In January 2023 the Kimberley region experienced flooding from heavy rainfall caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie. Rainfall during the Wet Season (November to April) often causes localised flooding in the Kimberley, however the significant rainfall due to ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie caused some damage. The Martuwarra Fitzroy River and its catchment area is worst affected, with damage to the road infrastructure in Fitzroy Crossing, parts of the Great Northern Highway and the Gibb River Road.
While roadworks are still underway at some points, and a new bridge will be constructed at Fitzroy Crossing, the Great Northern Highway is currently open between Broome and Kununurra. A low level crossing at Fitzroy Crossing is currently open to all vehicles, up to Rigid Heavy Vehicles. The Gibb River Road is also open with specifed conditions. Main Roads and local shire contractors are continuing to work hard on restoring access roads to national and conservation parks, including the Kalumburu Road.
Gibb River Road - Accommodation, Camping and Gorge Opening Dates as at 15 May 2023
El Questro Wilderness Park - open. Access to the Station is by 4WD with snorkel recommended. The Steakhouse and Swinging Arm Bar and Grill, and Cantina are open. Tours are operating (except the Chamberlain Gorge Cruise and Sunset Tours which will commence soon). Certain hiking trails are not yet open.
Balanggarra Home Valley Station - reopening Monday 15 May 2023.
Ellenbrae Station - open from 1 May for Homestead, camping and cabins, as well as scones and light snacks.
Drysdale River Station - open from 1 May. The road is currently closed past Drysdale River Station, with remedial works underway ahead of reopening access to Punamii Uunpuu (Mitchell Falls) and beyond.
Mt Elizabeth Station - open from 6 May.
Mt Barnett Roadhouse: Manning Gorge Campground and Day Access - open from 1 May.
Charnley River - closed for 2023.
Mornington Wilderness Lodge - closed for 2023.
Imintji Roadhouse and Campground - open from 3 May for fuel and Monday 8 May for camping.
Dalmanyi (Bell Gorge) and Dulundi (Silent Grove) Campground - open.
Lennard Gorge reopening in mid to late May, once roadworks are complete.
Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge - open from 1 May for Homestead and campground.
Walarra Mindi (Mt Hart) day use sites - open, 4WD access only.
Bandilgnan (Windjana Gorge) - closed for 2023. Remedial works at the park are underway.
Dimalurru (Tunnel Creek) - open from Monday 15 May 2023. Fairfield-Leopold Road is single lane in some sections and 4WD access only. Please see Parks and Wildlife Service, Kimberley's advice on visiting this site.
Birdwood Downs Station - open.
Check Main Roads WA for road condition reports, and DBCA Park Alerts for the latest updates on park openings, closures and conditions at https://alerts.dbca.wa.gov.au. You can subscribe to Main Roads flood updates here.The Shire of Derby West Kimberley website and Facebook page, and the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley website and Facebook page are also good sources of information on road conditions in the area.
For your safety and out of respect for Traditional Owners, please do not attempt to access closed parks. Parks and Wildlife Service staff are busily preparing parks to ensure visitor safety, they will announce opening dates as soon as possible.
Current Travel Conditions
- The Great Northern Highway is open between Broome and Kununurra.
- On the Broome to Derby section, a two lane gravel road is open to all traffic while repairs to a 10km stretch of roadway are underway.
- At Fitzroy Crossing, a low level water crossing is now open to all vehicles up to Rigid Heavy Vehicles.
- The pedestrian and 4WD ferry service at Fitzroy Crossing is no longer operating, however it is anticipated that it will recommence operations during the next Wet Season.
- Preliminary site works have commenced and demolition of the old bridge in Fitzroy Crossing is planned to commence later in May, with construction of the new bridge planned to commence in June pending resolution of outstanding environmental and heritage issues. It is envisaged that the new bridge will be completed by the end of 2024 in time for the 2024/25 wet season.
- The Gibb River Road is now open to all traffic, except between Mt Barnett and Pentecost River, where the traffic is restricted to high clearance 4WDs and trucks under 16 tonnes only.
- Broome is accessible via air from Perth and Darwin, and via the Great Northern Highway from Port Hedland. Direct flights from the East Coast to Broome are expected to start again in early May 2023.
Works to Restore Access
The WA Government has finalised a strategy to reconnect Great Northern Highway through Fitzroy Crossing. To find out more about the strategy, please read the media statement. In summary:
- A low level water crossing upstream of the bridge reopened to traffic on 20 April.
- A second crossing approximately 150m upstream of the bridge is also being investigated, with plans for it to be operational in May 2023. This crossing will facilitate the higher volume of traffic and freight during the dry season.
- The long-term rebuild of the Fitzroy Crossing Bridge will involve lengthening and widening the bridge, with site work expected to start in May 2023 and completion planned for the end of 2024 in time for the 2024/25 wet season.
- Repairs to the Great Northern Highway between Derby and Broome are underway. A temporary two-lane gravel roadway is open to traffic, while full road rebuilds along the affected section are underway.
For up to date information on road closures in the region, visit the MainRoads WA Travel Map and website. Specific information on closures and works in the region is available on the MainRoads WA Kimberley Flood Response page.
Kimberley National Parks Update
The majority of the Kimberley’s national parks will be open this tourism season, including Purnululu National Park World, Dulundi (Silent Grove), Walarra Mindi (Mt Hart), and Lennard Gorge. Dimalurru (Tunnel Creek) will also open, but may have a later opening date.
Significant flood damage to visitor infrastructure and post-flood visitor safety risks at Danggu Geikie Gorge National Park and Bandilngan (Windjana Gorge) National Park mean they will remain closed for the rest of 2023.
For more information please see here.
Mornington Wilderness Camp
Significant damage to the research and tourism infrastructure at Mornington Wilderness Camp means that sanctuary will be closed to visitors for the 2023 season. For more information please see here.
[Updated as at 15 May 2023]
Follow local Visitor Centres for up to date information
As repairs to the region get underway, local Visitor Centres will continue to provide up to date information on roadworks, road closures and opening dates for attractions, station stays and more. Follow them on social media, sign up for newsletters and have a look through their websites!