8 weeks camping in the Kimberley

by Harry
(Briar Hill, Victoria)

Sawpit Gorge

Thank you for your great Kimberley Travel Guide Book, your passion for the area shines through.

We used several of your suggestions, including the campsite at the Durack River Crossing and Sawpit Gorge off Duncan's Road during our eight weeks travelling and camping throughout the Kimberley and Dampier Peninsula.


I was disappointed with the number of fellow travellers who didn't travel to the Dampier Peninsula because they had been told that all campsites had been booked out. This may have been correct for Middle Lagoon and Cape Leveque, but we were alone for two nights at Chile Creek, and for three nights as one of only six campers at the fantastic campground at Gambanan. We know that many other campsites were far from full. We also found three nights free at Middle Lagoon.

Echidna Chasm

We timed our entry to Echidna Chasm in Purnululu a little before high noon, as you suggested.

As we moved through the narrow chasm, we were greeted by a narrow band of firey orange glow at the end of the narrow dark passage extending all the way to the top of the cliff edge. One of the most spectacular scenes ever experienced. It was gone when we left.

I cannot recommend too highly Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary. The drive in is one of the most scenic drives off the Gibb River Road. It is only matched by the drive to Dimond Gorge.

We also took your advice on driving the Duncan Road from Old Halls Creek to Kununurra. As an alternative to the bitumen, it is highly recommended.

Bell Gorge

Our favourite view was after we followed the rock shelf downstream from the falls at Bell Gorge. We climbed to a point adjacent the lower falls - and looked back.

Lynne and I spent five nights camped beside the King Edward River, it could have been forever. We pointed many people in the direction of the Aboriginal art sites near the King Edward River camp areas. There are two, the burial site on the left just after crossing the river - the other on the right about three km west of the camp ground. These were the most easily accessible sites, and offered a wide range of styles. The visit to Mowanjum Arts Centre later in our trip, added a lot to our experience - topped off by attending the annual Mowanjum Arts Festival.

By allowing ourselves eight weeks in the Kimberley, we were able to soak it up, though we seemed to be on the go all the time. Sitting on the ledge overlooking Mitchell Falls, swimming several times a day in the King Edward River, standing ankle deep in the millpond waters of Pago at high tide surrounded by banana prawns, paddling through Dimond Gorge on the Fitzroy River, exploring the exposed reef at low tide at Gambanan, the bird hide Parry's Lagoon, identifying a dozen or more honeyeaters working the trees beside the camp at Purnululu, a sunset drive around the Cockburn Range on the Karunjie Road, it was just fabulous.

We found that starting our tour as early as we could, third week of May, was rewarding. The water was plentiful, the grasses and spinifex green and flowering, the wattles and grevilleas in flower all of which enhances the wonderful red soils.

It was a wonderful trip, clear blue skies except for one day while staying at El Questro. We spent the morning lazing around in Zebedee Hot Springs, pouring rain, and almost alone. It amazed us how we always seemed to find very few other people in the most beautiful places, as there were many thousands of fellow travellers on the road.

I could go on about lots of things, but you wrote the book. I must say, we used three guides, that published by the Derby Visitors Centre on the Gibb River Road, the Ron and Viv Moon Kimberley Guide and yours - your guide was the one most consulted.

The main advice I would offer to all travellers would be to plan to be there early, spend a lot of time and travel slowly, and ensure that stocks of fruit and vegies are enough to complete the Gibb River Road trip, as what is available enroute is very scarce.

We travelled in a medium sized 4wd and towed an old off-road camper. We found that there was nowhere we couldn't take the trailer to, this included Mitchell Falls and Kalumburu.

Where did they get all those Britz campers from?

Comments for
8 weeks camping in the Kimberley

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Oct 24, 2008
Great tips!
by: Birgit

Hi Harry, thank you so much for this great report! (Thanks also for your kind words and for sending in the additional photos.) I am sure people will greatly appreciate your tips.

It sounds like you had a wonderful trip and you certainly saw a lot more than the average traveller does. (It's amazing how many people embark on such a trip with next to no knowledge about the area.)

I can't tell you where all those Britz campers come from, but I do know they breed like rabbits...

Nov 25, 2008
britz campers - !!
by: Anonymous

A tale from Goondiwindi - sometime ago -
we always stop for a loo break here - travelled the back - well, backish road from NSW to QLD quite often. in the public loo i found a large beautiful spider in the handbasin - then the Britz turned up - i WAS going to go into raptures and say - just keep an eye out for the beautiful spider - when i discovered they were from europe somewhere and had on board facilities - which i thought would keep them safe from all aussie wild life.

Young bro does not think too highly of camper travellers who waste the best part of the day sleeping while he cooks his breakfast steak on the shovelover the fire.

Jan 01, 2009
Britz campers
by: Romy

I don't know if you mean that Britz caterpillar which travelled through the Kimberley in June 2008?
I was one of them and we started with 13 Britz campers from Alice Springs to Broome - Cape Leveque - Kununurra - Alice Springs in 28 days. It was a wonderfull ride and we visited many Gorges and attractions of the kimberleys.
I let my worries behind and enjoyed the freedom from this very empty and beautiful large landscape .
And now when I'm back in the Netherlands for 5 months, I'm still "no worried" and when I look back to the photo's I've made I.

Jun 24, 2009
Well done!!
by: June @ Grubby Tas

Hi Harry just wanted to congratulate you on your great story, you sound like us we really enjoy taking our time and having a good look around also finding wonderfull places with very few people. We are heading for the Kimberley area next year and we have plenty of time so your hints are great. I have also applied for the Kimberley guide Thanks again safe travel cheers June

B's note: June and Grubby's visit to the Bungles ten years ago

Jul 18, 2009
Your trip
by: Anonymous

Hi Harry, loved the story of your trip, we are planning exactly the same thing in 2010. We too are looking at taking a camper-trailer, & I'm quite interested to know how yours handled the Gibb River, etc? What accessories were a necessity with your campertrailer, etc, & even the brand you have & how it all held up.

Thanx, Happy Wanderers

Aug 29, 2009
Great Trip
by: Lance

G'day Harry, we spent about 5 weeks in the Kimberley region. After reading your report, which is very similar to ours, is a must for anyone who loves the outback. As a family of 5 it was a trip of lifetime and we could go back up there tomorrow and do it all again. As you mentioned the Dampier Peninsula was one of many highlights of our trip and is a must to see and do. We could of not seen and done as much as we did without the comprehensive Kimberley Travel Guide by Birgit. Thanks again B.

I could write on forever about what we saw and did in the Kimberley area, photos don't do the Kimberley justice, you have to see it yourself.

cheers,
Lance

Thanks for the kind words, Lance :-) B.

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