On this "Kimberley Travel Blog" you find the latest additions and updates I made to the website, new trip reports that have been added by readers, and important travel news from the Kimberley region.
I also publish some updates I made to my guide e-books Destination Kimberley, Destination Top End and Destination Red Centre, information that you will not find on the website, but only in the e-books.
Another option to stay up to date with everything I offer is to subscribe to my free newsletter via the subscription box at the top.
The latest newsletter summarizes opening and closure info for the upcoming season in the Kimberley.
(With the ongoing COVID confusion, quite a few businesses decided to cut their losses and not open at all this season.)
It also contains some personal ramblings, explaining more about my decision to end regular newsletter dispatches.
Currently I seem to need to update my guide book Destination Kimberley almost every other day, as another businesses informs us that the decided to cut their losses and to not open for the 2022 season.
As the season opening draws closer, it is becoming clearer which places will indeed be opening this year and which will remain closed.
At the time of writing this, the following places along the Gibb River Road have decided to remain closed:
Below are those places that have confirmed that they WILL be opening:
Kimberley and NT News, Issue 97
There is really only one major Kimberley news item in this newsletter:
The very popular Kooljaman Resort at the tip of Cape Leveque announced its closure from November 1 this year.
Update: Tunnel Creek will reopen on October 2!
Sad news for those who are travelling the Kimberley right now or in the near future:
Tunnel Creek has been closed because of unstable rock at the entrance. Nobody knows how long the closure will last.
(This happened before, in 2009. It only lasted for a few days then, but this time it appears more serious.)
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Update: As of June 16 towing is ok on the Kalumburu Road. You still need the closed road permit.
(This is for people wanting to go to Honeymoon Bay. Kalumburu is still closed. See newsletter for info.)
Finally there is official news from Home Valley Station!
In July 2020 Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia had ceased the management of the tourism side of the station. All we'd known since then was that the owners were negotiating the future management.
Well, apparently the negotiations have been successful and all the details ironed out:
The station is now managed by Balanggarra Ventures, a subsidiary of the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation.
Balangarra people are the traditional custodians of this country and want to focus on local Indigenous employment rather than relying on backpackers.
So yes, Home Valley Station is opening this season! They have started to take bookings again, for dates starting from June 21.
Honeymoon Bay has been granted the exemption from State Emergency Laws that allows them to open to visitors.
The Kalumburu Road is still closed (big wash outs from the wet season) and Kalumburu Community also has not (yet) been granted their exemption, so is still closed.
And that means getting to Honeymoon Bay is not exactly easy right now! But it's possible.
First, you need to make sure you have a vehicle capable of negotiating the Kalumburu Road, and that you have enough supplies of everything (fuel, food...) to get there, for your time there, and to get back.
And you need to book ahead at Honeymoon Bay.
You need evidence of your booking, evidence that your vehicle and the driver are a match for the road, and evidence that you have all the supplies that you need, to get a Closed Road Usage Permit from the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley. (No vans, boats or trailers!)
And you absolutely MUST complete Honeymoon Bay's Covid Pre-checkin questionnaire before going. You can only do this online, so you need to do it before leaving civilization.
Oh, and take a mask. You'll need it to check in.
The Kalumburu Road is now open to the Mitchell Plateau and with that the Mitchell River National Park opens!
All the roads on the Mitchell Plateau are open (for high clearance 4WD only). You can access the Mitchell Falls, both campgrounds, Surveyors Pool and Walsh Point.
Also, the Fairfield Leopold Downs Road is now open for all vehicles, including those towing, so everybody can now get to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek from both sides, from the Gibb and from the highway.
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Things have progressed nicely. Almost all places along the Gibb are open now, hooray.
The only one we are still waiting for is Charnley River, which should open on June 5.(We also still have no official information on the opening of Home Valley Station. Unofficially they are trying their best for June.)
There is still a lot of water around though! All the gorges are full and the waterfalls still pumping.
As is often the case at the start of the season, and I warn you about this in Destination Kimberley:When the Gibb River Road is open and a station or park is open, it does not necessarily mean that all waterfalls and gorges at this park or station will be accessible!
Currently this applies for example to Wunnamurra Gorge on Mt. Elizabeth Station, which would of course be the highlight of a visit to Mt. Elizabeth. But you can't get to it yet and it is unlikely to open before July, maybe not even then. They just can't predict yet if and when the grader will be able to repair the track.
Also, if you want to make your way through Tunnel Creek, be aware that rather than knee deep the water in there is currently still over your head, so you're going to have to swim!
If you are towing you also need to be aware that you can not tow anything between Tunnel Creek & Yiramalay (south of Tunnel Creek) on the Fairfield-Leopold Down Road as the road is still wet in that part. Meaning you can't get there towing from the highway, only when coming from the Gibb.
So far travellers have been very happy with the Gibb River Road, the road crews have done a great job and it is currently in very good condition.
It is however very busy already, camps are filling up early, and apparently a huge camper trailer/caravan migration is under way up the west coast, so do expect things to get crazy busy over the next weeks!
The Kalumburu Road is still open only as far as Drysdale River. Once the northern part opens, the Mitchell Falls will open and hopefully also Kalumburu (including McGowans and Honeymoon Beach), though there is no definite information on Kaluburu yet.
That's it for now. When I hear more I will update this post.
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The Gibb River Road is open all the way, the graders are working on it, and according to reports from travellers the road is in very good condition!
The King River Road is open and so is Diggers Rest!
The Kalumburu Road is now open up to Drysdale River Station. Drysdale River Station is open.
Mt. Hart campground opening is delayed until May 11 due to damage to the Mt. Hart access track.
Imintji also has to delay the opening of the campground, until May 17.
We finally have opening dates for the national parks on the western end of the Gibb:
Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek will open May 15 and Silent Grove/Bell Gorge on May 22.
The Gibb River Road just opened to high clearance 4WD vehicles only.It has not been fixed yet, there are wash outs and damage in parts, so take it easy.
I thought I'd take the opportunity, rather than again update the post below, to publish a fresh list of the opening times for parks and stations along it, as well as in other parts of the Kimberley.
Already open are:
Most other opening dates have been pushed back, often repeatedly.
No info yet on Home Valley Station.
Diggers Rest will open once the King River Road opens all the way to their turn off.(It is only open up to the King River crossing at this point.)
Also no opening date for Kalumburu yet. The Kalumburu Road and Port Warrender Road are still closed.Drysdale River Station and the Mitchell Plateau will open when those roads open.
The last newsletter (see below) contained a string of tentative season opening dates. I warned you that due to the recent heavy rain many places will likely have to delay their planned opening.
Below you find any dates that have changed from what was published in the newsletter.
I will continue to update this post as more information becomes available.
Last updated on April 28.
The King River Road is open for high clearance 4WD vehicles up to the King River crossing. It is still closed from there to the Diggers Rest turn off, so no access to Diggers Rest (who had hoped to open on April 2).
The Tanami Road and the Duncan Road are open to all vehicles.
The Gibb River Road is open for 4WD up to 7t from Derby to Mt. Barnett. It is still closed from Mt. Barnett to the Pentecost River crossing.
The Kalumburu Road and the Port Warrender Road are closed.
In this issue:
In this issue:
The whole Mitchell Plateau and the Mitchell Falls National Park had remained closed all of last year to protect the residents from COVID-19. So naturally tourists have been concerned regarding this season.
Last week the Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation announced that yes, the Punamii Uunpuu area will open for tourists this season!
All the places covered by the Uunguu Visitor Pass (the area called the Ngauwudu Road Zone) will open. This includes the Mitchell Falls themselves, all the walks, the campground inside the national park, the campground at the King Edward River and the one at Walsh Point.
The new page to buy visitor passes is here: https://wunambalgaambera.org.au/shop/
Theoretically, from the traditional owners' side, the area and all the campgrounds are open already. Practically you still can't get there of course, because the roads are still closed due to the wet season.
And we don't know yet when those will open...
(There is also no guarantee that the area will remain open. If the pandemic situation changes, it may need to be closed again.)
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In May 1977 I was recruited by Maureen Muggeridge to work for CRA Explorations on their diamond exploration program in the Kimberley. Because I had had
In this issue:
It's done. The work to seal the last 90 km stretch of the Cape Leveque Road has been completed. Work began in 2018, was projected to take three years, and was completed as planned in November 2020.
With that the communities on the peninsula now have an all-season, all-weather access road. Naturally, dry season tourists benefit, too, with the drive up the peninsula becoming easier and faster.
But don't be fooled into thinking that you can now easily zip around the peninsula in a two wheel sedan. The vast majority of wonderful places that I write about in Destination Kimberley are not exactly located right on the bitumen.
The side tracks you need to negotiate to reach those places are just as sandy, boggy and corrugated as before!
Gnylmarung, Middle Lagoon, Pender Bay, Whalesong, Smithy's, Bully's... to name but a few.
Hopefully those places will retain their character for many years to come.
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At the time of writing the last newsletter (issue 87 from June 30) there was the hope that restrictions would continue to be gradually eased and that the borders will eventually open, allowing for a good second half of the tourist season.
By now it's abundantly clear that that isn't going to happen.
Given that, today's newsletter has some information for those lucky enough to travel in Western Australia this year, and also some information for those who are looking forward to a trip next year.
In this issue:
In this issue:
The Northern Territory announced that it will open its borders to interstate travellers on July 17.
Unfortunately, to date there is no information about the WA borders and when they may open. So while people from the Kimberley could now travel to the NT, they would not be able to return without undergoing the mandatory 14 day quarantine.
But it's a step in the right direction, and it's still one month to go, and since the NT has technically eradicated Covid-19, maybe WA will rethink things...
A new tick-borne disease has been found initially in the East and now also in the West Kimberley: Ehrlichiosis.
Ehrlichiosis is a serious condition that can become chronic. I has already made many dogs very sick.
If you are travelling with a dog, be aware that new movement conditions and controls are being implemented.
In this issue:
After three days of unseasonal rain the following roads had to be closed:
The WA state government has asked for the Kimberley travel restrictions to be lifted on June 5, and apparently the federal government is likely to agree.
The 274 remote Aboriginal communities across the state will remain closed, as will the state borders.
Well, the Parks and Wildlife Service Rangers must have been doing overtime.
Less than a week ago Parks and Wildlife said Silent Grove and Bell Gorge would open on June 1, after the maintenance work is finished.
It is finished and Silent Grove and Bell Gorge are open and ready for visitors!
From today, May 18, travel between Kimberley shires is allowed again. At the same time, many roads, parks, campgrounds and businesses are opening.
If you live in the Kimberley, and you can get some time off, this is an opportunity to have many usually overrun places all to yourself.
If you don't live in the Kimberley, then unfortunately you will have to wait a little while longer. Or maybe a lot longer. It depends where in Australia or the world you are.
But at least it looks as if finally there is light at the end of the tunnel.
In this newsletter, we will look at what exactly is opening in the Kimberley and what isn't. And we'll also look at the timeline for travel into the Kimberley, as much as that is known today.
On Monday, May 18, travel between the Kimberley shires can resume. At the same time some, but not all roads, campgrounds and tourism businesses in the Kimberley will open. So where can you go?
From May 18, the travel restrictions between the Kimberley shires will be lifted.
That means Kimberley residents will be able to travel across all of the Kimberley again.
It does NOT mean that people from the outside can enter the Kimberley! The restrictions on travel into the Kimberley will likely remain in place for at least another month. They are expected to be reviewed on June 18.
In this issue:
Yesterday both WA and the NT started to reopen their national parks and the campgrounds within them to the public.
However, the remote Kimberley national parks and also the Kakadu and Uluru Kata Tjuta national parks were closed by the Federal Government under the Biosecurity Act 2015, which came into effect March 26.
And that means that those parks will remain closed until at least June 18, the date the Biosecurity Act restrictions will end.
Again: for now the remote Kimberley national parks remain closed!
(As does the whole Kimberley, see below.)
In short, the Kimberley is closed.
Travel to Australia is restricted.
Travel to WA is restricted.
Travel between the WA regions is restricted.
In addition, the Kimberley is closed to tourists and visitors and travel between the Kimberley shires is restricted.
Please see the following links:
Travel to the Kimberley is subject to a higher level of restrictions than the rest of WA under the Federal Biosecurity Act 2015.
These restrictions started on 26 March 2020 and will end on 18 June 2020. They may be extended.
This means even once travel within WA or travel to WA becomes possible again, the Kimberley may remain closed. For how long is anyone's guess.
I have already received several emails over the last couple of days, from people planning a trip in April or May, asking me about possible COVID-19 related travel restrictions and closures in the Kimberley.
I realise that many of you who are planning a trip in the near future are concerned how the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 may affect your plans.
The questions made clear to me that many people still do not realise what lies ahead.
Hence this special newsletter issue.
In this issue:
Despite my warnings, I still receive regular emails from readers who had booked with this company and are now unable to get their bond money back. (Up to $5000!)
Therefore once again: Please, before booking a vehicle for your Kimberley holiday, DO YOUR RESEARCH.
Or even better: Get competent, free help from someone you can trust.
I can not recommend this service enough and all my readers who have taken my recommendation have been very happy with the service they received!
In this issue:
The lovely Whalesong campground on the Dampier Peninsula will unfortunately be closed for the whole 2020 season and under refurbishment until further notice.
With one more year to go before the Cape Leveque Road will be fully sealed, Lenny and Jacinta are taking the opportunity to do some much needed works.
Additionally they are concentrating on their kakadu plum business.
Their Gubinge products are available throughout the Kimberley at various stockists or directly from their website.
Whalesong is one of my favourite places so I am not happy that they are closed for now, but luckily, these days you have many alternatives for relaxed bushcamping in stunning surroundings on this side of the Dampier Peninsula.
Just have a look through Destination Kimberley for your options:
Gnylmarung, Pender Bay, Smithy's...
It would take a fair bit of time to visit everyone anyway!
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For the closing dates of parks, stations and other attractions along the Gibb River Road and in the East Kimberley see this page at the Kununurra Visitor Centre website.
For additional dates, including places along the Kalumburu Road and the Great Northern Highway, see this Facebook post by the Derby Visitor Centre.
Sadly, Bell Gorge and Silent Grove campground will not reopen this season.
The popular campground and gorge had to be closed after a bushfire in early September.
Lack of staff made it impossible to quickly make everything safe again for visitors. Additionally, there is now concern about the deteriorating water quality. Water has stopped flowing altogether and in the increasing temperatures the stagnant pools could become a health risk.
And that means that, sadly, for this season Bell Gorge is closed for good.
Let's hope that the next wet season will be a good one and bring the burnt country back to life. :(
A large bush fire has swept through the King Leopold Ranges. After the closure of Lennard Gorge, Bell Gorge and the Silent Grove campground a few days ago, today Mount Hart also had to be closed.
So far 47,000 ha have been burnt. Very sad. It's not clear what started the fire.
Update Sept. 17: Mount Hart is open again. Silent Grove campground and Bell Gorge remain closed for now.
During that time my internet access will be sporadic. So if you are trying to contact me you may have to wait for a few days to get a response.
Thanks for understanding!
We've just completed another Gibb River Road trip using your Destination Kimberley guide. Thank you for the excellent information and insight into so many
Thank you, Vicki, for sending through your trip report!
Water report for our trip, July 2 - 8.
We have just finished our Katherine - Broome Gibb River Road trip today. Yes it is dry and we still had a wonderful time.
Katherine Gorge, Mataranka and Bitter Springs all had swimming water. Good camping, nice people.
Lake Argyle: A beautiful and professional setup, plenty of water there for swimming and fishing, good facilities, lovely oasis campground.
El Questro has water below the Black Cockatoo camping ground, the kids were swimming and having a great time. We did not do Emma George or Zeebedee as we had been there before.
Home Valley: the Pentecost River is considerably lower but still the best sunset spot to watch the Cockburn Ranges.
Did not do Mt Elizabeth but wished we had, not enough time.
Ellenbrae: Such a lovely spot, don’t tell anyone about their secret swimming spot. Just up the river, beautiful, all the kids were having the best time with noodles and the local canoe.
Mt Barnett: good road side facilities, coffee, homemade sausage rolls and burgers, best takeaway.
Manning Gorge was fantastic, worth the walk in and water for swimming, two big pools of it and that lovely rugged walk in. The campground swimming billabong had water and was getting a lot of use. Don’t forget your noodles.
Did not do Mornington, forgot to book but had done that before as well.
Mt Hart was wonderful, the drive in such interesting country with no 4WD Hooners. They had water and I think you could swim there, we just watched the bird life. The kids were swimming just in front of the camping ground. Nice bar, bathroom, laundry and food facilities, you had to order before 2 pm. The best part about Mt Hart is the countryside. Relax and enjoy the drive in and out. Also, they have a well advertised secret fishing spot. The drives out to the gorges are also well worth the effort.
Just left Windjana this morning, there are pools of water and lots of Johnston freshwater crocodiles in them. Bats are roosting, great river walks on the riverbed early morning and late afternoons, the landscape is spectacular.
If you really need waterfalls book a trip to Iceland.
We came to the conclusion that every trip is different for the people you talk to and a bit more interesting than believing Trip Advisor. If you go expecting to be critical there’s lots you will find a problem with. This is what this part of Australia is and so far it’s been fantastic.
As Birgit says, possibly even better in this dry year as the numbers travelling are down.
Happy days and happy travelling,
The last newsletter created an unexpected amount of feedback. Some of that I want to share with you to show you how people really felt about their trips in this drier than usual season.
I also have a couple of little updates and one reader sent such a long and detailed email that I asked him for a few photos and we turned it into a little trip report.
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