s Private Retreat: The original family homestead offers complete seclusion and privacy on its own elevated headland.
Safari Tents: Nestled between the foreshore and remnant Kimberley rainforest are ten comfortably appointed safari tents (with newly renovated deluxe versions installed last year).
Pearlers’ Shacks: Stay in the self-contained heritage buildings used by early pearlers.
THE DINING: Visit the licenced restaurant for brekky, lunch or dinner for a good feed, cold beer or even just a dip in the only pool on the peninsula. Insider tip: try the local specialty of pearl meat, fresh from the farm.
THE CAMPING: Campsites are limited so are well worth booking in advance. There are less than ten sites but they are powered and secluded in a shady alcove.
THE X FACTOR: The Australian Pearling Story starts with the local Bardi Jawi people. Discover the ancient art of ‘Riji’ pearl shell carving with Bruce Wiggan’s beautiful artwork on display and for sale from the farm gallery, or join Terry Hunter on his Borrgoron Coast to Creek tours to share in his family connection to country at Cygnet Bay.
THE MUST-DO: A must for all who make the drive out here? You need to find out how the harvesting process works, otherwise known as their ‘Discovery Tour’.
(08) 9192 4283
The Dampier Archipelago is the west wing. It’s the arm that flutters on the Kimberley’s port side with a colour clash of red shoreline and lime ocean.
At the very tip, you’ll reach Cape Leveque, and Kooljaman Wilderness Camp, a legit touring icon, and a final destination where tourers feel like they’ve made it to paradise and can take it all in.
This is Bardi Jawi country and the rare experience that any 4WDing tourist can engage in here with the locals simply cannot be done anywhere else in Australia.
THE SETTING: You’ve made it. After a bumpy couple of hours in the saddle, the iconic red Cape Leveque Road deposits you at the gates of paradise, right here at Camp Kooljaman.
Cape Leveque deserves every bit of its wrap as one of Australia’s favourite remote coastal destinations, and Kooljaman is the shining gem in the Cape’s crown.
Sublime beaches are adorned with rustic beach huts, all the mod cons you could desire, and all bathed in that indescribable Kimberley light. Take me to Kooljaman!
THE STORY: The local Bardi Jawi people set up shop here at the tip of the peninsula eons ago, and they’ve developed a culture in tune with the marine ecosystems they interact with daily. Kooljaman is regularly held up as a prime example of indigenous tourism done right. The camp is owned and run by the local communities who form the board. The managers and staff are friendly and their welcoming vibe is infectious.
THE ATTRACTION: The cultural tours are on another level. The tour guides Bundy, Brian Lee, and Bolo Angus, draw on decades of lived experience plus the knowledge of ancestors to impart some real wisdom on visitors.
Learn to identify seasonal bush fruits, then take a crash course in traditional fishing and mudcrabbing methods before putting your skills to the test and whipping up a sensational fresh caught seafood feast.
THE DRIVING: Seriously, some of the best beach runs anywhere. Take Brian Lee’s cultural tour and follow his trusty HiLux through the dunes, deep into Bardi Country and explore the hidden reaches of Hunters Creek.
THE ACCOM: Deluxe Safari Tents: Perfect for couples. Complete with king size bed, gas BBQ, private ensuite and spacious balcony with uninterrupted views.
Family Safari Tents: Spoil yourself and family. Awesome views, ensuite, decks, one queen bed and two singles.
Ensuite Cabins: Ideal family option with queen bed plus three singles and an extra trundle. All set in a private bushland setting.
Beach Camping Shelters: Get your Robinson Crusoe on. These beach shelters are simple but elegant and allow you to get back to basics with a million dollar view.
Camping: Powered and unpowered sites to match every camper’s needs.
THE DINING: At Raugi’s Restaurant experienced chefs marry modern culinary techniques with local ingredients to create distinct Kooljaman feasts. Midweek pizza + live music is a specialty.
Pro Tip: Try the barra. But if you want to match it with a crisp glass of sauv blanc, you’ll need to bring your own, this being a ‘dry’ region. BYO is welcome.
THE CAMPING: For our money, you just can’t beat a couple of nights in the Beach Camping Shelter.
Each shelter has palm frond walls and roof with a sand floor, private fire pit with a night’s wood supply, picnic table, outdoor freshwater shower and a view you’d mortgage your left kidney for.
THE X FACTOR: The locals are full of fantastic stories. Make the effort to join them on the 4WD, cultural and fishing tours and you’ll be brimming over with new knowledge bites to drop on your mates and family back home.
THE MUST-DO: If you’re any way piscatorially inclined, get out there for a day’s fishing on the good ship Oolard, or try a daytrip out to Sunday Island. Almost within casting distance of the shore, the skipper will have you stuck into shoals of coral trout, blue line emperor and perhaps even a feisty Spanish mack.
(08) 9192 4970
Search the earth for a more exotic natural marvel than the Bungles. You might come up with that bottomless sinkhole cave in Borneo, maybe the lagoon at Bora Bora, but when you see the Bungles up close not much can compare.
These pine-cone shaped pyramids sit at the heart of any East Kimberley mission, a natural axis from which other geographic marvels and adventures seem to rotate.
While those who do the drive-then-walk option won’t be disappointed, when you catch the Bungles from the sky, you’ll be left speechless by the cluster of stone beehives that are crosshatched by shimmering Picaninny Creek.
THE SETTING: The Bungles have a dreaming history that goes back 20,000 years, with the egg shaped mountains being sacred to both the Djaru and Kija people. For the last 30 years AviAir have been taking people over this land. These days they offer a range of flights and tours, from half-hour flights to custom ‘glamp-over’ trips that last a couple of days.
THE STORY: Being wedged up in a remote national park on the Northern Territory border meant that the spectacular stone stadium didn’t reach the western world until 1983(!). AviAir began not long after, with a combined team of Kimberley aviation experts.
THE ATTRACTION: They’ve built up a reputation for tailored air safaris and fly/drive/boat tours from the Bungles to Lake Argyle, Mitchell Falls, King George Falls and the Argyle Diamond Mine. Too many options to list, it’s best to check their site.
THE DRIVING: A lot of folk drive the corrugated East Spring Track off the highway, which can turn the road into a dustbowl at the wrong time of day. But if it’s not too busy, the view from the windscreen at ground level can be pretty epic in its own right. HeliSpirit’s chopper tours leave from Bellburn Airfield in Purnululu NP.
THE ACCOMMODATION: For something special, check in on the ‘glamp-over’ tours for a full luxury experience that will fly you to a whole bunch of East Kimberley gems and secret safari tents over a few days.
THE X FACTOR: AviAir know these skies better than anyone, with tourist flights being only part of their business. They are also responsible for essential services, emergency extractions and mail delivery.
THE MUST DO: Because the Bungles are located in the vast Ord River catchment area, it makes sense for them to unite the Bungle Bungles and Lake Argyle together on combined air and boat tours. The plane makes it to the boat in time for sunset too.
Just beyond Australia’s most iconic underbody rinse – the Pentecost Crossing on the Gibb – you make a hard right turn and enter a stunning new world. This is the turnoff to Home Valley Station.
After days bouncing in the saddle, you start to think that not much has ever changed on the 700km stock route old stock route. The views are as stunning as the corrugations are unforgiving.
But there is an historical haven, one of Australa’s biggest stations, where you can ease your road-weary ailments, overnight, and then come out swinging with a whole series of super adventures, from whitewater boating to the best helifishing in Australia.
It’s not hard to find, it’s one of the biggest cattle station’s on the planet, and never has a station had a more apt name, because at all times it feels like you’re home.
THE SETTING: At the foot of the towering Cockburn Ranges you will find touring nirvana. This is where the modern 4WDer can gain access to a private world of adventure, albeit a big private world, given that it’s Australia’s fifth biggest cattle station. It’s a playground like none other; whether you want to fish for plentiful barra, relax and soak up the wild scenery, or get inspired by the living Aboriginal history.
THE STORY: Home Valley has a strong connection not just with the European settlement of the region, but also to the ancient civilisation of the local Aborigines. The development of tourism at Home Valley Station has worked hand in hand with an onsite training academy designed for indigenous locals.
THE ACCOMMODATION: It’s been a simple path to success for Home Valley Station, they are driven by one overarching mission statement –providing anyone who sets foot on their property with the ultimate outback experience. And the accommodation across the station provides options for tourers who might have a very different idea of what the ultimate outback experience is.
At the luxury end of the scale you’ll find the renowned Grass Castles on Bindoola Creek.
Then there are the Guesthouse Rooms that act as a bush getaway for couples and families.
Then there’s the safari-style Eco Tents, that are pitched to those seeking an intimate natural retreat.
THE CAMPING: If star-side sleeping is more your bag, Home Valley is famed for having the Gibb’s two best camping setups, at either the Station Campground or the Pentecost River Bush Camp. If we don’t have to do any on-the-road editing while we’re in Home Valley, this is our usual go-to.
THE X FACTOR: There’s one particular foray that we are ensnared by every time we visit, and that’s the Pentecost River fishing tours operated by the boys at Northbound Charters. In no small part due to getting your catch cooked by the expert chef back at The Dusty. If we’re travelling with our better half, we’ll also tick off the Sunset Tour, which is set off by sparkling wine and canapés.
THE CONNECTION: Home Valley Station is owned by the Indigenous Land Corporation and they have long championed sustainable employment for locals from the area.
THE MUST-DO: A new inclusion into the mix. You. Have. Never. Done. A. Pub. Crawl. Like. This. That’s right, a heli pub tour of the East Kimberley, starting in Kununurra, before touching down at The Dusty to swim, eat lunch and imbibe in an amber refreshment or two. From there, the flying pub crawl continues; to El Questro Station, then onto the Hoochery Distillery. The crawl is a collab with Helispirit, so you know the tour is just guaranteed to be one of the best days of your life.
If you’re talking about launch pads to adventure, no place can hold a candle to Kununurra, where you can easily shoot off into 1000 different East Kimberley directions.
This is Northwest delta country, where the land is governed by life-giving rivers that crisscross through stunning country in the form of gorges, waterfalls, lakes, jungle and savannah.
Kununurra is the opposite bookend to Broome in the west, and it’s a town that’s always got an incredible vibe because it’s either the start or end of every 4WDers’ pilgrimage. Either way, people are smiling in Kununurra.
THE SETTING: This year represents a hat-trick of Gold Standard gongs for Kununurra Country Club Resort. And deservingly so, become there are few places that make 4WDers as welcome anywhere in Oz. As far as word of mouth goes, this place is always talked about glowingly when you bump into other tourers along the Gibb. It’s all about ease here, and it’s the perfect base for deeper missions to the Ord River’s reaches, or Purnulu NP.
THE STORY: Even though it’s the largest outpost between Broome and the Top End, Kununurra is still only home to 6000 people and retains an idyllic village vibe. It’s a relatively new town too, created to service the damming of the Ord River some 50 years back: the result of this being Lake Argyle and decent year-round irrigation.
THE ATTRACTION: Kununurra is the axis, from whence all East Kimberley adventure branches from. And right at the heart of this axis, you’ll find this place – centrally located to everything in Kununurra, but the layout of the resort is such that your room is still surrounded by a green and blissful privacy. It’s the ultimate place to kick back, switch off your odometer-weary bones, and plan your next foray.
THE DRIVING: If you threw a dart at a map of the best offroading in Australia, the bullseye would land squarely at the Country Club. All of the Kimberley’s greatest hits are nearby; the stations, the rivers, the lakes. If you zoom out slightly, you’ll also see you’re right on the NT border, should you want to chase northern jungles; and just a couple of hours from the Canning Stock Route, should you want to chase empty deserts.
THE ACCOM: The reason the Country Club has been a winner for so long is due to the uncomplicated, luxurious and modern rooms, surrounded by native tropical gardens. The spacious rooms are also drenched with hyper-chilled air-con. Though most of the rooms are King and Club sized, there’s also a selection of rooms configured for families and, if you have strange numbers and strange touring buddies, there are triple-share options, interconnecting rooms, whatever you’re chasing.
THE X-FACTOR: As far as the best eating in the East Kimberley goes, few places have as strong a rep as Kelly’s Bar & Grill, and it just so happens to be on premise here at the Country Club. Sure it’s well priced and the food is next level, but the experience is magnified because you’re on a shaded deck overlooking the swimming pool.
(08) 9168 1024
The real Kimberley – the cattle, croc and station country – can be found, ready to access, just an hour or two inland from Broome.
The Great Northern Highway will take you to the Derby region, to the mighty Fitzroy River, which, when it’s swollen from rain, is Australia’s largest.
This is a land as untouched as it is uncompromising, so if you’re planning on finding out a little more about this place, you can drive straight into the heart of it, with direct access to Yeeda Station, the working cattle station just past the famous Willare Bridge.
THE SETTING: Yeeda Station is 150 clicks east of Broome, and encompasses the mouth and the endless coastal plains of the Fitzroy River. This is a property that has it all, where you can cut the tethers of responsibility, and plug into a stunning new reality that beckons you constantly from your windshield and your tent zipper.
THE STORY: Yeeda was settled 140 years ago, and remains as the oldest running cattle station in the Kimberley. The property was wisely positioned along a series of old stockroutes, first sheep, then cattle, that were driven across the floodplains to the Derby meatworks and beyond.
The historical station was once part of the Sir Sidney Kidman empire and changed hands several times over the years before being picked up at the turn of the millenium by Jack and Vicki Burton, and now Yeeda Pastoral Company. In recent years they’ve opened the station up for travellers and haven’t looked back.
THE ATTRACTION: This has been one of the hardest sections to write. I mean, what can’t you do here, it’s a blank canvas for offroad adventure. You can fish for barra in isolated river reaches, you can pull in a haul of muddies, you can go croc spotting. ou can hike through trippy backdrops and drive through virgin 4WDing terrain. You can even focus on the heavens above, with peerless bird watching opportunities, or you can even organise a heli tour of the region. That said, a lot of folk are quite happy with the view from the sprawling swimming pool back at base camp.
THE DRIVING: Guests might only have been invited onto the property in recent years, but word is getting out fast. As a guest here, you have access to looping tracks through quintessential Kimberley terrain. And don’t think it’s all of the axle-breaking variety, not too far from the station there are couple of gentler drives.
THE ACCOM: Like everything else at Yeeda, it’s pretty special. The highlight here being the epic glamping set-up. Private eco tents (with en-suites!) are close to the facilities of the homestead, swimming pool, etc. Each glamping tent is up off the ground, with its own deck looking out over a sleepy mob of wallabies. Gourmet meals are also available from their kitchen as the camp host is a French Chef, and his wife a pastry cook.
THE CAMPING: The powered tent and van sites here are kid friendly and bathed in shade. Due to the station being family-owned, they understand what pilgrims are seeking in a Kimberley campsite and will do anything to customise your trip. If you have a bigger group and it’s a special occasion you can even get them to cater a gourmet long-table dinner.
THE X-FACTOR: This is sacred land. The traditional Fitzroy owners include the Nyikina and the Warwa peoples, who laid down roots here some 40,000 years back. The locals call the place ‘Mardoowarra’ – a place where the river and its floodplains are of great spiritual and medicinal significance.
THE MUST DO: Head towards the mouth of the Fitzroy, here you’re as good a chance as anywhere in the deep northwest to land a metre-plus barra. Yeeda’s private barra holes are famed all over the Kimberley.
(08) 9192 8854
Welcome to ‘big river country’, which is what Kununurra translates to in English.
This is Australia’s most fertile delta, and the Mirrawong people named it because it’s where the rampaging Ord River blasts through the countryside in spectacular fashion … Everything from the sprayed cliffs of Black Rock Falls and Andy’s Chasm to the quieter reaches of Valentine Springs, Molly Springs and Middle Springs.
And they’re all handy to the town itself, which is why people don’t tend to just pass through – they tend to stick around, they tend to take a look around. Of course the other liquid attraction can be found at another legendary location known as ‘The Pub’.
THE SETTING: The Pub is as old as the town. Since the Ord was dammed to form Lake Argyle 50 years ago, this pub has been the meeting point for tourists, truckies farmers and adventurers. To be known as an iconic East Kimberley ‘Station of the Cross’, you have to have more than a functioning beer tap.
THE STORY: Since this watering hole opened in the 1960s, it’s been a central hub of the town, providing food, grog, and entertainment. And, since way back then, top quality accommodation as well.
THE ATTRACTION: All the attractions of the East Kimberley, and the entire Ord system are within grasp from your base at the Hotel Kununurra.
THE DRIVING: Take the trip out to Wyndham. It’s a rough old 100km but when we did the drive last year, we couldn’t believe we hadn’t done it before. Plenty going on out here, best checked out from Five Rivers Lookout, with its sweeping panorama over the meeting of the Ord, Pentecost, King, Forrest and Durack Rivers, before they all flow out into the sea.
THE ACCOM: The Pub has two enduring hallmarks that are known to all who pass through the East Kimberley. First off, personalised hospitality; and secondly, they cater to the room requirements of all touring parties. It’s not rocket science, but few have achieved the rep these guys have in delivering comfortable lodgings across all budgets, from their single and twin rooms, to their recently refurbished premium suites.
THE X FACTOR: The Pub is also home to Zebra Rock restaurant, which has become the go-to after spending the last month living out of a tent. Everyone from grey nomads to backpackers get gussied up up for an evening’s dining on the likes of Barramundi Bisque and dinosaur-sized t-bones.
THE MUST DO: Just minutes away you can check out Mirima NP, where you’ll fuind the little-known ‘Mini Bungles’, pint-sized sandstone domes similar to those found in Purnululu.
1800 450 993
Even if you’ve seen it in footage your whole life, still expect to be floored when you first clap raw eyeballs on Cable Beach.
It’s considered one of the World’s Top 10 Beaches for good reason.
The camels, the crystal clear water, the beer o’clock serenity… yep, the Kimberley might be the only place on earth where the gateway is just as stunning as the rest of the journey.
It’s where you’ll either be a) planning your pilgrimage, or b) successfully at the end of your trip, collapsing into the chalk white sand of one of Australia’s coolest historical towns.
The hardest thing you’ll have to do is leave, because you’ll think surely the rest of the Kimberley can’t be any better than this, and for some people this is as far as they get.
THE SETTING: Just a short salty stroll from the gleaming white expanse of Cable Beach, one of Australia, nay, the world’s, most coveted stretches of sand, you’ll find little reason to change out of your boardshorts.
After bumping across the Gibb’s million corrugations, this is your chance to chill.
THE STORY: Cable Beach has been attracting travellers of all stripes to its luminous shores since Broome first made it onto a map. In fact, the gleaming white strip of sand earned its name after the telegraph cable laid between Broome and Java, deep beneath the Indian Ocean, way back in 1889.
The bone-white shores and soft red ochre cliffs are known to send visiting photogs into fits of frenzied delight. Mind you, that’s only if they can manage to drag themselves from lazing on the beach or beneath the swaying palms by the resort pool.
THE ATTRACTION: Location, location, location!
Over the road from the best strip of sandy real estate in town, the RAC Cable Beach Holiday Park is one of nine RAC Parks & Resorts properties dotted between WA’s most iconic destinations.
The park is just a kilometre from the lively local restaurant precinct and just a seven-minute drive to the bustling heart of Broome.
With all the facilities you could want on hand, the scenery and a balmy tropical climate through the entire touring season, you’d be mad not to take the opportunity to stop and recharge your batteries.
THE DRIVING: 4WDs are permitted on Cable Beach ‘north of the rocks’ with vehicle access provided at Cable Beach Road West. The flat sandy expanse is spot-on for low tide forays and offers one of the best beach driving backdrops in WA.
THE ACCOM: Suit yourself. Seriously, there’s something for everyone at this place.
Two Bedroom Cabins: A roomy two bedder was our choice when dropping past for a couple of nights last year with film crew in tow and a bunch of electronics to charge. Sleeps up to six.
Studio Cabins: Ideal accommodation for couples and singles. Treat yourself to a night or two in a proper bed under air con.
Powered Van Sites: Number one choice for self sufficient travellers, who want to post up in paradise without the price tag.
Talking of great value, lay-by payment plans are available and RAC members save 20%. There are even pet friendly sites available.
THE DINING: The park is just a 10-minute stroll from Cable Beach’s cosmopolitan foodie strip. You won’t struggle to find top tier coffee options, or fantastic brunching, and lunching.
THE CAMPING: Shady, spacious sites are suitable for camper trailers, caravans and even motorhomes. All in close proximity to the amenities block, laundry, camp kitchen and barbeque areas.
THE X FACTOR: Broome in general, and Cable Beach in particular, feels like an exclamation mark on any proper Kimberley journey. You’ve seen the sites, survived the long days in the saddle, now drink in the beauty and get your Zen on.
THE MUST-DO: Visit Gantheaume Point. It’s at the southern end of Cable Beach and marked by a lighthouse. The rocky headland is the pre-eminent local whale watching possie, plus at low tide you can check out the 130-million year old dinosaur footprints.
1800 871 570
When it comes to places to base yourself, Broome is a town of two beaches. First off there’s Cable Beach, where it’s camels and white sand. Not far away you have Roebuck Bay, where the sand is crayon red and the water looks dizzier and fizzier than lime cordial
The bright sea at Roebuck Bay is also alive, with rare snubfin dolphins and dugongs, and it has rightly received Marine Park status.
Enter the Moonlight Suites, where you can inhale one of the finest bay views in the Kimberley from your room, from the lawn, or from the gargantuan swimming pool.
If that’s not enough to have you booking a room, there’s this, it’s right next door to a brewery.
THE SETTING: To put it simply, Roebuck Bay is a visual marvel. Its crescent and red cliffs fan down a wind-protected expanse, and due to the big tides, every time you look out at it you notice something different. The bay is sacred too, and it also goes by the name of Yawuru Sea Country.
THE STORY: Roebuck Bay was named after the ship William Dampier steered into paradise, back at the turn of the 18th Century. But the bay had been well utilized for food and fun for eons by the Jukun and Yawuru people.
THE ATTRACTION: Moonlight Bay Suites have a well-deserved reputation as a perfect vantage to explore Broome. The Suites are within snatch-strap swinging distance to the Sun Picture Theatre, Courthouse Markets, China Town, Pearl Luggers, and the Bird Observatory. That’s if you can pry yourself from the tranquil grounds of the resort.
THE DRIVING: Probably the best, and most leisurely sunset drive in all of 4WDing is still just minutes away at Cable Beach.
THE ACCOM: It’s not just the lush grounds and the location, Moonlight Suites also have the full gamut of accom options. There are 1 & 2 bedroom fully self-contained suites, a 28m pool, poolside BBQs, a restaurant, and even an onsite day spa.
THE X FACTOR: The staff here go the extra yards! Touring 4WDers are a big part of their customer base and they’re ready to help in any way to make your Kimberley mission is a successful one; whether its checking in at 2am, or offloading some luggage for a couple of day. Even after we checked out, they gave us access to another guest room so we could have a shower before our next marathon drive to Port Hedland.
THE MUST-DO: We guarantee this fact goes someway towards the success of Moonlight Suites – it’s across the road from Matso’s Brewery. Take it from us, while you can have a whale of a time and still just walk home, don’t do it on the night before you leave.
1800 818 878
Now, we’re getting into the seriously exotic… because you have never seen anything quite like Lake Argyle. The eastern flank of the Kimberley is dominated by the Ord River delta, and the successful damming thereof, into the other-worldly reservoir of Lake Argyle.
You can trace the fertile headwaters of the Ord itself, into a world of scarps, jungle, savannah and wetlands. Or, you can visit the bizarre, colourful mountain range that seems to have slipped into a still lake.
While the surface of the lake might be placid, the action nearby certainly is not. This is a hotbed of adventure for 4WDing, walking, and most spectacularly, by boat. To take all this in, it’s not hard to see why Lake Argyle Resort is the logical basecamp.
THE SETTING: Why is this giant lake so bizarre looking? Because many moons ago, some actual geniuses were sick of seeing all the Ord’s monsoonal rains washing out to sea each year, and they decided to dam the basin. In doing so they were able to use the rainwater for irrigation throughout the rest of the year. As far as successful nation building projects go, it’s right up there with the Snowy Hydro Scheme. It made the region around the lake a fertile place for farmers, and also for modern explorers.
THE STORY: The world’s biggest diamond mine is not far away, and travellers couldn’t resist giving Lake Argyle Resort the title of ‘Jewel of the Kimberley’. And it’s a title deserved on its own merits. The resort hang-glides above the mirrored lake, and takes in the wild colourshow, that stretches from primary to pastel colours throughout each day. The resort is also set within the Mirriwung Gajjerong dreaming history. At 50, 000 years, it’s one of the oldest cultures on earth.
THE ATTRACTION: The Sharpe Family has been exploring their backyard since the dam was built 50 years ago. They set up Lake Argyle Tours to share their experiences, and have honed these tours in the decades since. The tours are all killer, no filler. You want a lunch tour or sunset tour? Or perhaps a float plane or a chopper is more your style? On our last trip we got our heart rates up with a canoe trip.
THE ACCOM: Options here are varied and all spectacular. Here are just three of them…
Lake View Grand Villas: Sprawling new 4-bedroom villas overlooking the lake.
Lake View Villas: One and two bedroom units overlooking the lake.
Studios and Cabins: Private, air-conditioned bungalows.
THE CAMPING: We’ve worked closely with these guys for a decade, simply because the place has it all. We’ve lived it up, up in the Villas when we’ve needed to treat ourselves, and we’ve stayed in the Caravan Park when we want to catch the world’s best star show. And both experiences are equally rewarding. Why? Because the 5ha camping area is flanked by hills and shaded from the harsh western sun that can make other campsites in the Kimberley an ordeal in the afternoons. You also have access to the restaurant and bar.
THE X FACTOR: Durack Homestead. It was rescued, moved brick by brick before the valley was flooded in the 1970s
THE MUST-DO: As far as life-affirming experiences go, they don’t come more stunning than the famous infinity pool. We did the Kimberley from Broome westward, and talked about hitting the pool for probably about six hours of that travel time. And then we spent about six hours in the pool when we finally made it. Well maybe not six hours but enough to have our skin prune up enough to resemble a mud terrain tyre.
(08) 9168 7777
Historically, Halls Creek is the East Kimberley’s great intersection of roads, tracks, people, and migrating animals. It’s also surrounded by a series of natural wonders including the Bungles, Sawpit Gorge, Palm Springs and China Wall.
And this where the Kimberley Hotel comes in. As a place where you can crash in comfort and easily reach out in the direction of wherever it is you’re going next, be it shorter localised trips or as part of a serious larger odyssey to Katherine, Alice Springs or Wiluna.
THE SETTING: Originally an old Aboriginal trading junction, the town now sits where the Savannah Way meets the Tanami Track meets the Canning Stock Route. Good luck finding a better geo-located base for serious 4WDing anywhere on the planet.
THE STORY: Like a lot of historic outposts, Halls Creek’s background is in gold. In the 1880s, thousands of desperados rolled into this crossroads. While the nuggets ran out in a couple of years, the diggers liked the place that much they stayed and built a town.
THE ATTRACTION: The Kimberley Hotel is an oasis in an otherwise rugged landscape. It has all the modern conveniences one could ever want at an oasis; a colonial style sports lounge, saloon bar, cocktail bar, restaurant and pool.
THE DRIVING: Most who hit Halls Creek are on a mission to see Wolfe Creek Crater via a corrugated trip out to the meteorite pit. But there’s other highlights close to town as well, like the eerie ‘Kimberley Stonehenge’ known as Walls of China. We came out here in a heat wave this year, so the best natural attraction while we were in town was the sprawling swimming hole at Sawpit Gorge.
THE ACCOM: The Kimberley Hotel is just by the local airport and 500m from the town centre. It offers stylish Kimberley accommodation and boasts the largest motel units in the region, so if you like a little breathing space you won’t be disappointed. The room setups can be customized too, no matter what formation you’re travelling, be it a group of touring families, or you’re just riding solo.
THE X FACTOR: Most tired 4WDers credit the layout of the hotel as a big bonus of their stays here. It’s all set amid shady gardens, with wide verandahs and pathways that connect each room to the reception complex.
THE MUST-DO: Just out of town, you can take a dip by way of a hot, bumpy road to the cool, calm waters of Palm Springs. The springs are shrouded in jagged palm fronds that give the pools a trippy ‘oasis’ look.
1800 355 228