The Kimberley

Hi like to know best time to go into the Kimberley. I was there in 1997 and Mitchell Falls had plenty of water flowing and the Gibb River rd was in good condition .Also made it upto Kalumburu . can not remember time of year ! There were only a dozen or so people up there .I would like to go again but like to know best time when not many people thank you. p.s. is Jacks Waterhole still a camp ground loved it there..
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Reply By: Member - mechpete - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 14:46

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 14:46
when my group of friends did our kimberely trip in 2002
we left Victoria start of june an allowed a month to travel Darwin to Broome
GRR an all the good stops plenty of swimmingMitchell Falls was great to see
weather was perfect
AnswerID: 594501

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 16:35

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 16:35
Hi Stephen,

The roads are usually open by the end of April, following the wet season and corresponding road repairs.
If you plan for early to mid May you are usually past the road closure period and the graders would be a good bit into their annual "runs". Keep your eye on WA outback road conditions as May approaches.
By mid to late June you would be getting into "Grey Nomad" season and travel and park accommodation can be a bit of a problem and by late September, conditions may be getting rather "warm".

We completed a four week trip from the second week in May and had no problem securing camp ground sites (two together) for us and our friends.
At this time of the year, water will still be around in places like Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek.

The biggest consideration of course is the Pentacost River crossing, which if the water level is too high, will end your trip along the Gibb River Road before it really begins, (if starting from the Kununurra end) and a lot of backtracking if starting from the Broome/Derby end and making it as far as the PR crossing.

A bit of pre-planning will ensure your trip will be as memorable and enjoyable as ours was.

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AnswerID: 594507

Follow Up By: Stephen F2 - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 18:22

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 18:22
Thanks Sand Man wow lucky I went there in 97 we just camped anywhere and PR was a dribble ..Sounds busy now I remember owner at Jacks Waterhole told us that the big oil companies wanted to build Roadhouse on GRR and also bitumise it , so at least that not happened but Jacks is closed now I heard that was beautiful place , what happened to it ?? Whats the camping like now at Mitchell Falls cheers ...p.s I once owned a Sandman now I am feeling old ha ha ha
FollowupID: 862925

Follow Up By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 19:31

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 19:31
Excepting a major flood event down the Pentecost, the crossing on the GRR is tidal. If water too high wait till the tide runs out.

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Reply By: wendys - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 16:57

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 16:57
Jacks Waterhole has not been campground for several years now. Pity.
Nearest to it now is Home Valley, which is a fairly big operation - indigenous owned. They have a formal camping ground by the reception, bar, dining, swimming pool area. They have a "bush" campground out on the (high) banks of the Pentecost - views to die for along the river to the Cockburn Range. Great at sunset. When the tide is out, plenty of big crocs sunbaking on the mudflats. Toilets, showers, some roofed shelters out there. Recommend.
Be there before about mid June. Too crowded after that, then too hot and dusty after crowds go.
Kalumburu not as busy as Gibb - but road can be worse, too. The two campgrounds out of Kalumburu - McGowans and Honeymoon Bay - can be variable in quality from year to year, depending on who is running the show, but we have found McGowans to be a bit better.
AnswerID: 594508

Follow Up By: Stephen F2 - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 18:25

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 18:25
Hi thanks Wendy is HV the homestead where you could get the only fuel and the store only open couple hrs a day.What about camping at Mitchell Falls ,we just free camped back in 97 cheers
FollowupID: 862926

Follow Up By: wendys - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 20:14

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 20:14
HV used to be a private family place - I think it may have offered morning teas etc. Not sure about fuel or a store there in the past. Think it was Sinnamon family??? We camped at Jacks Waterhole in 2000 and I think the property had gone to indigenous ownership by then. One flood too many and it was not re-opened. I had not visited Home Valley before 2007.
Fuel - Mt Barnett, and I think Home Valley and El Questro on the Gibb. Drysdale River and Kalumburu andsometimes at McGowans - cheaper than Kalumburu. Was Imintji Store at the western end of Gibb but it closed last year. Don't know about this year.
About March, contact Derby or Kununurra Info Centre - they put out a useful brochure on the Gibb etc - updated each year, which is necessary: fuel, camping, gas, stores etc.
Mitchell Falls is Nat Park campground - small fee. Toilets. Water from specified area of creek.
If you want some worthwhile but not as well known places to camp and explore, I recommend Mornington and Charnley River. A friend who travels with us went to Mt Hart last year and said it was worth the trip in.
Be warned - the days of free camping on the Gibb are long gone. Just about every possible spot has No Camping signs. The land is either pastoral property or Nat Park or indigenous lands - not open to all comers. Too many campers in the past did the wrong things and stuffed it for later comers. This means that a trip through those parts is not cheap.
FollowupID: 862931

Follow Up By: Stephen F2 - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 15:45

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 15:45
Thanks for great info , much appreciated .Bit sad can not stop and camp at ones leisure.We used to explore areas and if getting near dark just pull up set up camp in nice spot ..I thought oneday be N.P. as when I was up there it was sort of free from any .Was all going to be mined for Bauxite but logistics stopped it going ahead , thank god they still have Helicopter flights .In all honesty I really despised them when I was there.Over Bungle Bungles I would say ok as large area and would not be so annoying if you hiking there ..cheers
FollowupID: 862985

Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 16:58

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 16:58
As Wendy says, Jack's Waterhole was closed after flood damage. Also about the No Camping. Because of past misdeeds, there is now no camping allowed at locations without a toilet.

Stephen, the distances are not great. There would be no real need to just pull over because it had been a long drive.

Home Valley Station do not sell fuel now. I can provide a list and the distances of all the current fuel outlets privately if requested.


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Reply By: Craig M1 - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 20:07

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 20:07
Hi Stephen
Large camping area at Mitchell falls camp ground. Plenty of trees and Drop toilets. It's a good 2 hr walk to the falls from the camp but an enjoyable one. Probably need a full day to do them any justice and longer if you really enjoy exploring.

We did the GRR In July/ August 2014. It was staring to dry out a bit so a little earlier could see the waterfalls a little better condition.
Good to avoid the school holidays if possible.
Check with Derby Main Roads to find out when grading is being carried out . They often give it a brush over just before the school holidays. It can make the journey a lot more comfortable .
Regards Craig
AnswerID: 594515

Reply By: My Aussie Travel Guide - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 20:49

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 20:49
It sounds like you have a soft spot for the Kimberley and some fond memories! Yes, as others have mentioned, Jacks Waterhole is a no go zone - I agree it was a magic spot. Still there are many great places if you take the time and look around. The Kalumburu Road will be worked on late this year, so don't expect it to be opened before late April. Try to visit the region as early as possible if you want to see falls flowing. There are no less than 20 gorges you can visit if you have the time so enjoy your trip. The biggest change you will notice from your last visit will be the road conditions. Much gentler these days.
AnswerID: 594557

Follow Up By: Stephen F2 - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 22:56

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 22:56
Thanks MATG yes I did some good exploring on foot in the Kimberleys.Tried climbing the ridge near Pentacost River the one in every ones photos, climbed over several gorges near El Questro my brother thought I died and most spectacular was the guy that ran the dodgy camp ground on coast at Kalumburu took us on a boat ride up King Edward River, Is that place still going on the coast there and why Jacks W.H . closed down ..?
FollowupID: 863009

Follow Up By: Linda B9 - Thursday, Jan 07, 2016 at 08:46

Thursday, Jan 07, 2016 at 08:46
Wow, the climb to the ridge would have been awesome...but a long way down! Magic views from the top I suspect. I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to at Kalumburu - there's 2 campgrounds that used to be run by John (passed away now) at McGowans Island and Les from Honeymoon Bay (he's still there). I can't say I've done a run up the King Edward via a tour as we've normally travelled with our own boat. Jack's Waterhole is located on Durack Station which now forms part of Home Valley Station (which wouldn't have been opened when you went through). Home Valley now comprises 3 stations - Bindoola, Durack and Karunjie Stations, and would be the largest in the Kimberley (or close to) - it's a station run by the Indigenous Land Corporation and is a training ground for stockmen and those wanting to get into hospitality. Definitely worth the effort to stop for a night or two here. I agree with you that years ago you would camp anywhere by Mitchell Falls - not these days. Unless you plan on doing multiple works at Mitchell, you might consider camping at King Edward River (on Mitchell Falls track) and doing a day trip to Mitchell Falls. It's less crowded and a beaut campground. At either place, you'll need to pay a fee for. Linda.
FollowupID: 863022

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