We answer the most frequently asked questions about Australia's North West. Have a question that you want answered? Contact the local visitor centre which can provide the latest information to assist you in your holiday to the North West.
What is the best time of year to visit the North West?
The North West is a region of great contrast. Ranging in temperature from under 5ºC to over 40º C in the course of a year, you will find that the two seasons offer vastly different holiday experiences.
Winter (May to October) is traditionally the most popular time to visit and people flock from all over the globe. The daytime temperatures generally range from 25º C to 30º C with cool pleasant evenings. Inland the wind off the desert can see night-time temperatures plummet to near freezing.
The fine warm days and clear nights are perfect for all outdoor activities; which become the highlight of your holiday experience. Summer (November to April) in the North West is a great time, there are fewer crowds and the days can be hot and the nights balmy. The build-up creates spectacular lightning shows and sunsets, the water run-off causes thundering waterfalls and raging rivers. Bird and wildlife abound.
Does it rain every day in the summer season.
Contrary to popular belief, the rain does not fall constantly, or on a daily basis, but when it does, it is generally in short heavy downpours late afternoon and evenings. During this period roads can sometimes flood so caution should be shown when driving, and follow road closure signs.
Are there tours all year round?
Although many tours operate all year round, during the summer months some attractions and tours cannot be accessed. Tours that are dependent on nature, such as whale watching or wildflowers rely on seasonal changes. As with any holiday, it’s a matter of planning and getting expert advice from any one of the region’s Visitor Centres.
More information on Australia's North West Climate
Are there alcohol restrictions in the region?
Alcohol restrictions vary depending on where you are in the Kimberley and the Pilbara. There are a number of dry communities where alcohol is not permitted at all, and several towns have restrictions on the purchase of takeaway alcohol. For up to date information on alcohol restrictions contact the local Visitor Centre.
Do I need a Four Wheel Drive for the Gibb River Road?
The road conditions vary from bitumen to natural rocky earth, suitable for high clearance four-wheel drive vehicles only and is not recommended for towing of caravans, trailers or boats.
What amenities are available along the Gibb River Road?
Please be aware facilities along the Gibb River Road are limited. Ensure you have fuel, water, food, mechanical and medical supplies. Accommodation includes camping areas, wilderness retreats and station stays – all are extremely popular and prior booking is recommended. The Gibb River & Kalumburu Road Guide is available from the Derby Visitor Centre www.derbytourism.com.au which details distances, attractions, fuel and accommodation options.
More information on Gibb River Road
Do I need a four wheel drive for the Dampier Peninsula?
A four-wheel drive vehicle is strongly recommended for driving the unsealed road through the Dampier Peninsula - allow three and a half hours to reach Cape Leveque. During the summer the road can sometimes be closed due to flooding. Check road conditions and closures by contacting Main Roads WA or the Broome Visitor Centre. Fuel and supplies can be purchased but facilities are only available at certain locations and times. Please note dogs are not allowed, alcohol cannot be purchased anywhere on the Peninsula and medical facilities are limited.
More information on Dampier Peninsula
Do I need a permit to visit the ‘Ardi’ Dampier Peninsula, travel along Canning Stock Route or Kulumburu Road.
No permit is needed to travel along Cape Leveque Road, however if you want to visit the Aboriginal communities along the way it is recommended you contact the Broome Visitor Centre for guidance on when they are open and what permissions are required for each community.
While no permit is required for the Kulumburu Road, you will require a permit to enter the Kulumburu Mission. These can be obtained from the Department of Indigenous Affairs and can also be applied for online under the Entry Permits Section.
Permits apply for the The Canning Stock Route allowing access to Durba Springs, Diebel Springs, Onegunyah Rockhole, Western Section of Lake Disappointment, Helen Hill, Slate Range, and Ural Native Title Well. There will be no permits for access to the Clavert Ranges until further notice. Additional specific permits are required for Mt Shoesmith, Warndurba Rockhole, Billigilli Well, Callawa Track, Savoury Creek Track, Kilagurra Spring, Biella Spring, Lake George, Lake Winifred, the Track to McFadden Ranges, and Paraku Indigenous Protected Area. For further information go to www.anfwdc.asn.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org
When driving through the Pilbara or Kimberley some good rules of thumb are: seek permission before entering any private property, leave gates as you find them and respect the wishes and regulations of property owners.
More information on permits
Who do I contact for road conditions?
During the summer period sealed and unsealed roads can be open for travel one day and completely flooded the next. Telephone Main Roads on 138 138 for road closure information. Your local Visitor Centre or Shire should also be able to assist in providing up- to-date road closure information.
Please do not attempt to traverse roads that have been closed by authorities under any condition. Not only do you put your own safety at risk, you also put at risk those who come to assist you.
More information on road safety
What are my chances of obtaining a caravan/camping site in Broome during peak season?
Due to Broome’s popularity as a self-drive destination, caravan and camping grounds often reach capacity during the peak season. It is advisable that you book in advance to avoid disappointment.
My dog is travelling with me, where can I stay?
In the North West it is up to the individual licence holder of the caravan park and camping ground as to whether dogs are accepted or not. Contact the local region’s Visitor Centre to ascertain which grounds are happy to accept your pet. Dogs are not permitted in national parks, or on the Dampier Peninsula.
Can I take my car on Cable Beach?
Cars are permitted on Cable Beach between the high and low watermarks north of the rocks, via the Cable Beach access ramp. To limit impact on nesting turtles, the beach is closed to vehicles at night from 8pm to 6am from 1 October to 28 February. At Gantheaume Point vehicles are permitted to travel between the high and low watermarks for 500 metres which is clearly sign posted. The speed limit for both Gantheaume Point and Cable Beach is 15km. If you are hiring a car, check whether the policy allows you to take the vehicle on the beach. Check the local tide times prior to driving on the beach and it is strongly recommended you keep watch on your car and the incoming tide to allow enough time to drive your vehicle off the beach safely.