Throughout Australia you learn that each states’ landscape has its own characteristics or regions throughout. From hills, to mountains, flat grassy plains, deserts & even rain forests…this country has everything. For example, Victoria has the High Country, Gippsland, & the Grampians to name a few. New South Wales has the Blue Mountains, Central Coast & the Snowy Mountains. As you drive along you can watch the landscape change & take on different forms right before your eyes. We’ve been exposed to so many varieties of life along this journey but none has been more anticipated than the Kimberley Region of Western Australia. Landon, friends in Perth & travelers alike seem to share a love for this part of the country so I was itching for my time to come. In many conversations about travel I would express that ‘as long as we’d travel to the Kimberley I could go home satisfied with our first time in Australia’. We have finally had the privilege to travel to this remote part of Australia & I am finding it impossible to truly express to you how wonderful the Kimberley Region is. My best advice to you is plan a 4-6 week trip and see it for yourself! I’ll do my best in showing you what we experienced & hopefully it will give you even more encouragement to journey to this amazing place!
The Kimberley is the northernmost region of Western Australia. It’s rich in history, culture & beauty and to think we only saw a slice of this major region only has me longing to come back for more. It’s considered to have a tropical monsoon climate with a wet season & dry season. This most recent wet season had record-breaking rainfall so we’ve been spoiled with ever flowing rivers, waterfalls, & deep gorges. For perspective this year 944mm of rain fell which was more than double the seasonal average of 452mm & beat the previous record of 787mm (1996-1997). We were told that if you would take all the water that flowed through the Fitzroy River during the wet season & poured it across the entire country it’d cover Australia completely up to 1 meter. For us Americans, that is similar to covering the entire United States with about 3 feet of water.
The landscape is littered with many varieties of trees, plants, animals & termite mounds. Some of my favorite are the Boab Trees, spinifex & the palm trees. And you cannot forget about the infamous red sandy soil. We’ve also seen our fair share of crocodiles (freshwater-no salties yet), cattle & kangaroos.
Think school holiday tourist town. It was busy but we had a great time soaking up sun on Cable Beach, drinking beer at the famous Matso’s Brewery, watching the moon rise over the mud flats & learning a bit of information about pearling.
Cable Beach is well-known for its sunset camel rides along the beach. It is a beautiful with wide views of the ocean but, for me, I don’t think it lived up to all the hype. There are many more beaches in WA that are more picturesque. But, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s popular because 1) it’s always warm & a great place for holiday 2) camel rides & 3) it’s really the last beach in town for a swim in the north until you travel across country to the east coast. Those saltwater crocodiles aren’t ones to be messed with.
Matso’s Brewery was a great afternoon stop for drinks & chips. Landon sampled a few of their craft beers & I sipped on their delicious ginger beer. Matso’s Mango Beer & Ginger Beer are both a favorite!
Staircase to the Moon – when the full moon rises over the mud flats of Roebuck Bay.
We didn’t want to camp in town while we were there so we found a free camp spot by Willie’s Creek Farm. It’s a local pearling company near Broome. I told Landon a great “souvenir” for this trip would be a pair of pearl earrings. When I looked they were a bit too pricey for my liking. Come to find out that they are more expensive because it takes 2 years to make 1 saltwater pearl. The less expensive pearls are usually freshwater because 50 can be made in 9 months. Though I didn’t get any pearls, it was a lovely spot to relax, read & of course gaze upon the Milky Way.
Looma & Nookanbah
We were fortunate enough to visit two of the Aboriginal communities Landon was involved with during his time in YWAM. Before we went into town we spent a few days camping along the river fishing & lounging. Upon arriving to Looma, the first boy Landon ran into knew exactly who he was. That was a heartfelt experience for me in seeing the lasting impact he made & exciting/fulfilling for him as memories were brought to life from his past involvement with the kids in the community. We also had the privilege to meet up with a YWAM team that was in Nookanbah & spend a few hours with them before we left for the next town.
Making our way from Nookanbah to Fitzroy Crossing we came across the barrage. It’s been a highlight of our time in the Kimberley because we were able to share drinks with two different Australian couples who’ve done years of travel & have been all over. They shared many stories, must see places, guidance on roads to take, laughs & left a lasting impression on us as we continue on. Unfortunately we were forgetful & don’t have pictures with them.
The barrage was designed to divert water from the Fitzroy River (pictures below) to be stored in a dam flowing up the Uralla Creek. Today it’s a small camp spot for those who know about it.
From the barrage we made our way to Fitzroy Crossing to stock up on groceries & fuel, shower, laundry & rest up for the Gibb.
Gibb River Road
In preparing to write this blog post I planned on splitting it up into two parts because we’ve done so much that I didn’t want to create a long overwhelming post. But, I think pictures will do best in capturing the Gibb River Road. It’s a 660km dirt highway & it’s awesome! We started on the road from Tunnel Creek and made our way across to the end (or start for some) at El Questro. Luckily we only lost a spotlight & our sanity from all the horrendous corrugations on the 2nd half of the road. Many people shred tires, break shocks & even have their vehicles towed out when they fall victim to the Gibb. Praise the Lord we survived with very minor damage to our vehicle.
Though the Gibb River Road isn’t the easiest journey & it’s very remote it’s a must do experience in traveling Australia. Though I had many messages from family, Karmen & Kendall because we had no connection for 9 days, the peacefulness to disconnect from the world & embrace the slower pace of life is what makes this part of the Kimberley so unique. It is the best!
((see pictures for explanation – in order of our trip along the Gibb River Road))
Like I said earlier, the second half of the Gibb was rough. We spend a couple of days unwinding at the Pentecost River (below). Magical place. Plus it was fun watching people drive back & forth multiple time across the river to get the perfect shot.
El Questro – Popular spot to sight see, explore on horseback, hike & if you can afford it – helicopter flights. There are also the Zebedee Hot Springs that we visited to start out our first morning. We also officially met Joel, Tara, Marley & Lenny. I say officially because we first ran into them in Tunnel Creek & I couldn’t get enough of their boys. I was super excited when I saw them at El Questro. Now we’re lucky to call them friends! They inspire me in wanting to travel with my kids.
Sandstone rock formations throughout the Purnululu National Park. Many people raved about how spectacular the Bungle Bungles were. They are okay to us but we think it’s a spot that needs a helicopter ride overhead to truly grasp the beauty & uniqueness of the ranges. But even as I look throughout these pictures as I post them I’m blown away by how the landscape changes as we traveled this region.
Our last town in Western Australia & also the end to our journey’s along the Gibb & the Kimberley. A great ending to a wonderful 2 weeks of travel. Friends & a rodeo. We’ve wanted to go to a rodeo since we started our trip & luckily Joel & Tara told us there was one the weekend we were in town. It was a fun night!
Before we entered into the Northern Territory we spent a few days exploring the Lake Argyle. The ‘jewel of the Kimberley’. Part of the Ord Irrigation Scheme, Lake Argyle provides the water supply for the agricultural industry in the East Kimberley. It is now one of the worlds largest man-made bodies of water. It boasts amazing views as well. For all those who are with me & love the lake – all I could picture is boats pulling skiers & people on tubes. Best part – It’s so massive you could probably have an Apple Valley sized lake (or bigger) all to yourself! Picture the Sydney Harbour…the volume of water in this lake is 18 times greater than that of the Harbour!
There is so much more to explore in the Kimberley. We would love to come back next time with the ability to take a helicopter ride to iconic spots like the Horizontal Falls, Mitchell Falls & see the Bungles from above. My heart will forever long to be there again one day.
We’ve arrived in the Northern Territory. Big decisions ahead for us as we begin to wrap up our travels here in Australia and look to make the trip home. Feeling bittersweet. We have to start thinking about selling our vehicle & how we want to finish off the last 3-4 weeks of adventure before our house sit in Sydney. There is still so much to see & we want to make the best of it here in the Top End. 🙂