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Great Northern Highway

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Traversing the rugged wilderness that is the Kimberley, this 7-9 day itinerary along the Great Northern Highway will take you on an outback adventure you will never forget. Journeying through immense gorges and dramatic cave systems, to vast lakes and awe-inspiring landmarks millions of years in the making, this is the wild adventurer road trip you’ve been dreaming of.

Travel

8 days


Route

Broome to Broome

km


Best Time of the Year

May to October

Highlights

  • Geikie Gorge
  • Mimbi Caves
  • Fitzroy Crossing
  • Purnululu National Park
  • Kununurra
  • Lake Argyle 

The Journey

Days

1 3 4 5 6 7 8

Day 1
Broome to Fitzroy Crossing

Distance 396km - Driving Time 5 hours

As this route is best travelled by 4WD, opt for a 4WD camper in Broome, and then head east out onto the open road. There is the option to take a detour through Derby, where you can refuel and load up on supplies, however, this will add to your time on the road. Alternatively, drive straight through to Fitzroy Crossing, where you’ll spend the next two nights either in town, or closeby.

Fitzroy Crossing is a true outback town, best known for the access it provides to nearby Devonian National Parks: Tunnel Creek National Park, Windjana Gorge National Park, and Geikie Gorge National Park. Given their proximity to each other, you may want to explore Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge together on Day 2, and perhaps Geiki Gorge on its own today.

Uncover spectacular Geikie Gorge National Park on foot through a range of trails and walks, take a leisurely boat tour (these are organised by the Department of Parks and Wildlife and run from May to October), or learn more about local Indigenous culture on an Indigenous tour, taking in such fascinating subjects as bush tucker and bush medicine. Keep an eye out for ancient fossils and native wildlife – including freshwater crocodiles – as you explore the area.

Day 3
Firzroy Crossing to Purnululu National Park

Distance 440km - Driving Time 5 hours

Leaving Fitzroy Crossing, take time to stop in at Mimbi Caves before you journey on to Purnululu. Perhaps one of the Kimberley’s best kept secrets, Mimbi Caves are situated on Gooniyandi land, at the foot of the Emmanuel Ranges. Take a tour of this vast subterranean labyrinth to find out more about its geological and cultural significance, keeping an eye out for fossils and Aboriginal rock art.

The next day or so will be spent exploring Purnululu National Park, home to the breathtaking Bungle Bungle Range. You may choose to camp on the outskirts of the national park, or within it. The Parks and Wildlife Service operate two campgrounds within the park, with Walardi closer to the Cathedral and Piccaninny gorges and the Domes Walk, and Kurrajong closer to the Echidna Chasm, Mini Palms and Homestead Valley trails.

Day 4
Purnululu National Park

As you venture into Purnululu National Park today, you will see exactly why this captivating destination has earned its place on the National and World Heritage lists. At the southern end of the park is the Bungle Bungle Range. Also known as the Bungle Bungles, this spellbinding landmark is made up of a maze of orange and black striped karst sandstone domes, which are often likened to giant beehives.

Echidna Chasm, in the northern end of the park, is another of the park’s highlights, showing off striking colour variations within its long, narrow chasm that change depending on the angle of the sun. Before setting out to visit either of these landmarks, pop into the Visitor Centre to get all the essential info on walking trails and scenic driving tracks. A scenic plane or helicopter tour is also well worth considering.

Day 5
Purnululu to Lake Argyle

Distance 360km - Driving Time 4 hours 30 mins

Back in the camper, head north to Lake Argyle, where you can choose to spend one or two nights, depending on your schedule. Set within the rugged Kimberley landscape, this vast freshwater lake is abundant in wildlife, offering an idyllic setting for those seeking peace and seclusion. Created by the Ord River Dam, it is one of the largest man-made lakes in the southern hemisphere, holding a staggering 10.7 billion cubic litres of water at full supply level. It’s so big, in fact, it’s classified as an inland sea.

During your stay, be sure to check out the lake’s many activities. Take a wildlife cruise to uncover a wonderful variety of native fauna, including its 240 species of birds, which make up almost one third of Australia’s total known species. Bushwalking trails and mountain bike tracks offer an alternative way to see the lake, with the option to throw a line in from shore or boat, or you could have a crack at water-skiing.

Day 6
Lake Argyle to Halls Creek

Distance 430km - Driving Time 4 hours 30 mins

From Lake Argyll, you are a short drive from Kununurra. From there, you have the option to traverse the iconic Gibb River Road back to Broome, or join up with our Savannah Way itinerary, which will take you through Katherine, Undara Volcanic National Park and on to Cairns.

Otherwise, it’s time to head back the way you came, stopping this time at Halls Creek. Essentially a stopover point for travellers, Halls Creek offers a campsite in town, but many travellers choose to camp out of town in its magnificent surrounds.

Day 7
Halls Creek to Derby

Distance 530km - Driving Time 5 hours 30 mins

From one small service town to another, your final night on this journey will be spent in Derby. Best known as the western gateway to the Gibb River Road, Derby does in fact have its own charms. From here you can discover the incredibly remote Buccaneer Archipelago, a scattering of 1,000 rocky islands home to the only horizontal falls in the world. Best explored on a boat or helicopter tour, this exceedingly unusual natural wonder demonstrates just how powerful the tides in the Kimberley can be.

While in Derby, visit the Boab Prison Tree, a 1,500 year old boab tree that was once used as an overnight lockup for prisoners, to then investigate more of the town’s history, taking the Pigeon Heritage Trail, or visiting Wharfinger’s House Museum or Mowanjum Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre. Be sure to visit Derby Jetty to see the huge variation between high and low tide, as well as the outlying mangroves, which attract over 210 bird species including migratory waders.

Day 8
Derby to Broome

Distance 200km - Driving Time 2 hours

A short drive will take you and your camper back to Broome, where you can kick back and relax as you discover – or re-discover – the many wonders of this tropical paradise.