Derby – Windjana Gorge – Mount Hart Homestead – Manning Gorge – Drysdale River Station – Ellenbrae Station – El Questro Wilderness Park – Wyndham or Kununurra
8 days drive
Tackle one of Australia’s greatest four-wheel-drive adventures on this 660-kilometre journey through the vast Kimberley. See freshwater crocodiles in the Windjana Gorge National Park and swim, bushwalk and camp at Lennard and Bell Gorges. Take a scenic flight over Mitchell Falls and the vast Mitchell Plateau. Stay on the one million acre El Questro Wilderness Park. From here you can go horse trekking, get up close to Kimberley wildlife and boat down Chamberlain Gorge past towering escarpments and Wandjina rock art. You could even take in the sights on a mountain bike for the Brisbane to Broome Charity Bike Ride. However you take on this outback challenge, remember it's one that needs planning.
Windjana Gorge National Park, WA
Start out in Derby on the edge of King Sound and head for Windjana Gorge National Park, the best place in Australia to see freshwater crocodiles in the wild. Walk around Windjana Gorge, carved out of the Napier Range by the Lennard River. You’ll see abundant birdlife and hundreds of crocs sunning themselves near the water holes. From Windjana, make your way to Tunnel Creek, once used as a hideout by the Aboriginal leader Jandamarra. Follow the creek through a 750-metre tunnel to the other side of the Napier Range. Take your torchlight and camera to capture many species of bats and limestone reefs at least 350 million years old. Afterwards return to the camp site at Windjana Gorge National Park for facilities, fire wood and brilliant stars.
Depart Windjana Gorge for Lennard Gorge, one of the less known and visited gorges. Follow the walking track at the end of the four wheel drive access track to a ledge with dramatic views over the gorge and waterfalls. Further along is picturesque Bell Gorge, reached with a short walk alongside Bell Creek and a slippery creek crossing. Watch waterfalls cascade 100 metres down perfect U-shaped cliffs, into a deep pool perfect for swimming. You can camp at Silent Grove, around 20 kilometres away, or at the popular bush camping sites along the Bells Creek, 11 kilometres further on. Secure your spot early, or if you don’t want to camp, do dinner, bed and breakfast at Mount Hart Homestead, further north. From there you can bushwalk and canoe along pandanus lined waterways in the Leopold Range Conservation Park.
It’s only a short distance from Mount Hart to horseshoe-shaped Galvans Gorge, the most accessible gorge along the Gibb River Road. Swim or swing over on a rope. Or sit under the waterfall and look up at the boab trees clinging to the escarpment above. Walk from the Mt Barnett campground, which sits next to the tranquil pools of Lower Manning Gorge. From here the walking track winds you past Aboriginal rock art to the spectacular waterfall and pool of Upper Manning Gorge. Tackle it on your own or join a guided tour up the river. Once there, go swimming, fishing or just soak up the scenery from the rocks. The falls are at their best early in the season between May and July.
Head off the Gibb River to explore the spectacular Mitchell Plateau in Kimberley’s north-west. Stay at Drysdale River Station in the 115,300 hectare Mitchell River National Park. From here, you can explore the spectacular Mitchell Falls along with Surveyors Pool and the Mitchell and King Edward Rivers. Walk through woodlands of grey box and white gum, get up close to a huge variety of wildlife and explore Aboriginal heritage. Take a scenic flight over the Mitchell Falls, Merten Falls, Prince Regent River and the magnificent coastline. Back at the Drysdale River Station, you can swap your tent for a comfortable cabin, licensed dining room and bar.
Drysdale River Station, WA
Head to your next night’s accommodation, at the Ellenbrae Station Homestead. Camp between two billabongs or stay on the homestead and enjoy dinner and breakfast with your welcoming hosts. From here, you can canoe down the river and go bushwalking and birdwatching.
El Questro Wilderness Park, WA
From Ellenbrae, you can stop for a swim or cup of tea at Durack River Crossing and fish for barramundi at Jack’s Waterhole. At Lookout Cockburn Range you’ll see sweeping views of the Cockburn Range, Durack and Pentecost Rivers and Cambridge Gulf. Continue on to the one million acre El Questro Wilderness Park - a working cattle station and unique holiday destination on the Kimberley’s eastern edge. With four major river systems, you’ll see animals, birds and fish in the rivers, fresh water springs and salt water estuaries. Stay in accommodation ranging from deluxe homestead rooms to bush camp sites.
Take a boat down Chamberlain Gorge, past towering escarpments, tropical vegetation and Wandjina rock art. Walk through dense Livingstonia palms to the thermal pools of Zebedee Springs. Stand on ridge tops and watch the huge herds of grazing cattle. Go horse trekking with an El Questro ranger. You’ll see an incredible range of Kimberley wildlife, including brumbies, wild donkeys, bustards, frilled neck lizards, goannas, sea eagles, brolgas, jabirus and technicoloured parrots.
On your final day, discover Emma Gorge with its butterfly-filled trees and vines and huge turquoise waterhole. After an hour walk to the gorge, reward yourself with a swim or gentle massage under permanent droplet waterfalls at Emma Gorge Resort. Nestled between palms and pandanus, this is a great place to relax before your Gibb River Road adventure ends at the Wyndham/Kununurra intersection.