Sir John Gorge

Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary, Gibb River Road

Sometimes readers write and ask, which are the best gorges in the Kimberley. If I were to make a list, Sir John Gorge would feature somewhere VERY close to the top.

Sir John Gorge

Sir John Gorge is located near the Mornington Wilderness Camp, which as a whole rates as on of my top picks along the Gibb River Road.

This massive gorge section of the Fitzroy River is 23 km long and you can access  several kilometres of it.

Sir John Gorge is a popular place for sunset, but I think it would be a shame if one sunset was all you spent down here...

Sunset at Sir John GorgeSunset picnic at Sir John Gorge


If you are lucky, you can explore the first three pools of the gorge in a  hired canoe. I say lucky, because there is only one canoe. They only allow two people in the gorge at a time.

You get your paddles and a lunch hamper at the reception and the gorge is all yours for the day! Which of course makes this an extra special day. Nothing beats the feeling of having a place as powerful as this one entirely to yourself...

But even if you don't manage to nab the canoe, you can still have a great day or half day at Sir John Gorge. Bushwalkers can hike up a long way if they like. You should easily be able to reach the third pool. You can see if you can spot the Short-eared Rock-wallabies that live in the cliffs along the second pool, or just swim and laze along the first.

A Trip Along Sir John Gorge

Sir John Gorge is a 14 km drive from the camp. This track is a little rougher than the one to Dimond Gorge. You will need your low range gears to climb out of the last creek crossing.

From the car park it's a short walk over rocks to get to the gorge.

This will be your first view of it, standing at the bottom of the first pool, looking downstream...

The bottom end of Sir John Gorge


...and upstream.

The first pool of Sir John Gorge


There is no canoe at the first pool, you will need to walk upstream for about 30 minutes.

Walking along the first pool of Sir John GorgeWalking along the first pool of Sir John Gorge.


The first real challenge is to find the canoe at the start of the second pool. It is well hidden under shrubs in a little bay. Can you guess where?

Start of the second pool.


This is where you start paddling...

Parked canoe


As you paddle up the second gorge look for rock wallabies on the ledges and also check out the little side gorges. Here is one with a little waterfall:

Side gorge and little waterfall


At the end of the second gorge you park your canoe and walk over the rock bar to the third pool, where another canoe will be waiting for you.

You can paddle to the end of the third gorge. Just park your canoe there...

The end of the third gorge.


... and continue on foot or swimming for as far as you like. You have everything to yourself! It's magic.

Looking back towards the third gorge.


Looking back down towards the third pool...

Looking back towards the third pool of Sir John Gorge.


... and upstream towards the fourth pool or gorge:

The fourth pool


I had neither sunscreen on me nor a hat when taking this photo. So the swim that followed only went about half way. Next time I'm here I definitely want to get a VERY early start for the day and swim to the other end and continue walking from there...

You can do that. Or take it easy, have a picnic and a swim, and then take your time on the way back...

Floating back down the very still third pool in the afternoon.Floating back down the very still third pool in the afternoon.


No matter how you spend your day at Sir John Gorge, that day will be one of the highlights of your Gibb River Road trip.

Sunset over Sir John GorgeSunset over Sir John Gorge


If you would like to experience Sir John Gorge for yourself, you can find out more about Mornington Wilderness Camp here, including how to book. (Book early!)

Make sure to spend at least a couple of days there, because you also don't want to miss Dimond Gorge!


More Kimberley Gorges

Gibb River Road main page


Travelling to the Kimberley?


The FREE Kimberley Pocket Guide
A great introduction to travel in the Kimberley region and along the Gibb. This free resource will answer all the questions you might have in the early stages of planning a trip.


Destination Kimberley
The full Kimberley travel guide shows you how to make the most of your adventure at Australia's last frontier. Destination Kimberley includes the most detailed and most current guide to the Gibb River Road available anywhere. Also called "The Bible" by its readers.


Travelling to the Northern Territory?


Destination Top End offers the same comprehensive, detailed insider information for the tropical regions of the Northern Territory. Be the best informed traveller in the Kakadu, Litchfield and Katherine Gorge national parks and beyond!

A must have if you travel to or from Darwin.


NEW! Destination Red Centre is the latest addition in this popular series. Monica Coleman takes you through Australia's red Outback heart, offering all the detail and insider tips that you have come to know and love about our guides. With special emphasis on Aboriginal communities and culture.

A must have if you travel to or from Alice Springs/Uluru.





Read more about Mornington Wilderness Camp

More Kimberley Gorges

Gibb River Road main page

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