The Kimberley & The Pilbara from Sydney

We will be heading off for about 8 weeks in July/August next year from Sydney. We are wanting to explore The Kimberley, The Pilbara and Broome and whatever else we can fit in during our time.

Wondering if anyone has done a similar trip and how long you took to explore the areas and how far down WA would we realistically be able to see before heading back to Sydney.

We have done pretty much everything on this side of Australia so would be driving straight through to start our journey in WA (ie not really any sight seeing on the way).

Any comments, tips and must-visit places would be appreciated!
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Reply By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015 at 15:39

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015 at 15:39
Shelly what I'd do is make a list of what you'd like to see. Plot them on a map and then work out the travel distance between each. Allow for somewhere new each day add up your days and hopefully that will give you plenty of spare days to now go back and add extra time for the places that you really must see. As you've no doubt read that places like the Gibb River Road, Mitchell Plateau,& ElQuestro you could easily while away a few weeks. In the Broome area there is the Dampier Peninsula which is fantastic and a week can easily be lost there.

The Pilbara Region well I could spend 8wks alone there as the diversity of landscapes and scenic opportunities are huge. From the coast (80 Mile Beach and similar), to the inland gorges of Karijini and the numerous waterholes such as Carawine Gorge and not to forget the various mining towns.

It's amazing what you see in a relatively short time. Also look at how you intend to get back east eg via the Grt Central Road to the Stuart Hwy or drop all the way down to the Eyre Hwy.

Enjoy your planning it's half the fun of a big trip.

Cheers

Dunc
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Reply By: Michaeljp - Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015 at 18:34

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015 at 18:34
I just got back from the Kimberley and only went to El Questro, North of Mitchell Falls and over to Broome then back home. Ive been up there many times so i only visit a few places each time.
If i was you id spend your time looking around the Kimberley and Broome area for your trip and do the west coast/ Pilbara another time.
There is so much to see in the Kimberley, El Questro, Home Valley station,King Edward River area, Mitchell Falls, surveyors pool (north of Mitchells Falls) Walsh Point a little bit further north again.
It takes you about 4-5 days to get to El Questro from Sydney, so theres your first week gone. A few days here then a day or 2 at Home Valley then up to mitchell falls area theres your 2nd week gone. Then there is Mt Elizabeth station, Manning Gorge, Galvans gorge and Bell Gorge, week 3-4 gone.Mornington wilderness camp, windjana gorge and tunnel creek then onto Derby week 5.
So there is about 4-5 weeks of travel and you haven't seen Broome or Cape Leveque north of Broome yet.
July is school holidays over there so there are a lot of families and its middle of the tourist season. June/july would be better plus there is usually more water in the falls in june.
Get a good road atlas and do as the other person said, mark out all the sights you'd like to see and go from there.
cheers..
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Reply By: Danna - Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 02:52

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 02:52
Hi George & Shelly
Not many people realize, but there are very particular dates to be in Broome.
Before you even start planing what to see, go to this website:

Staircase to the Moon 2016

This is very spectacular! We actually know of people coming from Europe to see this marble of the nature.

When you will be in Kimberly, definitely do not skip The Horizontal Waterfall with going by boat through it. Yes, it is very expensive, but worth every cent of it. This is adrenalin driven + breath taking spectacular experience.
Bungles are best to see from ground.
Kimberley is for us like a magnet ...... We are there at least every second year.
(We are from Sydney, like you)
Actually, we are going there again next months for about 5weeks.

Cheers Dana

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Follow Up By: Member - Chargergirl76 - Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 11:04

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 11:04
Thanks Danna, Yes both Staircase to the Moon and The Horizontal Waterfall are on our list. Seen quite a bit about the Horizontal Waterfall and it looks amazing!

Being a fellow Sydney-sider, can I ask which way you travel to get to the Kimberley and how long it takes you?
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Follow Up By: TomH - Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 11:57

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 11:57
Horizontal Falls is a half day air trip and from Broome would be best with these guys who were really great
http://horizontalfallsadventures.com.au/tour/broome-half-day-tour/.

Just make sure you find out off whoever you go with the tide times and some days they dont go because of Neap tides etc. We had to wait till our last day in Broome to get the best tide.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 13:27

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 13:27
George & Shelly,

When I worked in the Kimberley, late '60's - early '70's, used to travel from Blue Mountains, through Dubbo, Bourke, Cunnamulla, Charleville, Longreach & Winton. Then either via Boulia or Cloncurry, to Mt Isa, and west along the Barkly Highway.

There is a route from Sydney, North to about Newcastle, then about North-west through NSW, and into Qld, near St George & Roma, that is supposed to be shorter than the route above, but doubt if there'd be too much of a difference.

The Buchanan H'way, from Dunmara, on Stuart H'way, cuts off a bit, rather than going right up to Katherine and out to Kununurra on the Victoria H'way. See a recent thread on its condition.

Used to take me about 4.5 days in a Holden ute back then, but a lot of the roads were gravel/black soil back then. :-)

Bob


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Follow Up By: Member - Judy and Laurie - Friday, Jul 31, 2015 at 07:30

Friday, Jul 31, 2015 at 07:30
Hi, we did the horizontal falls , fantastic , they picked us up at our van park 6ish then to the airport flown to cygnet bay for breakfast and tour of pearl farm, seaplane to Talbot bay ,feed sharks ,lunch and tour on the bay then through the falls several times, the best day, great people, flight back to Broome bus back to van park, fabulous day, you will easy spend your time in the Kimberley.
Safe travels and enjoy
Laurie and Judy
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Friday, Jul 31, 2015 at 18:18

Friday, Jul 31, 2015 at 18:18
Neglected to mention one of my favourites places, George & Shelly.

Keep River N/Park is a great place, and probably worth a night or two. Two other spots that might be good for an overnight camp are Saddle Creek camping area(in amongst some neat hills) and Dingo Gap(at Duncan H'way turnoff)

Enjoy the trip planning,

Bob


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Reply By: Sigmund - Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 07:38

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 07:38
I now regard the first trip into an area as a recce.

Check out some of the 'must sees' of course but there'll never be time for them all so I start a list of destinations and activities for trip #2.
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Reply By: Member - Chargergirl76 - Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 10:58

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 10:58
Thanks all for your replies. We have got quite an extensive list of places to visit already and have started mapping things out, but it's always good to hear first hand experiences from people who have been there.

We realise we could spend months and months in this area and still not see it all, but it's a fairly long way from Sydney so we want to make the most of our time there and do as many must-see things as we can ....... if it means we need another trip back there in a few years .... oh well!!!

Having travelled majority of the rest of the country, WA has always been on our wish list and it's exciting that we will finally make it there, just wish we had longer to see it all, but unfortunately we need to work and pay the bills!
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Follow Up By: Danna - Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 16:41

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 16:41
Hi George & Shelly
We are in the “Hills District”. If you are off-roader like us, we give a miss to bitumen if possible.

We usually drive over Patty Rd. than to Pilliga (we have my very compulsory dip or 2 in hot water spa) than we go from Pilliga by back road to Walgett than Cunnamulla; Quilpie; Windorah; Bedourie; Boulia; cross Plenty Hwy (or Sandover Hwy), than bit of Stuart to Tanami Rd. to Kimberley.
But we don't stick with same route every time, some time we go Cobar way x Oodnadatta Track (more like Hwy) to Coober Pedy; Stuart Hwy; Spectacular Victoria Hwy. It depended very much on weather, if you tow or where you sleep.
We have two sleeping options. F.F. camper trailer or we sleep inside our Troopy, which is excellent, for quick lay down anywhere ….
No fuss, no drama, we just stop eat, wipe a dust [spray and paper towels] wash our teeth & go to sleep.
It takes us about 5 to 6 comfortable days to get to Kimberley. If you can get-up very early in the morning and you do not have too many stops, you can make it even faster. We carry 270Lt - 320Lt of diesel &100Lt - 200Lt of water (depends if we take a camper trailer), so we don’t have to stop very often.
It also depend how many days we soak our self in Pilliga’s hot water, and believe me, it is yummy & addictive.

In Broom is place called “Pearl Luggers” It is a must. Go to see a show you will get a shock …… no, I’m not about to tell you, it’s just worth every minute of it.
Willie Creek Pearls Farm show is very good too, but we would go on & on & on and that is just a Broom area.

Hopefully this will help at least little.
Cheers Dana
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Follow Up By: Danna - Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 23:28

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 23:28
Guys,
one thing I must mention, there is no fuel on Tanami Rd. anymore.
Rabbit Flat was closed few years ago, so last petrol or diesel is in Yuendumu NT or Billiluna WA, but really in Halls Creek WA. Opal petrol it's compulsory in most aboriginal areas, that's why most of people don't have petrol 4WD.
Also bring you own water, the supply of water on Tanami is virtually nonexistent! If you want to go that way, you MUST have fuel in reliable vehicle at least for 1200km!!!
These days The Tanami Rd. is fairly deserted by most of 4WDres. There is little bit traffic by big supply rigs to the mines, but lot, lot less than 13-14 years ago.
Hooroo Dana
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Follow Up By: Member - Chargergirl76 - Friday, Jul 31, 2015 at 10:18

Friday, Jul 31, 2015 at 10:18
Thanks, we are basically in the 'hills district' too, so that's relevant info for us. And yes, we do prefer offroad, rather than bitumen where possible too! We don't have a camper or caravan, still tenting it at the moment, so offroad tracks aren't an issue for us.

Thanks for the tip about the fuel, we have a diesel and it carries enough fuel so shouldn't have an issue with that distance.
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Follow Up By: Danna - Friday, Jul 31, 2015 at 11:05

Friday, Jul 31, 2015 at 11:05
George & Shelly
G’day George & Shelly,
If you want, we may contact you thru you website.
Just let us know here.
Cheers Dana
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Follow Up By: Member - Chargergirl76 - Friday, Jul 31, 2015 at 14:38

Friday, Jul 31, 2015 at 14:38
yeah for sure Dana, would love to chat more
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Reply By: Member - Robert1660 - Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 22:20

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015 at 22:20
Hi George and Shelly,
There are many excellent suggestions mentioned in this thread. I just thought I would add my thoughts as we traveled to the Kimberley Region in July/August 2013.
If you travel the Tanami there is the Newhaven Bird Sanctuary as well as Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater. Purnululu NP is a must visit. However, you cannot take in caravans although camper-trailers are OK. You do need to pre-book as campsites are limited and it does get busy. Certainly try to avoid school holidays. The various walks in the area are spectacular. We were there at the end of July and it was very hot. There is water available, however.
There is a popular camping area called Caroline Pool just outside Hall's Creek. It is not recommended as when we were there because of the lack of any toilet facilities it was quite unpleasant.
Kununurra is very busy and so are the caravan parks. Possibly a pre-book? Lake Argyle is a must. The Five Rivers Lookout at Wyndham is certainly worth a visit.
Once on The Gibb River Road El Questro has a better variety of activities and tours than Home Valley. However, that is not to say that Home Valley is not worth a stay.Mornington Wilderness Camp is worth considering. There is some spectacular scenery and because it is off the beaten track to some extent with limited camping it is that much quieter. It must, however, be pre-booked.
Others have mentioned the Horizontal Falls Experience. We did this and flew out from Derby. For not much extra you can stay overnight on the luxury pontoon. Nevertheless it is an expensive day but the scenery is spectacular and the entire operation is very professionally run. The speed boat ride through the Horizontal Falls can best be described as "a theme park ride in the wilderness", but it is worth it.
Mitchell Falls should not be missed, however the road can be a corrugated disaster. Take only off road capable trailers . It is definitely not suitable for any caravan. Many people do damage their vehicle on this stretch of road so make sure you adjust your tyre pressures to suit the conditions. We stayed in the generator camping area which is, in our opinion, a better option than the non-generator area.
Take the helicopter trip out to the falls and then do the walk back. There are at least five places to swim, croc free, as you walk back to the camping area.
Koolajman at Cape Leveque is a great spot. However, again it is a pre-book. There is restaurant and many different types of accommodation available.
Broome is very interesting and very busy. Many people have difficulty in getting accommodation in the caravan parks. Again to be certain pre-book well ahead.
A final note about free camp sites. WA seems to be ensuring that these have toilets facilities. Obviously if you have a caravan this is not so relevant, however those sites without toilets do suffer by generally being strewn with toilet paper. Not pleasant.
Have a great trip. It is certainly a great part of the country.
Robert
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Follow Up By: Member - Chargergirl76 - Friday, Jul 31, 2015 at 11:25

Friday, Jul 31, 2015 at 11:25
Lots of info there, thank you! From everyone's comments, we are definitely going to avoid school holidays and it's good to be aware that we need to pre-book at many places.

Roads shouldn't be an issue for us, fully set up 4WD, lots of experience and no camper or van, so that makes it a little easier and less to worry about. Thanks so much for your detailed information, gives us lots to think about now!
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