On this self-drive adventure, experience the 350-million-year old Balili (Devonian Reef) system, the vast and panoramic landscape of the Fitzroy River floodplains, and cross the Wunaamin Miliwundi Ranges to one of the Gibb River Road's most loved spots - Bell Gorge. In the small outback towns of Derby and Fitzroy Crossing, you'll experience a taste of the Kimberley culture and pioneering spirit, as well as a warm welcome.
Best Time: May to September
Duration: 4-5 days
Accommodation: Camping and catered accommodation available
Vehicle: 4WD recommended for Fairfield-Leopold Downs Road and Gibb River Road
Highlights: Fitzroy Crossing, Windjana Gorge NP, Tunnel Creek NP, Geikie Gorge NP, Gibb River Road, Bell Gorge, Derby
Leg 1 - Broome to Fitzroy Crossing
Great Northern Highway; 395km or approx. 4.5 hours
Departing early in the morning, follow the Great Northern Highway through the landscapes of the Fitzroy River floodplains before arriving at Fitzroy Crossing. Explore the town's original river crossing and buildings close to the Crossing Inn, and discover the work of the local artists in the local art centres.
A short drive from town is Danggu Geikie Gorge National Park, where the Fitzroy River cuts its way through the Geikie and Oscar Ranges. This is a spectacular waterway, and regular boat tours will give great insight into this part of the Devonian Reef. Walking trails also allow you to explore this small but beautiful national park.
Accommodation and camping is available at the Fitzroy River Lodge and the Crossing Inn.
Leg 2 - Mimbi Caves
Continue on to the Mimbi Caves, approx. 92km east of Fitzroy Crossing along the highway. This is a place of deep spiritual significance to the Gooniyandi people as well as being one of the most significant Devonian fossil sites in the world. Join a tour to discover the caves, see fossils and learn about Gooniyandi culture - tours run in the mornings and afternoons (mornings only on the weekends). There's also a campground if you'd like to camp overnight, or you can return to Fitzroy Crossing.
Leg 3 - Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge
Great Northern Highway and Fairfield-Leopold Downs Road (4WD only)
Travelling west from Fitzroy Crossing, turn onto the Fairfield-Leopold Downs Road approximately 42km from town. The first stop will be Dimalurru (Tunnel Creek) approximately 70km from the turnoff, but you'll find yourself taking in the views of the Oscar Ranges and striking clusters of boab trees along the way. At Dimalurru, you can walk 750m into this tunnel carved out by the waters of Tunnel Creek - be sure to bring a torch, and some footwear you don't mind getting wet.
From Dimalurru (Tunnel Creek), it's just 34km to Bandilgnan Windjana Gorge. Here you can follow the walking trails along the edge of the gorge to its base, where pools populated by freshwater crocs are surrounded by the towering limestone walls. If you are camping on-site, spend some time watching the gorge walls change colours at the sun sets.
Say hello to Queen Victoria's head as you turn right onto the Gibb River Road 21km from Bandilgnan Windjana Gorge, and pass through the Wunaamin Miliwundi Ranges.
Continue onto your choice of accommodation - at Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge (approx. 109km from the Gibb River Road junction), you'll find accommodation and camping options with homestead meals; the national park campsite is at Silent Grove (113km from the junction) or at Imintjii Community you'll find a campground and the APT Bell Gorge Wilderness Lodge (approx. 101km from GRR junction). If you aren't camping at Bandilngan Windjana Gorge, make sure to leave enough time to travel to your night's accommodation.
Leg 4 - Dalmanyi Bell Gorge
Gibb River Road
Drive from your accommodation to the car park at Silent Grove to start the hike to Dalmanyi (Bell Gorge). Allow at least half a day to enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of the waterfalls, and a sometimes challenging walk is rewarded by a refreshing swim in pool below the cascade.
At nearby Lennard Gorge, a 3km (return) walk from the car park takes you along a creek line and then up onto the Wunaamin Miliwundi sandstone to a lookout over the falls. You'll find the turnoff between the Silent Grove Road and Mt Mart Road, approximately 7km from the Mt Hart Road. It's a 7km drive to the Lennard River Gorge car park from the turnoff.
Depending on your plans, choose to say another night, or if early enough drive to Derby.
Leg 5 - Derby
Gibb River Road; 219km from Bell Gorge
Heading west along the Gibb River Road, your destination is the small town of Derby. Just before you reach the Derby Highway, Mowanjum Art Centre is well worth a visit. A creative hub for the Worrorra, Ngarinyin and Wunumbal tribes who are the custodians of Wandjina law and iconography, the centre exhibits and sells the artists work, as well as an educational area about Wandjina iconography and art. Continuing on to the Derby Highway, stop to visit the Boab Prison Tree and Myalls Bore - signage at this remarkable boab tree provides insight into its significance for Aboriginal people, as well as it's use by pastoralists in the area.
In Derby, be sure to visit the Derby Visitor Centre for local information and tips, including tide times - it's so important to know the best time to cast a line, or to see the tide roll in at the jetty! If the Horizontal Falls is on your bucket list, you can take a tour from Derby - either by seaplane (including overnight tours), or by helicopter. You can also take a helicopter for a flight over the incredible Montgomery Reef, or for a heli-fishing adventure!
Accommodation is available at the Spinifex Hotel and at Derby Lodge, with camping at the Kimberley Entrance Caravan Park, Dumbara Buru Caravan Park and at Birdwood Downs Station outside of Derby.
Leg 6 - Return to Broome
Great Northern Highway; 221km, approx. 2.5 hours
Once you've explored Derby, it's time to head back to Broome along the Great Northern Highway. On the approach to Broome you might like to stop off at Twelve Mile to visit the birds at the 12 Mile Bird Park and to have refreshments at the Mango Place. You may be just on time for the tour at the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park (open at 2pm, tour at 3pm), and if you are planning on doing an Astro Tour, take note of the location as it's very close by. If you'd like to visit the Broome Bird Observatory, keep an eye for the turn onto Crab Creek Road (4WD recommended).