10 Magical Days Exploring the Kimberley

It was the trip of a lifetime. The trip I had been dreaming of for years. I’ve been dying to explore the northern part of my country - it’s just so different, and so unique. The trip, though well awaited, still managed to exceed all my expectations. 

I want to walk you through my itinerary and give you a proper glimpse into this incredible adventure – it was too hard to choose just a few highlights!

Let me first introduce you to Scotty (@kimberleyspirit), our tour guide. Your token Aussie hunk-a-spunk, he was an excellent guide, with knowledge beyond belief. Scotty undoubtedly made the trip what it was – a flaming success. We did know a little of what to expect, considering each of Scotty’s tours are customised. Sometimes, he takes groups across the length of the Kimberley; other times, he focuses on a specific portion. When asked what we wanted out of the trip, we requested lots of active days, not too long in the car, lots of sunrises and wine in the evenings, and as many swims as possible! Because of this, we stuck to the Eastern part of the Kimberley, and I feel this was a great decision for us – we never felt rushed, or were never overwhelmed by long days in the car. Plus, it’s just a great excuse to go back!

Day 1: We flew into Kununurra with Qantas via Perth, though another alternative is to fly via Darwin and Broome. We landed, checked in and got ready for the Kimberley Moon Concert, a big, annual 10 day festival. Tunes from Pete Murray and Amy Shark were topped off with a BYO picnic and a glass of wine, securing the evening as a winning first night.

Day 2: Scotty showed us round the sights of the Ord Valley. The Ord River stretches for 320km, snaking through the Kimberley. Of course, this meant the boys were dying to get out on the wakeboard. There were lots of freshwater crocs swimming around– how they didn’t get eaten, I still don’t know. I’m still not convinced that the crocs eat only smaller animals! We spent the morning on the water, then drove up to Lake Argyle for a night in a gorgeous villa (with only Telstra reception for those of you wanting a more remote escape). We witnessed a spectacular sunset over the waters of the Lake – it’s one of those moments I will never, ever forget. We drank beers and swam off the boat while the sun sank, then lay on the floor of the boat and watched the stars spring to life. The stars in that part of our country blow me away. They are just spectacular.

Day 3: We woke early to catch the sunrise while we floated about in the resort’s infinity pool, then drove back to Kununurra for more river time in the boat. I spent the arvo reading on a gorgeous little island along the river. The boys tried to fish with high hopes, but only caught catfish. Dara 1, boys 0.

Day 4: We made our way from Kununurra to the Bungle Bungles. In the evening we walked into Cathedral Gorge to watch the sun set. It’s an extremely spiritual and beautiful place, and I swear you could feel the magic in the air. We stayed until well after dark, and was treated to the most spectacular sensory show by the one and only Scotty. This to me was the highlight of the trip.

Day 5: We spent Day 5 walking and exploring the Bungle Bungles. If you’ve never heard of this iconic area, google it! We wound our way into the Bungles along a river bed to an incredible lookout, then explored Mini Palms Gorge and Echidna Gorge. According to Aboriginal legend, Echidna Chasm was formed after an Echidna pushed against a crack in a cliff face, which opened and allowed him to burrow inside to escape a cockatoo who was plucking out his quills. I can’t emphasise enough how spectacular the scenery is in this part of the world. If it isn’t on your bucket list, it should be added, NOW.

Day 6: On Day 6 we left the Bungles and headed to Home Valley, where we spent 1 night in a grass castle. Staying true to form, we climbed up to a magical lookout for nibbles and wine, and to watch the stars. It really is something I never tire of. From this lookout, we had views out over the expanse of El Questro Wilderness Park. For a little perspective, the park is 1 million acres large. We sat in awe, with only one thing sending the occasional nervous shiver down my spine – DINGOS howling not far off. No one else seemed to mind though, guess it’s just me freaking out about the Australian wildlife.

Day 7: We made our way deeper into El Questro and settled down in the station for 3 nights. We loved El Questro SO much. There is a tonne of exploring to be done and so many nature activities to do! We hiked into Emma Gorge in the afternoon and lazed around for a while, swimming and lounging on the rocks. We were so fortunate to have received special permission from El Questro to enter Zebedee natural springs in the afternoon and night. This was another highlight for me. We stayed there for hours, soaking in the 30 degrees pools until night fell. It was incredible, and to be quite honest, quite eerie being in the springs at night.

Day 8: On our second day in El Questro we hiked into El Questro Gorge, which, I might add, is a fertility pool – ladies if you’re looking for that extra bit of help, this might do the trick! There was a huge sign at the beginning of the walk saying “BEWARE: DEATH ADDERS”, so I spent a large part of this day freaking out. The gorges are so tight that there is not a great rescue proposition if you do get bitten. Thankfully, we saw not a single one, and had a really nice walk up the creek bed to the waterfall at the end. 

Day 9: We decided that a second visit to Zebedee springs was warranted, so in the morning we set off down the now familiar path. It was just as amazing to see it in the daylight, and I’m so glad we revisited the area. In the afternoon we saddled up and went for a horse ride at El Questro Station. They have a private beach on the river that we rode down to. Safe to say my buttocks were sore the next day!

Day 10: We woke, saddened for our last day. I could spend a month in the Kimberley, exploring the gorges and valleys. On our final day we slowly made our way back to Kununurra via Wyndham, a town at the end of the road. It was dead, eerie and creepy, hosting a big port where the mouths of 5 rivers meet, but literally nothing else, and I was ready to get going again on our way back to town. We went for one final swim and wakeboard on the Ord River in Kununurra before boarding our flight back home.  

My Kimberley trip was one of the most magical 10 days of my life. I have travelled all over the world, yet spent nowhere near enough time in my own backyard. This trip was a gentle reminder to me that our country is just so magnificent and expansive, and I already cannot wait to explore some more.

Special shoutout to Scotty – he 100% made the trip a huge success. His knowledge of the Kimberley was just phenomenal, he was flexible and energetic and I loved every minute. If you’re interested in a trip up north, a great place to begin is The Kimberley Australia. The 100 Things to See in the Kimberley book is an incredible resource to start with – it can help you plan your adventure and give you a bunch of inspiration with what to see!

Until next time,
Dara x

Dara HayesComment