Mitchell Falls

Kimberley is an ancient outpost in north-western Australia. With a fascinating landscape that seems unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs. Large sandstone boulders, crackled gravel roads in a deep red tone framed in by a quivering heat and a burning hot sun. But in fact, it is the water from the Mitchell River that shaped the landscape by slowly pushing its way through the rocks, carving out gorges and creating spectacular waterfalls. The area is well known for its extreme weather. The rainy season equals monsoon rivers, heavy rain gushing down from the skies. Roads are closed off and flooding is common. The dry season between May and September is therefore the best time to visit the area. By then, the waterfalls are back in full scale and the vegetation comes to life again.

The Kimberley’s biggest adventure is called the Gibb River Road and is a 6,600 km long drive between the towns of Derby and Kununurra in north-western Australia. It is a challenging car journey where patience and endurance are put to the test, both for vehicles and drivers. After a while, you leave the road, turning left towards Mitchell Falls which is one of Kimberley’s brightest shining stars. Perhaps it is precisely the remote location that makes the waterfall so special. Getting here requires a sense of purpose, time and sweat. It is a bumpy journey of 500 km north from Broome. Once you reach the campsite it is time for the car to rest and your body to do the work.

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Broome

Broome is a rough and ragged town at the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia, many, many kilometres from skyscrapers and the city’s concrete jungle. Broome was put on the map thanks to a thriving pearl industry in the late 1880s. Many Asians and Aboriginals had to put their lives on the line during the tough dives and many are now buried in the town’s cemetery. Pearls are still exported today but the work is now done on modern pearl farms. Tourism has increasingly taken over and Broome is growing fast. And that is not surprising. The surroundings showcase a wide range of different colours. Fine grained dust in ochre red, turquoise skies that seem to merge with the sea and milky white swamps lined with olive green mangroves. But also, exciting activities are tempting, such as camel riding at sunset, fishing or guided hikes where you can learn more about the area’s history.

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Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles)

Far north in Western Australia, almost on the border of the Northern Territory is Purnululu National Park. The park is known for the Bungle Bungle Range, a remarkable sandstone mountain range that is on UNESCO’s prestigious list of World Heritage-sites since 2003. This landmark is synonymous with the Kimberley. The Aboriginal people of Kija have lived here for over 20,000 years and named the place Purnululu, which means sandstone. The dome-shaped mountains have stood for millions of years and the rain has sculpted them into their present unique shape that resembles gigantic beehives. But it wasn’t until as late as 1983 that the area was put on the map, thanks to an Australian TV team visiting the area. When the film from the mountains was broadcasted to the world, the interest took speed. A few years later, Purnululu became a national park and shortly World Heritage-listed. Bungle Bungle and its horizontal stripes that shift in dark grey and a glowing orange, form an unusual mountain range. The sandstone domes get its streaks because of the different layers’ soil-composition and their porosity. The orange colour is rust coming from iron oxide while the grey shade is a result of bacteria forming a type of crust on the sandstone.

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Kimberley & Pilbara

In the Kimberley & Pilbara everything comes in large doses. The regions are synonymous with adventure. A grand desert is spreading far under a sky so great that it never seems to end. The landscape showcases extreme contrasts of intense colours. Turquoise water rinses on off-white sandy beaches. The sun burns the rusty red ground and the nearest settlement is hours away. Some chubby baobab trees line the gravel-roads and suddenly the ground opens, and deep ravines await. It is not surprising that places such as Kimberley for long have been a favourite among nature photographers.

The climate is harsh with two different seasons. Either it is bone-dry, or it is as wet as a drenched cat. And life in the area is hard. Nature can be merciless. Extreme droughts can lead to large forest fires. This is followed by monsoon rains and tropical storms with roads overflowing and closed for extended periods of time. A constant struggle exists between man and nature. Despite this, it is safe to travel through the area if you follow instructions and use common sense. But remember that there is no place for those seeking utmost comfort. Mobile coverage, TV and Internet are luxury and nothing to take for granted. The same applies to access to drinking water. The region is isolated and different and invites you to memorable experiences. The ancient landscape feels like the last outpost.

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Geraldton

The Batavia Coast lies at the middle part of Australia’s west coast, between Cervantes to the south and Kalbarri to the north. And with just over 40,000 inhabitants, Geraldton is the largest city in the area. Geraldton’s location is its greatest asset. The city is located where the flat farmland meets the sea, a sea which shifts in every imaginable shade of blue. It is a paradise for those who love water sports. All types of surfing are practiced, and not to forget, scuba diving is popular. Geraldton is an appreciated stop for those who drive along the West Coast. You can find everything you need here. There is plenty of food to stock up with and much to see and do. The city is a five-hours-drive north of Perth and is a welcome break during the long journey. It is said that the sun shines eight hours a day in Geraldton, which led to the city being nicknamed Sunshine City.

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Exmouth

At the top of Australia’s Coral Coast awaits the colourful Ningaloo Reef. A protected underwater treasure that is located about 1,200 km north of Perth at the pointy peninsula of Cape Range in Western Australia. The site is secluded, far away from large cities and urban development. But it is not impossible to get here. A rewarding car ride from Perth takes you through some of the country’s most beautiful and untamed places. Or choose the more comfortable but rather sadder route by domestic flights between Perth and the town of Learmonth in Exmouth’s immediate vicinity. Once in place, the reef is easily accessible. No hassle. Just swim straight out from the beach to see the coral spread out beneath the surface. The waters are full of life. More than 500 different species of fish and around 250 varieties of coral have been seen around Ningaloo Reef. In addition, the water is crystal clear and lukewarm, so this is a great place for snorkelling and scuba diving. You can spend long days in only your swimwear here. Ningaloo Reef is UNESCO World Heritage-listed and a little tropical paradise along the country’s west coast.

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Coral Coast

Pack the bags, rent a car and top-fill the fuel tank. Wave goodbye to Perth’s pulsating concrete jungle and get ready for an unforgettable ride along Western Australian’s magnificent Coral Coast. The Indian Ocean becomes your faithful companion. The waves crashes onto cream-coloured beaches that slowly changes in appearance. The broad North West Coastal Highway leads you steadily northwards through some of the country’s most exciting locations. The Coral Coast stretches over one thousand kilometres between Cervantes to the south and Exmouth to the north and consists of an eternally long stretch of coastline soaked in sunshine. In between, you travel through diverse landscapes. The farther north you get, the sparser the worn-out gas stations are scattered, by up to a few hours apart. On the roads are more tired professional drivers steering heavy trucks than there are motoring tourists with gigantic road maps. As soon as you cross the Tropic of Capricorn, the air becomes thicker and the temperature rises. Head to this part of Australia to experience deserted beaches and a breathtaking nature. The charm of the Coral Coast is that it is distant, deserted and untouched. Every evening you will enjoy stunning sunsets that redefine the word beautiful. When darkness emerges, put up your tent under the starry skies that sparkles like a handful of glitter.

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Kalgoorlie-Boulder

Like western movies? Then you have come to the right place. Few cities in Australia are as mythical as Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Intense red sand, one of the world’s largest gold deposits and a wide selection of pubs. No wonder the city got something of an iconic status. Kalgoorlie-Boulder is located 590 km east of Perth in the heart of Western Australia’s dusty Outback. The city has around 33,000 inhabitants and still attracts visitors and adventurer. Kalgoorlie was founded in 1893 after Irishman Patrick Paddy Hannan and his travel companions Thomas Flanagan and Dan Shea found gold during their journey. This marked the start of the area’s goldrush and the discovery of what is now called the Golden Mile, which is one of the richest deposits in the world.

In 1989, Kalgoorlie officially amalgamated with its neighbouring city of Boulder and the double name was a fact. Through the city runs dead-straight streets, wide enough for a company of camels to be able to turn, which was the means of transport used before motor transports came to be. There are many historic buildings left along the streets. The historic York Hotel was built in 1900 and is one of the city’s most famous buildings. In Kalgoorlie-Boulder you will find the Super Pit, an ugly rust-brown scar that has proven to be a literal goldmine. For a long time, Super Pit was the biggest, but during 2016, Boddington Gold mine took its place as number one. With its depth of 600 meters, Super Pit is still one of the world’s most powerful pits.

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Karajini National Park

With its 6,200 square kilometres, Karijini National Park is nothing but gigantic. Western Australia’s second largest national park lies 500 km east of Tom Price and 1,400 km north of Perth in the northwest corner of the country. Karijini is the Australia you’ve seen in the movies. A place with an intense red desert sand, off-white eucalyptus bark and bouncing kangaroos beneath a merciless sun. The national park is enormous and has a unique nature. The rocky landscape is built up in several layers looking like enormous piles of pancakes that has been turned and shaped over the years. Rolling hills protrude from the flat landscape and conceal unexpected treasures. Deep and wide gaps in the mountains fill up during the rainy season and create powerful waterfalls that gush and form icy freshwater lakes that provide coolness during the hottest days. Karijini is isolated and difficult to reach, but it is far from monotonous. The national park is a delight to the eye, like a kaleidoscope of colours.

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Around Margaret River

In Western Australia’s southwest corner lies Margaret River, the heart of the region. Three and a half hours south from Perth awaits this destination for friends of nature, food and drinks. The resort is small but is a good starting point for discovering the area’s vineyards. Margaret River has in a short time flourished to an exclusive wine region. After an agronomist compiled a report that pointed to similarities between the area and Bordeaux, the first vines were planted in 1967 by cardiac specialist Tom Cullity. Later, the area would grow to become the winery Vasse Felix. The summers’ eternal sunshine is followed by abundant rainfall during the winter months. This, combined with a soil of sand and gravel that allows plenty of water to run through, proved to be beneficial to wine production. And today, over 50 years later, there are over 200 wine producers around Margaret River of which a significant proportion are small-scale producers. Mainly Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon is produced but also Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Margaret River accounts for a few percent of Australia’s total wine production but produces a large proportion of the most exclusive wines.

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