There’s a beauty to the sheer vastness of the Kimberley that’s barely comprehensible. Everywhere you look natural wonders complete the landscape with such ease, something you will remember forever.
In this place, as large as Germany yet containing just 40,000 people, the ancient land stretches towards the horizon to become a haze of natural hues that are at once sun baked and tropical. It’s not just the ground that’s immense; the Kimberley’s whirling, frothing waterways and its star-strewn night sky are similarly astounding. Peaceful contemplation tends to be the natural response to such an expanse of untarnished nature; there are countless moments when you find yourself in frank wonder about this extraordinary and remote part of Western Australia.
Such glassy-eyed musings often strike those who come to Broome’s Gantheaume Point. As the plunging sun drapes ocean-sculpted cliffs in luminous golds and coppers, visitors step carefully over eroded rock formations, reaching the ochre edge that overlooks the west’s turquoise ocean. Come at the right time, and low tides reveal dinosaur footprints preserved in stone, believed to date back perhaps 130 million years. Broome itself has a hefty bag of tricks to woo you, but it’s beyond the town’s palms and beaches that the Kimberley lies. There, the wonders will bend your mind, and imprint permanently upon it.
Where rockpools go forever down
When you float across the water of Emma Gorge, within the fenceless grounds of the El Questro Wilderness Park, there’s a sensation of being in space. The crater-like pool, fed by a gently tumbling waterfall, seems bottomless as your legs cut through the dark, clear and unfathomable depths. The natural waterhole acts as a salve to walkers; it’s reached by a moderate one-hour trek through tropical scrub that raises your temperature perfectly for a reviving dip.
How to get there: Enjoy a 110-kilometre drive from Kununurra or the epic 1056 kilometre road tripfrom Broome, or fly in via light plane or helicopter.
Where giant tides swallow the beach
Linger long enough on the red sandy stretches of Cape Leveque and suddenly, you’ll realise the water has disappeared. It happens so subtly it’s easy to miss; one moment you’ll be bathing in the bright blue ocean, the next you’re having to chase it to keep your body submerged. The cape forms the tip of the rusty red Dampier Peninsula, an area that witnesses the largest tropical tides in the world on a twice-daily basis.
How to get there: Take the 208-kilometre drive north of Broome, or a light plane flight to Cape Leveque airstrip, beside Kooljaman wilderness camp.
Where hot red meets the cool blue. Perfect opposites.
Where waterfalls flow sideways
Like most people, you probably believe that waterfalls cascade vertically, usually over the edge of a cliff. Journey to the Kimberley, however, and you’ll have your perceptions challenged when you arrive at the decidedly flat and thus sensibly named Horizontal Falls. Twin tracts of bubbling water are created by the region’s powerful tides; as they squeeze through narrow gaps in ancient ranges, the water froths in a trail of white. Zooming through those gaps by jet boat and being jolted along by the water’s force is exhilaration at its purest –and it’s the only place on Earth where you’ll find horizontal falls
How to get there: Take a light plane or helicopter from Broome or Kununurra, then book a jet-boat tour.
Where an outback spa means something else
For some it’s a clawfoot bath on the verandah; for others it’s a jacuzzi on the deck. In the Kimberley, the ultimate outback spa is found at Zebedee Springs at El Questro. Shallow, natural pools are heated by thermal springs that filter through ancient scrub and flow over weathered rocks, creating a tranquil bath of crystalline water. Light is filtered by an ancient species of palm, while ferns edge the idyllic oasis.
How to get there: Drive 110 kilometres from Kununurra or 1056 kilometres from Broome, or fly in via light plane or helicopter.
Paradise in a pool
Where the galaxy shows off
Few of us remember to gaze at the night skies, fewer still get to see stars absent of dulling, ambient light. Broome grants some of the clearest, darkest skies on the planet, making stars dazzle like diamonds. Astronomer Greg Quicke sets up telescopes on a bush block, revealing planets and the moon as he passionately talks you through Earth’s incredible journey through space. The two-hour experience is held April to October.