Mt. Hart Wilderness Lodge
Gibb River Road, WA

Mt. Hart Wilderness Lodge is located off the western half of the Gibb River Road.
The most scenic section of the Gibb River Road is where it climbs over the King Leopold Ranges, and that's exactly where you find Mount Hart.

The Mt. Hart lease covers almost a million acres in the King Leopold Ranges. The landscape is very different from the rest of the Gibb River Road, with its sheltered green valleys and many unusual geological features.

The access track makes for a very scenic drive, winding and climbing through the ranges. This really is a unique and exceptionally beautiful area.

Please see the December 8, 2010 newsletter special issue regarding some very disturbing news about the future of Mt. Hart.

When I visited Mt. Hart for the first time I was surprised to find the place totally different from what I expected. The official, promotional descriptions are in my opinion a little misleading. Maybe it's just me, but what I expected was one of those posh and manicured places, with focus on creature comforts, where everything revolves around pampering the discerning guests...

Luckily it's nothing like that! Mt. Hart is a wild and natural place, full of character and history, and 100% authentic Kimberley.

About Mt. Hart

Initially Mt. Hart was taken up as a pastoral lease. Different owners struggled from 1914 to 1987 to make the place work, but nobody succeeded. The area is just too rugged and remote.

Draughts and floods meant the homestead was shifted several times. The heritage homestead that accommodates visitors today was built in 1960.

Mount Hart Wilderness Lodge

Eventually Mt. Hart was declassified as a viable pastoral lease and finally the area was gazetted as the King Leopold Conservation Park in 2000.

Taffy Abbotts has managed Mt. Hart (as a joint management venture with the Department of Environment and Conservation) since 1990, and there wasn't much left of the place when he arrived. What you find here today is entirely the result of his dedication and love for the place.

Kim arrived at Mt. Hart to stay for one night, and five years later she is still here, giving Taffy a hand to run the show.

Between them they maintain, finance, extend and preserve Mt Hart's history, homesteads and gardens, something that unfortunately the DEC has not really shown much interest in.

The story of the establishment of the original homestead, in fact, the whole history of Mt. Hart, is well worth watching: Kim has skillfully put together a 12 minute DVD, hilariously narrated by the unimitable Taffy. You can watch the DVD at the bar at the homestead. It will make you laugh out loud a few times, but more importantly, it will make you look at the place with different eyes.

Staying at Mount Hart Wilderness Lodge

Accommodation at Mt. Hart is in two heritage homesteads with shared bathroom facilities. One building is the original homestead, and lucky you if you get to stay there. The place really has something. The second homestead was built by Taffy, in the same style as the original one. It looks very similar on the surface, but it doesn't shelter the same memories and spirits of the past.

The living area with fireplace at the original homestead.

The fly-screened living area with fire place at the original homestead

Accommodation prices include a three course dinner and a cooked/continental breakfast, as well as lunch and a complimentary cheese and champagne hamper if you spend more than two nights. The food is served buffet style, with a couple of dishes to choose from. The bread is baked freshly by Taffy and the ice-cream is home-made. (Once the ice machine is fixed...)

There is also a brand new campground, located on the bank of the Barker River. It's a lovely campground, especially right down in the bend of the river, where you can access it for a swim. Campers can of course book into the Eagle Rock Restaurant...

The Eagle Rock Restaurant

...or hang out at the Three Dingoes Bar:

Outdoor sitting area at the Three Dingoes Bar

Mt. Hart's dingoes are also special. They are pure dingoes that are not kept as pets but come and go as they like. However, they have been hand reared and are very friendly! You will certainly meet them because they hang around the homestad, they visit you in the campground and they are also known to sneak into the dining room...

The dining room at Eagle Rock restaurant.

The dining room. (The dingoes only appear once the food is served...)

What else is there to do at Mt. Hart?

Annie Creek Gorge is a great little wilderness walk, easily extended into a great longer wilderness walk, if you are so inclined. Just follow the creek.

Mt. Matthew Gorge also has a delightful creek, meandering through the black rocks and cliffs of the gorge, with dozens of shady, small pools, rapids and waterfalls. You can follow it as far upstream as you like, though this time the emphasis is on dipping and soaking in the pools and relaxing, not so much on bushwalking.

Mount Matthew Gorge Swimming at Mount Matthew Gorge

If you want to go for a real swim the best place is Barker Pool, a long and deep section of the Barker River where you can do olympic length laps if you like.

Barker Pool. Swimming at Barker Pool.

© Both pictures provided by Ian Luxon. Thanks Ian!

And for sunset there is the Sunset Hill, just across from the homestead. (It's a nice little 4WD climb up the hill, in low range, totally blinded by the setting sun and hoping for the best...)

Driving up Sunset Hill, totally blind.

© Photo by Ian Luxon

To me Mt. Hart is a must stop, and if only to meet Taffy and the dingoes. You won't find a more authentic bunch of Kimberley characters.

Mount Hart Wilderness Lodge is unique, totally different from all the other places and gorges along the Gibb River Road. Especially if you come from the Kununurra side and those gorges are starting to all look the same, Mt. Hart is a really nice contrast.

And last but not least, the money you spend here all goes towards maintaining this charming piece of Kimberley history.

Please see the December 8, 2010 newsletter special issue regarding some very disturbing news about the future of Mt. Hart.

Mount Hart website:

As seen at Mt. Hart Wilderness Lodge

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