There’s no denying that North Western Australia – including the magical panoramas of the Pilbara and the Kimberley – is a dream destination that everyone should visit at least once in their life.
The Pilbara does nothing on a small scale. Its vastness can be difficult to comprehend: roads cut through dirt and scrub for hundreds of kilometres without a moving vehicle in sight; horizons that seem to stretch on forever, uninterrupted by buildings; night skies, unsullied by light pollution, twinkle with a million brilliant stars. Karijini National Park is the perfect setting in which to cool off, with its plentiful pools, while the Burrup Peninsula is home to what’s said to be the largest concentration of ancient Aboriginal rock art in the world.
Just a two-and-a-half hour flight from Perth, Broome is the western gateway to the Kimberley wilderness – home to world-famous Cable Beach sunsets and the natural phenomenon of the Staircase to the Moon. Affectionately known as the ‘pearl of the north’, it’s the home of South Sea pearls, among the largest and most coveted commercially harvested cultured pearls in the world. Their discovery in the 1800s fuelled a migration almost as epic as the gold rush. Japanese, Filipino and Malay pearl divers arrived in droves seeking their fortune, and ultimately creating a melting pot of cultures that makes Broome the multicultural town it is today.
Off Cable Beach, whales enjoy summer romances, while ancient dinosaur footprints are immortalised at Gantheaume Point, visible at the ebb of the 11m tides. On the mangrove side of the peninsula, Roebuck Bay is the place to watch rare snubfin dolphins, and another vantage point from which to see the Staircase to the Moon.
The Kimberley outback predates most life on earth, so old the only fossils are microorganisms. Some Indigenous artworks are so ancient they are beyond comprehension even to the tribal Elders. The dusty savannah is cut through with peaceful gorges and waterfall oases, intensely beautiful and intricately carved over time. Sure, the rivers are home to crocs but also barramundi galore, plus a rare and diverse ecosystem of plants and animals. You’ll find endless cattle stations populated by roaming Brahman cows. Take the famed Gibb River Road north, or fly east into Kununurra where you can begin to explore shimmering
Lake Argyle and the Argyle Diamond mine. Prepare to meet real live cowboys, and maybe head to a rodeo. There’ll probably be a few grey nomads, too. In state-of-the-art mobile homes, they take their time traversing the landscape and forming pop-up communities.
If you’re not a camper, join a light plane safari stopping at all the luxury stations and eco resorts in the region and swooping low over the mountains and striped domes of the Bungle Bungles… or take an epic cruise through the Kimberley gorges along the Ord River. It’s a bucket-lister’s dream.
- Wheelchair access is available at Karijini National Park’s lookouts at Junction and Circular pools, and within the Weano and Dales Day Use Areas. Newman Visitor Centre has a wheelchair-accessible chalet.
- Broome’s Cable Beach has accessible parking and toilets, plus complimentary beach wheelchairs from the Broome Recreation and Aquatic Centre.
- The catamaran Kimberley Durack has accessible Lake Argyle tours.
- Moonlight Bay Suites, Broome, and Pinctada Kimberley Grande have wheelchair-accessible rooms.