The Kimberley Guide
Introducing the Kimberley region
The Kimberley region offers a distinctive and memorable Australian outback experience. From the historical pearling town of Broome, to the rugged and adventurous Gibb River Road and the pristine coastline, the Kimberley has something to tantalise every traveller to the region.
The Kimberley covers the north-west region of Australia. It is a relatively untouched part of the country with a craggy coastline and an interior consisting of rugged ranges, expansive cattle stations, tidal rivers and beautiful gorges. It encompasses approximately 420,000kms² with a total population of over 40,000 people. The Kimberley is roughly one-sixth of Western Australia, which is Victoria & Tasmania combined or over 3 times the size of England.
The Kimberley has a tropical climate with a distinct wet and dry season.
Dry Season – The most popular time to visit the Kimberley is May through until October. The season usually offers a clear heat and an average daily temperature of around 30°C.
Wet Season – Once November arrives humidity may begin. Most rainfall occurs from January to March and is usually in short, sharp bursts in the late afternoon and evenings. The days can be hot and the nights are balmy. This time of the year can provide great lightning shows, spectacular sunsets, thundering waterfalls and plenty of wildlife.
|Jun to Aug||29°C||15°C|
|Sep to Nov||33°C||22°C|
|Dec to Feb||33°C||26°C|
|Mar to May||33°C||22°C|
|Jun to Aug||32°C||16°C|
|Sep to Nov||38°C||23°C|
|Dec to Feb||37°C||25°C|
|Mar to May||34°C||21°C|
Best Time To Go
The dry season offers visitors the chance to see all the Kimberley has to offer. Broome is very popular between the months of May and October, and the Gibb River Road is also open during these months.
For those visitors who have flexibility of time to travel to the Kimberley, we would suggest travelling at the start of the season; late April, May & June for the following reasons:
- The gorges and waterfalls have an abundance of water as the wet season has just ended;
- Broome has fewer tourists than in the peak July/August period;
- Accommodation in May is usually at shoulder season prices; and
- The Gibb River Road has been graded after the wet season and is smoother for more comfortable travel.
July and September school holidays and Broome Cup (mid August) are extremely busy periods, and we would recommend that if you intend to visit Broome during these times that you book as far ahead as possible.
Flying to the Kimberley
Broome is the main gateway into the Kimberley from the major cities around Australia.
Qantas operate 3 flights a week out of Melbourne in peak season, 2 out of Sydney, 1 out of Brisbane and daily out of Perth. Qantas also offer a code share flight with Air North daily out of Darwin. Return flights are same day schedule as the inbound flights.
Flying within the Kimberley
Flight options are available between Broome, Kununurra and through to Darwin with Air North and SkyWest. These carriers operate various daily and weekly schedules between these ports. In addition, air charter services between these points and the various landing strips around the Kimberley are available.
Travelling the Gibb River Road
The Gibb River Road, one of Australia’s true outback 4WD experiences, extends from Derby to Kununurra. The road opens at the end of the wet season, usually late April, and can normally be driven on until late September. The Gibb River Road is unsealed from just beyond Derby until 60km outside Kununurra. The 712km of 4WD terrain takes in stunning gorges, vast cattle stations and rugged panoramic ranges. We would recommend a minimum of 6 nights to truly get the best out of your trip.
The Gibb River Road is graded at the start of the season and is mainly rocky earth. It is only suitable for large 4WD vehicles and not recommended for towing caravans, trailers and boats. The road can become very corrugated as the touring season continues. As a guide the average travelling speed is 60 to 80km per hour. We would recommend anyone with a back condition to be conscious of how jarring the road can be.
Derby to Kununurra Driving Distance (km)
|342||238||203||115||Mornington Wilderness Camp|
|415||311||276||188||253||110||101||Kalumburu Turn off|
|642||538||503||415||480||337||312||227||49||El Questro Township|
Broome was originally founded in the late 1880’s as a pearling port. Lured by the promise to make their fortune, Broome welcomed a diverse range of peoples including Malay, Chinese, Japanese, Koepanger and European. All these cultures, together with the local indigenous people, have combined to create a diverse and exotic town that today boasts a population of around 15,000.
Broome has a colourful history dominated by the pearling trade. However the riches from the pearl beds did not come cheap and the town’s Japanese cemetery is the resting place of many divers who lost their lives working in the industry. Broome was also attacked by Japanese aircraft in March 1942 resulting in 88 deaths. Shaped by a turbulent history Broome is now a mix of the old and the new; Chinatown’s historical buildings and the beautiful Kimberley architecture mix with the vibrant modern town that Broome has become. Its diversity has also created a fantastic blend of wonderful local style cuisine and unique characters.
Broome’s famous Cable Beach is a 22 kilometre-long stretch of pure white sand, turquoise water, set against spectacular Indian Ocean sunsets. Cable Beach with its gentle rolling waves is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and sunsets. Broome Township is situated 6 kilometres from Cable Beach. The township itself provides the majority of shopping options, together with many art galleries and pearl showrooms.
Broome also offers many other attractions. Visit Gantheume Point to see dinosaur footprints reputed to be 130 million years old, take in a movie at the longest running outdoor cinema in the world — Sun Pictures — or visit the pearl stores in Chinatown.
Staircase to the Moon
One of Broome’s natural wonders is the Staircase to the Moon. This phenomenon occurs for three days after the full moon from March to November. It is caused by the rising moon reflecting off the mudflats of Roebuck Bay, creating the beautiful illusion of a staircase leading to the moon.
Staircase to the Moon markets are held on many of the Staircase to the Moon dates at Town Beach. The Broome Courthouse Market is also held on each Saturday and Sunday morning between April and October.
|2020 Staircase to the Moon, Broome|
|Mar 10||6:53pm||Apr 8||6:11pm|
|Mar 11||7:38pm||Apr 9||6:57pm|
|Mar 12||8:23pm||Apr 10||7:46pm|
|May 8||6:21pm||Jun 6||5:44pm|
|May 9||7:14pm||Jun 7||6:51pm|
|May 10||8:10pm||Jun 8||7:49pm|
|Jul 6||6:33pm||Aug 4||6:14pm|
|Jul 7||7:30pm||Aug 5||7:07pm|
|Jul 8||8:24pm||Aug 6||7:58pm|
|Sep 3||6:40pm||Oct 2||6:12pm|
|Sep 4||7:28pm||Oct 3||6:59pm|
|Sep 5||8:16pm||Oct 4||7:47pm|
Kununurra, the east of the Kimberley, was originally built in the early 1960s to serve the Ord River Irrigation Project. It has now become a vibrant town of about 6,000, and is the hub for visiting such icons as Lake Argyle, the Ord River, El Questro Wilderness Park, the Argyle Diamond Mine and the unique Bungle Bungle Range. These huge black and oranges stripped beehive-like mounds can be as high as 300 metres. Purnululu National Park, in which the Bungles are located, is now a World Heritage listed site and something every Kimberley visitor should not miss out on seeing.
Wyndham is a town of approximately 800 people in the East Kimberley. The stunning town backdrop is The Bastion, part of the Bastion Ranges. On top of The Bastion sits the Five Rivers Lookout, the highest point of the Range which provides a spectacular view of the Cambridge Gulf into which the Ord, Forrest, King, Durack and Pentecost rivers flow.
Fitzroy is the home to Geikie Gorge National Park, a spectacular waterway with weather-beaten escarpments and copious wildlife. It is also a great base to access Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek.
(Click on the map to enlarge)
Kimberley Calendar of Events 2020
The Kimberley has a vast array of events occurring mainly in the dry season months of April to October. Please note dates for some events and festivals may change. For up to date information, please call our office.
Ord Valley Muster
Kununurra: 15 to 24 May
Cable Beach Polo
Broome: 16 to 17 May
The Gibb Challenge
Broome to El Questro: 7 to 22 May
Kimberley Moon Experience
Kununurra: 23 May
Broome Turf Club Races
Broome: 30 May, 13 & 20 Jun and 4,12 & 24 Jul
Kununurra Half Marathon
Kununurra: 14 Jun
Broome: 26 Jul
Broome Turf Club – Kimberley Cup
Broome: 1 Aug
Broome Turf Club – Ladies Day
Broome: 11 Aug
Broome Turf Club – Cup Day
Broome: 15 Aug
Kununurra Races – Ladies Day
Kununurra: Aug TBA
Shinju Matsuri Festival
Broome: 28 Aug to 6 Sep
Kununurra Races – Cup Day
Kununurra: Sep TBA
Australian School Holidays 2020
ACT & NSW
10 to 26 Apr
4 to 19 Jul
26 Sep to 11 Oct
19 Dec to 2 Feb (ACT)
19 Dec to 25 Jan (NSW)
14 to 17 Apr
29 Jun to 27 Jul
28 Sep to 9 Oct
21 Dec to 29 Jan
4 to 19 Apr
27 Jun to 12 Jul
20 Sep to 5 Oct
12 Dec to 25 Jan
SA & TAS
10 to 26 Apr
4 to 19 Jul
26 Sep to 11 Oct
12 Dec to 31 Jan (SA)
18 Dec to 2 Feb (TAS)
28 Mar to 13 Apr
27 Jun to 12 Jul
19 Sep to 4 Oct
19 Dec to 26 Jan
10 to 27 Apr
4 to 19 Jul
26 Sep to 11 Oct
18 Dec to 29 Jan