Kununurra – the gateway to Kimberley

Kununurra - Kelly's Knob

Welcome to Kununurra

It was July, which is peak tourist season, and we could see thousands of travellers with their shiny caravans. All of the caravan parks were packed with people. Kununurra is a popular stopover for visitors before heading to the Kimberley region.

The town has a population of around 5,000 people and only a few streets. In the surrounding area, there are several mango farms, two grocery stores, and three caravan parks for visitors to choose from.

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

Town is a bustling tourist destination due to its many attractions. Firstly, it is a popular starting point for those embarking on a trip to the Kimberly region or a rest stop for those who have completed their journey. Secondly, Kununurra is an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area.

Visitors can explore the stunning Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park, the red landscapes of Mirima National Park, take a scenic cruise down the Ord River, visit Lake Kununurra, try their hand at fishing, and much more. In a previous post, we highlighted the beautiful Lake Argyle, which is also located nearby.


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Finding a spot

We had hoped to stay at a caravan park near the lake, but unfortunately, it was fully booked. After trying a few other parks with no success, we finally managed to secure a spot for one night after pleading with one of the receptionists.

However, our caravan park was full of fruit bats, which were present everywhere and produced a strong odor. Despite this, we were happy to have a place to stay and excited to explore the Kununurra.

Kununurra - Baob Trees
Kununurra – Baob Trees

We had hoped to stay for a day or two in order to explore all of the interesting places and stock up on extra food (as we had to leave some at the WA border), but unfortunately, our stay in Kununurra had to be cut short.

Ivanhoe Crossing

The following day, we decided to visit Ivanhoe Crossing and later on, we went to Kelly’s Knob lookout.

Ivanhoe Crossing is known for its picturesque scenery and is a wide, bitumen crossing over the Ord River.

Ivanhoe Crossing
Ivanhoe Crossing

However, it can also be dangerous as the river current can be very strong, and cars have been known to be washed away into the river. Unfortunately, when we arrived, we found that the crossing was closed due to the high level of water flowing into the river from the dam.

While we were there, we watched people fishing, and Nell, excited to take a swim, started undressing until we reminded her that saltwater crocodiles live in the area, so swimming was not allowed.

Later that evening, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that we were able to book additional nights at our caravan park. We were lucky to have found a spot!

Kelly’s Knob Lookout

Kelly’s Knob 360 degrees lookout  is located just outside the town of Kununurra, and offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. To reach the top of the hill, you must complete a 1.2 km walk that includes some moderately challenging sections, but the effort is well worth it because of the view from the lookout.

We picked the right time to go to the lookout as it was close to sunset, which added an extra layer of beauty to the already stunning views. From the top of Kelly’s Knob, we were able to see the entire township of Kununurra, as well as the winding Ord River and the distant Elephant Rock.

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

Visit to Mirima National Park

We purchased a monthly pass for WA national parks and ventured out on a trail that led us to Mirima National Park. The park is located on the outskirts of Kununurra and is often described as a sneak peek of the Bungle Bungles.

Although small in size, it has interesting rock formations that are truly unique.

Millions of years ago, these formations were massive dunes that eventually transformed into sandstone with striking colors. The rocks exhibit fascinating stripes of lighter and darker shades that are arranged alternately, creating a stunning visual effect.

As we walked through the park, we were in awe of the natural beauty surrounding us. It’s definitely a must-see for anyone visiting Kununurra.

Mirima National Park
Mirima National Park

As we walked around and admired the views at Mirima National Park, we were pleasantly surprised to bump into some friendly faces whom we had seen from time to time since we left Darwin.

It’s interesting to note that while walking on tracks, we often meet people from our previous destinations. This is because during the dry season, most tourists tend to travel in the same direction, so there’s a good chance we run into the same people multiple times along the way.

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

Tomorrow we plan to leave our trailer behind and go camping with a tent in Purnululu National Park, also known as Bungle Bungles. The 245 km road from Kununurra to Turkey Creek Roadhouse was incredibly scenic, with the red mountains in the distance seeming to draw closer and then retreat.

However, we had another obstacle on the road, this time in the form of a boat. We followed it for 30 km, hoping it wouldn’t turn towards Broome, but unfortunately, that was wishful thinking. We were left with a slow-paced 130 km ride 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 radio them and ask if there was a chance to overtake their vehicle. To his surprise, they responded that they had been trying to signal us to pass them for quite some time, using the radio and flashing their lights.

Embarrassed, Marius realised he had been so caught up in his own frustration that he hadn’t noticed the signals or even turned on his own radio….

With a grateful wave and an apology, we passed the slow-moving vehicle and continued on our way.

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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

After arriving at Turkey Creek Roadhouse around noon, we left our trailer behind and set off towards Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles). We decided to tackle the park with only our car and camping equipment, leaving behind our heavy camper trailer.

This allowed us to drive the dirt track with ease and experience the park more freely. Plus, we were excited to sleep in a tent for a change.

The track condition in the Bungle Bungles can be challenging, and large trailers are not allowed to enter. Although our trailer was theoretically suitable for such routes, we didn’t want to risk it and preferred to leave it behind.

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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