Australia’s North West region is an often forgotten destination that brings landscapes that are as diverse as they are dramatic. From the red dust of the outback to the lush greenery of national parks and the deep blues of the Indian Ocean, this part of Australia’s continent is a treasure trove of natural wonders. The region encompasses the Kimberley and Pilbara areas, each with their own unique attractions and breathtaking scenery. Visitors can find themselves traversing the rugged terrains of the Bungle Bungles, marvelling at the cascading waters of Karijini National Park, or exploring the pristine beaches and coral atolls of the Ningaloo Reef.
Kununurra, located in the heart of the Kimberley, serves as a vibrant hub for those looking to delve into the splendour of the North West. Known for its warm, welcoming atmosphere and proximity to some of the region’s most famous landmarks, the town offers a perfect starting point for adventures. Whether taking a cruise along the mighty Ord River, embarking on a scenic flight over the Mitchell Plateau, or indulging in the local produce from the surrounding agricultural lands, Kununurra provides a taste of the Kimberley’s diverse offerings. With its rich Indigenous culture, stunning landscapes, and boundless opportunities for exploration, Australia’s North West region invites travellers to experience the raw beauty and adventure that define this remarkable part of the world.
With so much to explore, it can be quite overwhelming to know what to prioritise and add to your next holiday itinerary. To help you, here are some of our top suggestions.
Ord Valley Muster
Nestled in the heart of Australia’s Kimberley region, the Ord Valley Muster stands as a celebration of all that is vibrant and unique about this mesmerising part of the world. This annual extravaganza unfolds over a ten-day period, typically gracing the calendar in late May, and brings together a plethora of events that showcase the rich culture, stunning landscapes, and delectable cuisine of the area. From adrenaline-pumping adventures to tranquil art exhibitions, the festival caters to a wide array of tastes, ensuring there is something captivating for every visitor.
For the discerning traveller with a penchant for the extraordinary, the Ord Valley Muster presents an unmissable opportunity. Here, you can immerse yourself in authentic Aboriginal culture through captivating dance performances and art displays, all while enveloped by the breathtaking beauty of the Kimberley. The festival’s hallmark event, the Kimberley Moon Experience, promises an evening of unparalleled enjoyment, set against the stunning backdrop of the Ord River. Picture this: a gourmet dinner under the starlit sky, accompanied by world-class entertainment — it’s an experience that effortlessly marries luxury and the raw beauty of nature.
Sunset Camp Oven Dinner Experience
When you think of the finest dining experiences in Australia, you wouldn’t expect one of them to be in the middle of the outback, in Kununurra, under the stars. The Gourmet Camp Oven Experience, orchestrated by the talented duo Josh Melville and Tamsyn Reynolds, is one of them.
In an intimate setting under the vast expanse of the star-studded Kimberley sky, guests are treated to a three-course feast, cooked to perfection in traditional camp ovens. This unique dining experience seamlessly blends the rustic charm of outdoor cooking with the sophistication of gourmet cuisine, providing a memorable evening that tantalises the taste buds and warms the soul.
Josh and Tamsyn’s passion for utilising local ingredients and their mastery in creating exquisite dishes shine through in every bite, telling a story of the region’s bounty and culinary heritage. As the evening unfolds, guests aren’t just spectators but become part of a communal celebration of food, nature, and connection. Surrounded by the tranquil beauty of Kununurra, the Gourmet Camp Oven Experience is more than just a dinner — it’s an invitation to pause, savour, and immerse oneself in the magical atmosphere, creating a moment in time where fine dining and the great outdoors harmoniously intertwine.
Bungle Bungles (Purnululu)
The Bungle Bungles, a captivating range within Purnululu National Park, present a striking landscape that has been sculpted over millions of years. Formed more than 350 million years ago, these intriguing formations owe their unique appearance to layers of sedimentary rocks and varying degrees of hardness, which have been meticulously eroded by weathering forces. The beehive-shaped domes boast distinctive orange and black stripes, created by the oxidation of iron content and the growth of dark cyanobacteria on the softer sandstone. These natural wonders remained a closely guarded secret, known primarily to the local Indigenous communities, until they were brought to public attention in the 1980s.
Embarking on an Indigenous tour in this region offers a unique opportunity to delve deeper into the cultural significance and ancient stories of the Bungle Bungles. The Kija and Jaru peoples, the traditional custodians of this land, offer guided walks that provide invaluable insights into the area’s history, flora, fauna, and Aboriginal culture. Kingfisher Tours operates one such tour which, led by Indigenous guides, takes you through the mesmerising Echidna Chasm, narrating the creation stories and explaining the traditional uses of the native plants and animals encountered along the way.
To fully appreciate the magnitude and beauty of the Bungle Bungles, scenic helicopter flights are available, offering a bird’s eye view of this geological marvel. On the ground or from above, exploring the Bungle Bungles with Indigenous guides not only enriches the experience but also ensures a respectful and authentic engagement with this ancient and sacred landscape. It’s an immersive journey, inviting you to connect with the land and learn from its oldest custodians, ensuring a deeper understanding and appreciation of this iconic Australian landmark.
El Questro Wilderness Park, an expanse of rugged natural beauty located in the Kimberley region, offers a plethora of adventures and tranquil retreats, with Emma Gorge and Zebedee Springs standing out as two of its most exquisite attractions. Sprawled across a staggering 700,000 acres, El Questro serves as a gateway to explore the diverse landscapes, from towering cliffs and lush rainforests to serene pools and thermal springs.
Emma Gorge, popular for its beauty and tranquillity, is accessible via a hike that commences from El Questro Station. The trail spans approximately a 3.2 km return journey, weaving through a landscape adorned with unique flora and geological formations. Graded as a moderate to difficult hike, the path can be challenging, featuring rocky terrains and uneven surfaces, making it important to don sturdy hiking boots and attire conducive to a rugged outdoor experience. As the hike culminates, you’re rewarded with the sight of the magnificent 65-metre high Emma Gorge Waterfall, cascading into a crystal-clear pool surrounded by lush vegetation — a tranquil oasis in the heart of the Kimberley wilderness.
A short drive from El Questro Station lies Zebedee Springs, a natural thermal spring set amidst a backdrop of towering palm trees and rugged escarpments. These thermal pools maintain a warm temperature year-round, creating a serene sanctuary perfect for unwinding after a morning of exploration. We’d recommend wearing swimwear and water shoes so you can enjoy a comfortable soak in the therapeutic waters.