Julie has her heart set on a trip to the Kimberley but is wondering whether she should go it alone or take a tour. In Travel SOS, Lee Mylne points her in the right direction.
I would love to travel to the Kimberley and although I’m a competent independent traveller, I am wondering if I would be better taking a tour? Would I miss some of the best bits if I were to go on my own? If I travelled there, would I be able to hire a guide for a day or two?
A. Travelling independently, with perhaps a few tours thrown in, would be my recommendation, Julie. The Kimberley is one of the most stunning parts of Australia and a great choice of destination.
I was there last year, and from a base in Broome, I took several day tours that I would highly recommend. Distances are long if you want to see a lot of the Kimberley region, and the main benefit of taking a tour is the great knowledge of local tour guides.
Kimberley Wild Expeditions runs a number of day tours from Broome, as well as some extended tours from two to 12 days. I took the “Windjana Gorge & Tunnel Creek Adventure”, which is a long day (around 15 hours) but gets you to some of the highlights, including the Derby Prison Tree and part of the Gibb River Road, as well as the oasis of Windjana Gorge, with its 90-metre high walls. Working with Bungoolee Tours, owned by the local indigenous people, the tour also includes the underground caverns of Tunnel Creek, where you will hear the story of Aboriginal folk hero Jandamarra.
Tunnel Creek is around 370km from Broome, but it takes around five and a half hours to drive there; for me, it’s a much more relaxing prospect to have someone else do the driving!
Another day, I travelled with InStyle Adventures, whose owner Ed Bennett has lived in the Kimberley for many years. Tours are in a luxury 4WD vehicle and include some hard-to-get-to “secret” spots, which include Dampier Peninsula and James Price Point.
This tour also takes in a two-hour visit to the Willie Creek Pearl farm, which can be visited independently if you have your own transport. It is about 40km out of Broome and many tour operators go there. This is one of Broome’s top attractions and well worth a visit. There’s plenty in Broome to keep you busy for several days. If you are planning to visit between March and October, try to time your visit for the time of the full moon, when you’ll be able to see the phenomenon of the Staircase to the Moon.
One other way to explore the Kimberley is on a cruise, between Broome and Darwin. There are several cruise companies that operate small group expedition cruises, thus allowing you to explore the magnificent scenery of the Kimberley Coast.
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