Kimberley Region Travel Tips
The Kimberley is, undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful and diverse regions on the planet. Covering nearly 420,000 square kilometres, it boasts thundering rivers, deep gorges and canyons, wildlife must-sees such as kangaroos and crocs, not to mention other fauna and flora not found anywhere else on Earth. It’s no wonder visiting the Kimberley is on so many traveller’s bucket lists.
Stunning as the region is, outside of the towns the area is the epitome of the word, ‘remote’. This part of the world really is one of the last true wildernesses to explore. So naturally, it pays to do a little planning before you visit. Especially if, as many do, you plan to simply hire a car and go it alone.
Whether you travel independently or enlist the expertise of tour guides along the way, the following need-to-know tips will help ensure that your trip really is the once in a lifetime experience that you want it to be.
OK, let’s get straight to one of the biggest worries many have when visiting this area of Australia. Yes – there are crocodiles here. And yes, they can be dangerous. However, with a little bit of common sense you can remain safe, and happily share the wilderness with these ancient beasts. Always observe warning signs and only swim in places that are signposted as secure. If in doubt, don’t swim. And don’t use canoes or small boats in deep pools, tidal rivers and estuaries.
Respect the locals
The region is home to many Aboriginal communities, some of whom welcome tourists and some who don’t. Always respect signs that state ‘no access’. In many cases it’s necessary to purchase a permit before visiting. These can be bought online, or ask in any of the tourist offices in larger towns of the region. Gaining an insight into Aboriginal beliefs and way of life is fascinating, highly recommended and will truly enhance your visit to the region.
Take shade and cover up
It might sound obvious, but the heat here is truly relentless. Always cover up, wear a hat and strong UV sun protection. The sun is most intense between 10:00am and 3:00pm, so take extra care between these hours. You should also ensure that you drink enough water – a minimum of two litres per day is recommended.
Walking and hiking
The Kimberley offers incredible walking opportunities, from short strolls to hikes taking days and covering epic distances. When out tramping the trail a few precautions will ensure your safety and enjoyment:
- Always tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back
- Keep to the walking trails
- Wear sturdy walking shoes and appropriate clothing.
- Carry enough water
- Be aware of the heat. It’s a good idea to start in the early hours so you’re finished before the hottest part of the day.
- Always carry a map
- Listen to advice given by guides
- Adhere to any warning signs
- If planning to be out for any extended period of time, consider carrying a sat-phone
Many of the roads in the area are not paved. This, along with the vast distances between towns, means taking a few things into account that differ from driving in most countries.
- There’s a wet and a dry season. During the dry (April-November) there are rarely road closures caused by extreme weather. However, between November-April there can be sudden flooding and high water levels. The Gibb River Road – one of the most popular for adventure travellers – is generally closed during the wet season.
- Cattle wander freely, so don’t be surprised to come across a herd of cows or other animals.
- Kangaroos can be a danger and tend to be most active at dawn and dusk. If possible, avoid driving at these times.
- Many car hire companies don’t cover damage sustained between dusk to dawn unless you’re in town. Ensure that you talk to your provider when you pick up your vehicle, so you understand exactly what’s covered.
- Once again, carry plenty of water at all times, and a map of the wider area.
There are restrictions on alcohol in many areas of the Kimberley, especially in some of the smaller towns and communities. If you’re out and about and wish to ensure you have that much-needed cold tinnie at the end of the day, it’s best to stock up in one of the larger towns before you head into the bush.
Phones & Wi-Fi
In the wilderness there are no phone towers and no internet. Depending on your point of view this is either a massive positive, or something that fills you with dread. You’ll find reception in the major towns, but be aware that there’s none whatsoever in the Bungle Bungles or along the Gibb River Road. Once again, you might want to consider carrying a sat phone if you’re going wild for an extended period of time.
The remoteness of the Kimberley and surrounding area is part of its massive appeal. With a little knowledge and forward thinking you can be assured of a trip to remember for all the right reasons. The only thing is, there’s always more to see. Fall in love with the Kimberley and we guarantee you’ll be back for more…
When it comes to exploring this vast wilderness, no tour operator is more experienced than Horizontal Falls Adventures. And the reason why? Because their dedicated team were born and bred here, and are proud to reveal the most intimate secrets of the region to their guests. With tours departing from Derby and Broome, this award winning company will show you the hidden Kimberley that few are ever privileged to see. To find out more about the wide range of options on offer, visit the www.horizontalfallsadventures.com.au website, or give them a call on 08 9192 1172.