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Kimberley and NT News: 2018 trip planning recommendations, climbing banned at Uluru, reader mail.
November 13, 2017

13 November 2017, Issue #058

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In this issue:
  • Climbing Banned at Uluru
  • 2018 Trip Planning and Booking
  • Reader Feedback
  • Reader questions. Can you answer?

Hi everyone,

November and December are very quiet months. Next to nobody is on the road any more, and also next to nobody is thinking about the next season yet.

That may be a mistake!

In a minute I'll tell you why, but first I have some big news from the Red Centre to pass on.

Climbing Banned at Uluru

For as long as I can remember climbing Uluru has been an extremely controversial and hotly debated topic.

(See examples of reader pages and the comments on them here, here and here, and many more here.)

Equally as long there has been talk about banning climbing altogether.
To be honest, I never took that seriously.
Too much tourist money at stake, I thought.
Money will always win and they will put pressure on the traditional owners somehow to keep it open, I thought.

Well, guess what. I was wrong!

The decision by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board was unanimous.

Climbing Uluru will be banned!

The ban will begin on October 26, 2019 to coincide with the 34th anniversary of the return of Uluru to traditional owners.

Monica has already updated Destination Red Centre to reflect this new development.

I have always had a page on my Outback website dedicated solely to the issue of climbing Uluru, to help my readers to make an informed decision about it.
(Hm, I need to now update that page, too.)

Anyway, if you aren't familiar with all those issues yet, read that page and read Monica's guide.

If you want to climb Uluru, that is your decision to make.
Apparently you have less than two years left to do so.

Which brings me to the next point: Trip Plannning!

2018 Trip Planning and Booking

I said above that NOT thinking about your 2018 trip yet may be a mistake. Here's why.

Tourist numbers in the Kimberley have increased massively over the last years.

Every year it is becoming more important to book early enough, not just accommodation but also cars and campervans!

To that end I have included recommendations in the last pages of the free Kimberley Pocket Guide, starting from page 49.

(If your have an older copy which doesn't include that part yet, you can grab the most recent version here.)

Here are those recommendations again in a nutshell:
  • While there isn't any rush yet, there are certain accommodations that book up very quickly. (Certain styles of accommodation at Cape Leveque or Mornington for example.)

  • The less flexible your schedule, the bigger the chance that your choice of accommodation may not be available at that exact date.

  • Car hire/accommodation packages sell out pretty quickly, campervan hire may still be possible at shorter notice.

  • Early bookers may be able to take advantage of special offers on car/campervan hire packages. Some accommodations may also offer early bird specials.

  • Obviously the time of the year matters too. If you travel during peak season, you need to book much earlier than if you travel in late September.

  • If you want to beat the rush, then get everything sorted and booked before the year is out, or as soon as possible after. Peak booking season starts after New Year.

  • If you want to travel during the main season (late June till late August) make sure everything is booked and finalised by end of March the very latest to avoid disappointment.

And if you have your own vehicle, plenty of time, a flexible schedule, are travelling outside the main season and camping all the way, then you don't need to book anything and can make arrangements on the road 24-48 hrs ahead.

The recommendations above are for people who are not so lucky, which is the vast majority!

See the Pocket Guide for more details.

Everything I said above applies to the Northern Territory also (though to a lesser degree to the accommodation there, because the tourism industry is much more developed in the NT and there is an overall higher capacity and therefore usually more alternatives).

If you want to make the whole process of choosing and booking easy on yourself, then do yourself a favour and look at this service.

Reader Feedback

Below is a selection of reader feedback I received that I thought might contain interesting snippets for you, too.

  "Unfortunately, the Gibb River Road is no longer a "wilderness' as the number of us who are using it makes it seem like a national highway. Such is the price of having such a diverse range of sights, areas and attractions. We did enjoy our trip and from the many highlights, would select the aboriginal paintings near King Edward camp site at the junction of Mitchell Falls and Kalumbaru roads."

  "Hi. We found the guides very helpful. We enjoyed Mornington - did an early morning bird watching with a ranger. He was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Crazy drivers doing 80km/hour not slowing for oncoming cars. Loved the scenery."

  "Hi Birgit, I can confirm that the Kalumburu Road beyond Drysdale up to the turnoff to Mitchell Falls and the road up to Mitchell Falls are both in very poor condition. 187km north took us over 6 and a half hours and the return almost 7 hours! The corrugations were the worst I've encountered. I met a couple at Drysdale who live at the northern end of the Kalumburu road and they said that it was as bad as they had ever known.
  We're just finishing a few nights at AWC Mornington where their technicians sorted out a major problem with our vehicle - the auxiliary battery mountings failed and it dropped through the front left wheelwell! As a retired engineer myself, I was hugely impressed by their capability, less so about the contractor who had installed the auxiliary battery. The contractor had also failed to use grommets to protect the cabling to the fridge, and so that shorted out when the supply wire chafed through! Kudos to John O'Shea and his team at AWC Mornington!
Yours aye,
  PS: The road from the Gibb River Road to AWC Mornington is mostly excellent, but there are many creek crossings... (not much water in them)!"

  "I don't blame the owner of Tumblegoodiron, Jack Burton for his decision to restrict access as when we were there were amazed at the amount of toilet paper and tissues left on the ground.
  We made the decision to return to Willare Roadhouse and stayed there. People are disgusting animals."

Yup. Unfortunately, some of them are.
That comment was written in response to this newsletter. See the second item under "Updates", the one about Yeeda Station, and see my remarks in it.

It is up to every one of us to ensure that we can keep access to all those wonderful spots.

We just have to lead by example and do our best to educate and motivate others to do the same.

Last but not least, Heike writes about Broome:

  "I lived in Broome on two occasions. In late 1980 and again in early 1990 for five years.

  I returned this year after being away for 10 years. We took a trip to Cape Leveque with Kimberley Wild Tours and it was terrific. We also did a lot of other things while we were there as it was the Shinju Festival in late August early September, the best time to go before it gets too hot.

  The environment is pristine and the pearl shopping is to die for. I would highly recommend the Kimberleys and the Top End to fellow Aussies as it is vastly different to the East Coast of Australia.

  Everyone I have spoken to about Broome says that it holds a special place in their hearts."

Reader Questions. Can You Answer?

I just published several reader questions on my websites.

Can you help a fellow traveller with information or with sharing your own experiences?

Generator vs. solar panels to charge the battery so the fridge can run?

Are the Kimberley roads safe for small cars in January?

Air Opus camper suitable for Gibb River Road?

Daily budget for 24 day round trip Broome to Broome?

Planning advice for a trip to Alice Springs via Uluru?

Uluru or Kakadu in June? We only have time for one.

Thanks for answering these if you can!

And that's it for today!

If you are on this list because you are planning on visiting the Kimberley and/or NT next year, then keep my above warnings in mind.

Destination Kimberley, Destination Top End and Destination Red Centre have all the information you need to put together your dream trip.

It really is becoming more and more crowded every year. The time to start looking at car hire and accommodation bookings is now. Don't put it off for too long!

Enjoy the planning and talk again soon!

Those of you planning on leaving for their trips soon, please always also refer to the appendix of Destination Kimberley, Destination Top End and Destination Red Centre or to the links in this and in previous newsletters to keep yourself up to date about the conditions.

Happy travels,

To sign up for this newsletter and receive the free Kimberley Pocket Guide go here.

Feedback? Found some out of date info in one of my guides? Let me know via

(c) 2005-2017, Birgit Bradtke. All rights reserved.
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