The Kimberley is one of the
nine regions of
Western Australia, consisting of the local government
Broome, Derby-West Kimberley, Halls Creek and Wyndham-East
Kimberley. It is located in the northern part of
bordered on the west by the Indian Ocean, on the north by the Timor Sea,
on the south by the Great Sandy and Tanami Deserts, and on the east by the
Northern Territory. It covers an area of 424,517 km2, which is about twice
the size of England.
The population of the Kimberley is only about 38,000, but this figure is
growing at a rate of 4.8% per year, around three times the state average.
The population is fairly evenly distributed, with only three towns having
populations in excess of 2,000:
Broome, Derby and Kununurra. About half of
the region's population are of Aboriginal descent.
The Kimberley has a tropical monsoon climate. During the "wet season",
from November to April, the region receives about 90% of its rainfall, and
cyclones are common especially around
Broome. The annual rainfall,
however, is highest in the northwest, where Kalumburu averages 1270mm (50
inches) per year, and lowest in the southeast where it is around 520mm (20
inches). In the "dry season", from May to October, south easterly breezes
bring sunny days and cool nights. In the Devonian, there was a barrier
reef system in the Kimberley, similar to the
The Kimberley was one of the earliest settled parts of Australia, with the
first arrivals landing about 40,000 years ago from the islands of what is
now Indonesia. European settlement started around 1885, when cattle were
driven across Australia from the eastern states in search of good pasture
lands. Many other Europeans arrived soon after, when gold was discovered
around Halls Creek.
Other industries have included pearling, diamond mining (including the
Argyle diamond mine which produces about one third of the world's
diamonds), agriculture (more recently centred on the Ord River Irrigation
Area near Lake Argyle) and tourism.
The Kimberley is a popular tourist destination, with areas such as:
Bungle Bungle - Purnululu is
the name given to the sandstone area of the Bungle Bungle Range by the
people. The name means sandstone or may be a corruption of bundle grass.
The range, lying fully within the park, has elevations as high as 578
metres above sea level. It is famous for the sandstone domes, unusual and
visually striking with their striping in alternating orange and grey
bands. The banding of the domes is due to differences in clay content and
porosity of the sandstone layers: the orange bands consist of oxidised
iron compounds in layers that dry out too quickly for cyanobacteria to
multiply; the grey bands are composed of cyanobacteria growing on the
surface of layers of sandstone where moisture accumulates.
Gibb River Road - The Gibb
River Road stretches some 660 kilometers between the Western Australian
town of Derby and the Kununurra and Wyndham junction of the Great Northern
Highway. The majority of the road
is unsealed and should be attempted only with a 4WD vehicle. The road is
often closed during the wet season, which is typically November through
March. The road was voted 4th best in the world by The Guardian Newspaper.
Attractions along the Gibb River road include Windjana Gorge National
Park, Tunnel Creek National Park, and the El Questro Wilderness Park.
Lake Argyle (16°19′S 128°43′E)
is Australia's largest artificial lake (by area), part of the Ord River
Scheme, near the East Kimberley (Western Australia) town of Kununurra,
located on the Kimberley Plateau. The main channel of the Ord River (dark,
meandering feature) north of the lake is visible as it drains northward,
eventually emptying into the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf. The Ord and Bow Rivers
that flow into the southern end of the lake are difficult to discern. Low,
folded mountains can be identified east and west of this river valley.
The construction of the dam was completed in 1972. The Ord River dam is
335 metres long, and 98 metres
The earth-fill only dam wall at Lake Argyle is the most efficient dam in
Australia in the ratio of the size of the dam wall to the amount of water
Lake Argyle normally has a surface area of about 1,000 square kilometres.
The storage capacity, to the top of the spillway, is 10,763,000 megalitres.
The lake filled to capacity in 1973, and the spillway flowed until 1984.
Since then, there has been insufficient wet season rainfall to bring the
lake up to its designed capacity. Lake Argyle's usual storage volume is
5,797,000 megalitres, making it the second largest reservoir in Australia
(the combined Lake Gordon/Lake Pedder in
Tasmania is the largest.) At
maximum flood level, the lake would hold 35 million megalitres of water
and cover a surface area of 2,072 square kilometres.
Lake Argyle (together with Lake Kununurra) is part of the Ord River
irrigation scheme. There are currently some 150 square kilometres of
farmland under irrigation in the East Kimberly region.
The damming of the Ord River has caused major changes to the environment.
Flows to the Ord River have been severely reduced. Within Lake Argyle
itself a thriving new eco-system has developed. The lake is now home to 26
species of native fish and a population of freshwater crocodiles currently
estimated at some 25,000. The damming of the Ord River also turned a
number of low lying ridges into islands. Crocodiles can sometimes be seen
on these islands along with a number of birds.
Horizontal Falls also called
Horizontal Waterfalls are a natural phenomenon in the
Western Australia, in Australia. Despite their name, the
Horizontal Falls aren't actual waterfalls but a very fast moving tidal
flow between two narrow gorges located in Talbot Bay (16°22′59″S,
123°57′29″E et 16°22′35″S, 123°57′34″E). Each of these gorges is 12 metres
wide and water stores up on one side faster that it can empty, giving rise
to a couple of metres-high height difference in the sea level between both
sides of the gorges. The direction of the flow reverses with each turning
Cape Leveque (16°23′S 122°55′E)
is the northernmost tip of the
Peninsula in the Kimberley region
Western Australia. The region - 220 km by road north of
- is remote, with
few facilities. Nevertheless, the Cape's sandy beaches are attracting
increasing numbers of visitors.
The Gibb River Road and the road into the Bungle Bungles can at times be
accessed in a two-wheel drive car, although one can access many additional
areas in a four-wheel drive vehicle.