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Destination Kimberley 2012 season updates
January 28, 2012

28 January 2012, Issue #037

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In this issue:
  • Updates, Updates, Updates
  • Reader Photos and Trip Reports
  • How to Get a Fresh Download

Hi everyone,

I said I'd let you know when the updates in the guide books are done.
(I said I'd let you know early January. The 28th, that's still early, no?)

Well, Destination Kimberley was sort of finished weeks ago, but as always happens this time of the year, every few days something new lands in my inbox. So I always think, I'll just add that as well, and then...

Look, it will never be "finished". Fact is that many businesses up here don't make any decisions regarding the next season until that season is about to start. And that won't be until April/May.


What can be updated for now has been updated. And if your guide is more than a year old, then I most definitely recommend you contact my assistant for a fresh download. (See below how to go about it.)

If you bought it fairly recently, especially if you bought it this year, then you may as well wait until a few weeks before you travel.

And in the meantime I'll quickly let you know about a few important things which may affect your plans:

Updates, Updates, Updates

A few days ago Charnley River contacted me with some changes. One is that this year there will be NO ACCOMMODATION at Charnley River, and also NO MEALS available at the homestead.

The campground, however, is open, and access to all the gorges and waterholes remains the same. So for the self sufficient campers amongst us, nothing much changes. (Though the dinners at the homestead were always nice!)

The other change concerns dog owners. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Charnley River does NOT allow dogs or any pets any more. (The free bonus download for dog owners that comes with Destination Kimberley has also been updated accordingly.)

Next, Mt. Hart Wilderness Lodge. Those of you who've been with me for a year or longer know the sad story of Taffy and Kim having to leave their home and life's work (newsletter special issue, issue #29 and issue #33 ), to make room for...

Well, I think most people up here pretty much knew even back then where this was going: the operator that was eventually chosen to manage Mt. Hart is APT, or Australia Pacific Touring.

(The Kimberley arm is called Kimberley Wilderness Adventures and is a partnership with the Wunan Foundation, but it's still APT, and in my opinion they are not exactly increasing the wilderness or adventure character of the region. Of course, I realise that not everybody considers increased convenience and comfort a bad thing.)

I had a couple of enquiries regarding the "new wilderness camp at Bell Gorge". Sorry, there is no new wilderness camp.

APT has upgraded the facilities at their Imintji Wilderness Camp, and renamed it Bell Gorge Wilderness Lodge. Smart move from a marketing point of view, but it doesn't miraculously move the camp towards Bell Gorge. (The readers who asked about it thought it was at the gorge.) The camp, sorry, the lodge is still on the other side of the Gibb near Imintji.

APT also operate a camp at the Bungles at Bellburn Creek. Something similar has happened here: after the addition of "superior cabins" at a second site upstream, called Piccaninny site, it was renamed Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge.

Drysdale River Station: Everything remains the same for campers, but if you want to book rooms or meals, please don't contact Drysdale, but instead...

Now have a guess.

C'mon, guess!

Correct! Please contact APT.

A couple more things about the Bungles:

A few years ago I scoffed at the mere idea that this should be possible... Booking campsites in a remote wilderness...

Well, it didn't take long! You can - and should! - now pre-book your campsites at Walardi or Kurrajong online:

Also, remember the new caravan park at the highway turn off? On Mabel Downs Station? (newsletter issue #32) It opened in May last year. Very convenient for those who are towing, people with little time, people who like their creature comforts etc.

The owners of Mabel Downs decided to charge a fee for the use of the Bungles access track, which runs through their property. The fee for a standard 4WD was $20 in 2011, $50 for trucks or buses. Mabel Downs state the money is used solely for road upkeep and improvements. Fair enough.

And now, at very last, something I am happy to write about!
About 70 km out of Kununurra, in the NT, on the Duncan Road but very close to the highway, there is a new campground at the Zebra Rock Mine.

It's run by Kim and Ruth who have owned the lease for a few years now, but they've only been open to the public since last year. You can buy Zebra Rock directly from their mine (and all sorts of wonderful items crafted from it), get a free mine tour and look out over Lake Argyle. Not to forget the free coffee and scones upon arrival!

And, as in most campgrounds, you can also camp. :-)
Away from everything, unpowered camping only, basic and small but clean amenities, camp fires allowed... everything just as it should be.
Several readers contacted me to let me know they have stayed there and loved it.

I think this is it for the most important items for now.

I've been saying this for a while now: if you are on the fence, if you are considering a trip to the Kimberley but keep putting it off, don't put it off any longer. Mainstream and upmarket tourism is here, it's spilling into all the corners and nooks and crannies and changing everything, and in my opinion, not to the better!

The sooner you go, the more of a chance you have to still encounter the real Kimberley. Like Alison did...

"I explored parts of the NT and Kimberley last year, and your guides were absolutely invaluable. Thanks to you, we got off the beaten track, scared ourselves silly a few times (in a good way!), and had a wildly good time. Many thanks for helping the uninitiated feel at home in a strange land!"

Of course I also loved this comment from Noelene:
"As an aside, we found it amusing to see so many people with your book under their arm as we travelled last year."

So, everybody else is doing it. That means you can do it, too.
Go on, scare yourselves silly. It's a good thing to do!

Reader Photos and Trip Reports

Jurek kindly sent me a link to his photos of their "extensive sweep of Australia". He's taking excellent photos! Those he took in the Kimberley are here.

Ann's trip report mentions some of the changes I wrote about.
And shows that even people who prefer safari tents and accommodation to basic camping are not entirely happy with some of those changes.
And that it doesn't really matter, because it's still a great trip along the Gibb!

Chris shows us what it means to get off the beaten track, indeed, off the track altogether! Packrafting the Fitzroy.

And last but not least, an anonymous contributor shares his memories of Mitchell Falls: when it did not have a name.

How to get a fresh download

To get a fresh download link for the latest version of a guide, please always write via the contact page on my website.

Request a fresh download link and include the email address you used for your original purchase and your surname. My assistant needs to find you in the database to be able to reactivate your link.

Amit will usually do that within 24 hours, over the weekend it takes a bit longer.

If there were any problems with your original download, if I had to send you the files manually, or if you bought offline, please mention that as well! You may not be in the database but I have records of your purchase. Of course you can get a fresh link or file like everybody else.

And that's it for today

I will be back in Kununurra on March 17. And who knows, I might see you there, or somewhere on the road in the Kimberley!

Talk soon!

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(c) 2005-2012, Birgit Bradtke. All rights reserved. The Kimberley Guide is published by Birgit Bradtke in Kununurra, WA 6743, Australia.
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