Pure Bliss - A Kimberley Trip Report
That's what I can say after the trip to the Kimberley. It is a truly magical and overwhelming experience in every possible sense and way...
If you plan wisely you can be one-on-one with true and grand wilderness even during the high season. That aspect was quite important for me and my travel mates. Please enjoy my brief trip report and hopefully it will come in handy for all of you out there that are considering exploring this truly unique part of Australia.
We had 17 days and wanted to camp (we're not die-hard campers, so the minimum of facilities was appreciated). We had the time of the trip pre determined and spent the first half of July in the Kimberley. In total we drove 4000km (60% on unsealed roads).
Day 1. Arrival at Broome. Overnight stay.
Day 2. Car pick-up, stock up (including cryovac meat), got to Cape Leveque and established proud camp number 1 in a beach shelter.
Day 3. Exploring Cape Leveque.
Day 4. Left Cape Leveque and got to Derby late afternoon.
Day 5. Early morning scenic flight over the Buccaneer Archipelago, then got to Bell Gorge campsite.
Day 6. Exploring Bell Gorge.
Day 7. Got to Manning Gorge campsite, Gorge exploration.
Day 8. Early start in order to secure a camping site at Mornington Sanctuary, Sir John Gorge exploration.
Day 9. Birdwatching in the morning, Dimond Gorge canoe expedition.
Day 10. Long haul from Mornington to Drysdale River Station (6-7 hours).
Day 11. Exploring the surroundings of King Edward River (aboriginal art sites) and got to Mitchell Falls.
Day 12. Mitchell Falls exploration and got back to Drysdale River Station.
Day 13. Long haul from Drysdale to Kununurra.
Day 14. Kununurra to Purnululu NP (5-6 hours), a little bit of exploration and sunset.
Day 15. Big day: early morning heli scenic flight, Cathedral Gorge and Piccaninny Creek (morning), Mini Palms Gorge (afternoon).
Day 16 & Day 17. Long haul Purnululu NP to Darwin (not very smart as Broome is closer but we didn't really have a strict plan for the trip and didn't know where and when we end up exactly and the car was booked to be dropped off in Darwin).
My general reflections, tips and thoughts:
The time of the day you see the given thing is really important I think, for both perception and photography. Sir John Gorge definitely late afternoon, swimming at the sunset is breathtaking. Dimond Gorge canoeing is best started fairly early in the day.
Bungle Bungle very tricky due to changing conditions. We took the scenic heli flight at 9AM (which I think is a must there to really feel the Bungles), but lateish afternoon would be spectacular as well, mind you it gets hot there.
Mitchell Falls, this one is tricky but I think 10 to 1 when the sunlight penetrates all the pools is perfect (went there twice!! First latish afternoon, very frustrating as the waterfalls and pools are dark without light and the next day went again early in the morning, which was sooo much better and more spectacular. Another bonus was almost no noise from the helis, which unfortunately ruin the falls slightly.
Of course there is no such thing as the perfect light and those are just my thoughts and how we did it based on tips from people.
We all agreed that that Mornington is truly the magical highlight, where you can reconnect with nature and support very important work and the people involved. There's really something special in this place and it will remain in my heart as a truly magnificent experience... Spend there 2 nights minimum.
Beach shelters on Cape Leveque are a great experience, sleeping literally on the beach with the sound of waves. Sunrises and sunsets at Cape Leveque can hypnotise you, the colours of the Cape are just unimaginable. It's pure bliss there, so peaceful. Spend minimum 2 nights to unwind and sink into the beach, just perfect!!
For people that want to do a fixed wing scenic flight over the Bucaneer Archipelago, doing it from Cape Leveque is cheaper but cannot be booked and confirmed as depends on day trippers from Broome (ask staff for info). If lucky you can get this done cheaper as the islands are much closer than from Derby. We were not lucky and had to do it from Derby.
In terms of 4WD driving we had no 4WD experience and managed to survive and enjoyed every second of it :)!
As long as common sense is exercised you will be fine. Use low range where appropriate, lower the pressure on gravel and adjust the speed to the road, take it slow and easy, enjoy and soak in the adventure...
Take only what you need, you don't need to take half as much as you think. I have not been camping for a while and made some mistakes resulting in unnecessary weight. Cryovac meat is a blessing!!! There is a great butcher in Broome for that if you are starting from Broome. I can highly recommend him: Tenderspot Bulk Meats, 31 Clementson St, Broome.
Try the Swan Draught, really nice beer from WA!!! Trying to find it in Sydney, but had no luck yet. Stubbies of the Swan kept us all alive during our trip. The roads are in reasonable condition for such remote areas, but you will not forget the feeling of huge corrugations for a long time.
The Mitchell Track in July was a really rough experience, not dangerous but exhausting for the driver and the passengers. Prepare for that mentally, it's a rough drive for sure, but the Falls are well worth the effort.
And first and foremost if you are planning to go you can be sure that it will be spectacular. The Kimberley is just pure magic. I would love to see it during the Wet from the birds eye view in the future to see how it changes dramatically during the Wet...
Hopefully it will remain unchanged and undisturbed and not become another Pilbara region. It would be sad to see this magical part of Australia ruined by people and heavy industry...
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