I am born and bred in Australia, yet I have always chosen overseas trips over exploring what’s in my backyard. As a result, I managed to reach the age of 21 before an incredible opportunity took me up to the stunning Eastern Kimberley region in North-West Australia. While stationed in Kununurra, I also managed to explore some of the more remote locations.
One thing is for sure, the Eastern Kimberley in Australia is certainly one of the most visually stunning and culturally enticing destinations I have ever been – and all this time it was just a flight away! So, whether you’re an international visitor or a true blue Aussie, you need to put this stunning area on your must see list!
From Australia, it’s easiest to fly from Perth or Darwin with AirNorth or SkyWest. Alternatively, you can drive quite easily from Darwin, which is about 900km from Kununurra. Just a word of warning; I hate being the travel killjoy, but these roads are dangerous. Temperatures in this region frequently climb past 45 degrees C and many roads are incredibly infrequently travelled. I am not being overdramatic when I say people have died on these roads after their care has broken down; so please, be careful and take proper precautions!
Now, onto the adventures…
Zebra Rock & Fish Feeding: Now, I know this may not sound so appealing, but it really is an interesting and entertaining way to spend an afternoon. Run by a lovely couple, there are countless statues and other decorative items as well as jewelry made from the unique ‘zebra rock’. The craftmanship is really fantastic, and I bought myself a little something simply to be able to say I owned something that was 1.2 billion years old (yep, you read that right!) There is also a lovely cafe where you can get the recipe for a fantastic cheesecake after making a small donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and a small pond where you can feed hundreds of fish and even some turtles. Particularly for those with kids, this is seriously good fun. Highly recommend it!
Sample rum: Because what every remote Australian outback town needs is a rum distillery run by a Texan named Spike! Here, you can sample all kinds of rum in a charismatic Western-saloon style bar. The drinks come on a paddle and the bartenders are typically Kimberley; friendly, laidback and ready for a chat. Just be aware that you’ll need to bring your drivers license to show you are not from the Kimberley, as alcohol restrictions apply to residents of the region.
Hit the open road: There is seriously something about this part of Australia that makes hopping in a car (mine was beat-up and had no airconditioner, which somehow seemed to add to the charm) feel like an amazing adventure. The scenery is beautiful, and it is so remote that even just 10 or 15km out of the main city centre, you feel like you’ve stumbled upon an amazing secret. In particular, keep your eye out for the incredible Boab Trees, which are filled with water and a real symbol of this area. Now that’s a tree!
View real Aboriginal art: I was always one of those people who never really “got” art. Someone only needed to start trying to explain the significance of the piece of modern art to me before my eyes started rolling… That was until I was whisked off to Warringarri Arts in Kununurra. Aside from being incredibly aesthically appealing (The day I can afford it, my house is being filled with Aboriginal art!) it is also fascinating to hear about the stories behind the pieces of art. At Warringarri, they celebrate not just art but also Aboriginal culture, so don’t be afraid to ask questions about the significance of the art, the culture of the region, and more. In particular it is really interesting to observe the regional differences in the art.
Check out Lake Argyle: Lake Argyle is one of the largest lakes in the world, and it really is absolutely massive! But the real appeal of this is the stunning scenery as you lead up to the lake, which is truly breathtaking. Bring a camera. And several batteries Also, at the caravan park on the edge of the water is an amazing infinity pool where for $10 you can escape the heat and get an absolutely spectacular view over the lake. Bliss!
Mirimma National Park: There are many beautiful parks around Kununurra, but one that is incredibly easy to reach is Mirima National Park which is just on the outskirts of Kununurra. Remember to bring cash for the entry fee (about $10 from memory) and again; a camera for the beautiful views. At the beginning of the park is some information and suggested trails, so keep your eyes open for that and enjoy!
Emma Gorge: Located on one of the Kimberley’s most beautiful stations, El Questro, Emma Gorge is a truly stunning natural waterfall. You can decide to stay overnight at the ranch (there’s glamping!) but if the cost is prohibitive as it was for me, you can get a day pass. The walk to Emma Gorge is somewhat difficult so be prepared, and bring water, but the beautiful refreshing swim at Emma Gorge is totally worth it!