Occupying an area roughly three times the size of England, but with fewer than 100,000 residents, the Kimberley region, in the far northwest of Australia, is “almost boundlessly remote”. A single highway, the Gibb River Road, runs through its heart, and it makes for an “extraordinary” drive, said Matthew Parris in The Times – a 400-mile odyssey through “an epic landscape of red rock and burning sun, scarred by gorges laced with waterfalls and limpid pools”. Popular with “what Aussies call grey nomads” – retirees who head north to escape the southern winter – it is quite safe, and there are plenty of pleasant lodges and campsites along the way. But in this vast wilderness, solitude is everywhere for the taking, as are fabulous, ever-changing views.
Tropical wet-season rains can leave some farms cut off for months, so the best time to visit is “the Dry” – the months around July and August “when the nights are cool and the skies blue”. Fly to Broome, a coastal town in Western Australia with beautiful white sand beaches, and drive to Kununurra, close to the border of the Northern Territory – a journey of 500 miles, most of it on the Gibb. You could hire a vehicle with a roof tent, or book rooms at hotels such as El Questro, Ellenbrae Station, Mount Elizabeth Station and Mount Hart. It’s worth staying longer than a single night in some places, to give you more time to explore the area on foot.
There are many wonderful swimming spots, such as Adcock’s Gorge, a pool in a rainforest grove where you might spot turtles. (Always seek local advice before taking the plunge, in case of crocodiles.) And it’s worth splashing out on a helicopter trip – to glorious Miri Miri Falls, for instance – and on a flight in a light aircraft over the Bungle Bungle Range. Perched on the edge of the vast desert to the south, these “bizarre sculpted rocks”, up to 250 metres high, look “like massive, horizontally striped beehives in multicoloured layers of sandstone”.
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