THINGS TO DO: CAMPING | BEACHES | SURFING | WALKING
Bush Camping is a must in the Kimberley to be able to truly appreciate the wide expanses and the fresh air. Don’t forget access may be limited to many locations during, and for some time after the wet season, due to hazardous road conditions.
The Dampier Peninsular has several campsite locations. Most are not powered and with limited or no camping facilities – only an option for the self-sufficient camper. Alternatives to ‘bush camps’ can also be found on the Peninsular, from a basic cabin to the ultimate in luxury camping. There is something for everyone. As a large proportion of the Peninsular is Aboriginal land you may need a permit to enter some areas. No matter where you go, treat all places as though they were your home and the home of your ancestors.
The infamous Gibb River Road, which is between Derby and the Wyndham turn off, is 640km of mostly unsealed roads and stunning scenery. Now less of a track, the road, during peak season is more of a highway for 4WD enthusiasts. Camping is only permitted at designated locations, found mostly at the National and Conservation Parks located near the track. Please obey the rules of the bush, take your rubbish with you, tread lightly, use gas cookers, toilet appropriately and, respect, for what its worth, a truly iconic wilderness adventure.
Several of the Kimberley National Parks and Conservation Parks accommodate campers. These include; Windjana Gorge National Park, King Leopold Range Conservation Park, Purnululu National Park, Wolf Creek Crater and Mitchel River National Park. Access and camping facilities vary, so contact the closest Department of Environment and Conservation office for more information.
Cable Beach is the mecca for many; 22km of pristine white sands, perfect conditions day in, day out. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was Broome; camels, wide white beaches and awesome sunsets. But there’s plenty more to see:
Town Beach is ideal for the kids. Opening into the Bay, its waters rarely even ripple. With a park and café nearby, you’re set for the day. During the dry season for about three days every month the moon rises over Roebuck Bay leaving a serene reflection on the mudflat sheen. This is known locally as ‘Staircase to the Moon’. Locals and tourists don’t ever seem to tire of this image which is something special. Most Staircase evening’s markets are held at Town Beach selling food and local products.
Around 360km south of Broome, Eighty Mile Beach is another ‘wow’ factor; more pristine white sands, perfect conditions and pleasantly remote.
But postcard beaches aren’t everything. Head up the Peninsular or to Entrance Point or Gantheume Point and enjoy a different coastal experience. Many of these beaches provide great rock hopping and awesome contrasts of white sands and red cliffs along side vivid blue waters. Meander about the rock pools and peer under the rock ledges. They are teeming with life. The colours and the critters will entertain you for hours. Tread with caution; and look, don’t poke. Many of these animals have some form of defence and you don’t want them to test it on you.
Authentic dinosaur footprints can also be seen at Gantheume Point and near Crab Creek on a low tide. Millions of years old, they are a gentle reminder of our short time on this earth.
Don’t forget, from October to April, irrikanji jellyfish are more common, in particular, in the Bay. It must be stressed, that jelly fish are not limited to these months, but records suggest they are more prevalent during these times.
Whether you are launching a boat, setting up a picnic or going rock hopping, check the tide chart first! Don’t be caught unawares.
Dogs are allowed on Cable Beach south of the Surf Club only. Dogs must be kept on lead until approximately 200m south of the stairs (look for the sign). Dog-poo bags are usually provided, if in doubt, bring your own. Use them! “The tide will take it away” is an irresponsible and unacceptable excuse.
Though not renown for its surf, Broome’s beaches can be epic on their day. During the wet season an offshore cyclone will generate fantastic swell. The offshore wind and large (up to 3m) clean waves will motivate even the most lethargic of surfers. Cyclone surf can last from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the speed and direction at which the cyclone is moving.
The dry season months aren’t without their fun. From May to August classic surf is generated by winter storms in distant southern oceans. These days will have blue skies, perfect temperatures and clean waves up to 2 meters. If you have always wanted to this is the time to learn to surf.
The best location is Cable Beach just north of the Surf Club (south of the rocks), but if it gets too crowded (unlikely!) waves can also be found elsewhere along the 20 or so kilometers of Cable Beach. Cable Beach surf makes for interesting times as the massive 9 meter tides constantly change the banks. As conditions can change so rapidly, keep an eye on our web cam for current conditions.
Obey the surf rules and you’ll find Broome surfer’s very accepting, unlike other locations where localism is rife. Don’t forget, particularly during the months of October to April, to protect yourself from irrikanji stingers.
Long distance tracks with or without camping facilities are not provided for around Broome. The town is surrounded either by water or pastoral stations, which foil such an undertaking. Moreover, the availability of drinking water, limited access, the extreme climate and the remoteness of the area are not conducive to the set up of walk trails such as we see in the east and south of Australia.
However, Broome does have ‘Minyirr Park’, which remains somewhat a hidden treasure. Tucked away behind the sand dunes in a unique vine thicket ecosystem (declared as a threatened ecological community in 2001), created largely by specific drainage and topography conditions, you will find a cool, lush and vibrant ecosystem. The Park has numerous walk trails throughout the dunes and bushland. Minyirr, meaning ‘birthplace’, is of great cultural significance to the local Aboriginal people who believe the Park site is where Aboriginals were created.
Many short and longer walks are available in the region’s National and Conservation Parks. Enquire at closest Department of Environment and Conservation office for more information.