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Take An Amazing Scenic Flight And Awesome Sea Safari   Northern Western Australia has some of the best unique experiences you will find in Australia. Air Kimberley’s Cygnet Bay Explorer…

Take An Amazing Scenic Flight And Awesome Sea Safari


Northern Western Australia has some of the best unique experiences you will find in Australia. Air Kimberley’s Cygnet Bay Explorer full-day tour covers several bucket list activities in the Kimberley region. Be prepared for a scenic flight over the Horizontal Waterfalls and the stunning Buccaneer Archipelago, a visit to a hatchery managed by the Bardi-Jawi people, a pearling industry discovery tour and a fast boat cruise amongst giant whirlpools and standing tidal waves in the world’s largest tropical tides. So, where am I taking you? Read on to discover and learn more about your next Australian adventure.


Over the past 12 months, I have tried twice to join a tour over and through Horizontal Falls in Western Australia. However, on both occasions, the company cancelled the tour. The first cancellation in 2021 was because the seaplanes could not take off due to low cloud cover. The second cancellation (June 2022) occurred when a fast boat had an accident going through the Horizontal Waterfalls, and all fast boat tours through the falls were temporarily suspended.

When I recently found myself in Broome again, and my second-attempted pre-booked Horizontal Falls tour was cancelled, I was resigned to my disappointment. However, one day nosing around the resort lobby, I came across an Air Kimberley brochure. I discovered they did a similar full-day tour that included a flyover of the Horizontal Falls and a sea safari, not through Horizontal Falls, as I had wanted, but out to the giant tides off the Kimberley coast.

The Air Kimberley tour cost, at $985.00, was slightly less than what I was to be refunded from the cancelled tour. I figured, what did I have to lose? And I wasn’t returning to Broome for a third attempt at the Horizontal Falls tour.

Air Kimberley’s tour price covered hotel transfers, flights, morning tea and lunch, and third-party tours at Ardyaloon Trochus Hatchery and Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm.

So, what did I find in that Air Kimberley brochure? Before I answer that question, you probably wonder why seeing Horizontal Falls was so important to me.

Last year, when organising my first ever trip to the Kimberley in northern Western Australia, Horizontal Falls was on my must-see list for several reasons.

  • Sir David Attenborough has described the falls as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”, and I thought I needed to see this unique natural attraction that deserved such high praise.
  • The Horizontal Falls are created by a rare ocean phenomenon where powerful, fast-moving 10- to 12-metre-high tidal currents squeeze through two narrow gorges at an astonishing rate, producing waterfalls turned on their side (literally, horizontal). I love waterfalls but have only seen ones with vertical drops. So, I knew I had to see this wonder for myself.
  • Horizontal Falls is in the Buccaneer Archipelago, an untouched region of more than 1,000 islands off the coast of Western Australia. These largely uninhabited islands are known for their rugged terrain, areas of rainforest, and pristine, white sand beaches – a landscape I was keen to photograph from the air even though it would seriously test my camera skills.
  • Horizontal Falls is remote, accessible only by air or boat. I find ‘remote’ appealing – the more difficult it is to get to see or do something, the more I want to go.
  • And lastly, seeing Horizontal Falls came highly recommended by friends and Facebook groups.

Did my flight over Horizontal Falls meet all my expectations? You will have to read on to find out.

Cygnet Bay Explorer

And now, back to my question about what I found in the Air Kimberley brochure.

I found, booked, and went on Air Kimberley’s Cygnet Bay Explorer full-day tour, leaving from Broome.

“Enjoy an adventure packed day experiencing the best of the Kimberley – Overfly the Horizontal Falls, Buccaneer Archipelago, visit Ardyaloon Community and the giant tides and shimmering pearls at Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm.”

While you can check out the details of this tour for yourself by clicking on the link, there were two very different events I was eager to experience – the scenic flight over Horizontal Falls and the sea safari out to the giant whirlpools. But I am getting ahead of myself. What did the tour entail?

I was picked up from my accommodation at 6.30 am and driven to Broome International Airport, where Air Kimberley is based. Four other people (two couples) joined me on the tour. After our flight safety briefing, we boarded a small aircraft (eight-seater, including the pilot) for the 2-hour flight up the Kimberley coast for our flight over the stunning Buccaneer Archipelago and Horizontal Falls.

The Buccaneer Archipelago is a group of 1,000 small islands covering 50 square kilometres, located at the head of King Sound near the Kimberley town of Derby.

The archipelago is a magnificent raw landscape that you can only truly appreciate from the air. While boat tours around the islands offer visits to the beautiful coves and beaches, you would not get the perspective given by a scenic flight of the vastness of all those islands that seem to go on forever.

I must admit, I was underwhelmed with Horizontal Falls. I had read so much about the power of the tides running between the cliffs, causing the water to appear like a horizontal waterfall, but ‘power’ was not evident from the plane. Instead, what I saw was more like Class 1 or 2 rapids.

I suspect the wonder of Horizontal Falls and the power of the tides are best experienced from a fast boat through the waterfalls rather than a scenic flyover.

When we landed at the Ardyaloon Trochus Hatchery & Aquaculture Centre, run by the Bardi-Jawi people on One Arm Point, I asked the pilot if we were not allowed to fly lower over Horizontal Falls. I thought lower would give a better ‘feel’ for the powerful tides. Apparently, there is a height pecking order, with helicopters flying at the lowest altitude, seaplanes next level up, and light aircraft (our plane) flying the highest.

When I got home and reviewed my photos more closely, I felt the image below revealed the power of the running tide more clearly than my eyes could discern. What do you think?

Close up aerial view of a horizontal waterfall

Can you ‘feel’ the power of the Horizontal Falls in this photo?


I had joined a guided tour of Ardyaloon Trochus Hatchery on a previous visit to Broome in 2021. However, on this occasion, morning tea of fruit salad, cake, and juice was provided by Air Kimberley.

From Long Arm Point, it was a short, six-minute flight to Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm on the tip of the Dampier Peninsula, where the activities included the Pearl Discovery Tour and a Sea Safari. At Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, Air Kimberley’s involvement was limited to getting us to the pearl farm, seeing we joined the Pearl Discovery Tour, paying for lunch, ensuring we were on the fast boat for the Sea Safari, and flying us back to Broome.

Air Kimberley’s Cygnet Bay Explorer tour price included the tours at Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm.

Pearl Farm Discovery Tour

My previous visit to Broome in 2021 included the Pearl Farm Discovery Tour at the family-owned Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm. However, I continue to be fascinated by the history of pearling in the Kimberley.

Reading tip: If you are interested in learning more about a significant chapter in the Kimberley’s pearling industry, I recommend reading The White Divers of Broome by John Bailey, telling the true story of a fatal experiment.

The tour commenced with an information session on the history of Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm and the pearling industry in what appropriately appeared to be an old school classroom. A live pearl harvest followed the history lesson.

A pearl in an opened oyster

I took this photo of the harvested pearl on my previous visit to Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm


The tour concluded with an in-depth session on how pearls are graded.

The Pearl Farm Discovery tour was followed by lunch at the onsite restaurant.

Twice I lunched at the Cygnet Bay Homestead Restaurant with a tour group when the set menu was seafood. On both occasions, Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm was advised of my seafood allergy, and, on both occasions, this information seems to have been lost in translation. The outcome was eating a meal after everyone else had finished because they had nothing prepared for me. I found the restaurant’s forgetfulness disappointing.

Sea Safari

After lunch, we climbed aboard the fast boat for our Giant Tides Sea Safari. During this cruise, we would “feel the power of the world’s largest tropical tides with giant whirlpools and standing waves” created by millions of tonnes of water squeezing between the rocky islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago.

Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm writes about their Sea Safari tour:

“Feel the power of the world’s largest tropical tides as you cruise amongst the giant whirlpools and standing tidal waves. Venture into Escape Passage, recently described by scientists as the fastest ocean currents in the world!

The tides on this section of the Kimberley Coast are particularly large due to the area’s geography. When the sun and moon align on a spring tide, the ocean is pulled towards the north-west of WA and Indonesia, gathering speed as it reaches the shallow continental shelf and bottlenecking as it passes between Australia and Indonesia, creating the exhilarating whirlpools and standing waves we see on the tour.”

My photos can’t express the sense of adventure experienced and don’t do justice to all you see. The whirlpools are probably best viewed from the air.

The Sea Safari was an experience I find difficult to describe as there just don’t seem to be the right words to express how I felt as we powered through the whirlpools and standing waves created by the forceful tides. But let me try. It was a thrilling, exhilarating, exciting, fun, and awesome adventure. To best sum up my feelings, I was disappointed when it was time to return to land. I immediately wanted to go back out again, but there was a plane waiting for me to take me back to Broome.

Beware: You will get wet. How much so will depend on where you are sitting in the boat. Two young girls sitting at the front of the boat got drenched. I was sitting at the back of the boat directly in front of the driver and experienced what I would best describe as several large, fat rain drops.

The flight along the Kimberley coast back to Broome took us over the magnificent red cliffs of James Price Point, famous for its 130-million-year-old dinosaur footprints (but that’s another trip).

Aerial view of red cliffs meeting sand and sea. Forest lies behind the red cliffs.

Scenic flight with Air Kimberley over James Price Point


It was a long (approximately 11 hours), enjoyable, satisfying, and exhilarating day providing several unique experiences and so worth it. I can not fault Air Kimberley’s relaxed professionalism, guiding, and communication.

The tour was an excellent itinerary, well organised, kept on time without feeling rushed, and value for money. Without hesitation, I recommend Air Kimberley to readers.

Before our transfer back to our respective hotels, Air Kimberley presented each passenger with special gifts as mementos of our Kimberley adventure – a tour photo, a souvenir Passport & Tour Map to the Kimberley, an Air Kimberley stubby cooler, and a complimentary beer voucher from Matso’s Brewery in Broome. I am not letting out any secrets here, as Air Kimberley lists the gifts on their website.


In this post, I have shared my experience of Air Kimberley’s full-day Cygnet Bay Explorer tour up the Kimberley coast over the Horizontal Falls and 1,000-islands Buccaneer Archipelago and onward to a fantastic sea safari adventure in the world’s largest tropical tides. It was a chance meeting with a brochure that brought me to Air Kimberley – one that was to my benefit and yours.


Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel.

© Just Me Travel 2018-2022.


Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts. Does Horizontal Falls deserve Sir David Attenborough’s description of “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”?


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The image has two photos of aerial views of a horizontal waterfall and red cliffs meeting sand and sea.


An image with two photos. One is an aerial view of horizontal waterfalls and the other is a whirlpool in the sea.


Are you looking for more ideas on destination Western Australia? Then don’t miss these posts:







Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.



15 Photos for 15 Reasons Why You Should Holiday in Tropical Broome, the ‘Capital’ of the Kimberley Broome’s physical environment and cultural richness offer a wide variety of unique experiences…

15 Photos for 15 Reasons Why You Should Holiday in Tropical Broome, the ‘Capital’ of the Kimberley

Broome’s physical environment and cultural richness offer a wide variety of unique experiences for every visitor, whatever your budget. The photos in this post take you on a virtual tour of my experiences and discoveries over six days in Broome.


Broome is the gateway to the spectacular Kimberley region in tropical northern Western Australia – where one of the world’s last wilderness areas meets the Indian Ocean. Broome is about 2,048 kilometres northeast of Perth and approximately 1,871 kilometres southwest of Darwin.

Why should you visit Broome? Below I have focused on 15 personal reasons, presented through 15 photos to tempt you to visit this laid-back town that gets under your skin. With pristine waters, sandy beaches, abundant wildlife, tropical climate, breathtaking colours, and magnificent landscapes, Broome is a unique destination with so much to see and discover.

The Yawuru (pronounced Ya-roo) people are the traditional owners of Broome and surrounding areas.

Pearl Luggers

A mannequin dressed in an old pearl diver suit, including the weights the pearl divers carried on their feet, chest, back, belt and diving helmet

There is a local saying that Broome was built on buttons.

On Dampier Terrace in Chinatown, Pearl Luggers is a unique museum providing insight into Broome’s pearling industry – an industry that commenced life supplying mother-of-pearl for the European market for buttons, combs, and other high-end fashion accessories, to Broome now being the home of the South Sea Pearl.

Peal Luggers features two fully restored wooden pearling luggers (sailing vessel with specific rigging) and 150 years of pearl diving memorabilia. The divers would stay out to sea on the luggers for months at a time.

I was interested in the pearling history of Broome and found the Pearl Luggers tour was a great introduction to that history. It was educational, informative, entertaining, visual, tactile, and insightful. I learned pearl divers risked their lives due to drowning or decompression sickness (the bends) every time they dived for pearl shells. I learned the pearl divers wore 180 kilograms of weights each time they dived, which limited their diving life to 10 years due to carrying all that weight. Many divers now rest in the Japanese cemetery.

The 1.5-hour tour operates daily, concluding with a free sample of the rare pearl meat. I didn’t try this costly delicacy as I wasn’t game to test if my seafood allergy ran to pearl meat.

Japanese Cemetery

Grave headstones in a cemetery with Japanese script on the headstones

Pearling was a dangerous pursuit. The Japanese Cemetery on Port Drive in Broome is the largest Japanese cemetery in Australia. The memorial on the stone wall at the entrance to the Japanese Cemetery reads …

The Japanese cemetery at Broome dates back to the very early pearling years and bears witness to the close ties Japan has with this small north west town. The first recorded interment in this cemetery is 1896.

During their years of employment in the industry, a great many men lost their lives due to drowning or the diver’s paralysis [decompression sickness (the bends)]. A large stone obelisk bears testimony to those lost in the 1908 cyclone. It is also recorded that the 1887 and 1935 cyclones each caused the death of 140 men. In the year 1914 the diver’s paralysis claimed the lives of 33 men.

There are 707 graves (919 people) with them having headstones of coloured beach rocks.

The sheer enormity of the number of deaths among the Japanese pearl divers and the sacrifice they made with their lives to Broome’s pearling industry moved me. The serene beauty of the memorials created an atmosphere for reflection.

Willie Creek Pearl Farm

A pearl in an oyster

The pearl found in the oyster that was harvested on my tour and was valued at $750.00


Broome was built on its pearling industry. As such, you should not miss a tour of a working pearl farm.

Willie Creek Pearl Farm is a working pearl farm where you can learn all about the process of modern cultured pearl farming – from the birthing and harvesting of oysters through to valuing the pearls, the creation of jewellery, and how to care for your pearls. The tour includes a boat trip on Willie Creek to view the live oysters in panels suspended from lines. The tour finishes with morning or afternoon tea.

Roebuck Bay

Two bomb trees in red soil in front of mangroves, with the turquoise sea behind them

Roebuck Bay is a spectacular landscape


Roebuck Bay is one of Broome’s most beautiful and dramatic natural attractions. The bay’s colours are spectacular, and the enormous tidal variations (up to 10 metres between low and high tides) are remarkable. Town Beach is the best place to sit and observe the ever-changing Roebuck Bay.

Also worth noting: Roebuck Bay is Australia’s newest Marine Park and a national heritage site. Often seen playing, swimming, and fishing in Roebuck Bay is the Australian snubfin dolphin, recognised as a new species in 2005. The bay is also a bird lover’s paradise as it is a great place to view vast numbers of migratory birds.

Gantheaume Point

Vibrant red rock formations at the edge of a large expanse of water

Gantheaume Point is at the southern end of Cable Beach, six kilometres from Broome’s town centre. If you don’t have a car, a tour could be your best option for viewing Gantheaume Point’s vibrant red rock formations that drop down to the Indian Ocean.

Fun fact: Gantheaume Point is a national heritage site famous for its dinosaur footprints. If wanting to see the dinosaur footprints, check the tides. The footprints are only visible at low tides below 1.3 metres.

Matso’s Broome Brewery

A house surrounded by palm trees. The sign on the roof of the house and hanging on the fence reads "Matso's Broome Brewery"

Stop in for a drink at Matso’s Broome Brewery on Roebuck Bay – Australia’s most remote microbrewery and the only brewery in Broome. Sample Matso’s famous alcoholic Ginger Beer or try their Mango Beer or Chilli Beer.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available at this award-winning venue.

Also at Matso’s: Sobrane, the artist who painted the murals on the silos at Tungamah in North East Victoria, lives in Broome and has a gallery within Matso’s grounds. Her artwork is delightful and primarily focuses on Australian native birds. Take a wander through her gallery.

Town Beach Café

People eating at outdoor tables with a view of the beach

Town Beach Cafe – breakfast with a view


Town Beach Café has the best views in town. As the name suggests, the café is at Town Beach overlooking Roebuck Bay.

Broome is a bit short on cafés. However, Town Beach Café won me over with its beautiful view over the azure waters of Roebuck Bay and its excellent food. I ate here a couple of times for breakfast and brunch. My favourite meal was ‘Stacks on Shorty’ – fluffy pancakes, fresh bananas, syrup, berry compote, and mascarpone. Yum! It makes my mouth water just writing about it. An iced coffee completed my meal.

At the time of writing, Town Beach Café is closed for the wet season, reopening in March 2022.

Sunset Pictures

A picture theatre in an outdoor garden with a big screen and outdoor chairs

Sun Pictures is an outdoor cinema in Broome’s Chinatown. It is the world’s oldest operating open-air picture garden and is heritage listed (Western Australia).

Movies run nightly, but be warned, Sun Pictures is located under the airport’s flight path. It is not unusual for your movie to be interrupted by the sudden and loud noise of a plane flying over low enough to feel you can reach up and touch it.

Sun Pictures is a major tourist attraction. If you don’t want to see a movie but would like to check out the inside of the cinema, tours are available.

Fun fact: Sun Pictures is the only picture theatre in the world to be subject to continual tidal flooding. Until Broome’s levee bank was built in 1974, moviegoers would have to lift their feet as the tide came in. Rumour has it that you could catch a fish during a screening!

Cable Beach camel ride

A tourist camel train on a beach

No trip to Broome is complete without hopping on the back of a camel for a ride along Cable Beach as the sun goes down over the Indian Ocean. A sunset camel ride along Cable Beach is one of Broome’s most iconic experiences.

Cable Beach sunset

A sunset over water and reflected in the wet sand. A bird flies through the image.

Visit Cable Beach to watch the spectacular sunset over the Indian Ocean.

Gantheaume Point sunset

The sun sets over the ocean with rocks in the foreground. Two fishermen in a small boat are out to sea.

Gantheaume Point provides a less crowded alternative to Cable Beach for watching the sun drop below the horizon. With its rock formations, it also offers a different perspective from that of Cable Beach.

Unfortunately, on the evening of my sunset tour to Gantheaume Point, there was thick cloud cover. Even so, I found the sun escaping through the clouds to be visually pretty and quite different to that of Cable Beach’s lens-filling red.

Staircase to the Moon

The rising moon reflected on mud flats creating the illusion of a stairway reaching to the moon

Staircase to the Moon photo credit: Tourism Western Australia


Staircase to the Moon is an optical illusion created by a natural phenomenon. This spectacular vision occurs when a rising full moon is reflected in the exposed mudflats of Roebuck Bay at extremely low tide. Thus, creating the illusion of a stairway reaching to the moon.

Staircase to the Moon happens for 2-3 days each month between March and November. The best place to witness the Staircase to the Moon is at Town Beach.

Dates and times to observe Staircase to the Moon are available from Broome Visitor Centre.

Whale Watching and Sunset Cruise

An orange and red sunset over a body of water. On the water is a large boat.

A sunset cruise along Western Australia’s coastline with the chance to see Humpback whales is a relaxing way to spend four hours in the late afternoon.

The cruise I took was on a catamaran with a fully licensed and serviced bar onboard. Fresh canapes, fruit, cheese platter and non-alcoholic drinks were complimentary. Unfortunately, no whales were sighted.

Courthouse Markets

A group of market stalls selling crafts and other wares, with people wandering around them

The Broome Courthouse Markets are held in the heritage-listed gardens of the Broome Courthouse. The markets are a significant tourist attraction in Broome and host up to 115 creative stalls in the dry season.

Hours: The Courthouse Markets run annually on Saturdays from 8 am – 1 pm and the same hours on Sundays between April and October.

Town Beach Night Markets

People eating at an outdoor market with stalls selling crafts and other wares

The Town Beach Night Markets are held every Thursday night (4 pm – 8 pm) from June to September. The markets are located at Town Beach Reserve on Hamersley Street.

The day I arrived in Broome (3rd June) was the first Town Beach Night Markets held for the season. I wandered around the various stallholders displaying a variety of crafts and wares, checked out the food vans offering international and local cuisine, and listened to live music while I ate my dinner.

Getting around

Broome is flat and easy to walk around. When I wasn’t walking, I took the Broome Explorer Bus. The map and timetable are accessible online (and from the Visitor Centre and hotels). 24- and 72-hour passes are available online. I opted to purchase a single ticket on the bus for each trip I took. A single ticket (return tickets are not an option) costs $4.50 (adult) per trip for one to unlimited stops.

Take the time to visit Broome Visitor Centre at 1 Hamersley Street for all your travel needs: what to see and do, activities, tours, getting around Broome, and places to stay. I found the staff most helpful, friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to spend as much time with me as I needed. They suggested activities, booked tours for me, checked tours availability, and provided maps – all with a smile. In the Visitor Centre, you will find better quality souvenirs to take home.

I did buy myself a souvenir but not from Broome Visitor Centre. I purchased a traditional carved pearl shell (Riji) by indigenous Bardi elder and artist Bruce Wiggan. Each of Bruce’s carvings is unique and tells a story of culture through the red and ochre lines. My Riji is ‘Old People Teaching’. It is about the old people teaching the young ones the stories and traditions of making the raft (goolwa) – where to find the best mangrove wood and how to shape them. The outside lines depict the currents and tides best for riding. I bought the traditional carved pearl shell at Cygnet Bay Pearls in Broome’s Chinatown, 23 Dampier Terrace.

A carved oyster shell with brown and yellow lines

My Riji purchase: ‘Old People Teaching’


When to go

Broome has no summer or winter, just wet or dry due to its tropical monsoon climate. The wet season is November to April, and the dry season is May to October.

If you want to avoid oppressive heat and humidity, cyclones, and flooded rivers, then travel to Broome and the Kimberley in the dry season. Much of the Kimberley is impassable during the wet season. Flooded rivers isolate towns, accommodation, and inhabitants during the wet season.


Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored.  Unless expressly stated, all photos are my own and remain the copyright © of Just Me Travel 2021.


Have you been to Broome in the Kimberley, Western Australia? Which activities would you like to share with readers? If you haven’t visited Broome, is this a destination that tempts your wanderlust? If you only had time for one activity, which would that be? Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts.


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Related Kimberley posts

How to See Horizontal Falls and Epic Tides, Australia

The Ultimate Guide to 6 Safe Swimming Holes in the Kimberley, Australia

See 7 Beautiful Gorges in the Kimberley – the ultimate guide

Are you looking for more ideas for destination Western Australia? Then don’t miss these posts:




Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.




Discover 7 Breathtaking Gorges in the Natural Landscape of the Kimberley   The Kimberley in Western Australia is one of the world’s last true wilderness areas. Remote, unspoiled, and spectacular,…

Discover 7 Breathtaking Gorges in the Natural Landscape of the Kimberley


The Kimberley in Western Australia is one of the world’s last true wilderness areas. Remote, unspoiled, and spectacular, Kimberley gorges have been evolving over more than 250 million years. Walking in these ancient gorges was a magical experience. Read on to discover the magnificent gorges I explored on an escorted road trip around the Kimberley.


The Kimberley is vast, covering 423,517 kilometres. To give this some perspective, the Kimberley is three times larger than England, twice the size of Victoria, or just slightly smaller than California.

The Kimberley is in the northernmost region of Western Australia. It is bordered on the west by the Indian Ocean, on the north by the Timor Sea, on the south by the Great Sandy Desert, and on the east by the Northern Territory. It is an isolated, rugged landscape of breathtaking beauty that leaves a lasting impression on your soul.

I was unable to determine just how many gorges there are in the Kimberley. However, I know that the seven gorges included in this blog post are but a drop in the Kimberley.

I came to the Kimberley on a 3-week holiday not knowing what to expect and not wanting to pre-empt what I would experience. I went with an open mind and left my heart there, tramped into the pindan (the red dirt that dominates the Kimberley landscape).

When it comes to describing landscapes, or in this case, gorges, a picture speaks a thousand words. I could use a thousand words for each description of the beautiful gorges in this post. Instead, I will provide a brief description of each gorge and let the images do the talking.

The locations of the gorges and the best time to visit them complete this guide to seven beautiful gorges in the Kimberley.

A map of The Kimberley region, showing mountains, gorges, roads and towns

Map showing the locations of Kimberley gorges (Courtesy of Derby Visitor Centre)


Read on to discover seven of the Kimberley’s beautiful gorges or jump straight to a specific gorge.

The order of gorges presented in this post is simply determined by the order in which I visited them on a 15-day escorted four-wheel-drive (4WD) Adventure of the Kimberley with APT.

Windjana Gorge (Bandilngan)

Windjana Gorge


Windjana Gorge is known by its indigenous name, Bandilngan. Located in Bunuba country, in Bandilngan (Windjana Gorge) National Park, the 3.5-kilometre gorge cuts through the Napier Range.

Bangilngan is a stunningly beautiful gorge. Dominating the scene is the Lennard River running through the gorge and majestic water-streaked cliff walls that tower 100 metres above you.

Bangilngan was once part of an inland sea. As you walk along the flat, sandy path through the gorge, it is possible to spot marine fossils. I only saw a couple of fossils, just above head height in the cliff walls, on the gorge walk, but I must admit, I was more interested in the gorgeous scenery that was unfolding around me.

The Kimberley is croc country. Johnston’s (freshwater) crocodiles (known as freshies) inhabit this unspoiled wilderness. I saw many sunning themselves on the sandy riverbank and floating in the water. Unlike their much larger saltwater cousins, freshies are not considered dangerous to humans. However, they can become aggressive and cause injury if disturbed. It is safest not to approach or swim near freshwater crocodiles.

Your best resource for essential information about Bandilngan (Windjana Gorge), including sites and activities, downloads and resources, park passes and fees, camping, safety, and alerts, is Western Australia’s Parks and Wildlife Service.

A river surrounded by trees and cliffs

Lennard River flows through Windjana Gorge

Getting there

Bandilngan (Windjana Gorge) is located on the Fairfield-Leopold Downs Road, off Gibb River Road. It is 146 kilometres northwest of Fitzroy Crossing and 144 kilometres east of Derby.

The only access is by unsealed roads. A four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicle is recommended to access the park. The park is closed during the wet season as the roads are inaccessible.

Park entry fees apply.

Danggu Geikie Gorge

Jagged cliff contain a large body of water

Geikie Gorge has been carved by the Fitzroy River


Geikie Gorge is known as Darngku by the Bunuba traditional owners. Located in Danggu Geikie Gorge National Park in the Wunaamin Miliwundi Ranges (formerly King Leopold Ranges), the 30-metre-deep gorge has been carved by the Fitzroy River. The park’s entrance is on Leopold Downs Road.

Danggu Geikie Gorge is a spectacular gorge famed for its sheer white and grey cliff walls. The bleaching of the walls is thanks to the Fitzroy River’s massive flooding during the wet season.

The Fitzroy River is the second largest in the world – second only to the Amazon River. The park ranger clarified “largest” as that being the volume of water flowing through the gorge.

During the wet season, the river rises between 10–16 metres, polishing the walls of the gorge white and the flooding sections of the park with up to seven metres of water. The dry season sees the river transformed into a peaceful stream beneath the towering limestone cliffs. Honeycomb weathering is a fascinating feature of gorge walls.

There are several riverside walks in Danggu Geikie Gorge National Park. However, instead of walking through the gorge, we took a one-hour cruise on the Fitzroy River with the Department of Parks and Wildlife Service operated boat tour. One of the park rangers was our guide on the boat tour. I recommend taking the boat tour because it gives a unique perspective of the park, and the ranger’s commentary on the wildlife and geology of the gorge is insightful.

Visit Western Australia’s Department of Parks and Wildlife Service for all your essential information on Danggu Geikie Gorge.

Getting there

Danggu Geikie Gorge National Park is the most accessible national park in the Kimberley.

Travelling the Great Northern Highway, the park is 417 kilometres from Broome, 278 kilometres from Derby, and only 20 kilometres from Fitzroy Crossing. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is not required.

From Fitzroy Crossing, take Russ Road for 3-4 kilometres before turning left onto Geikie Gorge Road. The park’s entrance is at the end of Geikie Gorge Road.

Danggu Geikie Gorge National Park is a day-use park only, open from 6.30 am to 6.30 pm but closed during the wet season. No entry fees apply.

Cathedral Gorge

People sitting on sand surrounded by mountains

Cathedral Gorge in the Bungle Bungles


Cathedral Gorge is in the Bungle Bungle Range (also called the Bungle Bungles), in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park.

Cathedral Gorge is an enormous, circular cavern, forming a natural amphitheatre of red rock renowned for its acoustics. I have seen photos of orchestras playing in the cavern. While no one was singing to test the acoustics, I could hear conversations from around the cavern.

The waterfall that flows from the cavern roof can only be seen in the wet season when Purnululu National Park is closed. The day I visited, early in the dry season, there was no waterfall. But there remained a large pool of water in the centre of the cavern.

The walk into Cathedral Gorge is a two-kilometre return trail from Piccaninny Creek car park. The trail takes you past the orange and black striped domes, of which Purnululu National Park is most famous for. It is these characteristic striped formations that give the Bungle Bungles their nickname of ‘beehives’.

Classified as a moderate walk, the trail is rocky in parts, and there are metal ladders to help you up and down some tricky rocky sections.

The Bungle Bungle Range has been around for 350 million years but was only ‘discovered’ in 1983 when a documentary team spotted it from the air and brought it to world attention.

I recommend a helicopter flight over the Bungle Bungles to get spectacular views and an accurate idea of their scale.

An aerial view of an orange and black striped mountain range

The Bungle Bungle Ranges viewed from a helicopter


Getting there

Purnululu National Park is remote. It is in the East Kimberley, about 100 kilometres north of Halls Creek and 250 kilometres south of Kununurra.

Access to the park is via Spring Creek Track, from the Great Northern Highway approximately 250 km south of Kununurra, to the track’s end at the Purnululu National Park Visitor Centre.  The track is 53 km long and is usable only in the dry season and only by 4WD high clearance vehicles and off-road trailers. Safely navigating it takes approximately three hours. From the Purnululu National Park Visitor Centre, the trail is located a further 27 kilometres drive south.

It is advisable to check with the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s Kununurra office on 08 9168 4200 for the current weather forecast and road conditions before entering the park.

There is an entry fee to Purnululu National Park. Visitors must register at the Visitor Centre on arrival at the park.

For more information and alerts, visit Parks and Wildlife Service.

Echidna Chasm

Palm trees in front of an orange cliff

Echidna Chasm


At the northern end of Purnululu National Park is the spectacular, 180-metre-deep Echidna Chasm.

The chasm’s soring 200-metre-high red walls seem to glow where the sun shines on them. The liberal scattering of Livistonia palms found in the early section of the Echidna Chasm Walk are breathtaking and seem out of place. ‘Breathtaking’ takes on a whole different meaning as the walls of this crack in the rock, which is Echidna Chasm, become progressively narrower to barely a metre wide in places.

The two-kilometre return walk into the chasm begins at Echidna Chasm car park. The path into the chasm follows a very uneven, stony, dry creek bed. To make it to the end of the chasm requires scrambling over large fallen boulders and scaling ladders. The last 100 metres is the most challenging.

Getting there

The turn-off to Purnululu National Park is on the Great Northern Highway, approximately 250 kilometres southwest of Kununurra and 100 kilometres northeast of Halls Creek. From the turn-off, access to the park is via Spring Creek Track. This is a rugged track that is suitable for 4WD vehicles and single-axle off-road trailers only. Two-wheel-drive (2WD) vehicles may be refused entry. Caravans may be stored at the caravan park located at the turn-off (fees apply).

Spring Creek Track is a narrow, unsealed track with several creek crossings, some sharp corners, and ascents and descents. Allow approximately 2.5-3 hours for this 53-kilometre journey.

Echidna Chasm is 19 kilometres from Purnululu National Park Visitor Centre.

Entry and camping fees apply for Purnululu National Park. Visitors must register at the Visitor Centre on arrival at the park.

Purnululu National Park is closed during the wet season.

For more information and alerts, visit Parks and Wildlife Service.

Manning Gorge

A river surrounded by trees

Manning Creek in Manning Gorge


Manning Gorge is on Mount Barnett Station in the Wunaamin Miliwundi Ranges (formerly King Leopold Ranges).

The 5.6-kilometre return gorge walk starts at the Manning Gorge campground on Manning Creek, where you first must cross the creek to re-join the trail on the other side. You need to swim the 100 metres across Manning Creek, but there are available blue plastic drums cut in half to float your possession across the creek, keeping them dry as you swim. There is a rickety ladder, sort of secured to the riverbank, to help lower yourself into the creek.

The Manning Gorge walking trail follows an overland route rather than along the creek. It is a challenging walk over uneven, rocky terrain with some rock scrambling and climbing that gets progressively harder near the end. However, your reward at the end is a massive gorge with a huge waterfall-fed pool and smaller pools suitable for swimming.

Manning Gorge offers some of the most picturesque and safe swimming holes in the Kimberley. Even if you don’t walk to the gorge itself, a swim in Manning Creek with its tree-lined sandy riverbank is a delightful way to while away a few hours. Take a picnic lunch with you.

A waterfall and pools of water surrounded by rock formations

The waterfall and pools in Manning Gorge (Depositphotos_210779876)


Getting there

Manning Gorge is approximately 315 kilometres northeast of Derby via the Derby-Gibb River Road and 398 kilometres southwest of Kununurra via the Gibb River-Wyndham Road.

Manning Gorge is accessible only by 4WD. Be warned, Gibb River Road is a seriously corrugated dirt road with several river crossings.

An entrance permit is required to access Manning Gorge, purchased at the Mount Barnett Roadhouse (one of the most remote roadhouses in Australia) – about seven kilometres from Manning Gorge campground.

Galvans Gorge

A lady swimming in a rock pool with a waterfall flowing down the rocks

Galvans Gorge


Galvans Gorge is the most accessible gorge along Gibb River Road. It is located on Mount Barnett Station, one kilometre off Gibb River Road in the Phillips Range.

Galvans Gorge is a pretty, little gorge that has it all:

  • A multi-tiered waterfall plunging down the rocky gorge.
  • A horseshoe-shaped natural pool at the bottom of the waterfall, ideal for a refreshing swim.
  • An abundance of lush vegetation framing the pool and providing shade for most of the day.
  • An iconic Boab tree standing guard at the top of the falls.
  • Ancient Windjana rock art on the gorge wall.

Galvans Gorge is a delightful spot to relax.

The walk into Galvans Gorge from the roadside car park is an easy, mostly flat, one kilometre (one way) track with rocky surfaces in several sections.

Getting there

Galvans Gorge is located 14 kilometres from Mt Barnett Roadhouse, approximately 290 kilometres west of Derby on Gibb River Road.

Gibb River Road is only accessible during the dry season.

Entry to Galvans Gorge is free

Bell Gorge

A creek running through rocky outcrops and tumbling into a waterfall. People walking and standing on the rocky ledge.

Bell Gorge at the top of the waterfall


Beautiful Bell Gorge, with its stunning landscape, is a photographer’s delight. If asked which was my favourite gorge on my Kimberley adventure, without hesitation, my response would be Bell Gorge.

Bell Gorge is in King Leopold Ranges Conservation Park (now referred to by its Aboriginal name, Wunaamin Miliwundi Ranges Conservation Park). It is described as one of the most picturesque and scenic gorges in the Kimberley, where Bell Creek drops 150 metres into a gorge to form a wide, U-shaped, stepped waterfall cascading into a deep pool. Bell Gorge is a wonderful swimming spot.

From the car park, it is a one-kilometre walk along a challenging rocky dry creek bed to reach the gorge. I say ‘challenging’ for two reasons:

  • there is a moderate incline at the beginning of the track, which had me puffing when walking back up on my return; and
  • the rocks you are walking on are all loose, making it necessary to concentrate on your balance.

However, at the end of the track, the gorge opens up to an impressive vista and rock pools at the top of the waterfall. One of the rock pools is a natural infinity pool, allowing you to swim right up to the edge of the waterfall.

Then, there is the swimming option of the deep pool below the waterfall. According to my travel companions who walked to the bottom swimming pool, the one-kilometre return trek is manageable but will test your hiking skills. First, you need to cross Bell Creek to the opposite side. As the rocks where you cross can be slippery, our guide recommended wearing socks (no shoes) to cross the creek. Apparently, this worked a treat. Once across the creek, you climb down a steep, rocky track (which you must climb back up again) to access the bottom swimming pool and swim below the waterfall within the gorge. My fellow travel companions told me the swim was delightful and well worth the challenging hike.

Don’t forget your sunscreen and take plenty of water.

Getting there

Bell Gorge is about 247 kilometres east of Derby along Gibb River Road. Turning off the Gibb River Road, Bell Gorge car park is approximately 30 kilometres along Silent Grove Road, a corrugated road requiring a 4WD.

Bell Gorge is in a national park, so entry fees apply, paid at Silent Grove campground. It is inaccessible during the wet season. Before travelling to Bell Gorge, it is advisable to check for alerts and closures.

When to go

The Kimberley has no summer or winter, just wet or dry due to its tropical monsoon climate. The wet season is November to April, and the dry season is May to October.

I travelled to the Kimberley in June, early in the region’s dry season. The daily temperatures ranged from the high 20s to low 30s degrees Celsius. The nights were cooler, and the only rain I experienced was one night when back in Broome at the end of the escorted tour.

If you want to avoid oppressive heat and humidity, cyclones, and flooded rivers, then travel to the Kimberley in the dry season. Much of the Kimberley is impassable during the wet season. Flooded rivers isolate towns, accommodation, and inhabitants during the wet season.

The national parks in the Kimberley are only accessible during the dry season.

Road conditions in the Kimberley can vary greatly and change rapidly. Refer to Parks and Wildlife Service for all your essential information on the Kimberley’s national parks.

Getting there and around

The Kimberley is remote. Even so, you have several options for getting to the Kimberley. I took a direct flight from Sydney to Broome (the ‘capital’ of the Kimberley) but, alternatively, you could drive, hop on a bus, or take a guided tour.

After a week on my own in Broome, I joined APT’s 15-day escorted 4WD adventure tour around the Kimberley. Our ‘4WD’ was a bus on steroids – the body of a bus on a truck chassis. It was on this tour that I was able to experience the beautiful gorges described above.

A 4WD is necessary for travelling around much of the Kimberley if you leave the tarred highway. You should also consider travelling with a satellite phone as there were several areas where there was no mobile phone coverage. At times, I did not even have SOS access on my phone.

The pleasures of travelling on an escorted tour were not having to worry about visitor passes or wondering how I would get from A to B or concerned about damaging my car (if I owned a 4WD) on severely corrugated dirt roads.


Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. Unless expressly stated, all photos are my own and remain the copyright © of Just Me Travel 2021.


Have you been to the Kimberley in Western Australia? Which gorges have you explored in the Kimberley that you would like to share with readers? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on this blog post.


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Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.


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