Think of the Kimberley and no doubt some iconic places spring to mind - the Mitchell Falls, the Bungles, the "Horries". If you're planning a holiday to Broome, you might think that a lot of these places are too far away to 'do' without a long trip through the Kimberley - think again!
With scenic flights and shorter 4WD itineraries, there are lots of options to visit these iconic attractions in just a day or overnight trip. Of course, if you do have some time on your hands and relish the thought of a longer trip, the extended 4WD tour and cruise itineraries offer an unforgettable adventure.
Read on for our Kimberley icons and how to discover them from Broome!
Allow a half to a full day.
It's an icon because...charging through the falls by boat is like being on a theme park ride but even more thrilling as this freak of nature is the real deal!
The wild, swirling water, as this icon’s name suggests, is horizontal. Its movement at first appears rapid-like but becomes more intense as the giant tides build momentum. With nowhere for the water to disperse, the ocean pushes with immense pressure through two channels in the striking cliffs.
Hold on tight as your experienced tour boat skipper navigates the churning water to give you that adrenalin rush. But can I whip my phone out for that social media pic we hear you ask? Of course! Your skipper will drive at a comfortable speed so you are able to take images during your bouncy ride. Our advice? Flick to video to truly capture this mind-bending phenomenon.
How do I do it? Located in Talbot Bay north of Broome, the remote location of the Horizontal Falls adds to the attraction of this icon. You can’t just jump in the car and drive to the falls as there is no vehicle access whatsoever – no roads, no tracks, it’s just too rocky and remote. But that’s a good thing as getting there by plane or boat is an adventure in itself.
If you've got a half-day or more on your hands, you can see the Horizontal Falls from Broome. If the boat ride through the falls isn't your thing, you can choose a scenic flight over the falls, with a landing on the Dampier Peninsula on a half day tour. If you've got a half day or full day free, you can enjoy a scenic flight and boat ride combo from Broome Just sit back, relax and soak up the experience! No stressful navigating or driving necessary. These tours book out fast so reserve your seat well in advance. Find your Horizontal Falls tour here.
Extended cruises departing from Broome also have itineraries that feature the Horizontal Falls.
Our Tip: Don’t forget the falls are tide dependent which means timing is crucial for the experience. If this icon is on your bucket list, then coincide your visit to Broome with the tours available - the Visitor Centre or your tour operator will be able to help!
Bungle Bungle Range
Allow a full day to six days.
It's an icon because... this World Heritage Listed geological wonder located deep in the Kimberley will astound you.
Whether you are flying high above the Bungle Bungle range or on foot gazing upward at a single ‘Bungle” you will be captivated by these black and orange striped natural stone monuments.
A star attraction in countless tourism campaigns over the years, you are likely to experience a certain déjà vu when you first lay eyes on this Australian icon.
Standing amongst these ancient stone mounds can be a spine-tingling, goose-bump inducing experience and you get a sense of why the Aboriginal people have such a spiritual connection with this primeval land.
While the Bungles are the main drawcard of Purnululu National Park, there is plenty more to explore including Cathedral Gorge, Echidna Chasm, Piccaninny Gorge, The Window and Whipsnake Gorge.
How do I do it? Let’s face it, organised tours are the most relaxed way to enjoy the Bungles and there are many extended tours available from Broome to Purnululu National Park. Not only does your tour guide know every inch of the rough track into the Bungles, but they will enlighten you with interesting facts about the Kimberley. Perfect for wowing your friends when you return from your holiday.
Whether you want to tour by coach or four-wheel drive vehicle, in a smaller group or just you and your travel buddy, there are a range of options available.
4WD Tours include shorter (4-5 day) Broome-Bungles itineraries, as well as longer itineraries featuring the Bungles. More information.
On a time crunch? Then a scenic flight with expert commentary will do the trick. Departing from Broome you can do a full day fly/ground combo or stay overnight for two full days of Purnululu adventure.
Fun Fact: In the 1980s the television show Neighbours introduced the Bungle Bungles to UK audiences when as part of the storyline, the character Helen Daniels went there to paint the landscape. To this day a generation of Brits know of this icon thanks to the Aussie TV soap!
Allow a full day to 14 days.
It's an icon because...it's a four-tiered waterfall carved by nature into the ancient Kimberley landscape.
Cascading into circular pools of emerald-coloured water the Mitchell Falls will have you reaching for your phone to snap the impressive multi-tiered waterfall action. Your tour guide knows the best locations for that envy-inducing selfie, and may even suggest a waterhole for you to cool down in.
The layers of red rock have been worn smooth over time by the constant flow of the water. Rather than just a straight drop for the water to tumble from, the multiple flat sandstone ledges give this majestic attraction an edge over the more traditional waterfall.
It’s even more astonishing that this tranquil oasis lies in the middle of one of the last wilderness areas on earth.
How do I do it? While the Mitchell Falls is located in one of the more remote areas of the Kimberley there is no shortage of tours departing from Broome to this impressive icon.
Fixed-wing planes and extended 4WD coach tours will comfortably transport you to Mitchell River National Park with some cool sightseeing along the way. Once you land, enjoy the full Mitchell Falls experience by absorbing its grandeur from both the ground and the air. Combine a hike with your tour guide alongside the falls and then soar above this Kimberley attraction in a helicopter.
If you are planning an extended cruise from Broome, some of the itineraries have the option of a helicopter scenic flight to Mitchell Falls.
Gibb River Road
It's an icon because...simply because it is THE Australian road trip. If you are after an authentic Aussie outback experience “The Gibb” will leave you dazzled by this country’s untamed beauty.
With so many highlights along this 4WD trail, it’s no wonder the Gibb River Road is considered a rite of passage for those visiting the north-west.
Want to see tranquil waterfalls? Check. Showstopping gorges? Absolutely. Those weird-looking boab trees? Definitely.
Still not convinced? How about refreshing waterholes, wild river systems, spectacular scenery, and let’s throw in some unique plant and wildlife for good measure.
The Gibb River Road will lead you to lush bush oases and the jaw-dropping scenery of the Cockburn ranges. Just add some spectacular fiery sunsets and you may never want to leave this special place in the Kimberley.
How do I do it? The Gibb River Road stretches 660km from Broome to Wyndham and for those that prefer not to self-drive this 4WD track, there are some great touring options from Broome.
Whether you are keen to experience its entire length or the highlights that appeal to you most, seek out group tours and private charters to do all the planning and driving for you. Visit the Kimberley’s natural treasures stress-free with your experienced guide leading the way.
They're iconic experiences because...Think you know all there is to know about the Kimberley? Yep, us too. However, we soon discovered that an Aboriginal experience educates you on a level that will blow your mind.
Be warmly welcomed into the Aboriginal world where the natural environment provides for them in all sorts of ways you would have never thought possible. Who knew a leaf could lather up like soap? That there are more than four seasons in their calendar? That a plant thrown into water can stun fish enabling you to easily gather them. Not us, until we saw it demonstrated by Aboriginal guides.
One of our favourite things about an Aboriginal experience? You are often led to sites in the Kimberley that unless you are with an Aboriginal guide you would never discover, let alone understand its significance.
The Aboriginal people are more in tune with nature than most of us will ever be and it’s a privilege to be on the receiving end of generations of wisdom.
You will suddenly see the Kimberley through different eyes. Objects in nature you wouldn’t previously have given a second glance, have new meaning. It’s an eye-opener on every level.
Let’s not also forget the Kimberley is also home to extraordinary Aboriginal art. From ancient rock paintings in remote locations to modern masterpieces hung in local galleries, their work reflects their stories, their culture and their land.
How do I do it? There are diverse Aboriginal tours available throughout the Kimberley so It really depends on what takes your fancy and which part of the Kimberley you want to explore in this fashion.
Tours can be found in and around the towns, others are more far-flung. Aboriginal guides also link up with other tour operators to add another layer of knowledge to your Kimberley experience.
It's an icon because...You don’t get a more pristine marine environment than this. Unspoiled and with the oversaturated colours of the pindan cliffs, sparkling white sand and the intense blue of the water, the Kimberley Coast is as dramatic as it is beautiful.
A marine adventure is not usually what comes to mind when you think of the Kimberley, but the huge tides of the region reveal an extraordinary water playground that’s just waiting to be explored.
How does a sunset drink on the whitewashed shores of the Dampier Peninsula sound? Add in the turquoise hues of the ocean and gaze in wonder as the sun slowly sinks which enhances the glow of the red cliffs that border the beach. Now that’s a sundowner in the true sense of the word.
The Kimberley’s craggy coastline is home to many secluded smaller waterfalls and then there are the coastal showstoppers; King Cascades along the Prince Regent River and King George Falls in the Buccaneer Archipelago.
Cruise Montgomery Reef and watch in disbelief as the tide recedes and the underwater reef, which is teaming with marine life, appears to rapidly ascend out of the ocean. Mind-boggling!
If diving or snorkelling is your passion then a cruise to the Rowley Shoals will see you enjoying the coral atolls’ crystal-clear warm water and varied marine life. As a protected marine park, tropical fish and diverse corals thrive in this environment.
How do I do it?
There are land and air tours from Broome that will whisk you away to the Dampier Peninsula.
Montgomery Reef can be viewed on a helicopter flight from Broome and these two icons also feature in cruise ship itineraries.
For King George Falls or an expedition out to the Rowley Shoals, extended cruising from Broome is the way to go.