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Kununurra is a town in far northern Western Australia located in the East Kimberley region, approximately 45 kilometres from the border with the Northern Territory.
Now Kununurra is most definitely not a quick day trip destination. It is usually a stop-off on a guided tour, or somewhere you can visit on a self-drive trip. You can fly to nearby destinations, outback styles, such as Broome, Darwin, or Perth and make your way to Kununurra via land. It’s about a 10.5-hour drive from Broome or 6.5-hours from Katherine. If you are a keen 4WD traveller, though, you can get to Kununurra on the Gibb River Road.
Once you arrive in Kununurra, you can use the location as a base to visit places like World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park and its beehive-shaped Bungle Bungle Range or visit lake Kununurra along with the other many lakes, rivers, and waterfalls in the area, including Molly Springs which is a gorgeous little spring-fed pool and waterfall about 30km from Kununurra. Kununurra means “Big Water” in the local indigenous language, so it’s safe to say you’ll find your fair share of waterholes.
So what are the top things to do when visiting Kununurra?
1. Explore the Bungle Bungle Range
The Bungle Bungle Range is a series of beehive-shaped rock formations located in Purnululu National Park. There are several ways to experience the Bungle Bungle Range. But, the first thing to note is, if you are driving, it will be approximately 4 hours to get to the national Park from Kununurra.
A great way to experience this stunning range is hiking the local area, as this will bring you to the many gorges and creeks in the area, like the well-known Cathedral Gorge. You can join a hiking day tour if you want to learn a bit about the history and ecology along the way. Finally, if you are a bit short on time or you want something special, you can see the Bungle Bungles from the air on a scenic flight. From the air, you can see the fantastic colours and dramatic landscape of the Purnululu National Park.
2. Visit ‘the Mini Bungles’
Mirima National Park is only 5 minutes from Kununurra. This ancient area is 350-million years old and is often referred to as ‘the Mini Bungles’ due to the appearance of the sandstone cliffs, gullies and ridges, and amphitheatres which resemble the better-known Bungle Bungle Ranges. You can visit this area and explore on your own or join a tour and learn about the traditional landowners and the area’s history.
3. Cruise Lake Argyle
Australia’s largest man-made freshwater lake is Lake Argyle is situated approximately 70 kilometres south of Kununurra. You can enjoy a lake argyle cruise at any time or hop on a spectacular sunset cruise. Explore the beautiful infinity pools at the Lake Argyle Resort. You can hire canoes or kayaks and go for paddle on the lake, however, be careful as you can expect to see a freshwater crocodile. You will also see a huge amount of Australian bird species with about a third of all species found here.
4. Go West to El Questro
To the west of Kununurra is the El Questro Wilderness Park. When you leave Kununurra, you will go west for 100 kilometres; along the way, see the fantastic landscape of the local area and enjoy the vastness of the Australian outback. El Questro has amazing deep gorges and majestic mountains, thermal springs, mud and salt-flats, rainforests, and cascading waterfalls. It is well worth the drive.
The best time to visit El Questro is during the dry season between June, July, and August the temperature is between 28-34 degrees during the day and 8-18 degrees during the night.
5. Drive the Gibb River Road
Experience a real road trip, 660 kilometres of a road trip. The Gibb River Road is between Kununurra and Broome. With so much to do and see along the way, it is well worth the drive. See Manning Gorge, take a swim in the Isdell River or Emma Gorge. Take a walk to Windjana Gorge National Park, see crocodiles or Aboriginal Rock art. Explore the Cockburn Range on a hike or two, make sure you catch a sunset. Try your skills barramundi fishing, and of course, visit El Questro, Kununurra, and Broome.
6. Try the rum at Hoochery distillery
Hoochery distillery is built on the Dessert family farm just outside of Kununurra, the small pot distillery was created entirely by hand. Everything, from the still to the building itself, was crafted from materials found around the farm. Spike even taught himself to distil, with nothing more than a passion for making good, honest rum.
7. Relax by the Ord River
While you are out and about make sure you take the time to take a cruise along the Ord River. The Ord River forms one of the most significant waterways in Australia, producing the second-largest flow volume in Western Australia. There are some iconic landmarks along the river, including the Ivanhoe Crossing. This concrete causeway was built over the Ord river to help the river remain in flow year-round; the water flows over the crossing. So if you’re thinking of crossing, make sure you have your 4WD at the ready.
Explore the hydroelectric power station, which was built at the base of the Ord Dam in 1990 and now supplies renewable energy to the Argyle Village, Wyndham, Kununurra, and the Argyle Diamond mine. In addition, the Ord River is a habitat for more than 75 bird species, including significant breeding and migrant populations. You will see spectacular scenery, wildlife, flora, and fauna along the way.
8. Keep River National Park.
Only an hour drive outside Kununurra is the best keep select known as the Keep River National Park. It’s home to geological wonders and sites that reveal ancient Aboriginal rock art. The Park falls within the Aboriginal lands of the Miriwoong and Gadgerong people. The Nganalam Art Site shows some of the most incredible rock art characteristics of the area, while Ginger’s Hill and Jinumum reveal other aspects of traditional Aboriginal culture. Unfortunately, the unsealed road in Keep River National Park may be corrugated and inaccessible at times due to flooding during the wet season, so be sure to visit between May and August.
With so many adventures to be had, it’s hard to know where to start, so take a look at some of our Kimberley tours.