Kununurra – the gateway to Kimberley

Kununurra - Kelly's Knob

Welcome to Kununurra

It was July and we were in the middle of the tourist season. We could see thousands of silver foxes with their polished caravans. All caravan parks were packed. 

Kununurra is a final stop for any traveller before heading to the Kimberley region. It is a small town with a population of 5000 people. It has just a few streets, several mango farms in the background, two grocery stores and three caravan parks.

Kununurra - Kelly's Lookout
Kununurra – Kelly’s Lookout

There are many attractions around Kununurra and this is why it is so crowded here. First, because, everybody is starting their trip to Kimberly or resting after completing it. Secondly, Kununurra is a really good stop for seeing things around. The region offers Bungle Bungle (Purnululu National Park), Mirima National Park, Lake Argyle (see our previous post about Lake Argyle), Ord River cruises, Lake Kununurra, fishing and more.

Finding a spot

We were very optimistic to choose a caravan park near the lake but there were no vacancies. 


Hema’s HX-2 Navigator

Explore Australia with Hema’s HX-2 Navigator, the ultimate GPS system for on and off-road navigation.

Hema HX-2 Navigator

In the second and third attempts, we heard the same answer. Eventually, after another run, we softened the heart of one of the receptionists and got a spot for one night. 

I should mention that our caravan park was full of fruit bats. They were everywhere and the odour was intense. Welcome to Kununurra!

Kununurra - Baob Trees
Kununurra – Baob Trees

We were hoping we could stay for a day or two to see all the interesting places. This would get us some time to buy extra food (we have to leave some on the WA border), but we had to cut it short.

Ivanhoe Crossing

The next day, we went to the Ivanhoe Crossing and later on to Kelly’s Knob lookout.

Ivanhoe Crossing is famous for its picturesque scenery. Also, It is a very wide, bitumen crossing over Ord River and pretty dangerous too, as the river current can be really strong. It’s not uncommon for cars to be washed away to the river.

Ivanhoe Crossing
Ivanhoe Crossing

Unfortunately, the crossing was closed due to the high level of water flowing into the river from the dam. 

We stood there and watched people catching fish. Nell immediately started undressing because she wanted to take a swim. Obviously, there is no swimming there as saltwater crocodiles live there.

In the evening, to our surprise, we were able to book additional nights in our caravan park. That was lucky!

Kelly’s Knob Lookout

Kelly’s Knob 360 degrees lookout is located very close to town. There is a 1.2 km walk to the top of the hill. Some parts of the trail were more challenging but we managed it nicely. 

We picked the right time to go to the lookout as it was close to sunset. From the top, we could see the township, Ord River, and Elephant Rock in a distance.

Kununurra - Kelly's Knob
Kununurra – Kelly’s Knob

Mirima National Park

We bought a monthly pass to WA national parks and set off on a trail that took us today to Mirima National Park. It begins on the outskirts of Kununurra. According to its description, this is a foretaste of Bungle Bungles. 

Mirima National Park is small, but it has fascinating rock formations. Why? Because once upon a time, millions of years ago, these were huge dunes, which then turned into sandstone with a very interesting colour. (stripes of lighter and darker rock arranged alternately).

Mirima National Park
Mirima National Park

We walked around and admired the views. On the way, we met friendly faces whom we had seen from time to time since we left Darwin. 

Interestingly, often while walking on tracks, we meet people from our previous destinations. This happens because in dry season most tourists travel in the same direction so there is a good chance we see constantly the same people.

Mirima National Park
Mirima National Park

Tomorrow we will leave the trailer behind and go camping with a tent to Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles).

On the way to Bungle Bungles

The whole 245 km road from Kununurra to Turkey Creek Roadhouse was very picturesque. The ranges of the red mountains were getting closer and then moving away from us. 

We again had another large object on the road and this time it was a boat. We followed it for 30 km, hoping they would not turn towards Broome, but unfortunately, that was wishful thinking. There was a 130 km ride at a slow pace ahead of us.

Driving to Turkey Creek Roadhouse
Driving to Turkey Creek Roadhouse to leave our trailer for the Bungle Bungles trip

Marius decided to ask them on the radio if there is a chance we could overtake them. It turned out that the guys wanted to let us go a long time ago. They called us on the radio a long time ago and flashed the lights. 

However, we were so busy complaining about their slowness that we didn’t even notice it, and the radio was not even turned on…

Travel Spiced Life

Turn on your radio on channel 40 when you want to talk to the truck driver

Turkey Creek Roadhouse – leaving the trailer

We got to the Roadhouse around noon and left the trailer behind. We just turned on the refrigerator running on gas and we were ready to go.

Our trailer was safe in Turkey Creek Roadhouse
Our trailer was safe in Turkey Creek Roadhouse

We decided the best way to tackle Bungle Bungles was to leave our heavy camper trailer behind and go only with the car. This way we could drive the dirt track easily and for the night we would use only our tent with basic camping equipment. We were happy to sleep in a tent for a change. 

The Bungle Bungles track condition could be challenging and large trailers are not allowed to enter. Our trailer was theoretically suitable for such routes, but we decided there was no need to take it with us.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is it possible to climb Elephant Rock?

Yes, it is possible to climb Elephant Rock. However, there is no marked track to follow. Instead, you have to find your own way. The only climbing instructions I found were on theCrag website.

Also, note that after the wet season and due to its natural erosion the climbing condition may change so do it at your own risk.

Are there saltwater crocodiles in Lake Kununurra?

Lake Kununurra should not have any saltwater crocodiles. However, occasionally during the wet season, they travel as the water level is much higher. 

Rangers often trap and relocate them so Lake Kununurra can be a safe place for sailing, rowing, and skiing.

If you spot a saltwater crocodile in Lake Kununurra you can report it directly to the Parks and Wildlife Kununurra or the East Kimberley District Wildlife Officer.

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4WD Equipment Checklist

GPS Navigator or compass

Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction

Tire Deflator – deflate tires quickly when going on dirt or 4WD

Air Compressor – inflate tires quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)

Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)

UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency

Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road

High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks

Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking

Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places

Additional fuel canisters

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