7-day self-drive adventure along Australia’s Kimberley region

The Kimberley is the northernmost region of Western Australia, a sparsely populated area brimming with a wide variety of wildlife and other-worldly landscapes. This vast region has only about 40,000 residents, with over 50% of the population that belong to the Aboriginal groups. For many, Kimberley is the real outback and it is not hard to understand why. This 7-day suggested itinerary focuses on the Broome and the Bungle Bungles and could be easily adjusted to fit in individual preference.

Things to know before traveling to Kimberley Region, Australia: 

Language – English is the official language in Australia, although you will be surprised by many other different languages spoken across the country. Since the country has turned into a multi-cultural society, which is now clearly visible almost everywhere, you’ll often hear people on the street, shops and restaurants speaking just about anything from Japanese and Mandarin Chinese to Italian.

Currency exchange – The official currency of Australia is the Australian dollar. Australia is a well-developed country with a good banking and financial infrastructure. This means, exchanging money is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in the world. You may transact with banks, foreign exchange bureaus, international airports and hotels. You may also use debit cards and credit cards but watch out for ATM fees and foreign transaction fees, which can be very high per transaction. It is also good to know that there are plentiful of ATMs available throughout the country so you will surely have easy access to cash.

Australian dollar bills
Australian dollar bills (Robyn Mackenzie / Bigstrockphoto.com)

Safety and security – There is currently no nationwide security advisory in effect for Australia. Check your country’s travel advisory website to get the most up-to-date information for your personal safety abroad. Observe the same precautions with your personal safety and health as you would in any other country. If you are camping or going on a self-drive adventure in the outback, do not rely on mobile phones alone as cellular network is not widespread yet. Make sure to pack a two-way radio or satellite emergency communication device, waterproof lighter or matches, first aid kit, enough supply of water and calorie-dense food, sleeping bags, shovel and rope.

Getting around – Getting around Australia, where major tourist attractions are thousands of miles apart, can be a bit daunting and time consuming so it is best to explore by region. In the Kimberley, the one of the most isolated regions in the world, getting around on your own can be very challenging, especially during the wet season. Although self-drive trips can be done, we would not suggest it to first time visitors as the terrain can be very unforgiving. There are plenty of tours to choose from in Broome and other major cities in Australia if you don’t want to bother with trip research and navigation.

Where to stay – There’s a great variety of accommodation in Kimberley; from small lodges to five-star luxury hotels. In almost any towns, there is something for every level of comfort and budget. If it’s your first time in this region, it is recommended to stay in Broome, the largest town, to get easy access to Kimberley’s famous attractions and get plenty of accommodation and dining options. If you have extra bucks to splurge, then immerse yourself in the outback life by staying at one of the homesteads like Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge, right in the heart of Purnululu National Park.

Hotels to consider in Broome:

Bali Hai Resort & Spa

Blue Seas Resort

Moonlight Bay Suites

Kimberley Sands Resort & Spa

Oaks Cable Beach Sanctuary Resort

Day-by-day itinerary: 7-day self-drive adventure along Australia’s Kimberley Region

Day 1: Arrival in Broome

Take an international flight to Broome International Airport in Broome, a popular resort town on the Kimberley region of Australia. It is best to get an early morning arrival so you could fight off your jet lag before you go exploring in the afternoon. Upon arrival, make sure to drop by the Broome Visitor Centre located on Hamersley Street to get printed tourist maps, tour recommendations and sightseeing flight bookings.

Cable Beach, Broome, Australia
Four wheel drive tracks in sandy Cable Beach, Broome Western Australia, a 22 kilometre long stretch of white sand, set against red ochre cliffs and fringed by turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean (alybaba / Shutterstock)

After lunch, get ready to explore all that Kimberley has to offer by renting out a 4WD in Broome or by arranging your trips from a reputable tour agency. But before you discover the outback, do not miss the 22-kilometer white sand of Cable Beach in contrast with the orange to red ochre cliffs and turquoise waters off the Indian Ocean. At the end of the beach, approximately 6 kilometers from the town center, you will find the Gantheaume Point, famed for the fossilized dinosaur footprints that once inhabited this area. Back in town, pay a visit to the SSJG Heritage Centre and learn about the Sisters of Saint John of God and Aboriginal people of the Kimberley.

Gantheaume Point, Broome, Australia
Gantheaume Point (ShuYa Yong / Shutterstock)

Day 2: Gibb River Road – Windjana Gorge – Tunnel Creek

Boab Prison Tree, Derby, Australia
Famous Boab Prison Tree,a large hollow Adansonia gregorii (Boab) tree just south of Derby, Western Australia reputed to have held indigenous prisoners a century ago is a tourist attraction (Lucas T. Jahn / Shutterstock)

On day 2, check out from your hotel/hostel in Broome very early then off you go to Derby, where you will find the Boab Prison Tree. This 1,500-year-old big, hallow tree is said to be used as a prison for Aboriginal prisoners in the late 19th century. Continue your 4WD adventure along the Gibb River Road, which is arguably the most authentic Aussie outback road. Tackle it and pass along breathtaking savanna until you reach Windjana Gorge, one of the well-loved national parks in the Kimberley. Then, if you’re brave enough, explore the 750-meter long Tunnel Creek. Your final destination for the day is Fitzroy Crossing, where you will be staying for two nights.

Pentecost River Crossing, Gibb River Road, West Australia
Gibb River Road at Pentecost River Crossing (AustralianCamera / Shutterstock)

Where to stay in Fitzroy Crossing:

Fitzroy River Lodge

Crossing Inn

Day 3: Geikie Gorge

Geikie Gorge, Australia
Geikie Gorge National Park (Adwo / Shutterstock)

On day 3, hop aboard a tourist boat and discover the breathtaking Geikie Gorge also known as Danggu Gorge National Park. Known for its soaring cliffs and abundant wildlife, this waterway is a true marvel, which have been carved by Fitzroy River 350 million years ago. The Aboriginal people conduct boat tours to the national park thus, you will get the most authentic experience as possible. Just like many places in the Kimberley, freshwater crocodiles inhabit the gorge so it’s important to observe safety measures.

Freshwater crocodile, Geikie Gorge, Australia
A freshwater crocodile resting on the banks of Geikie Gorge (Philip Schubert / Shutterstock)

Day 4: Purnululu National Park

Check out early from your accommodation in Fitzroy Crossing. The drive to get to Purnululu National Park is about 8 hours but it may take a little bit longer as this route offers great opportunity for photography. Stop for lunch and some grocery shopping at the Halls Creek. Then, tackle the long road to Purnululu. Check in at the top-rated Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge at the heart of World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park, where you will stay for 3 nights. This Advanced Ecotourism certified lodge is conveniently located 50 km from the park gates, which allows you to maximize your limited time in the Kimberley.

Purnululu National Park, Australia
Purnululu National Park, Bungle Bungles rock formation (ronnybas frimages / Shutterstock)

Day 5: Purnululu National Park

Undoubtedly one of the best travel experiences in the Kimberley is a visit to the world heritage listed Bungle Bungle Range, one of the best-known geological landmarks in the country and the world. These orange and black beehive-striped domes are believed to have been formed 20 million years ago, thus, it has both indigenous and geological significance. Another highlight of the park that you should definitely explore is the 2-kilometer long Echidna Chasm, a spectacular narrow gorge with approx. 200-meter high vertical walls. The finale of this day’s tour is the Mini-Palms Gorge, a 2.5-kilometer trail with ancient Livistona palms surrounded by towering orange and red cliffs.

Echidna Chasm, Bungle Bungles, Australia
Looking outward from Inside the entrance of Echidna Chasm at the Bungle Bungles (Philip Schubert / Shutterstock)

Day 6: Purnululu National Park

On day 6, tackle the winding gorge of Piccaninny Creek, a 7-kilometer walk from the gorge entrance. As the trail has no mark and moderately difficult, assess your physical condition, tell someone your plans, never hike alone, wear safety gears, pack a trail map, whistle and first aid kit and do not forget food and water. Be a responsible hiker to enjoy this wonder. Make sure to stop at Picanninny Creek Lookout to get an amazing panoramic view of the Bungle Bungles. End the day at the Cathedral Gorge, a natural amphitheater with astonishing acoustics.

Cathedral Gorge, Bungle Bungle Range, Australia
view of the waterfall in the amphitheater at the end of Cathedral Gorge in the Bungle Bungle Range (Philip Schubert / Shutterstock)

Day 7: Purnululu National Park

If you have extra money to splurge, try the exciting helicopter tour of the Bungle Bungles Range. Once on board, get ready to see Australia’s most rugged and stunning terrain unfold before you. Don’t forget your camera as your photos from above the Bungle Bungles will surely become memorable memento. After your helicopter tour, check out from your accommodation and drive all the way to Broome. You may stop at Halls Creek for lunch. You may also visit the China Wall, a striking natural rock formation that resembles the Great Wall of China.

China Wall, Halls Creek, Australia
China Wall is a natural vein of sub-vertical white quartz that runs for miles. It is known as Burraluba in the Jaru language and as Mulugunjiny in Kija (mark higgins / Shutterstock)

Have been to Australia’s Kimberley region or anywhere else in Australia? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.

Featured image: Sunset on outlier banded beehive domes near Piccaninny Creek in the World Heritage Listed Purnululu National Park in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia (Philip Schubert / Shutterstock)


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