Visiting the Kimberley region will without a doubt be an unforgettable experience. Images courtesy of APT.
Planning, preparation and patience If you're heading to the Kimberley then you're certain to have an amazing and unforgettable experience. But you need to remember that this is the Outback. You need to be respectful of your environment and learn how to look after yourself. So before you hit the road, make sure you plan your route; prepare your car, yourself and your family for any adverse or extreme situations; and make sure you pack plenty of patience. Road trips always take more time that you think. So slow down, allow a few extra days on your itinerary and make sure you stop and enjoy the view.
Service your vehicle Have your vehicle thoroughly serviced beforehand and take at least two spare tyres. Keeping tyre pressure and speed down will ensure a smoother ride for you, your vehicle and your passengers.
Visiting a homestead is a great way for you to experience the environment as well as some of the local characters.
Stay at a Homestead Mt Hart Homestead is a great example - get yourself a cheese platter and a bottle of wine, make your way up to Sunset Hill and take in the amazing 360 degree views. If you prefer to camp for your entire trip then you can do that here too and still enjoy the food and hospitality as well as a few wines or beers at the licensed bar.
Meet new friends Take time to meet the other travellers at campsites like Silent Grove, Manning Gorge, Drysdale River Station and El Questro. It's a good way to pick up tips on road conditions and places they've been.
Don't be afraid to get off the beaten track If you want to see some of the spectacular sights that the tour groups don't visit then head to Lennard Gorge, Adcock Gorge and Dimboola Gorge – all of them are spectacular, usually quiet and not far from the Gibb River Road. The Kimberley holds a multitude of secrets everywhere. Just check park or station regulations before exploring too much though!
Mix camping with culture Include a night camping at Manning Gorge. It has a great campsite near Barnett River Roadhouse. There's a swimming hole right near the campsite. The longer walk (it's around 3km) to the gorge is well worth it and has spectacular falls, swimming and Gwion Rock Art (Bradshaw). Most people miss this and just stay at the lower swimming hole.
Go wild and then go luxury Take a break from camping and treat yourself to an unforgettable stay at an eco-certified Wilderness Lodge. APT's Bell Gorge, Mitchell Falls and Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodges are each ideally located to maximise sightseeing opportunities in each location.
Mix up your camping and glamping experience with a stay at am eco-lodge like Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge (pictured).
Stay longer at El Questro El Questro needs at least two nights - three if you can. There is just so much to see and do there. Accommodation ranges from the most basic camping to a five star luxury Homestead so there's something to suit all tastes and pockets. There are multiple gorge walks and 4WD tracks for catering for beginners to advanced. There's also Barramundi fishing all year round. You can either pick up loads of great information from the station to self guide you, or if you'd prefer or book on to any of the stations guided tours.
High flying Keep a few dollars handy for scenic flights. Fixed wing planes are OK but Helicopters are much better. It will give you an incredible extra perspective from the air. Mitchell Falls, Purnululu and El Questro all have Heliwork services operating. My advice is to spend the extra money for the longer flights at Bungles and Mitchell Falls.
Kimberley characters If you're thinking of doing a cruise on one of the gorges then the Geikie Gorge is great. Extra special though, is the Darngku Heritage Cruises. Owned and operated by the Bunuba people it gives a thorough and intimate cultural insight into the area from a true 'Kimberley character” as opposed to ordinary sightseeing.