The Kimberley isn't known as Australia's last frontier for nothing. The landscape tempts you with its otherworldly beauty, but there are many safety considerations when planning to get up close and personal. A guided excursion is highly advisable, and rather than feeling like a neccessity, a quality tour can be a bonus; a gateway that will help you delve deeper into Australia's most enigmatic landscape. Here are just a few ways that APT can enhance your Kimberley wilderness adventure.
The Wilderness Lodges
It is touching when your bus pulls into an APT wilderness lodge of an evening to find the staff lined up with refresher towels and welcoming smiles. Your bags are loaded into a kind of flat shopping trolley and you are taken to a half tent, half cabin lodge that has permanent bathroom facilities and screens in the tent section that afford safety and comfort as well as spectacular desert vistas from your bed on waking up. The fare in the lodge restaurants is surprisingly fine, given their relative isolation.
APT driver guides will take you to some of the finest swimming holes in the Kimberley. Sometimes this necessitates a hike, even a scramble over some rocks. But the joy of the deep, cool water in the morning, shared with your companions, followed by a pack lunch on the banks or surrounding rocks, can be deliriously pleasurable. For an arid location, full of red rust soil and spectacular desert landscapes, the Kimberley has an astonishing amount of water. From secluded swimming holes to the spectacular volumes of water cascading down the famous Mitchell Falls, and on to the white beaches and turquoise waters of the Kimberley coast, this is no place to come without a swimsuit and towel. As well, included river cruises afford access to spectacular waterways and abundant wildlife including exotic birds, bats, dingoes and the occasional swimming goanna, not to mention the startling presence of saltwater and freshwater crocodiles peering up from the river or glaring steadily at you from the banks.
From Broome on the West Australian coast - gateway to the Kimberley and a former wild town of pearl fishers and drovers - to Kununurra, just 37 kilometres from the border of the Northern Territory, the Kimberley towns are a revelation to city dwelling Australians and foreign visitors alike. The galleries of indigenous art in Kununurra are spectacular and it is heartening to see the integration of indigenous and white Australians in the business and cultural life of the town.
More inspiration from The Kimberley
The buses that hurtle through the Kimberley in APT livery are a welcome sight at the end of a long hike, or as they wait outside the hotel accommodation that makes up around half of most tours. You’ll see far more modest vehicles run by less scrupulous operators at the well travelled rest stops, with crowded, hot looking passengers peering out enviously through layers of caked dust on the windows. Dust, like dry heat and bumpy roads, is an inevitable fact of life in the Kimberley but APT manages to stay one step ahead. The vehicles are cleaned regularly, inside and out, and they are comfortably air conditioned.
APT drivers are not just travel guides reciting a script as they beat around the bush, but people who live and breathe the Kimberley. Skilful as pilots they will let you know if there are bumps ahead in time to brace yourself. Depending on the time of year, there may or may not be a lot of traffic, but you can rest assured your driver will make the best of the conditions. If there are sublime photo opportunities at certain times of the day or evening, you’ll hear about them and get a chance to take the photos of a lifetime. You might even be surprised with a glass of champagne in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It’s as much about knowing the area as driving well through it. The drivers know the stories of the local people, the history of the area, the sometimes shameful stories of white settlement. They know how nature works our here in all its ferocity and they can show you bush tucker such as the vitamin C rich powder that coats seeds of the mighty boab trees and how to identify edible green ants -- knowledge that one day may save your life.
More Like This
The Kimberley Rocks of Ages
The rock making up the cliffs is old, so old, it predates life on earth. Let that sink in for a moment.
“I can’t see any fossils in any these rocks,” I ask my guide Carly.
“These rocks were formed before there was anything to fossilise,” she replies plainly.