Four over 60's on the trip of our older lifetime (Kimberley and Northern N.T.)

by Ann Cullerton
(Central Coast NSW)

Well thank you Birgit for helping us feel confident to do so - My husband and I, along with our American friends, have just returned from a wonderful 5 week trip in the Kimberley and Northern N.T.

We flew from Sydney to Broome and spent 5 days in a very pretty town. After which we hired a 4WD Prado (none of us ever driving an off road large 4WD before) and especially on the notorious Gibb River Road...

IT WAS A BREEZE! We drove carefully, and combining our years of driving experience, did not have any trouble at all - even though we went off to see gorges along roads that were a lot worse than the Gibb River Road at times... We were a little lucky as SOME of the GRR had been graded just before we arrived.

We flew on the Seaplane to Horizontal Falls, flying over Cape Leveque - Buchaneer Islands - etc. and wow what a wonderful flight... Landing on the Talbot lake and then going thru the Horizontal Falls - jetboating thru the lovely scenery of the area then feeding the sharks and having a great Barra lunch... then flying back to the mainland. A TRIP NOT TO BE MISSED IF POSSIBLE...

From Derby we drove down the highway to Geike Gorge and onto a boat cruise down the gorge with excellent commentary. Then down to Fitzroy Crossing staying at the Fitzroy Inn - a great experience and great accommodation right on the Fitzroy River... with excellent dinners...

Then we drove from Fitzroy along the dirt road to Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge - two great places not to be missed. Then onto Bell Gorge - where we stayed for 2 nights at APT camp.
(This camp is luxury camping in tents but is not at Bell Gorge, you MUST NOT turn up the turn off to Bell Gorge but continue on the GRR another 9km to the camp site. Many folk went 30 km into Bell Gorge and found that they had to return another 30 km back to the camp, they were not happy little campers...

Bell Gorge is beautiful and worth seeing...

Then onto Mount Elizabeth, where Pat is an excellent host and we enjoyed our 2 nights here - exploring their wonderful property during the day.

Then onto Drysdale River Station - which is not run by the owners but by APT group - a little disappointed - as we could not take the hire car up Kalumburu Road to see the Mitchell Falls - and the 4wd tours from the station were no longer available only a flight over, which already finished mid September?

Suggest you stay on GRR if not doing the Falls as it is 60km in and 60km out on a very rough road to Drysdale - maybe go Ellenbrae instead (where we had morning tea).

We continued our journey to Home Valley (for lunch) then onto Emma Gorge and ElQuestro. Do not miss either of these great places - Emma Gorge Safari Tents are excellent and the food at the restaurant is very good. BUT the walk into Emma Gorge is the BEST (even if a little hard). Do it early morning or late afternoon.

Then into Kununurra via Wyndham and the 5 Rivers Lookout and spent one night at Hidden Valley next to Mirama National Park (mini Bungle Bungle structures).

Next day we drove down to the real Bungle Bungle where we stayed two nights in the safari tents - excellent all round.
We took a flight over the wonderful sights in a helicopter, my first experience in one at 64 yrs and it was just wonderful... So you younger folk can do it...

After 2 of the most exciting days of sight seeing around the area we returned to Kununurra for 2 nights before heading off to the Northern Territory.

Suggest that you look into a tour/trip from Kununurra to the Bungle Bungle - eg flight down (over Lake Argyle and the Diamond mines) to Bungle Bungle - then stay the 2 nights in the safari tents and explore yourself or with guide and then fly back to Kununurra. As the trip down is a little long and the road into the N.P. is very rough.

Sorry this report is a little long but we did do and see a lot and I could go on and on with more details but I think this gives you a fair idea of a great trip through an area well worth travelling along. We took approx. 3 weeks to do it but I suggest longer if possible. Although I have read of people who do it in less time and are still happy.

Hope this helps anyone thinking of doing it... Happy Travels -

Comments for Four over 60's on the trip of our older lifetime (Kimberley and Northern N.T.)

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Nov 26, 2011
Kimberley and NT
by: Birgit

Thanks for writing, Ann, and your report isn't too long at all! I'm glad I could help you find the confidence to do this and that you lived to tell the tale :-).

By the way, I share your disappointment regarding APT now handling the booking and tourism side of Drysdale, though my reasons may be different.
(Not sure if you are aware of it, they also took over Mt. Hart, as was to be expected. Charnley River changed hands too not too long ago, albeit at least not to APT. By now Pat is the only one left!)

It's the general direction everything is going atm. That's why I always tell people, if they consider a trip to the Kimberley they should make it happen ASAP. The old, authentic Kimberley is disappearing fast...

Jan 28, 2012
Kimberley Changing
by: Debbie

Just reading comments about the Kimberley and am saddenned to hear of the changes that have been happening.

We have been up a few times and each time more "wilderness camps" appear. As stated head up sooner rather than later and take in what is a truly remarkable piece of Australia.

I suppose I am being selfish but I would love to see it as I remember, doing the Mitchell Plateau,Cathedral Gorge (bungles) walks etc and not seeing another person.

It really scares me with Drysdale as the thought of all the extra vehicles on that road and what it will do, as well as making the beautiful Kulumburu area even more accessible for the traveller. It is a priviledge to go to such remote areas and should be cherished.

Jan 28, 2012
Mitchell falls
by: Joanne

We did the Gibbs river road in 2009 with our camp trailer, had the most amazine trip. I am bit confused, are you saying that because apt now run drysdale river that you couldn't get to Mitchell falls or was it a limitation from the car hire company.

Jan 29, 2012
Mitchell Plateau access
by: Birgit

Hi Joanne,

Maybe Ann will clarify further. This is what I understand. They were not allowed to take their hire car up to the Mitchell Plateau. (This is not unusual and I warn about that in my guide).

Therefore they had planned to do a 4WD tour starting from Drysdale. However, the tour they had hoped to join was not available.

Jan 30, 2012
No 4WD organised tours to Mitchell Falls
by: Ann (central coast)


Just to clarify my statement about the stay at Drysdale - We hired a 4WD from Broome but could not go past the station (or APT accomm) as the road is not OK'd by Hire companies.

I thought that because of this situation - there was a 4wd trip, organised by the Drysdale station to take visitors up to Mitchell Falls. But since the APT has taken over there are no walks available due to the the privacy of the Drysdale Homestead - no 4wd tours, only a flight tour over the area.

So, if your hired car cannot go up then I suggest, not to go 60kl in and 60kl out along a bad road - but to stay on G>R>Road, and continue onto Ellenbrae - Wyndham and then El Questro (Emma Gorge) Kununurra.

Hope this helps a little more.

Happy touring - Ann.

Apr 09, 2012
by: mindy

Hello All,

We are tossing up between doing an Outback Spirit tour of the Kimberley for $15000 (total) or going under our own steam and camping. We haven't camped before, however my husband is an ex farmer and very practical. We live in central NSW.

Could some kind people please give me an idea of how much they spent on their trip? Any pros and cons to consider about our options?

May 10, 2012
Costing by Mindy
by: Ann

Do it yourself - you will pay half the amount it will cost on the tour or even even less, especially if you will be self camping and not having to stay in the more expensive accommodation available in the remote areas of Western Australia including the Kimberley.

Follow the places that the tour does (plus more, as you will be able to stay longer if you want and detour to another close site if you wish). Read the trip we did (over 60's) above which was over 3 weeks - we also spent 1 week in Broome-Derby before and 1 week in NT after and stayed in the expensive safari tents 6 nights.

Hire 4x4 are very good and we had never driven one before SO you should be ok, especially as your husband is an ex farmer...but book it soon.

$7,000 looks a lot better than $15,000 and you will be then able to do the great extras like flights to Horizontal Falls, helicopter over the Bungles, flight over and visit to Argyle Mines etc etc....(if you wish to).

Good luck and happy travels.

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