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Just Me Travel

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Tag: Western Australia

23 GREAT PHOTO SPOTS ON THE ROAD FROM PERTH TO BROOME, AUSTRALIA

A Western Australia Road Trip from Perth to Broome is a Journey of  Unique Photo Opportunities.   In this post, I will take you to 23 great places you should…

A Western Australia Road Trip from Perth to Broome is a Journey of  Unique Photo Opportunities.

 

In this post, I will take you to 23 great places you should photograph on the road from Perth to Broome. If you are travelling up Western Australia’s picturesque Coral Coast and visiting its amazing national parks, this list will provide you with some awesome holiday photography ideas.

 

This journey of photo spots on a road trip from Perth to Broome in Australia starts in Perth, travels up the coast, heads inland before hitting the coast again, and ends in Broome.

My post is about great photo opportunities for you on the road from Perth to Broome in Western Australia. Most are in national parks, and all are accessible by 2WD. I hesitate to say “easily” accessible because the unsealed roads through much of Karijini National Park were severely corrugated when our 4WD tour bus travelled on them. Our ‘4WD’ had the body of a bus on a truck chassis, which would best be described as a bus on steroids. I don’t know how often the roads are graded through Karijini National Park, but they gave new meaning to the saying, shaken, not stirred.

The post is not about hikes you can take through the national parks, of which there are many, nor about things you can do or places to stay. It’s not even about how to get from place to place, although the maps above show you where the photo spots are in relation to each other and their location within Western Australia. In other words, this post is not an itinerary but a guide to where you can find great photo spots between Perth and Broome.

The photos have been included on this list not because they are a tourist attraction, which they are, but because they provide 23 great photo opportunities to create special holiday memories that should not be missed.

I use two cameras for all my travel photos – a Nikon D7200 DSLR camera and an iPhone 12 Pro. whichever is handy at the time.

Many of the photo spots in this post are in national parks. As I was on an escorted tour with APT, I was not concerned with park fees, infrastructure, or other relevant information. However, Western Australia’s Parks and Wildlife Service is the official site for all the information you need on the State’s national parks.

Many paths to lookouts and photo spots, whether inside national parks or not, are unsuitable for people with mobility issues. I say that with confidence as a few people on the escorted group tour had mobility issues and missed out on seeing several of the photo spots below.

Scroll through the photo spots at your leisure or jump straight to the photo spot you want to see.

Perth

View of a city with new glass buildings and old colonial-style buildings

Perth cityscape

 

Perth is a city with many spots worth photographing – beautiful parks, attention-grabbing street sculptures, striking architecture, white sand beaches, vibrant river life, and more. Perth deserves at least spending a few days there.

I spent ten days in Perth and discovered many things to do unique to this beautiful city sitting on the Swan River. You can explore the world’s largest city park, see the happiest animal on earth, marvel at a wave-shaped rock in the middle of nowhere, photograph the largest dam mural in the world, and chime the world’s biggest musical instrument. You will find these activities, and more, in my post on 7 Top Day Trips And Things To Do In And From Perth. – all suggested from my own experience as a solo traveller.

The Pinnacles Desert, Nambung National Park

Many rock pillars standing in yellow sand

The Pinnacles, Pinnacles Desert, Nambung National Park

 

At the southern gateway to Western Australia’s Coral Coast along the Indian Ocean Drive, the Pinnacles Desert is located within Nambung National Park, approximately 200 kilometres north of Perth, near the coastal town of Cervantes.

The Pinnacles are natural limestone structures formed approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago after the sea receded and left deposits of seashells. Over time, coastal winds removed the surrounding sand, leaving the pillars exposed to the elements. There are thousands of pinnacles in the Pinnacles Desert, with some reaching as high as 3.5 metres.

You can view the Pinnacles from the lookout (a paved path from the car park), drive or walk the 4-kilometre Pinnacles Loop or simply meander through the Pinnacles Desert, taking all the photos you want of this fascinating, otherworldly landscape.

Z Bend Lookout, Kalbarri National Park

A photo of a river flanked by high cliffs

Murchison River Gorge view from Z Bend Lookout in Kalbarri National Park

 

Kalbarri National Park surrounds the lower reaches of the Murchison River, which has carved a magnificent 80-kilometre gorge through the red sandstone.

The Z Bend Lookout reveals dramatic views of the zig-zag section of the Murchison River Gorge. The gorge below the lookout forms the middle part of the ‘Z Bend’. Fractures within the red Tumblagooda Sandstone form this unusual shape.

Z Bend Lookout is a 1.2-kilometre return walk from the car park along a sandy path with stone steps. Walking back up is a decent cardio workout.

Kalbarri Skywalk, Kalbarri National Park

A viewing platform hangs out over a gorge

The Kalbarri Skywalk provides an excellent view over Murchison River Gorge

 

The Kalbarri Skywalk consists of two cantilevered viewing platforms that hang in mid-air 100 metres above the gorge. They provide stunning views of the Murchison River Gorge and its extraordinary surrounding landscape.

Just walking out on these platforms was a unique experience in itself. To be then confronted with the views on offer was truly breathtaking.

The Kalbarri Skywalk is about 150 metres from the car park on a flat, paved path.

Nature’s Window, Kalbarri National Park

A river is seen through a hole in the cliff

Murchison River Gorge viewed through a natural rock window

 

Forces of nature have carved through layered sandstone to create a rock formation that frames the Murchison River below.

It is a moderate, one-kilometre return walk beginning with a flight of stairs from the lookout at the parking area. Just remember, you need to walk back up those stairs!

Beware: Access to Nature’s Window is not for the faint-hearted as there is nothing, except your excellent balance, to stop you from falling over the cliff’s edge.

Ross Graham Lookout, Kalbarri National Park

A photo of a river flowing through a gorge

Murchison River Gorge viewed from Ross Graham Lookout in Kalbarri National Park

 

Ross Graham was the first headmaster of Kalbarri Primary School. He was a devoted conservationist who aided in the exploration of the Murchison River. He died in 1967, aged 31 years.

The Ross Graham Lookout offers a limited but picturesque view of the Murchison River. The lookout is 100 metres from the car park along a rocky track.

Beware: There are no safety barriers on the cliff edge at the lookout.

Abrolhos Islands, Houtman Abrolhos Islands National Park

A group of inhabited islands in the ocean

A scenic flight over Abrolhos Islands

 

Houtman Abrolhos Islands National Park is a marine archipelago of 210 islands lying 60 to 80 kilometres off Western Australia’s mid-west coast, between Geraldton and Kalbarri.

You will need to take a scenic flight to take advantage of this photo spot of the islands and the coral reefs surrounding them. Our scenic flight was with Nationwest Aviation from Kalbarri Airport.

A couple of passengers saw migrating whales. I was on the wrong side of the plane!

Eagle Bluff Lookout, Francois Peron National Park

Rugged coastline and sandy bays

View from the Eagle Bluff boardwalk

 

Eagle Bluff is approximately 20 kilometres south of Denham in the UNESCO Shark Bay World Heritage Area.

A 400-metre boardwalk along the cliff edge offers stunning views of the rugged coastline, small islands, and coastal bays fringing the Indian Ocean and provides the opportunity to spot wildlife like ospreys, dugongs, dolphins, turtles, sharks, and rays.

Monkey Mia Conservation Park

A beach with mangroves, white san and red sand dunes

Monkey Mia Conservation Park

 

Monkey Mia Conservation Park is 25 kilometres northeast of the coastal town of Denham.

Monkey Mia is, first and foremost, famous for feeding wild dolphins that visit the beach at Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort. However, for me, the area was about mangroves, red dunes, sapphire blue waters, and white sandy beaches on the Indian Ocean.

Facing the jetty from the beach at Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort, where I was staying, I walked around a couple of headlands to discover the spot pictured above. It possibly holds greater significance for me as I was seeking solitude away from the resort crowds. There was not another person as far as the eye could see.

Shell Beach, Francois Peron National Park

A photo of entirely small white shells

The cockle shells of Shell Beach

 

Shell Beach on Western Australia’s Coral Coast is 45 kilometres from Denham within the UNESCO Shark Bay World Heritage Area. The beach consists of trillions of tiny white shells up to 10 metres deep, forming a beach stretching 120 kilometres. There is no sand, only shells.

Shell Beach is one of only a handful of places on earth where shells replace sand. The shells are from the tiny Fragum Cockle, also known as Hamelin or Shark Bay Cockle. They reminded me of the pipi shells I always saw on Sydney beaches.

In the early 1900s, the shells were quarried and hard-packed, cut into blocks and used to construct buildings. There is still evidence of the historic Shell Quarry.

Coral Bay, Ningaloo Coast

A photo of different types of corals

Coral garden on Ningaloo Reef at Coral Bay

 

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef is a 240-kilometre-long stretch of coral gardens with over 200 coral species and clear, turquoise waters that are home to whale sharks, manta rays, dugongs, sea turtles, and reef fish.

Ningaloo Reef is Australia’s second largest reef, the world’s largest fringing reef, and includes one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world. At Coral Bay, the reef is just 500 metres from the shore.

I took this photo of the coral through a glass-bottom boat.

The Vlamingh Head Lighthouse

A lighthouse on a hill with view to the ocean

Vlamingh Head Lighthouse

 

Just 17 kilometres from Exmouth, Vlamingh Head Lighthouse is inside the UNESCO Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area and Ningaloo Marine Park.

The lighthouse is a vantage point for magnificent views of the Indian Ocean, Ningaloo Reef, and Cape Range National Park. It is also one of the few places in Australia where you can watch both sunrise and sunset over the ocean.

Yardie Creek Gorge, Cape Range National Park

A river is framed by high red cliffs and green shrubs

Yardie Creek Gorge

 

In Cape Range National Park, which, in turn, is inside the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area and adjacent to Ningaloo Marine Park, Yardie Creek Gorge is a day trip from Exmouth.

Yardie Creek Gorge was reminiscent of the gorges I visited in Western Australia’s Kimberley region in 2021, where I say I lost my heart. Dramatic, sheer red cliff landscapes are a drawcard for me.

If you are curious to learn where I must return to pick up my heart, read my post on 7 Gorges in the Kimberley.

A cruise on Yardie Creek through the gorge is an opportunity to see and photograph wildlife in their natural environment. I saw many threatened black-flanked wallabies, a goanna sunning itself, and an osprey nest known to be over 100 years old (but no osprey).

A small wallaby sitting in a low-ceilinged cave

The threatened Black-Flanked Wallaby

 

The black-flanked wallaby must be one of the most agile marsupials on Earth, given the crevasses and caves they get in and out of on sheer cliff faces.

Turquoise Bay, Cape Range National Park

A beach of white sand and turquoise-coloured water

Turquoise Bay

 

Inside Cape Range National Park and Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area, Turquoise Bay, approximately 63 kilometres from Exmouth, is described as a slice of paradise, where white sand beaches give way to its famous, crystal-clear waters.

Turquoise Bay is one of Western Australia’s best beaches and is consistently voted among the top three beaches in Australia. It took out the number 1 beach in the South Pacific and third spot in the Top 25 Beaches in the World in Tripadvisor’s 2022 Traveller’s Choice Awards.

Joffre Gorge, Karijini National Park

Looking down a gorge to a curved waterfall dropping into a pool

Joffre Gorge viewed from the lookout

 

Set in the Hamersley Range in the heart of the Pilbara and offering spectacular, rugged scenery and ancient geological formations, Karijini National Park is the second largest park in Western Australia.

Joffre Gorge is spectacular with its steep red cliffs and 50-metre drop waterfall. Its remarkable curved waterfall forms a natural amphitheatre.

The Joffre Gorge Lookout, where I took this photo, is a 240-metre return walk from the car park. Rock steps take you down to the lookout.

Kalamina Gorge, Karijini National Park

A small waterfall runs over red tiered rocks

The waterfall in Kalamina Gorge

 

Kalamina Gorge is the shallowest of the gorges in Karijini National Park and is not among the largest, but it is one of the prettiest.

The lookout is 75 metres from the car park along a gravel path with a series of natural rock steps. On the morning I visited Kalamina Gorge, some of the track was eroded, and there were many loose stones.

Beware: The lookout has no safety railing.

It is a steep track with uneven stone steps to the base of the gorge, where a small waterfall drops into a permanent pool. I took the photo above from the bottom of the gorge.

Fortescue Falls (Jubula), Karijini National Park

Water cascades over red rock terraces in to a pool below and is surrounded by forest

Fortescue Falls in Karijini National Park

 

Fortescue Falls in Dales Gorge is one of Karijin National Park’s few permanent waterfalls. Spring-fed, the falls cascade more than 20 metres down a series of natural rock steps before finishing in a pool.

Fortescue Falls Lookout is 150 metres from the car park on a flat paved path. The lookout provides excellent views of the 100-metres-deep Dales Gorge and Fortescue Falls. Access to the bottom of Fortescue Falls is via 200 metal steps with railings. There are seats at regular intervals as you make your way down and back up.

Fern Pool (Jubura), Karijini National Park

A small waterfall drops into a pool and is surrounded by forest

Fern Pool

 

From Fortescue Falls, you can take the 600-metre return track to Fern Pool, a picturesque swimming hole with a waterfall.

The dirt track required some navigation of rocks and is muddy and slippery (as I discovered) after rain.

Circular Pool Lookout, Karijini National Park

A pool of water at the bottom of a deep hole surrounded by red cliffs and trees

Circular Pool viewed from the lookout

 

Still in Dales Gorge in Kirijini National Park, Circular Pool is an impressive sight viewed from the lookout.

Marble Bar

A red-coloured hill is reflected in a river with rocks in the foreground

Marble Bar Pool, Coongan River

 

Marble Bar is said to be the hottest town in Australia. So, what better way to cool off than at this pretty spot on the Coongan River?

Marble Bar is well known for its extremely hot weather, with a mean maximum temperature second only to Wyndham, also in Western Australia.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation,

“Marble Bar earned the title of Australia’s hottest town when it recorded the longest heatwave – 160 days over 37.7 degrees – in 1923 and 1924.

It is still listed in the Guinness Book of Recordes. Its record for the town’s hottest Christmas was in 2018 when it reached 48 degrees.

Two days later, the Marble Bar mercury hit its record – a debilitating 49.6 degrees.

While the numbers are impressive, the Bureau of Meteorology instead crowns the Kimberley town of Wyndham as having the highest annual temperature at 36.1 degrees.”

Since my return from Western Australia, several people have commented that Marble Bar has nothing to offer; that the town is not worth visiting. I beg to differ. What do you think?

Eighty Mile Beach

A fisherman on an ocean beach

Eighty Mile Beach

 

Unspoilt Eighty Mile Beach is a beautiful pristine beach of white sand and turquoise water that goes on forever – for 220 kilometres, to be exact! It is the longest uninterrupted beach in Western Australia. I don’t know where the ‘Eighty Mile’ comes from, but it is obviously a misnomer.

In my opinion, Eighty Mile Beach beats Turquoise Bay hands down in the best beaches category. Picture perfect! What do you think?

Eco Beach Resort, Broome

Sunset over a beach

The sun sets over the beach below Eco Beach Resort

 

The first rays of the sunset at Eco Beach Resort radiate a sepia glow over the sands and ocean. The sunset just got better and better.

The next and final stop is Broome, 134 kilometres from Eco Beach Resort.

Broome

Red rocks lead to blue ocean, with a beach in the distance

Gantheaume Point, Broome, with Cable Beach in the distance

 

Gantheaume Point is at the southern end of Broome’s famous Cable Beach. With the reds and yellows of the sandstone cliffs against the backdrop of a deep blue Indian Ocean, every photo is perfect.

Gantheaume Point is a less-crowded alternative from Cable Beach Resort to watch the sun spectacularly set as it sinks below the Indian Ocean.

Are you wondering what else you can do in Broome? Check out my post on 15 Photos To Inspire You To Visit Broome.

 

Driving Western Australia’s picturesque Coral Coast and awe-inspiring national parks on the road from Perth to Broome offers many quality photo opportunities. Limiting this post to 23 photo stops was not an easy task. Don’t hesitate to stop at every scenic sight, as a memorable photo could be just moments away.

 

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. In your opinion, do the photo spots in this post deserve to be included? Are there other photo spots you believe are crying out to be added?

 

Like this post? Save it for later!

A photo of a map with a camera and mobile phone on it and a photo of a natural rock formation like a window with a view of a river.

A photo of a river with a hill reflected in the water and a photo of a beach at sunset

 

For more posts on Western Australia, read these:

7 TOP DAY TRIPS AND THINGS TO DO IN AND FROM PERTH, AUSTRALIA

15 PHOTOS TO INSPIRE YOU TO VISIT BROOME, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

SEE 7 BEAUTIFUL GORGES IN THE KIMBERLEY – the ultimate guide

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO 6 SAFE SWIMMING HOLES IN THE KIMBERLEY, AUSTRALIA

 

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

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7 TOP DAY TRIPS AND THINGS TO DO IN AND FROM PERTH, AUSTRALIA

A visit to Perth, Australia, is a Journey of Discovery of Unique Things to Do.   Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world, with Adelaide, the nearest…

A visit to Perth, Australia, is a Journey of Discovery of Unique Things to Do.

 

Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world, with Adelaide, the nearest city, 2,104 kilometres away. Perhaps its isolation is part of its appeal. It certainly hasn’t limited what Perth has to offer the visitor for things to do in Perth and day trips from Perth – all unique to this beautiful city sitting on the Swan River. Discover, explore, and enjoy the world’s largest city park, the happiest animal on earth, a massive wave-shaped rock in the middle of nowhere, the largest dam mural in the world, one of the world’s biggest musical instruments, and more.

 

Perth, the capital city of Western Australia, is Australia’s fourth largest city by population. With a population of just over two million, Perth is small enough to feel personal; visiting the city feels like visiting family. I felt I was immersing myself in a community rather than losing myself in an urban jungle. Perth’s ranking as the sixth most liveable city in the world in 2021 was well deserved.

Perth enjoys more hours of sunshine than any other Australian capital city – reason enough to visit. Other reasons why you should visit Perth are:

  • It has a laid-back, relaxed, and welcoming vibe.
  • Being mostly flat, it is easy to walk around.
  • It is a spacious city where you don’t feel hemmed in.
  • As a solo traveller, I always felt safe.
  • Swim in the sapphire blue ocean and lay on beautiful white sand beaches.

My first and lasting impression of Perth is a city of green space, public sculptures, and beautiful architecture.

I stayed ten days in Perth in May 2022. The day trip destinations and things to do suggested in this post are from my own experience as a solo traveller to Perth. Read on to discover seven top day trips and things to do in and from Perth or jump straight to a specific activity.

Take a Perth and Fremantle city tour

When I visit a city I haven’t been to, I like to take an escorted city tour. Whether by foot or bus, a city tour is an excellent way to orientate to the city and check out the places I would like to revisit in more detail.

On my first full day in Perth, I took the Half Day Morning Perth and Fremantle City Explorer with Australian Pinnacle Tours. The drive around the city took us past the famous Western Australian Cricket Ground (WACA) and Optus Stadium. I was particularly taken with the architecture of Matagarup Bridge crossing the Swan River from East Perth to Optus Stadium and knew I would be back to photograph the bridge.

The tour also took in a drive through the more affluent area of Perth known as Millionaire’s Row, past Cottesloe Beach on the Indian Ocean, and the University of Western Australia. However, the highlights for me were the 45-minute stop at Kings Park and the one hour we had to explore Fremantle.

I couldn’t get enough of the spectacular river and city views at Kings Park and knew I would be back for more.

A picture of a view of city buildings on the shore of a river and with shrubs in the foreground

View of Perth City and the Swan River from Kings Park

 

While there, I found the meeting place for free guided walks in the park, operating daily at 10 am and 1.00 pm. I gathered more information at the Visitor Information Centre in the park and put the walk on my ‘must do’ list for another day.

After leaving Kings Park, we headed to the port city of Fremantle. With an hour to explore, I couldn’t resist the historic Fremantle Markets, especially as, by now, I was hungry. The markets have been operating in this heritage-listed building for over 100 years. Focused on food, I found plenty of culturally diverse options for lunch, but I was drawn to the colourful displays rendered by the fruit and vegetable stalls.

People buying and selling fruit and vegetables laid out in stalls

Fruit and vegetable stalls in Fremantle Markets

 

I particularly liked this tour because it wasn’t just driving around Perth and Fremantle, but we left the bus for a decent amount of time at strategic points of interest.

While I saw much more of Perth throughout my ten-day stay, I didn’t do Fremantle justice, only visiting again after this tour to catch the ferry to Rottnest Island and to have lunch with friends I met on the APT Kimberley tour last year. I would have liked to explore the port city in more depth, which is only half an hour from Perth by train and take a tour of the prison. With an area known as ‘Cappuccino Street’, it would seem Fremantle has a better coffee culture than Perth – definitely worth discovering.

Photograph a massive mural on a dam wall

A painting of several people on a dam wall

The magnificent Wellington Dam mural by Guido van Helton

 

When I first saw photos of Guido van Helton’s mural on Wellington Dam on Facebook over 12 months ago, I knew that if I ever got to Perth, I would have to see it for myself, and I wasn’t disappointed. Magnificent! The artwork is one impressive mural, and Guido is one of my favourite artists. [Check out his painted silos at Brim in Victoria and Portland in New South Wales.]

The mural covering 8,000 square metres of the Wellington Dam wall is the largest dam mural in the world. The mural took Guido van Helton, an internationally renowned Australian artist, four months to complete (in February 2021), with Guido camping in the bush for the duration. As with Guido’s silo artworks, local stories, and photographs inspired the Wellington Dam mural. Titled “Reflections”, the mural features images of two migrant workers who worked on the dam build, kids playing in the sand, Aboriginal children playing in the water and a boy with a fish, a dad with two kids, and, finally, an Aboriginal couple.

Wellington Dam is in Wellington National Park, just west of the town of Collie, about two hours from Perth. Rather than hire a car, I took a day trip to Wellington Dam with Australian Pinnacle Tours. The tour included morning tea at Harvey Cheese with a cheese-making demonstration, Wellington Dam, a two-course lunch at Dardanup Tavern (which was delicious), a wine tasting at St. Aidan winery, and a stop at Gnomesville before returning to Perth.

We spent over an hour at Wellington Dam, where I could view and photograph the mural from the specifically installed lookout and walk down to the dam’s base for more photographs.

A painting of children and a man on a dam wall

A section of the Wellington Dam mural by Guido van Helton

 

A painting of children on a dam wall

A section of the Wellington Dam mural by Guido van Helton

 

About Gnomesville

A photo of hundreds of garden gnomes on the ground and in the trees

A small section of Gnomesville

 

Gnomesville has to be seen to be believed. At the roundabout where Wellington Mill Road and Ferguson Road converge (about a 15 minutes drive from Dardanup) and extending along a creek and into the bush, you will find thousands of garden gnomes – over 10,000 at the last count. Legend has it that the first gnome was placed at the site in the 1990s.

Myths surround the creation of Gnomesville – that a single garden gnome appeared at the site and others followed suit or that the workers working on the roundabout created a Gnome Cricket Game and others joined in. The latter seems more fascicle than the former. However, according to the tour bus driver, the story of the creation of Gnomesville goes something like this:

A lady phoned a Perth radio station to say she had many gnomes she wanted to give to a good home, but no one wanted them. Other people then phoned in to say they had the same problem. A farmer, hearing about this, donated land for a home for the gnomes. And people have been leaving gnomes ever since. However Gnomesville started, a tourist attraction was born.

Most of the people on the bus tour had brought a gnome to leave at Gnomesville. I hadn’t, as I knew nothing about Gnomesville and obviously didn’t read the tour itinerary information to be curious enough to learn about it beforehand.

When I told my sister about Gnomesville, she thought it was great fun. Me? I found it bizarre and a bit tacky. Let me know what you think.

Walk over Matagarup Bridge

A black and white steel arched suspension bridge with a stadium behind it

Matagarup Bridge with Optus Stadium in the background

 

On the Perth city tour, I took a liking to the architectural style of Matagarup Bridge and wanted a closer look. So, catching the Blue and then the Red CAT buses (see ‘Getting around Perth’ below for more information), I made my way to Matagarup Bridge on the East Perth side of the Swan River.

Matagarup Bridge (completed in 2018) is a suspension, pedestrian-only bridge crossing over the Swan River from East Perth to Optus Stadium on the Burswood Peninsula. The arches are said to represent a pair of flying black and white swans, with the bridge arches representing the wishbones, a swimming dolphin, or the Wagyl, a water serpent of significant importance to the local Noongar culture – symbolising a coming together of diverse cultures.

Symbolism aside, Matagarup Bridge is a beautiful piece of architecture. You be the judge.

An information panel in the middle of the bridge provides building statistics and information on the design, name, lighting, and more.

A photo of a black and white arched suspension bridge

Matagarup Bridge

 

According to the Perth and Fremantle City Tour bus driver, the bridge was built to get people across the Swan River from East Perth to Optus Stadium. Now, there’s a dedication to football for you!

While I had only set out to photograph and walk across Matagarup Bridge, you can climb the bridge to an open-air viewing platform 72 metres above the river. From the viewing platform, you can ride the 400-metre-long zipline to Burswood Peninsula, reaching speeds of 75 kilometres per hour. The zipline looked like fun. If I had been with someone to share the experience with, I would not have hesitated to do it.

People on a zipline over a metal structure

Zipline from Matagarup Bridge

 

Take a free guided walk in Kings Park and Botanic Garden

A photo of a tree-lined street

Fraser Avenue, Kings Park

 

At 400 hectares, Kings Park is the world’s largest inner-city park – larger even than New York’s Central Park, which is 370 hectares. With spectacular views of Perth City and the Swan River, botanic gardens, walking and cycling paths, a tree top walkway, memorials, cafe, picnic and bar-b-que areas, children’s play area, and more, it is easy to understand why Kings Park sees over six million visitors a year.

Curved silver metal sculpture overhanging a path and surrounded on two sides by shrubs

Sculpture and mosaic at the entrance to the Western Australia Botanic Garden in Kings Park

 

The 90-minute free guided walk in the park is run by volunteers twice daily at 10.00 am and 1.00 pm and takes you through several sections of the wonderful 17-hectare Western Australia Botanic Garden, located within Kings Park.

Western Australia is home to half of Australia’s 25,000 plant species, most of which are found nowhere else on earth. The Western Australia Botanic Garden proudly showcases over 3,000 species of Western Australia’s unique flora in stunning garden displays.

While I am a terrible gardener (I can’t keep anything alive), I get a lot of enjoyment out of walking around gardens. There are interpretive signboards throughout the Botanic Garden. But I didn’t need those as my guide was a wealth of information on the numerous gardens we walked past, each dedicated to a specific region of Western Australia, thereby increasing my knowledge of Australian plants and enhancing my enjoyment.

Red flowers and pods on a red flowering gum tree

Red flowering gum endemic to Western Australia

 

The guided walk in the park included walking the 620-metre long Lotterywest Federation Walkway within the Botanic Garden – a combination of pathways, an elevated walkway in the treetops, and a glass bridge allowing uninterrupted views of the valley floor 16 metres below. The walkway’s highest point is on the glass bridge, providing a panorama of the Swan and Canning Rivers. The elevated section of the Lotterywest Federation Walkway is open daily from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm and is accessible by wheelchair.

A man standing on a metal bridge with glass sides that winds through the treetops

Lotterywest Federation Walkway’s glass bridge in the treetops

 

Kings Park and Western Australia Botanic Garden are free to enter and open 24 hours a day. A digital visitor map is available on the Botanic Garden and Parks Authority website. Printable versions are also available on the same website but will no longer be updated.

There are several means of getting to Kings Park:

  • Kings Park is an easy 1.5 kilometres from Perth CBD.
  • There are two options here, both free. Option 1 > Transperth Bus #935 travels from St George Terrace (Perth’s CBD) into Kings Park. This service operates every 10 minutes on weekdays and 15 minutes on weekends and is free for passengers travelling from the CBD to Kings Park. Option 2 > The Blue CAT Bus travels between Perth Busport and Kings Park via Perth Station and Elizabeth Quay Bus Station. The service is free and runs every 15 minutes. See ‘Getting around Perth’ below for more information on CAT buses.
  • Free parking is available only for park visitors. You are not allowed to park your vehicle and then leave Kings Park boundaries by any other means (on foot, by bus, or in another vehicle).

View a tsunami of a rock formation

A long rock formation with a man standing at its base that looks like an ocean wave

Wave Rock

 

At 15 metres high, Wave Rock towers over you like a tsunami ready to crash on the landscape. This extraordinary natural granite rock formation shaped like an ocean wave (but not in the ocean) was formed more than 2700 million years ago but only ‘discovered’ in the 1960s.

Wave Rock is about four kilometres from the small wheatbelt town of Hyden, but first, you must get to Hyden, which is a four-hour drive from Perth. Rather than drive myself, I decided to travel to Wave Rock in a more relaxed manner and go with Australian Pinnacle Tours on their full day Wave Rock, York, Aboriginal Culture and Seasonal Wildflowers tour.

Note: September is the best month in Western Australia to see wildflowers, and I was there at the end of June and saw no wildflowers.

Our first stop on the way to Wave Rock was in the town of York, where we had enough time for a coffee and a stroll along the main street. Situated on the Avon River and established in 1831, York is the oldest inland town in Western Australia. It is a pretty town renowned for its heritage buildings and colonial architecture lining the main street, and I couldn’t resist the old-fashioned lolly shop.

Having arrived in Hyden, we stopped at Hippos Yawn for a photo stop before lunch.

Hippos Yawn is a 12.6-metre-tall rock formation said to resemble a yawning hippopotamus. You can walk to Hippos Yawn from the Wave Rock car park on a flat, easy 1.7-kilometre return path.

A large rock that looks like a hippo yawning

Hippos Yawn

 

Australian Pinnacle Tours organised lunch at the Wildflower Shoppe Cafe in Hyden. Unfortunately, the buffet chicken and rice were disappointing.

After lunch, we visited Mulka’s Cave to view Aboriginal rock art and handprints significant to the Nyoongar people. In Mulka’s Cave’s three chambers, 452 handprints and paintings have been recorded. Legend has it that the handprints are those of Mulka the Terrible (an Aboriginal evil spirit) who was known as a murderer and cannibal and lived in the Mulka Cave. The tribe eventually killed him after he killed his mother for scolding him for eating children.

Several human handprints on a cave rock face

Aboriginal rock art (handprints) in Mulka’s Cave

 

Wave Rock is a unique and beautiful rock formation with its wave-like shape caused by the water below ground before the rock was exposed by erosion. The ‘wave’ is even more accentuated by the vertical orange, brown, yellow and grey streaks that stain the surface. The colours in Wave Rock, created by water runoff reacting with the minerals in the rock, are magnificent, and even more so when the sunlight hits the rock.

A low stone wall on top of Wave Rock was built by the Water Authority in 1951 to channel water into the Hyden Reservoir. Initially used as an emergency water supply for livestock, it became the town water supply for Hyden in the early 1960s. It is still used for this purpose but is now supplemented by a larger dam out at The Humps.

We had 60 minutes at Wave Rock which was plenty of time to walk along the 110 metres rock face and the top of the rock and to grab an ice cream at the caravan park store adjacent to Wave Rock before boarding the bus for the drive back to Perth.

A long rock formation with flora in the foreground that looks like an ocean wave

Wave Rock

 

Explore Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is a major tourist attraction with over 500,000 visitors a year and is famous for its native quokka population, said to be the happiest animal on earth. So, I thought I better see for myself what all the hype is about.

Dosed up with sea sickness tablets, I caught the train to Fremantle, from where I took the 9.00 am ferry to Rottnest Island – a 30-minute trip across the Indian Ocean.

Quokkas are native to Rottnest Island but also, less commonly, found on mainland Western Australia. They are found nowhere else on earth. They are also known as the short-tailed scrub wallaby and are about the size of a domestic cat. In my opinion, they look like a cross between a large rat and a small wallaby. I can understand why the Dutch sailors who first landed on Rottnest Island reported to their captain that the island was infested with large rats and named it Rottenest Island (“Rat’s Nest Island” in English). The ‘e’ was later dropped.

A photo of a quokka

A quokka on Rottnest Island

 

Quokkas are mainly nocturnal animals, but tourism on Rottnest Island seems to have flipped their internal clock as they were everywhere around the cafes scavenging food. And no, I did not take a selfie with a quokka – apparently, this is THE thing to do on Rottnest Island!

Rottnest Island is 11 kilometres long and 4.5 kilometres wide at its widest point. Locals describe the island as a favourite holiday destination for Western Australians because of its pristine beaches ideal for swimming, beautiful bays to explore, coral reefs and shipwrecks to snorkel around, and cycle paths (cars are not allowed on the island) and walking tracks.

A photo of a sapphire blue ocean and a beach surrounded by rocks on three sides

Fish Hook Bay, Rottnest Island

 

My visit to Rottnest Island was organised through SeaLink, taking their Rottnest Bayseeker Package. The package included the return ferry with Sealink WA and a 90-minute bus tour of the island, disembarking briefly at a couple of viewpoints around the island. With my bus tour not until 1.45 pm and arriving off the ferry at about 9.45 am, I had several hours to kill. To fill in my time between arrival and the bus tour, I checked out the shops at Thomson Bay, the island’s central hub and referred to as The Settlement, had lunch in one cafe and coffee and cake in another, went for a walk, and visited Wadjemup Museum.

Wadjemup Museum

If you want to learn about Rottnest Island’s unique and diverse history, including its dark history as a penal settlement for Aboriginal prisoners, visiting the Wadjemup Museum is a must. The museum is a delight to explore as it is laid out in easy-to-follow themes, including cultural connections, early exploration, Aboriginal incarceration, and milestones such as how the island was used as internment camps in World War l and ll and as a COVID-19 quarantine station in 2020. A theatrette, audio interactions, an interactive touchscreen for kids, and outdoor sculptures complete your museum experience.

A photo of various sculptures outside on plinths

Wadjemup Museum outdoor sculptures

 

I enjoyed looking through Wadjemup Museum, finding it thought-provoking and engaging. Should you be on Rottnest Island, I recommend visiting the museum.

The museum is in the Old Mill and Hay Store behind the Rottnest Bakery and General Store in Thomson Bay Settlement. Opening hours are 10.00 am to 3.30 pm daily. Entry to the museum is by donation.

While I liked the Wadjemup Museum experience, I was, on the whole, disappointed with my visit to Rottnest Island and, frankly, bored. At one point, I asked myself why I was there. My disappointment stemmed from too much time around Thomson Bay Settlement waiting for the bus tour and a bus tour that made too few stops around the island with minimal time at each of those stops (never a good combination for a keen photographer). In hindsight, I would have been better off taking the Rottnest Express ferry from Barrack Street Wharf over to the island and then using Rottnest Island’s Hop On / Hop Off Bus to explore the island on my own, at my pace.

Chime a massive bell in The Bell Tower

A glass tower with other buildings behind it

The iconic Bell Tower

 

The distinctive design of the towering glass spire of The Bell Tower (resulting from an architectural competition and the world’s only bell tower) has become an icon for Perth and Western Australia. The Bell Tower was custom built to house the twelve historic 18th century Bells of St Martin-in-the-Field (one of London’s most famous churches) and five specially cast bells gifted to the people of Western Australia in 1988 in commemoration of Australia’s bicentenary. The Western Australian Government commissioned a sixth new bell to mark the second millennium, making a total of 18 bells in The Bell Tower.

Eighteen cast bells with rope pull wheels

Bells of St Martin’s

 

The Bell Tower, located in Barrack Square, is one of the largest musical instruments in the world and a unique, interactive Perth tourist attraction. Open Thursday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, with the last entry at 3.45 pm. Tickets can be purchased online or directly at the Bell Tower.

A General Entry ticket gives you access to the Bell Tower’s six levels on a self-guided tour, with the opportunity to see the St Martin bells ring by the professional bell ringers if you time your visit between 12.00 pm and 1.00 pm on a Thursday or Sunday. The General Entry ticket does not include chiming the bells yourself.

Level 6 is the open-air Observation Deck, where you get stunning views of the Swan River and Perth City.

I chose the 45-minute ‘Bell Tower Experience’ tour because I wanted more than just to learn about the history of The Bell Tower and the famous royal bells. I wanted to step behind the scenes with access to the Bell Tower ringing chamber to chime the historic bells, and I have the certificate to prove I chimed a bell. I learnt that chiming a bell is not just a matter of pulling the rope, but it is about how the rope is pulled. I also discovered how hard it is to pull the rope to make a sound from the bell.

Don’t be disappointed; buy your ticket ahead of your preferred visit time.

For $35.00, couples can announce their everlasting love to the world with an engraved Love Lock and attach it to the chain fence at the entrance to The Bell Tower.

Five rows of love locks attached to chains

Chain of Love Locks at the Bell Tower

 

Australian Pinnacle Tours

You will have noticed I used Australian Pinnacle Tours on serval occasions for sightseeing trips in Perth and beyond. Their tours were well organised with appropriate timing at each stop to explore, discover and take heaps of photos, and the drivers a wealth of information. My only suggestion to Australian Pinnacle Tours is to change the lunch venue on the Wave Rock tour.

Australian Pinnacle Tours’ Perth office in Barrack Square was three doors from where I was staying. When I saw a poster in their window for a tour to Wellington Dam (a place I was eager to visit for its massive dam wall mural), which fitted in with the dated I was in Perth, I immediately went in to chat with the staff. I found the staff above and beyond helpful. Perhaps it also helps to have all your tours booked with one company? The staff rearranged my booked tours to enable me to join the Wellington Dam tour, they looked up the weather to ascertain which days would be best for which tours, and they gave me suggestions as to the best spots to take photos of the mural on the dam wall.

When Australian Pinnacle Tours cancelled my Margaret River tour due to not being able to get a driver because of COVID-19 depleting driver numbers, staff explored every possible avenue available to them to get me on the tour another day. Unfortunately, it was not to be, giving me another reason to return to Perth.

I can’t thank the Australian Pinnacle Tours staff enough for their undivided help and attention, friendliness and professionalism. I highly recommend doing business with Australian Pinnacle Tours.

Getting around Perth

In moving around Perth, I walked (Perth is easy to walk around) and used CAT buses. Transperth’s CAT (Central Area Transit) buses operate in the Perth CBD, Fremantle, and Joondalup. They are free and frequent and use a colour-coding system in each area to identify the different routes. You may get off and on them as often as you like without paying a fare.

Click HERE for CAT route maps and timetables, clicking on the PDF symbol next to the relevant timetable.

On two occasions, I needed to get to Fremantle, and I used the train at those times – a 30-minute ride from Perth Railway Station, leaving from Platform 7. Good to know when purchasing a train ticket: Fremantle is in Zone 2 from Perth. A ‘one-way’ ticket is good for one hour, and if returning more than one hour later, you must purchase a Day Pass.

Where I stayed

A photo of a large spacious hotel room with floor to ceiling windows, king bed, couch, and desk

My room for 10 days in the Doubletree by Hilton Perth Waterfront

 

While in Perth, I stayed at Doubletree by Hilton Perth Waterfront at 1 Barrack Square. I had a deluxe room with a king bed and panoramic river view. Being situated on the corner of the building on the 17th floor with large windows all around, I had fabulous views of the Swan River and Perth City.

The room was light, spacious, and comfortable, and I never tired of the views. It had everything I needed for a 9-night stay, except a microwave, and a microwave would have been useful given the length of my stay. When seeking information, I found the hotel reception staff helpful and knowledgeable.

I first visited Perth in 1981 on my way back to Namibia, where I was living at the time. It has taken me 41 years to return, and I certainly will not leave my next visit for so long as Perth has much more for me to discover, explore and enjoy.

 

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. Is Perth on your bucket list as my return is on mine?

 

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A photo of a painting of people on a dam wall plus a photo of a city with new and colonial buildings

A photo of a beach plus a photo of a bridge

 

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

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15 PHOTOS TO INSPIRE YOU TO VISIT BROOME, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

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 posts

To see more of the Kimberley:

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

 

See 7 Beautiful Gorges in the Kimberley – the ultimate guide

 

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

 

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SEE 7 BEAUTIFUL GORGES IN THE KIMBERLEY – the ultimate guide

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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Related posts

See more of the Kimberley:

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

-> 15 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Broome, Western Australia

 

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

 

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO 6 SAFE SWIMMING HOLES IN THE KIMBERLEY, AUSTRALIA

6 Breathtaking Swimming Holes in the Natural Landscape of the Kimberley   Swimming in water holes in the Kimberley, Western Australia, is a magical experience. However, the Kimberley is an…

6 Breathtaking Swimming Holes in the Natural Landscape of the Kimberley

 

Swimming in water holes in the Kimberley, Western Australia, is a magical experience. However, the Kimberley is an ancient landscape with an ancient animal – the crocodile. Crocodiles inhabit many of the Kimberley’s waterways. So, where is it safe to swim? Where can you find crocodile-free swimming holes? Read on to discover the wonderful swimming holes I enjoyed on an escorted road trip around the Kimberley.

 

A crocodile danger sign telling how to be croc safe around water

Be Croc Wise – crocodile safety signage

But first, be warned – crocodiles do kill. When travelling in the Kimberley, it is crucial to be croc wise. If travelling without a guide, read the croc warning signs and check with locals before swimming or even approaching the water.

The Kimberley covers hundreds of thousands of square kilometres across northern Western Australia – 423,517 to be exact. The Kimberley is vast, with cattle stations of a million acres or more. To give this some perspective, the Kimberley is three times larger than England or slightly smaller than California. As such, the six safe swimming holes I cover in this post are just 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).

The Kimberley is an area of breathtaking landscapes and scenery and rivers. I don’t know why I was surprised by the number of rivers we traversed. But it is those rivers that can provide some safe swimming holes in the Kimberley. And so, I say, “thank you” to the Kimberley for an extraordinary experience.

Knowing northern Australia is croc country, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Kimberley has so many safe swimming holes – safe from a predator thinking you are its next meal. Read on to discover six of the Kimberley’s safe swimming holes or jump straight to a specific waterhole.

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

Zebedee Springs

Pools of water between palm trees

Zebedee Springs in El Questro Wilderness Park

 

Relax and soak your cares away in Zebedee Springs – a series of rocky thermal pools and trickling waterfalls shaded by towering Livistona palms. Located in the El Questro Wilderness Park, Zebedee Springs is an oasis in the Kimberley.

The Springs are fed by a fault line from a permanent supply of water deep within the earth. The water temperature is a constant 28-32 degrees Celsius year-round.

Access to Zebedee Springs is only possible during the dry season – May to October. It is an easy, 10 to 15 minute walk (one way) into the thermal pools – approximately 600 metres return. The track is mostly flat with some loose rocks and the occasional muddy patch.

Take care entering the pools as the rocks can be slippery.

I had injured my shoulder prior to our visit to Zebedee Springs. I found the swim very therapeutic.

If self-driving, Zebedee Springs is open from 7 am to 12 pm. Entry into El Questro Wilderness Park requires a valid park permit. If on an escorted tour or staying at El Questro, afternoon visits to Zebedee Springs are available at allocated time slots.

El Questro is situated in the East Kimberley, 110 kilometres west of Kununurra by road. To reach Zebedee Springs and El Questro, you can drive from Kununurra on the 4WD Gibb River Road, book a transfer by road or air from Kununurra, or join a guided tour.

When self-driving into El Questro Wilderness Park or anywhere else in the Kimberley, it is crucial to remain up-to-date on road conditions and other relevant information.

Mitchell River

A river with rocky riverbanks and rocks in the river

Cool off in the Mitchell River

 

The Mitchell River cascades 97 metres over four distinct tiers to form Mitchell Falls – one of the most iconic landmarks in the Kimberley. Swimming below the sacred falls is not allowed, but there is excellent swimming in the river above. And this is where I spent an enjoyable couple of hours with a picnic lunch and a swim to cool off.

I helicoptered onto a rocky plateau beside the Mitchell River. After a hike around the ridge for great views of Mitchell Falls, I was ready for a swim. Entering the river required some bottom sliding over slippery rocks. I found it necessary to be aware of what was underneath me in the water due to submerged rocks. But it was a great swim in a magnificent landscape.

Coming from an area in Australia where my local river originates high up in the Alps, I expected Mitchell River to be freezing, no matter how hot the day. I was pleasantly surprised at how warm the river water was. Obviously not fed by snowmelt!

Mitchell Falls is in the remote Mitchell River National Park in the Kimberley. Access to the Park is by 4WD only and is closed during the wet season (November to April).

Once in the National Park, you can walk up to Mitchell Falls via a trail described as a moderate to difficult 8.6-kilometre return walk, requiring some rock hopping with areas providing little shade. Or, like me, you can get a helicopter to Mitchell River at the top of the Falls – an irreplaceable experience.

Access to Mitchell Falls requires a Uunguu Visitor Pass.

King Edward River

An elderly woman swimming in a river with trees and palms lining the riverbank.

I take a swim in the King Edward river – photograph by Diana House

 

Still on Mitchell Plateau, a short walk from Munurru (King Edward River) Campground on Port Warrender Road, with Wandjina and Gwion-Gwion (Bradshaw) Rock Art Galleries nearby, the King Edward River provides an idyllic swimming hole.

The swimming hole offers deep, crystal clear water. There is even a pool ladder bolted to the rocks to allow easy access in and out of the water. The King Edward River is a great place to cool off from the dry season heat.

As children, my siblings and I were always told we must wait half an hour after eating before swimming. This warning, our parents told us, was to prevent downing due to having a full stomach. The walk from the shaded picnic tables where we had lunch was five minutes to our swim in the King Edward River. No one drowned!

Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owners manage Mitchell Plateau. Please check which sites in Wunambal Gaambera Country require a Uunguu Visitor Pass to access.

Two men swimming in a river with a rocky riverbank and a ladder into the river

Swimming in the King Edward River

 

Manning Creek

A creek with rocks in it and surrounded by trees

Manning Creek swimming hole

 

Leaving Drysdale River Station, a million-acre working cattle station where we had spent the last two nights, we headed for our next two nights stop at Bell Gorge Wilderness Camp. After a short drive (in kilometres) on the seriously corrugated Kalumburu Road, we found ourselves back on the iconic Gibb River Road (also corrugated).

Today saw us experiencing two swimming holes – Manning Creek and Galvans Gorge.

Our first stop was at Manning Gorge campground for a picnic lunch on Mount Barnett Station in the King Leopold Ranges, North West Kimberley. A few minutes walk from the campground brings you to the picturesque Manning Creek, with its trees lining the sandy riverbank. There is a rickety ladder from which you can enter the creek. Don’t dive into the creek because rocks are submerged beneath the water.

As with our swim in the King Edward River, we did not wait the ‘obligatory’ half an hour after eating before plunging into the Manning Creek. No one drowned! I am beginning to think my parents were spinning a furphy. The trouble is, I passed the same myth onto my children.

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

Galvans Gorge

A pool of water with a waterfall flowing into the pool. A man swimming in the pool near the waterfall.

Galvans Gorge swimming hole

 

Still on Mount Barnett Station, Galvans Gorge is a pretty little gorge located along the Gibb River Road in the Phillips Range about 15 kilometres west of Mount Barnett.

My guidebook describes the access to Galvans Gorge as an easy, 750-metre walk from the car park off Gibb River Road. Our guide described the path as one kilometre (one way) of flat surfaces, followed by rocky surfaces, then more flat surfaces. Both were right.

Sit on a rock with the waterfall cascading onto your shoulders and down your back for an invigorating massage. While we were at Galvans Gorge, some young people were swinging from a rope on a tree overhanging the waterhole and jumping into the swimming hole. I have read the rope swing is maintained, but I wasn’t going to risk it. On the wall behind the rope swing, you will find ancient Windjana rock art.

The Boab tree standing guard at the top of the waterfall is a native of the Kimberley and an iconic Kimberley symbol.

The gorge and swimming hole are shaded most of the day, making it a perfect spot to escape from the heat. Entry is free.

Bell Gorge

People swimming and standing in a creek surrounded by cliffs

Swimming at Bell Gorge

 

If asked which was my favourite swimming hole, unhesitantly, my response would be Bell Gorge. Its spectacular landscape is a photographer’s delight, and the swimming holes don’t disappoint.

Bell Gorge is in King Leopold Ranges Conservation Park (now referred to by its Aboriginal name, Wunaamin Miliwundi Ranges Conservation Park) and about 247 kilometres east of Derby along the 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.

From the car park, it is a one-kilometre walk along a challenging rocky track to reach the waterfall and swimming holes. 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 a stunning vista and the 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.

The second swimming option at Bell Gorge is below the waterfall, where the falls form a deep pool. According to my travel companions who trekked to the bottom swimming hole, the 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 have to climb back up again) to access the bottom swimming hole and swim below the waterfall within the gorge. I was told the swim was delightful and well worth the challenging hike.

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

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

People walking on a path of small rocks through bush

The rocky track into Bell Gorge

 

People swimming in a rock pool where the waterfall enters

Swimming in the pool below the waterfall at Bell Gorge

 

Except for Manning Creek, where you can change in the toilet/shower block, the swimming holes listed in this post do not have anywhere to change into your swimmers. Rather than bare my naked backside to my fellow travellers, I wore my swimmers under my clothes.

When to go

The Kimberley has no summer or winter, just wet or dry due to its tropical monsoon climate. 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. While this might sound high to some people, the humidity was so mild I didn’t feel especially hot but did appreciate the air conditioning on the bus and the wild swimming opportunities. 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 from May to October in the dry season. Much of the Kimberley is impassable during the wet season, from November to April. Flooded rivers isolate towns, accommodation, and inhabitants during the wet season.

The Gibb River Road is only accessible during the dry season.

Getting there and around

The Kimberley is truly 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 safe swimming holes 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.

The only drawback of being on an escorted group tour was the lack of time to spend at the swimming holes; to thoroughly enjoy them and relax. Taking food and drink and a good book, I could easily have spent a whole day at each swimming hole. Instead, we were in and out of the swimming spots after a quick dip.

I would like to leave you with a related children’s song (lyrics by Jack Lawrence; © Walt Disney Music Company):

A blue and pink music note Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can’t get friendly with a crocodile
Don’t be taken in by his welcome grin
He’s imagining how well you’d fit within his skin

 

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 Joanna Rath.

 

Comment below to share your thoughts on this blog post.
Have you been to the Kimberley? Do you have a safe swimming hole in the Kimberley you would like to share with readers?

 

Like this post? PIN it!

 

Related post

See more of the Kimberley:

-> See 7 Beautiful Gorges in the Kimberley – the ultimate guide

-> 15 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Broome, Western Australia

 

To read my other posts on Australia, check out: https://justme.travel/category/destinations/oceania/australia/

 

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

 

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