It’s started out as an epic year for Australia’s North West in 2023 - and we’re just getting started!
If you’ve ever dreamt of experiencing the timeless magic of Broome, the Kimberley and the Pilbara, or you’ve been before but still want more (yeah, we know that feeling!), then now is the time to do it.
We’ve brought together our top 23 experiences to put on your list for 2023.
1. Experience Australia's Number 1 town
What better way to kick off our Top 23 Things to do in 2023 than with 2022’s Number 1 Town according to Australian Traveller magazine – Broome! Not only that, but the stretch of paradise known as Cable Beach was listed as at #3 on Trip Advisor's World’s Best Beaches for 2023!
If you haven’t experienced the Pearl of the North, then this is the year to do it. From the moment you touch down at the revamped Broome International Airport, you’ll see that Broome is abuzz.
Find out what makes the town tick on a tour with Broome and Around, while Broome Explorer Bus will take you from Chinatown, to Town Beach to Cable Beach and everywhere in between.
There are great accommodation options like Blue Seas Resort, Habitat Resort and more.
2. Witness a total solar eclipse
This celestial spectacle on 20 April 2023 will attract visitors from around the world to the coastline around Exmouth. Just to the north, the Pilbara town of Onslow will experience a deep partial eclipse with more than 99 per cent of the sun covered, and there’s even a four-day Dark Sky Festival to celebrate! Just offshore, the Mackerel Islands will experience a 100 per cent eclipse. And while you’re on the Astro theme, why not follow our Pilbara Star Way itinerary.
3. Festivals & Events
Planning your trip to the North West to coincide with one of the many festivals or major events is a great way to ensure the excitement levels are kept high.
The Ord Valley Muster, Shinju Matsuri, Broome Mardi Gras, Broome Fringe Festival, A Taste of Broome, CinefestOZ all combine culture with a whole lot of fun.
For those who want a more physical challenge, The Gibb Challenge is a team mountain bike adventure along one of Australia’s great outback routes, the Gibb River Road, all to raise money for charity.
4. 'Shower' under a waterfall
Waterfall Season is underway in the Kimberley and one of the joys of visiting early in the season is the chance to take a shower under one of the seasonal waterfalls that cascade from the cliffs and ranges.
And of course, if you're on a Kimberley cruise such as The Great Escape or Coral Expeditions, all you'll need to do is move to the bow of the vessel; if you're travelling by 4WD you'll no doubt need to do a slightly longer walk, but the waterfall at the end will be just as refreshing. Find out more about the Kimberley waterfall season here.
5. Camp with Custodians
Make your next holiday more than just a getaway – take the opportunity to expand your horizons by connecting with the Traditional Custodians of the North West. There’s a network of campgrounds across the Kimberley and Pilbara on Aboriginal lands, owned and operated by local communities, that invite you to pitch with purpose. These campgrounds are more than just a place to stay for the night - each campground allows campers to interact with community members and gain insight into local culture. Whether sitting in a yarning circle listening to the impassioned stories from a local elder under a starry sky or learning to make damper on the campfire, these unique camping experiences will enrich your connection to country. Find out more here.
6. Pools with a view
With views this good it’s worth the adventure to spend time by the pool at the remote station stays and lodges in the Kimberley! Eco Beach Wilderness Retreat, just south of Broome has a glorious Indian Ocean view from its small but perfectly formed infinity pool. Travel north east to the remote Berkeley River Lodge where the 20m lap pool overlooks the Timor Sea, Reveley Island and the mouth of the mighty Berkley River. Inland, plan a special stay at El Questro Homestead with its pool overlooking the Chamberlain River, or head to the insta-famous (for good reason) infinity pool overlooking the expansive waters at Lake Argyle Resort.
7. Let someone else do all the work
Holidays are meant to be relaxing, right?! But too often they can prove stressful with all the researching, planning and organising needed to make them a success. So why not let someone else take care of all that for you? A specialist travel agent like BKB Holidays can make sure that your trip of a lifetime to Australia’s North West is exactly that, while hosted tours with operators such as Kingfisher Tours, Outback Spirit, Outback Horizons, Kimberley Wild or APT will put you in the safe hands of local experts who make sure you don’t miss a thing.
8. The Eighth Natural Wonders of the World
Have you heard of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World? Well, there’s a couple of wonders in the Kimberley deserving of being named at number eight. If you’ve always dreamed about visiting the Horizontal Falls in Talbot Bay near Derby, or the Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park, then 2023 is the year to do it! Try Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures and Bungle Bungle Savannah Lodge to make it happen.
9. Experience the expanse of Lake Argyle
Here's a little riddle for you - how do you get to the sea by driving away from the coast? Well if you're in the Kimberley, that means you're heading to Lake Argyle. Created by the damming of the Ord River, Lake Argyle is so big it's classed as an inland sea and is home to 70 islands and over 240 bird species, almost one third of Australia's total known species.
There are lots of ways to explore. Sunset cruises are an iconic Lake Argyle activity, so if you fancy a swim and a sundowner book with Lake Argyle Cruises or the boat from Lake Argyle Resort. For cruises the full length of the lake from north to south, morning cruises, birdwatching cruises and the hire of SUPs, kayaks, boats and BBQ pontoons talk to Greg and his team at Lake Argyle Cruises. Fancy seeing things from a different perspective, even landing on the lake in a seaplane? Kimberley Air Tours have you covered with their Bungle Bungle & Lake Argyle Island Experience, and Sunset Seaplane Drinks tours, or try a HeliSpirit scenic tour, even landing on a private island! Read more here.
10. Fully on-trend self-contained accommodation
An intriguing tidbit from a recent report on "the most unexpected travel trends of 2023" is that having great cooking facilities is important to a lot of travellers - 45% of those surveyed like to cut down on holiday costs by cooking themselves, and 44% feel it's a great opportunity to bond as a group. Self-catering accommodation is also popular for multigenerational family stays and group getaways, and the resort syle options in the North West are ideal.
If that sounds like you, you'll find some great options in Broome and the Kimberley and Pilbara regions - such as Oaks Cable Beach, Oaks Broome, Habitat Resort Broome and Blue Seas Resort in Brooome, and Freshwater East Kimberley Apartments in Kununurra. That's just some of your options, and you can find more self-contained accommodation here.
11. 4WD tour with the family
Here's one especially for people travelling with children - a 4WD Gibb River Road tour just for families with Kimberley Wild Expeditions!
Yes that's right - itinerary: sorted, driver and guide: sorted, camping gear and bookings: sorted. Sharing the experience with other like-minded families, you and the kids will be immersed in nature: swimming, wildlife spotting, trekking, campfires, stargazing and more! Kimberley Wild Expeditions have departure dates available in 2023 and 2024 - find out more here.
12. A natural wonder in the lap of luxury
The Jetwave Pearl was a new arrival at the Horizontal Falls in 2022, and is sure to be a hot ticket for 2023 and beyond. Offering an exclusive base for up to 16 guests, this is truly special stay, its luxurious fittings complemented by the stunning scenery outside. You can experience it on the Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures 24-hour tour, where you'll experience helicopter flights, power boat rides, a guided fishing charter and a relaxing cruise through the crystal blue waters of Talbot Bay and the ancient rock formations of Cyclone Creek.
13. A pearler of a time
It’s the gem that put Broome on the map, and there’s much more to it than you might expect. Pearls and pearling are a bit part of Broome and there are plenty of ways to discover the romance and mystique.
There are plenty of ways to explore it, from glamping at a working pearl farm at Cygnet Bay on the Dampier Peninsula, to witnessing the pearling process just out of town at Willie Creek Pearl Farm, or taking in the sunset off Cable Beach aboard an authentic pearling lugger, the Willie.
14. On the buses
If you’re in Broome, a great way to get to know the heart of the town is to take to the streets on a bus.
The Broome Explorer Bus will take you all over, from swimming and dining at Cable Beach, to brunch and shopping in Chinatown, to Roebuck Bay and historical Town Beach.
If you’d like to make your ride even more of an experience, jump on board with Broome and Around with tours to take in art and culture, food and drink, or the local crocodile park.
15. Get back to nature
The North West is all about the wilderness, escaping the rate-race and getting back to nature. So why not embrace that fully?
There are beautiful options for staying in the heart of the wilderness, from El Questro Station on the Gibb River Rd, to Karijini Eco Retreat in the heart of the national park, Berkeley River Lodge on the remote Kimberley coastline, or even in the bustling town of Broome you can escape to the botanical surrounds of Habitat Resort.
16. Experience the real Outback
Looking for somewhere away from the well-trodden tourism hotpots? Experience the real outback in 2023.
Fitzroy Crossing in the heart of the Kimberley is rebuilding after the catastrophic flooding of the mighty Martuwarra (Fitzroy River) early in 2023. The town is home to five distinct Aboriginal language groups - Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Nyikina, Wangkatjunka and Walmajarri, while more recently the colonial influences go back to the late 1800s.
Settle into the Fitzroy River Lodge as the perfect base for exploring the ancient Devonian reef system that created Windjana and Geikie Gorges, Tunnel Creek and Mimbi Caves.
In the Pilbara, Newman is a modern town perched on the cusp of the Western Desert just 191km from Karijini National Park.
Book into Seasons Newman hotel and then investigate attractions as diverse as the world’s biggest open-cut iron ore mine, Mt Whaleback, and well-kept natural secrets such as Weeli Wolli freshwater spring, Kalgans Pool and Eagle Rock Falls.
17. The world’s oldest art galleries
From the rock petroglyphs of Murujuga National Park, to the Gwion Gwion (Bradshaws) and Wandjina of the remote Kimberley, Australia’s North West is home to some of the world’s most spectacular examples of Aboriginal artwork.
Viewing these works that date back millenia is a mystical experience that connects you with an ancient culture
Murujuga National Park is just a short drive from the bustling Pilbara hub of Karratha on the Burrup Peninsula and can be experienced from the new viewing points or with an Aboriginal tour guide such as Clinton from Ngurrangga Tours.
The Kimberley’s artwork can be found at various points along the Gibb River Road and Mitchell Plateau (where you can experience them with an Aboriginal guide), or on a coastal cruise with operators such as The Great Escape or Coral Expeditions.
18. From paradise to party time, get onboard a boat!
Cruise into the sunset or discover Lake Argyle’s incredible bird and wildlife with Lake Argyle Cruises; journey along the incredible Ord River with Triple J Tours, or take to the sea with Rosanna from Oolin Sunday Island Cultural Tours to discover the network of islands and tidal passages that make up Jawi Country off the coast of the Dampier Peninsula.
If you like your boat time to include a sunset, delicious dinner and perhaps a drink or two, then Archipelago Adventures in Broome and Karratha, and Kununurra Cruises on Lake Kununurra have the perfect trips for you!
19. Up in the air we fly
The tyranny of distance and the unforgiving landscape can make the great expanses of the Kimberley and its many natural wonders seem out of reach.
But the answer is as easy as taking to the skies with operators including Kimberley Air Tours, Broome Aviation, Air Kimberley, Helispirit, Aviair, Kingfisher Tours or KAS Helicopters.
You’ll get a view that’s usually reserved for the birds, and an appreciation for this vast environment with its marked textures and contrasts, and its many natural wonders that few others will get to experience.
20. Take a trip back in time
From the beautifully restored bluestone buildings of Cossack, to the eerie ruins of Old Onslow, Australia’s North West provides a fantastic insight into early life.
Cossack was the original port of pearls before Broome came onto the scene, as well as a hub for prospectors and pastoralists.
Nearby Roebourne also has remarkable historic buildings, including the haunting old gaol.
In Onslow, the remains of the original townsite lie at the mouth of the Ashburton River including a gaol, courthouse and police station, and served as a port for 40 years until the town was relocated to its current location.
Heritage and history is on show throughout the region in towns from Halls Creek, to Derby and Broome where there are still prominent traces of times past.
21. Station Stays
The North West is cattle country, and there are plenty of opportunities to stay on authentic cattle stations through the Kimberley and Pilbara.
Cheela Plains and Pardoo in the Pilbara, to Birdwood Downs out of Derby, and Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge, Mt Elizabeth, El Questro, Digger’s Rest, Ellenbrae and Drysdale River Stations off the iconic Gibb River Road all offer accommodation from camping to eco tents and luxury homesteads.
There are opportunities to explore hidden waterholes and waterfalls, ride on horseback, birdwatching and more.
22. Eat, drink and be merry
From craft breweries to bush tucker, contemporary art galleries and Aboriginal cultural centres, there’s a thriving arts, food and beverage scene throughout the North West.
Regional centres including Newman, Roebourne, Karratha, Port Hedland, Broome, Derby, Kununurra and more have vibrant cultural centres and galleries showcasing local artists and artisans.
Sample craft beers in Broome or Karratha, and locally distilled rum and gin in Kununurra and Broome, and exciting cuisine from restaurants and cafes across the region.
23. Grab a bargain – flights to the North West now on sale!
If you’re looking to tick of our list of the Top 23 in ’23, there’s no better time than now!
Flights between Perth and Broome are on sale from $219 each way, and Perth and Kununurra from $259 each way through Virgin Australia - book here.