Willis's Walkabouts Top-Level Menu

 

Kimberley & Pilbara

Kimberley Coast Explorer

March 5 - April 15, 2017

The smaller branch of King George Falls, March 1995

See below for summary of each section or download our detailed trip notes.

Overview

This trip takes you deep into the wilderness along the Kimberley Coast, one of Australia's most rugged and least known regions. By going at the end of the wet season, we guarantee good water supplies and flowing waterfalls, but this does mean that it will be hot and humid. Fortunately, you can always cool off with a swim.

Be warned! trips like this are always subject to change due to weather or other conditions outside our control.

Looking for Aboriginal art sites is an important part of this trip. We will visit the best sites we found on previous trips and search for others. Although it is seldom possible to date most of the paintings, existing research suggests that the styles we see will range from more than 10,000 years old to more recent images from the 20th century. If you are not particularly interested in the art, you might still enjoy exploring the various rock formations or perhaps relax near a pool and watch the birds or have a swim while others go exploring. The choice is yours.

The pictures show some of the highlights. They don't show the work needed to get from one beautiful place to the next.

Section 1: Berkeley to King George: March 5-19

Looking upstream near the head of the Berkeley Gorge, March 2009 Central Berkeley Gorge, March 2009

15 days. The longest section. Exploratory! We plan to begin with a flight to Berkeley River Lodge airstrip from where we will get a boat to somewhere near the top of Berkeley Gorge. After several days exploring the gorge, we reach Casuarina Creek. This will then lead us through deep gorges, lovely pools and a wide variety of vegetation ranging from dense monsoon forest to sparse sandstone scrub as we work our way to the eastern arm of King George Sound, where we are met by a seaplane which brings in our food drop and those joining us for the second section.

The two photos here are of different parts of Berkeley Gorge, taken on our 2009 trip.

Section 2: King George to Faraway Bay: March 19-29

King George Falls in full flood, April 2011. Photo: T Dixon

11 days. The highlight of this section is King George Falls where two separate branches tumble red sandstone cliffs 80-90 metres high into the tidal gorge below.

We spend this entire section exploring an area within 20 km of the falls. The terrain is rugged, the gorge impassable so our progress is anything but a straight line. Our rewards include a variety of delightful creeks, cool swimming holes, ocean views and picturesque gorges. We then continue around the coast to Faraway Bay and spend the night at the lodge there. Next morning, we get a lift to their airstrip where we pick up our next food drop and meet those joining us for the third section. Those leaving here fly back to Kununurra.

Section 3: Faraway Bay to Lower Drysdale River: March 29 - April 8

Twin Falls in flood, April 2011. Photo: T Dixon Twin Falls in June 2012.

11 days. From the Faraway Bay airstrip, a relatively easy walk brings us to our first campsite. We can tell you it will be a nice spot but we can't tell you exactly where it will be as that will depend on the conditions and how we've been going.

After 2-3 relatively easy days, we make our way west to a major north-south creek. Much of the route is fairly flat, but there is some rough country and a substantial distance to be covered. Once we have reached this creek, we follow it north to where it drops 30-40 metres over a cliff into a tidal gorge. Immediately to the west, a smaller creek cascades down into the same gorge, just one more of the unknown wonders of the Kimberley Coast. The two photos here are of those falls and were taken from nearly the same spot. One was taken in June and one in April.

From here, we work our way west to lower Drysdale River. We may choose to follow one of the routes we have used in the past or we may choose to explore further afield in the hope of finding something more interesting. Whichever we choose, we eventually reach a nice sandy camp just above a private fishing camp. Next morning, those finishing with this section fly back to Kununurra on the float plane which brings in those joining for the final section.

Section 4: Drysdale River to Kalumburu: April 8-15

Mushroom rock near the lower Drysdale. Photo: C Wesely Lower Drysdale Gorge, April 2009. Photo: C Wesely

8 days, Our shortest section. Exploratory! Only two of our trips have done this before and they took somewhat different routes. We are still looking for the best route as we explore more of the area.

Immediately upstream of the fishing camp, we find a labyrinth of broken rock through which we have to pass to reach the lower gorge on the Drysdale River where flood debris 20 metres up on the cliff tops gives mute testimony to the awesome force of the river in flood.

From here, it will mostly be new to us. Who knows what we will discover as we make our way west to the Aboriginal community of Kalumburu where we meet the plane which returns us to Kununurra.

Important Notes

Terrain and difficulty. This is the longest trip we offer. It is also one of the most strenuous.

Although we will be averaging less than ten kilometres per day, some of the areas through which we will be travelling are quite rugged. This, combined with the need to carry up to two weeks worth of food (section 1), makes good physical fitness absolutely essential.

Besides above average fitness, you will also need a sense of adventure and a desire to explore one of the least known wilderness areas in Australia. You will also need the ability to swim.

You do not, however, need to be a superman or superwoman. Some of those who have done previous trips were in their mid to late 50's, a few of the younger participants had never done a walk longer than three days before coming out to the Kimberley Coast.

The trip includes a lot of rock hopping with a full pack on and even a bit of clambering over large boulders. See our rock hopping page for more information. Anyone who has done some off-trail rock hopping is unlikely to have any problem with the terrain.

We expect warm to hot conditions, possibly quite humid at times, with relatively little rain for most of the trip. However, the weather is completely unpredictable at this time of year. Since 1992, we have encountered the tail ends of four cyclones. The edge of Cyclone Chloe in 1995 poured rain on us for a full week and turned the landscape into a quagmire. In 1998, we didn't get a cyclone, but we did get one incredible overnight storm where we had strong wind and over 200 mm of rain. In all four cases, the rain turned the coastal waterfalls into some of the most spectacular sights ever seen on any of our trips.

This trip spans the transition from the wet season to the dry season. For more information about walking in the wet season, click here.

Yes, this trip is a challenge but your rewards will be great — spectacular waterfalls, wildflowers and an incredible Kimberley wilderness experience no other operator can offer you.

More Information: Trip Notes, Video Footage & Photos

Kimberley Coast Explorer detailed trip notes

Please be patient. We have not yet been able to finish updating the notes for 2016.

Videos

Photos and a Story

More Information

Willis's Walkabouts, 12 Carrington Street, Millner NT 0810, Australia walkabout@bushwalkingholidays.com.au

Last Modified Sunday, 27-Nov-2016 04:29:37 EST  |  Valid XHTML1.0