Kimberley for two grey nomads

My folks, both about 70 want to go to the Kimberley. Both are moderately fit but would struggle with walking tracks that are too rocky or slippery. They are hiring a hilux 4wd camper. They are hoping to go to the Bungle Bungle, and Gibb River Rd. Which stops would you recommend on the GRR that gives them a taste of the Kimberley. Thanks for any suggestions. Tim
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 16:00

Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 16:00
From someone in a similar age bracket to your folks - tell them to just get out and do it. Neither the Bungles nor the Kimberley will present them with any great difficulties, even the walk out to Mitchell Falls is quite doable if you start early in the cool of the morning.

Have a look in our blogs for 2008 for further details.

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Member - Don & Kathie M (TAS) - Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 16:25

Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 16:25
We too are in a similar age bracket and agree with Val: particularly about starting any walks early in the morning. We wish them good luck.

Cheers, Kathie
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Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 16:30

Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 16:30
Hi Tim

While we are not the same age as your folks, it is an experience that no Australian should miss. We got fitter by the day on all the walks, and were out walked and out swum by people years our senior. Some tracks are a bit stony - eg the start of the track to Bells Falls, but most are not challenging. On El Questro, it is quite a long uphill walk to the gorgeous Emma Gorge, and we met a man with knee braces and on two walking sticks, going across some quite big rocks slowly, while the rest of his group had forged ahead. He WOULD make it OK he assured me.

The walk to Mitchell Falls is quite long (helicopter taxi is an easy alternative which we used for the return). When we were almost there, into the heat of the day. i was feeling the heat and a bit fuzzy. Where you have to walk across the top of Mertens Falls on stepping stones, we met a tour groups starting the return walk. The tour guide was helping a lady who appeared very frail aged acrobatics the rocks, while her also looking 90 ish man was managing on his own.

If they start the walks early to avoid the heat, take their time and watch their feet they will return far fitter and healthier.

Purnululu walks are not difficult, although one of the northern section walks has a way to go up a stony creek bed which i found hard on the legs. The walk not to miss is the Cathedral walk in the southern section and that is not challenging.

We too toured the GRR and Kimberley in 2008 and have blogs of it all here. Have a look, and i welcome further questions if any clarification or more detail is required.

Motherhen
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Reply By: Member - mickmci - Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 19:04

Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 19:04
Go for it, your a long time dead. and short time alive. If you have an ounce of common sense, and it sounds like you do or you wouldn't be asking questions then there are no problems you cannot overcome by asking questions along the route and preparing your van/car b4 you go. Join in as many happy hours as you can on the way thats how to learn

Go for it

Mick
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Reply By: Kris and Kev - Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 23:06

Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 23:06
The Kimberley is a massive area. Even just the areas along and off the Gibb River Road (GRR) is huge. So it all depends on how long they are planning to go for. We did the trip last year going from Kununurra along the sealed highway to Broome and then back via the GRR. Just doing the GRR took us 4 weeks and although it is only about 640 k’s long, we did over 3,000 k’s. We could have taken longer. It is just an amazing area. There are very few places, if any, where they will be alone. So just get them to go and take it as it comes. They will meet lots of people who will advise them of the best suited walks. We did most and are far from fit. We meet lots aged over 70 doing all of the walks. Kevin
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Reply By: vk1dx - Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 08:13

Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 08:13
Similar ages here also. Go for it and use their own common sense about walking.

Just be aware that there is a condition in the books for hiring 4WDs and going on dirt etc roads. We were going to hire and then checked the conditions. We could not get any guarantee that we could go on to the Gibb River Road until the day before pickup. Understandable, but it put at risk our trip.

Imagine getting there and the hire company said no to dirt roads. But the roads are officially open. What do you do then? Risk the insurance or go home. Lend them your car or tell them to do what we did - buy one.

Our son had an accident with bloke in a a hire 4wd on Cape York on the Tele Track. Bloke was not supposed to be on the tele track, thus NO insurance. It cost him thousands for all repairs to BOTH cars and all legal costs.

Phil
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Reply By: getmethehelloutahere - Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 09:47

Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 09:47
Thanks for the replies. They are going for about 3-4 weeks so plenty to see in a short time. Sounds like the trick is to walk and drive according to the conditions and your limitations. The hire car issue is a bit of a worry, but that is their only option at this stage. I will pass on the comments. Thanks, Tim.
AnswerID: 479378

Reply By: Member - Min (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 11:22

Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 at 11:22
Advise your folks to invest in a good walking stick each (from outdoor shop, not regular ones). I had one for years and hardly used it but once I started I realised how good it was in assisting me over rocks and through creeks. It's important not to rush through the rougher places and pick up the pace when it's easier.

Regarding the GRR, have a look at good big paper map and you will see that the sights are off the road. You don't just drive up to lookouts.

I agree about the Mitchell helicopter to come back - a great innovation. Book when you arrive at the campground. On the walk out to the falls there is one place where the track passes through a rock shelf. It is very narrow and a BIG step. If you turn left immediately after that point you are rewarded with a huge overhang covered in Aboriginal art.

Talk to others along the way especially folk who have been in one spot for a day or two before you.

Can't wait to get back there.

Min

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Reply By: Karen G2 - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 09:38

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 09:38
Just be careful of the rocks in the waterholes. We found nearly all of them to be slippery, from Mitchell Plateau to El Questro. My husband(late 30's) actually slipped and broke his thumb first day into our Kimberley trip. If they're aware and take their time, they'll be fine. The swimming up there is fantastic!

Manning Gorge has a good swimming hole very close to the campground, with easy access. They even have a tinny, tyre tubes, pool noodles etc.. there to help you float. The walk to the falls themselves is very long and hot, with a big rock ledge to get down, then up, at the end, but very worthwhile.

Windjana Gorge is an easy walk in to see the freshwater crocodiles(about 80+ of them).

If they want to take on the corrugations of the Kalumburu Road and head up to the Mitchell Plateau, there are several rock art sites along from the King Edward River crossing that show some great examples of Bradshaw and Wandjina art. Very easy access too. Ask the ranger or caretaker at the campground for directions.

There is a lot of history around Derby. The boab prison tree, old Derby gaol, Myall's bore etc... and the Horizontal Falls tours leave from Derby too. The best cafe (in our opinion) in the Kimberley is also there- the Windmill cafe, behind the ANZ.

The lookout along from Home Valley, looking over the Cockburn Range?,especially at sunset, is spectacular. No walking involved. Home Valley, while very expensive, run a lot of organised tours that might get them easier access to some typical Kimberley spots.

Zebedee Springs at El Questro is magic, and very hard to leave. Just make sure if they go there, that they are there well before 12noon, as that is when the general public are kicked out for the tour groups and special Homestead guests.

They'll have no trouble in the Bungle Bungles. They are easy to get around, and are absolutely amazing.

We ran out of time and didn't do this, but the Geike Gorge near Fitzroy Crossing, is supposed to be beautiful.

There are so many beautiful places in the Kimberley. They'll have a great time. Just to see the boabs and wildflowers alone is worth it.

Cheers
Karen
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Follow Up By: getmethehelloutahere - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 17:29

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 17:29
great, thanks Karen, I will pass it on
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Reply By: wendys - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 16:04

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 16:04
Bungles: they should be able to manage the walk to The Cathedral and, with care, Echidna Gorge. A helicopter flight from the Bellburn camp area, if they can afford it, would also be good.
Gibb: suggested stays to get a good sample: El Questro - try to get one of the "private" riverfront camp areas. Home Valley - the campground overlooking the Pentecost River. Mt Barnett - Manning River campground.
Take Kalumburu road to King Edward River camping area, then track to Mitchell Plateau if it is not too rough. As others have suggested, early morning walk to Mitchell Falls and helicopter back.
Mornington campground gives access to the northern part of the mighty Fitzroy River - they can drive to both Diamond Gorge and Sir John Gorge. Can hire canoe there too, if that interests them - not hard paddling.
Then Winjana Gorge. Drive through to Fitzroy Crossing and take the boat trip up through Geicke Gorge.
At the Kununurra end, they should do the boat trip up the Ord River to Argyle Dam - this can be combined with sunset cruise on the dam and then bus trip back to Kununurra.
Drive up to Five Rivers Lookout at Wyndham for spectacular view.
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Follow Up By: getmethehelloutahere - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 17:31

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 17:31
Very useful info, thanks.
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 18:48

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 18:48
There is a heap of good info on this website here

Cheers,

Val
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
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Follow Up By: Karen G2 - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 19:33

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 19:33
I'll second this website. Lots of valuable information. This website and Birgit's book, along with Ron and Viv Moon's book 'The Kimberley: an adventurer's guide' were a big help in planning our trip last year.
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