Embrace adventure in a world of vast lakes, ancient ranges, rare pink diamonds and huge Outback stations.
By Kris Madden & Georgia Rickard
Kununurra is the gateway town to the East Kimberley, and a great base if you’d like to explore some of Western Australia’s most remarkable natural attractions, including World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park and its beehive-shaped Bungle Bungle Range. Adventure is synonymous with Kununurra, home to lakes, rivers, waterfalls and barramundi. It’s easy to see why the name means "Big Water" in the language of local Aboriginal people, who have roamed this landscape for thousands of years.
HOW TO GET THERE
Commercial flights are available from all major Australian cities via Darwin, Broome and Perth. Kununurra is about a 10 1/2 hour drive from Broome or about 6 1/2 hours from Katherine, in the Northern Territory. You can also get here by driving the unsealed Gibb River Road over several days from Broome (4WD required).
- Fly over the Bungle Bungle Range
- Take a walking tour with an Aboriginal guide
- Shop for rare pink diamonds
TOP THINGS TO DO IN KUNUNURRA
Fly over the Bungle Bungle Range
The Bungle Bungle Range (also known as "the Bungle Bungles") in Purnululu National Park should be on everyone's list when visiting the East Kimberley. From Kununurra it's a four hour drive to access the park, but you can also see the dramatic landscape and striking colours of the World Heritage-listed site by air. Several scenic flight operators offer tours from Kununurra by small plane or helicopter, including Helispirit, Kingfisher Tours and Kimberley Air Tours.
Hike the Bungle Bungles
There's nothing quite like exploring the beehive shaped Bungle Bungles on foot. On a guided day tour of the impressive park you can visit gorges and creeks (don't miss Echidna Chasm or the astonishing Cathedral Gorge) that have been used by Aboriginal groups for thousands of years. You can also join a multi-day guided walk with World Expeditions.
See Mirima National Park
Closer to Kununurra you'll find Kununurra's so-called best-kept secret: Mirima National Park. Just a five minute drive from the centre of town, this beautiful hidden valley is often referred to as the mini Bungles for its 350-million-year-old sandstone cliffs, amphitheatres, gullies and ridges, which are similar in appearance to the Bungle Bungle Range.
Drive the Gibb River Road
The Gibb River Road is one of Australia's greatest road trips. The 660 kilometre (410 mile) road travels through the heart of the Kimberley, from Kununurra at its eastern end, to the community of Derby and the iconic Outback town of Broome at its western end. Along the way there are breathtaking gorges to admire, jewelled waterholes in which to swim and vast Outback stations on which to stay. As the road is unsealed, access is by 4WD only.
Stay at El Questro
About 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Kununurra is El Questro Wilderness Park. Several types of accommodation can be found in various parts of this enormous property, including the luxury historic Homestead, the main station's bungalow accommodation, safari-style glamping sites at Emma Gorge and several camping grounds. Read about exploring El Questro Wilderness Park's highlights.
Home Valley Station
Stay at Home Valley Station, where part of Baz Lurhmann’s movie Australia was shot, and experience what moved Nicole Kidman's character to embark on her sweeping Outback adventure. Home Valley Station is depicted as the fictional Faraway Downs in the movie.
Shop for rare pink diamonds
Visit Argyle Diamond Mine and see the rare pink diamonds that are extracted from this ancient rock each year. The mine is one of the world's largest suppliers of diamonds and can be visited on a guided tour. It’s also the world's largest producer of natural Champagne and Cognac diamonds.
Paddle at Lake Argyle
About 70 kilometres south of Kununurra, man-made Lake Argyle is Australia's largest expanse of fresh water. Home to about 30,000 freshwater crocodiles and a third of Australia's bird species, it's a wonderful place to take to the water on a lunch or sunset cruise (with Lake Argyle Cruises or Lake Argyle Tours, booked through Lake Argyle Resort). You can also enjoy canoeing or paddleboarding (hire your craft from Lake Argyle Cruises) or spend a few peaceful nights under a starry Outback sky. The lake is also the home to one of Australia's most unexpectedly beautiful infinity pools, which you'll experience for yourself if you stay at Lake Argyle Resort.
Cruise the Ord River
You wouldn’t want to visit Kununurra without taking a boat trip along the Ord River from Kununurra to the Ord Top Dam at Lake Argyle, soaking up the tranquil atmosphere and abundant wildlife including crocodiles, sea eagles and kingfishers. End your cruise with sunset drinks on the water at The Pumphouse restaurant. You can also hire a houseboat on the Ord River for an extended stay.
Go fishing for barra
A day chasing one of the most prized catches in the world, the barramundi. Hook up with a charter company in Kununurra, such as Ultimate Adventures or Northbound Charters, which will guide you on a half day, full day or longer fishing adventure in the East Kimberley. Fishing tours are also available from El Questro and Home Valley Station.
Latest articles about the Kimberley
Kimberley accommodation with style
More articles like this