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The Kimberley-Pre Departure preparations

Middle Spring near Kununurra - photo by Tim Froling

Mention “The Kimberley” and people picture crocodiles, waterfalls both vertical and horizontal, camels on Cable Beach in Broome, pearls and pink diamonds. As well as crocodiles and rugged landscapes. There is a discussion on “the wet” and “the dry” seasons and the need to travel in the dry to avoid the challenging humid weather of the wet along with the fact that mostly the area has closed down due to it being impassable for vehicles. Along with the need for a 4WD to get there, explore and get home again.

Yes is big but few appreciate it’s larger than Victoria, has a population of around 35,000 mainly in the six large towns, covers an area of around 421,451 sq km and yet due to it being so remote and rugged much of the region remains largely untouched by modern day man.

For all of these reasons and many more exploring The Kimberley is seen in a similar way to visiting Cape York;  remote, rugged, full of rough and corrugated dirt roads that can destroy a vehicle’s suspension, deep water crossings, crocodiles and offering memorable landscapes and experiences. As well as requiring sound preparation to get there and back and a 4WD to get to the really interesting places.

So this blog will attempt to cover our pre-departure preparations followed with a rolling account of our trip. Lets get started.

Before you even go!

Getting organised. Whilst it is remote around 300,000 people visit the Kimberley each year in the dry season running from around May to September. So expect to find other travellers pretty much anywhere you go. This number of visitors  quickly fills the major towns so caravan parks and all other accommodation can be overflowing making it essential to have a Plan B and C as well if you want to stay in a place like Broome or beyond. So planning and organisation are key and the earlier you can get organised the higher the chance of getting that powered site adjacent Cable Beach for example.

Trip planning

Our planning commenced over two years ago when friends headed off on their first exploration and we could not but decided when the opportunity arose we would as well. These guys proved an invaluable source of accurate information and have helped us plan our trip to achieve our goals. One constant bit of advice we keep getting is if you go once you will go back again and again as there is so much to see. Lots of research and reading allowed us to plan what we wanted to see in the time we have for this trip in the knowledge that we are in no rush.

How long will you be there? The key to your plan is to be flexible and allow yourself enough time to do things really well. Rather than trying to see too much, running out of time and leaving frustrated as well as running the risk of a crash or injury trying to keep to an unrealistic time line. This is a very old place and it will still be there for your lifetime. Achievable goals in a comfortable time frame after all it is a holiday isn’t it? Your first trip will give you a much deeper appreciation of the Kimberley and what is important for you to keep exploring

With that in mind our plan is to spend almost two months there and with three months to go we are quite sure a return trip is on the cards as we will not get to see some of the really adventurous places such as the Munja Track.

Your itinerary. Once your time frame is organised then you can begin to fill in the places you want to see. Remembering always that travel along the Gibb River road can be rough, tough and slow and once you move off the Gibb the tracks deteriorate even further. So it may be a road on the map but it certainly is not a highway and travel times should be planned around some surprising low speeds. All the side tracks to the gorges and other site seeing rarely see a grader so are almost guaranteed to test you and your vehicle. There are plenty of websites offering advice on this issue take the time to research and heed that hard won advice. We are not in a hurry and have planned a very detailed itinerary that allows for low travelling speeds and plenty of time to get out of the car and explore every day. Our plan also recognises that sometimes things can go wrong so it allows for spare days which we will use to either relax or undertake any repairs and maintenance as is required.

Do I need to book? Keep in mind that 300,000 visitors in the same place as you all wanting to do, see and experience the same things. Six months out we started booking spots such as Broome and Cape Leveque we knew would be in high demand and were a little stunned to find that we had secured the remaining two camp sites in Broome for June. As well as finding our preferred spot to stay at Cape Leveque was already booked out so Plan B was put into action. As well we have contacted all places on our itinerary to ensure there are no surprises for them or us when we arrive.

Next post will be on vehicle and camper trailer preparation

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