Travelling the Kimberley with kids
Discover the Kimberley with kids in tow using this family travel guide to Western Australia’s most spectacular adventure destination.
Words & images by Catherine Lawson and David Bristow from Wild Travel Story
You will cover some serious kilometres exploring the Kimberley’s remote red rock landscape, so if you have kids on board, the sights had better impress! From Kununurra to King Edward River and beyond, these wild adventures are custom-made for travelling kids!
Wet Walk through Tunnel Creek
Arm your kids with waterproof torches to tackle this pitch-black trek through 750 metres of knee-deep pools where cherubin (freshwater crayfish) tickle your toes and little red flying-foxes squawk restlessly overhead.
As you explore, spotlight the stalactites and curtains of flowstones that drip onto your nose and at Tunnel Creek’s entrance, spot the rock art that marks the secret hideout of legendary freedom fighter Jandamarra. Back in 1884, Jandamarra waged a guerrilla war against police and pastoralists and his heroic life story is one that kids will love.
From Fitzroy Crossing head 115km northwest to Tunnel Creek. Pack torches and wear waterproof sandals.
Spot Crocs in Windjana Gorge
Close to Tunnel Creek and rising 100 metres above the Lennard River, Windjana Gorge guards a string of seasonal waterholes where big, docile freshwater crocodiles laze on sunny, sandy banks, close enough for kids to ogle.
This is the only Kimberley hot spot where you can see so many freshies up close, and downstream, a sandy trail leads past jabirus stalking fish in the shade of rock figs and weeping paperbarks. As you enter Windjana Gorge, scan the high rock walls etched with all kinds of strange prehistoric fossils.
A drawcard for families, Windjana’s campground has hot showers ($12 per adult and $2.20 per child).
Plunge into Bell Gorge
Nestled amongst a bewitching landscape of pink quartzite escarpments and flat-topped mesas, Bell Gorge is one of the best places to get wet in the Kimberley.
Its dazzling five-tier waterfall awaits an easy 30-mintue stroll away, and beneath the falls there’s a hidden pool where kids can peel off their gear and take the plunge, kicking out under the icy falls and exploring downstream to discover more secluded rock pools. Between swims, toast yourself on the sunny, sculptured rock slabs that tilt and dip into the pool.
Close by, Silent Grove campground provides rare outback comforts: hot showers, flushing toilets and drinking water ($12 per adult/$2.20 per child).
Wake up at Galvans Gorge
This favourite Gibb River waterhole lures kids to shimmy along rock ledges, stand beneath the thundering falls and bomb dive into the deep. There’s hidden rock art to discover and plenty of wildlife at the crack of dawn: water monitors, sleepy tree snakes, wallabies and birds by the hundreds. Access couldn’t be easier and it’s only a quick stroll to the falls.
Galvans Gorge is signposted 14km south of Mount Barnett Roadhouse.
The King of Camps
Breaking up the corrugated, dusty drive from Drysdale River Station to Mitchell Falls, King Edward River’s idyllic waterfront camp is a gorgeous spot to swim, surrounded by astounding and accessible rock art that records a 40,000-year-old history of great tribal battles and ancient spirits.
Claim one of the spacious, grassy nooks in camp then head straight for the water to wash off the red dust and watch the corellas that screech overhead. As the sun sets, wander downstream to watch the river slip and slide over King Edward Falls before returning to base for a starry campfire.
Bush campsites cost $10/adult ($2.20/child), payable on site (bring drinking water).
Get cool drone shots
Just after the wet season when the Pentecost River is high and swift, it’s become almost mandatory to launch a drone and record your nervous, white-knuckled crossing of the Pentecost - legendary for the big rigs it washes away and the salties that swim up to check you out.
After many months in the wilderness, travelling kids will be dab hands at flying the family drone, and there’s no greater challenge than following your rig across the Pentecost (just don’t crash it or you’ll have to battle the Kimberley crocs to get it back).
Splurge at El Questro
If you’ve started your Kimberley adventure in Broome, El Questro is the last hurrah before the bitumen delivers you to Kununurra, making it a good place to splurge on a dizzying array of thrills and tours.
There’s cheap watery fun for kids: head to Emma Gorge for a swim beneath the falls (and a resort lunch afterwards), soak in the rocky thermal pools and waterfalls at Zebedee Springs, or wet walk through Amalia Gorge. What will prise open your wallet open are the boat cruises, fishing safaris, horse treks, helicopter rides, tempting barbecues and cold ales, so beware!
To offset the budget, kids 12 years and under enter and stay at El Questro for free, and there are discounted family camping rates too.