Kununurra is just over three hours by plane from Perth. The town itself has a population of 4,500 (tiny) and is set amongst the breathtaking scenery of the Ord River and red earth escarpments. We recommend flying with Virgin to avoid flight changes and cancellations, of which we have experienced many with the alternative airline.
WHEN TO GO
The best time to visit the Kimberley region is the dry season – April to October.* Waterfalls and gorges are usually at their best towards the start of the dry season, after the heavy rainfall in the preceding months but you will never be disappointed when travelling in the warm, pristine conditions that extend for the duration of the season.
*The wet season is spectacular and waterfalls are abundant, but the wild nature of the weather e.g. flash floods, electrical storms and off the charts humidity can tend to get in the way of travel plans.
WHAT TO DO IN + AROUND KUNUNURRA
In order of epicness, here is a list of our favourite past-times if you have a few days in Kununurra.
An hour-and-a-half drive west of Kununurra, El Questro is quite simply, paradise. The 700,000 acre property offers some of the most ancient and untamed beauty the East Kimberley has to offer.
From waterfalls, dramatic ochre cliffs, thermal springs, rainforests, gently undulating ranges and pristine watering holes, there is nothing mediocre about this place. Our El Questro highlights:
- El Questro Gorge
There is never a dull moment on the El Questro Gorge hike. With every turn there is another oasis, waterfall or nirvana-like scene. The biggest obstacle at El Questro Gorge is that you will need a snorkel on your 4WD (or the skills to befriend someone who has a snorkel to hitch a ride) to make the first river crossing to the start of the hike. From there, you can take your time for the better part of a day to soak in every beautiful moment in this ancient cavernous route. Commit to doing the whole thing, as many turn back at the boulder.
- Amalia Gorge
Amalia, as the name suggests is an elegant and peaceful journey with two main swimming holes perfectly spaced to make a half-day journey of this picturesque hike.
- Emma Gorge
Located just down the road from El Questro station (half an hour towards Kununurra), the Emma Gorge hike is a gentle walk with a few steep sections leading into the post-card perfection of the gorge itself.
- Champagne Springs
Reserve a day to enjoy this challenging 10km hike that ends at the beautiful cascading waterfall. There is ample space to read a book and worship the sun on the flat rocks beside the rugged cliffs.
- Zebedee Springs
A natural thermal spring surrounded by leafy palms, Zebedee Springs is nature’s equivalent to a jacuzzi. Perhaps because it’s an easy walk along a shaded path, Zebedee tends to draw a crowd so we suggest climbing to the very top in order to find some more seclusion. This thermal haven is only open from 7am – 12pm so plan another gorge for the afternoon.
- Pigeonhole Lookout
The perfect way to close out a day of hiking, turn 4WD mode on to mount the summit of the great Pigeonhole Lookout. Bring your esky and a picnic rug to watch the hour turn from golden to blue over the curvaceous Pentecost river.
GORGES AROUND KUNUNURRA
- Molly Springs
This idyllic little gorge is only a short drive west of Kununurra. The perfect pit-strop on the way to El Questr or for a midday dip.
- The Grotto
About 40 minutes North West of Kununurra, the Grotto is a deep and pristine swimming hole with an epic swinging rope to boot.
A 45 minute drive south of Kununurra, Lake Argyle is a sight to behold. One of the world’s largest man-made lakes, Argyle was filled in 1974 and is now home to roughly 35,000 fresh water crocodiles and 26 species of native fish. The view from Discovery Park’s infinity pool is well-worth the cost of a day pass to use the facility.
The best way to experience the majesty of the lake is to hire a boat or take an aerial view from a seaplane, making a pitstop on one of the many small islands in the vast and breathtaking body of water.
MIRIMA NATIONAL PARK
A stones throw away from the town centre, Mirima National Park has a few hiking tracks whose massive rock formations and captivating views offer the feeling of being deep in the remote East Kimberley Wilderness even though they are minutes from town.
Take a swing from the iconic branch in the middle of Kununurra’s Swim Beach. Word on the street is that there are no crocs around. But don’t take our word for it.
Wake up early to catch the sunrise from the top of Kelly’s Knob, offering a 360 degree view of Kununurra.