Kununurra is the gateway to the East Kimberley and your base from which to explore this region. Even within the Kimberley, this is remote, making it one of the most isolated travel destinations in the world. It’s a fun town with plenty to see and do and the East Kimberley vast, diverse and endlessly beautiful.
There are several exquisite Argyle Diamond stores, and one of the largest ranges of Indigenous artworks in the country – the beautiful yet severe landscape has inspired countless artists, and their work is shown in the local galleries. Visit Celebrity Tree Park, Mirima National Park, (also known as Hidden Valley), Zebra Rock, and the Historical Society Museum. If you’re up for swimming, try Valentine Springs, Molly Spring, and (if you’re particularly fi t and agile) give Andy’s Chasm a go. For something more relaxing, take in an evening movie at the outdoor Picture Gardens.
In Kununurra, you’ll find supermarkets and cafes (be sure to grab a mango smoothie while you’re there). If you’re feeling social, the PumpHouse is a thriving bar and restaurant within a converted water station.
For fresh fruit, head out to historic Ivanhoe Crossing, over the Ord River. Tour around the town and the Ord Irrigation Area, and discover the amazing fresh produce. If you’ve got some time up your sleeve, fi t in a visit to the Hoochery, Western Australia’s oldest continually operating rum distillery.
You can’t leave town without catching – or at least eating – the elusive barramundi that attract scores of fishermen to the region. Get in touch with local operators to fish at a secret spot.
Kununurra offers plentiful accommodation, including caravan parks, hotel/motels, resorts, backpackers, B&B and self-contained apartments. Most tour companies will pick you up from your accommodation. Out of town, you’ll find outback camping, station stays and remote coastal safari camps.
An hour north of Kununurra, Wyndham is the top town of the west, geographically. It’s a small frontier town that typifies the true pioneering character of the Kimberley region. Stop at the Five Rivers lookout in the Bastion Ranges, take the Three Mile Valley Walking Trail, have lunch at Wyndham Port, and see the Aboriginal Dreamtime statues.
Halls Creek is the ideal place to set up camp and explore the East Kimberley landscape, including the Purnululu National Park, the Wolfe Creek Crater, and the China Wall.
Join a 4WD tour to the vast El Questro Wilderness Park – it’s eight times the size of Switzerland. Take a tour from the Homestead and visit Zebedee thermal springs; hike and swim at Emma Gorge, or cruise Chamberlain Gorge; learn about bush foods, bush culture and history, or just drive around the grand landscape. Scenic flights over the Mitchell Plateau are also available. Campers can sleep under a blanket of stars in the crisp clean air, or set up a tent by the river. For a treat, book into the luxurious oasis that is El Questro Homestead and take in the spectacular view over the river as you cool off in the pool.
This man-made phenomenon, a pleasant 70km drive southeast of Kununurra on the border of the Northern Territory, is something of a miracle. Some ambitious folk envisaged a reservoir on the Ord River to irrigate the ancient Kimberley plateau, and it actually worked – Kununurra has become a tropical fruit bowl and agricultural centre, in the middle of nowhere. With a surface area of about 1000sqkm, Lake Argyle is more than a water supply to the town and local farmers. Its unique ecosystem is home to an amazing array of wildlife, including freshwater crocodiles, 26 species of native fish, and 270 bird species, plus all kinds of marsupials on the islands. The best way to see the lake is on a boat cruise, where you’ll see the spillway and the dam. Don’t miss the old Argyle Homestead and museum.