Most Americans have Australia on their bucket list, but they are more familiar with names like Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru. What they may not know—because it’s considered Australia’s best-kept secret—is the Kimberley region.
Spread over Australia’s entire north-western corner, this is one of the world’s last wilderness frontiers. Here you’ll find plenty of wildlife, steep canyons, freshwater swimming holes and stark landscape as far as the eye can see. The Kimberley region is three times larger than England and with a population of less than 40,000.
Highlights of the region include the Horizontal Falls, which is as interesting as it sounds. Located in the Buccaneer Archipelago, Horizontal waterfalls are created by the rapid tidal fall on the ocean side of the cliffs. When conditions are right, a ‘waterfall’ up to ten feet high may form as the trapped landward waters cascade out through the narrow gap to the ocean side. Get up-close to this natural wonder on a Zodiac, where you’ll cruise through the twin gaps and over the rapid-like water
Zodiacs take you up the spectacular King George River, where you’ll feel dwarfed by the towering red rock canyon walls, then cooled by the mist of King George Falls. Here you’ll see the highest single-drop falls in the Kimberley.
The outdoor Gwion Gwion Aboriginal art gallery is another highlight. Discovered by Joseph Bradshaw in 1891, the rock images are estimated to be up to 40,000 years old.
Explore the Ord River, one of the most stunning river systems in Australia.
Visit Montgomery Reef, where the tide drops so rapidly that waters trapped atop the reef create a raging torrent as they escape. Zodiac rides maneuvers travelers through a channel in the reef as water cascades down on either side. It’s the perfect spot to watch cormorants, egrets and sandpipers forage for sea life trapped on the surface of the reef. Below the waterline, opportunistic sea turtles, reef sharks and many larger fish also take advantage of this feast.
Fly over Purnululu National Park, home of the breathtaking Bungle Bungle Range.
Ashmore Reef Marine Park, an Australian External Territory, is a birder’s paradise. Be on the lookout for curlew sandpipers, bar-tailed godwits, and great knots to check off your list
The area between Hunter River and Mitchell Falls is some of the most scenic parts of the Kimberley coast, lined with green rainforest, mangroves and soaring red cliffs.
The Hunter River is chock full of crocodiles, so be on the lookout during a Zodiac ride through the mangroves. For those wishing to explore some of the Kimberley’s vast interior, a helicopter ride to Mitchell Falls is an ideal way to see the spectacular terrain.
There’s so much to do in the Kimberley region and yet so few people have heard of it.
It’s Australia’s best-kept secret. People think of the Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne, and Sydney opera house when they think of Australia—and yet there’s so much to explore on the northwest coast of this huge continent.
Cruising is an ideal way to get around the Kimberley region. The Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic expedition cruise gets into all the nooks and crannies. They go places that are only accessible by expedition ships and zodiacs. For example, in the 1,000-island Buccaneer Archipelago, Horizontal Falls is so remote that any type of approach by road is impossible. Cruising is the way to not only see the landscape, but to really see the wildlife up-close.
Plus, the Kimberley region is as remote as you get. It’s a complex, rugged wilderness and some of the oldest land on earth—with a continental crust that was formed 4.4 billion years ago—around the time the moon came into existence. Going it alone on the roads is an entirely different vacation than an expedition cruise with knowledgeable naturalists as your guide.
The Kimberley region is often visited by seasoned travelers who have been to Sydney and Melbourne and want to explore deeper into Australia. But it’s also popular to combine an area this remote with more popular sites in Australia, to get a city and country feel.
For families looking to explore the Kimberley region, Lindblad Expeditions has voyages in July and August which is ideal for American families who want to experience winter down under while being on their summer vacation.
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