• Fri. Sep 23rd, 2022

Kununurra, Western Australia, travel guide and things to do: Nine highlights

ByKeith M. Jones

Sep 8, 2022

THE ONLY ACCOMMODATION

Kununurra’s newest and chicest apartments, Freshwater East Kimberley Apartments, is a low-rise complex of stylish studios and self-catering apartments with an inviting outdoor swimming pool. Conveniently located near the airport and city center, this 4.5-star resort offers free airport transfers, free Wi-Fi and Foxtel. The apartments have full kitchens, but if you don’t feel like cooking, there’s an excellent restaurant at the Kimberley Grande Resort next door. See freshwaterapartments.net.au

THE ONLY INDIGENOUS EXPERIENCE

xxKununurra Kununurra WA;  text by Rob McFarland;  Handout image from Tourism Western Australia Image Library; Mandatory Credit: Tourism Western Australia; Waringarri Aboriginal Arts Centre, Kununurra

Photo: WA Tourism

Established in the late 1970s, Waringarri Aboriginal Arts is WA’s first all-Aboriginal arts centre. Today, its studios and galleries house more than 100 artists, from painters and sculptors to printmakers and boab engravers. The center also organizes excellent cultural tours with local guides from Miriwoong, including a hike through the spectacular sandstone gorge of Mirima National Park, a didgeridoo show at sunset and a bush food tasting. See waringarriarts.com.au

THE SINGLE VISIT

SatFeb25ElQuestro - El Questro - The Homestead the Kimberley's dining-over-chamberlain-gorge provided image

Located 110 kilometers west of Kununurra, El Questro is a 283,000 hectare slice of the majestic Kimberley wilderness. If you’re not lucky enough to stay (accommodation ranges from camping to the swanky 10-bedroom Homestead), you can still explore the property on a full-day tour from Kununurra. Highlights include hiking Emma Gorge, swimming in the thermal waters of Zebedee Springs, and marveling at 1.8 billion years of geological history on a Chamberlain Gorge cruise . See elquestro.com.au

THE ONLY BOAT TRIP

When the River Ord was dammed in 1971, it created Australia’s largest man-made lake, a vast inland sea twenty times larger than Sydney Harbour. Learn about Lake Argyle, the River Ord Irrigation System, and the diverse ecosystem it supports on an exhilarating high-speed boat tour with Triple J Tours. During the 55 kilometer blast between Kununurra and the towering lake dam wall, watch out for crocodiles, sea eagles and nimble-footed rock wallabies. See triplejtours.com.au

THE SINGLE POINT OF VIEW

It’s a searing climb to the 191-meter-high summit, but the views, especially at sunset, are worth it. Located on the outskirts of Kununurra, Kelly’s Knob (Thegoowiyeng) offers a 360 degree panorama of the region. Notable landmarks include Mirima National Park (often called the mini-Bungle Bungles), Kununurra Lake, and the Sleeping Buddha rock formation. Less intrepid types can still enjoy the view from a lower, more accessible lookout near the parking lot. See visitkununurra.com

THE SINGLE SHOP

Although the Argyle Diamond Mine ceased operations at the end of 2020, you can still browse its rare pink gems (as well as other hues including yellow, blue and green) at Kimberley Fine Diamonds. The store specializes in bespoke jewelry that can cost half a million dollars, but there are also more affordable pieces, like the best-selling $10 “pink diamond” keychain (spoiler alert – it’s plastic). Look for inspirational owner Frauke Bolten-Boshammer – she’ll be the one in pink. See kimberleyfinediamonds.com.au

THE ONE DISTILLERY

The brainchild of self-taught farmer and distiller Raymond ‘Spike’ Dessert III, Hoochery Distillery is WA’s oldest operating distillery. It’s a homey, ramshackle establishment with swinging saloon-style doors, corrugated iron walls, and an eclectic art collection. Join one of the entertaining daily tours or sample a tasting palette of its award-winning rums, whiskies, gins and liqueurs – all made using “traditional, inefficient and labour-intensive techniques”. See hookery.com.au

THE ONLY RESTAURANT

Located in the Kununurra Country Club Resort, Kelly’s Bar & Grill is a versatile treat, offering everything from casual pizzas and pastas to prime tenderloin steaks with locally sourced scotch and barramundi. Sit outside on the terrace overlooking the pool or inside for easy access to the bar. Tip: leave room for the indulgent Charlotte pear dessert drizzled with chocolate sauce and Hoochery’s Cane Royale liqueur. See kununurracountryclub.com.au

THE ONLY SCENIC FLIGHT

Only from the air can you fully appreciate the epic canvas of winding rivers, towering escarpments and burnt orange gorges of the East Kimberley. HeliSpirit offers a range of exciting scenic flights, from a quick ride over Mirima National Park to a day trip to the incredible Bungle Bungle Range with a hike through the magnificent Cathedral Gorge. For better photos (and bragging rights), choose a tour in a doorless helicopter. See helispirit.com.au

ONE MORE THING

Kununurra is a popular starting point for one of Australia’s major outback 4×4 road trips, the 660 kilometer Gibb River Road between Wyndham and Derby. The old cattle drive route offers a succession of towering waterfalls, sun-scorched sinkholes and secluded swimming holes. Specialized operator RedSands Campers offers customized 4x4s with no one-way charges from its Kununurra depot. See redsandscampers.com

Rob McFarland was the guest of Tourism WA (westernaustralia.com).