RAIL HOLIDAYS AUSTRALIA
Presents a once-in-a-lifetime tour to
The Kimberley Featuring the Gibb River Road
The Gibb River Road passes through the heart of one of Australia’s last wilderness frontiers – The Kimberley Region of Western Australia. Rail Holidays Australia, in conjunction with local Top End operator Bushside Coaches, is offering a fantastic 4WD coach tour along the Gibb River Road. After 3 nights in luxury accommodation in Broome, our Gibb River Road adventure begins!
From just outside Derby, we join the Gibb River Road for an unforgettable tour through an age old landscape that is crowded with spectacular ranges, magnificent rivers, vast savannahs of bushland, steep cliff faces, and delightful gorges forged over millions of years by the power of nature. There is a rich aboriginal history here as we travel through country that was inhabited by tribes with a deep and powerful understanding of this magnificent country. Then followed the European explorers and cattle barrons, who’s hard work and determination opened up this country so that it is now accessible to all.
The Gibb River Road offers a unique opportunity to experience the real outback Australian lifestyle. We pass through Kununurra, and travel into the Bungle Bungles – or Purnululu National Park as it is officially called. We’ll explore these orange and black striped beehive domes and learn how they were formed. As they say in these parts …get off the bitumen, and experience the true Kimberley… and that’s exactly what we are going to do!!…
- Bungle Bungles
- Willie Creek Pearl Farm
- Windjana Gorge
- Bell Gorge
- Cockburn Ranges
- Lake Argyle
- 4 nights in Broome
- Geikie Gorge Cruise
- Tunnel Creek
- King Leopold Range
- Zebra Mine & Wetlands Cruise
- King River
- Cathedral Gorge Walk
- Japanese Cemetery
Tuesday 2 August, 2016
BATHURST TO BROOME
Welcome to our fabulous tour to The Magnificent Kimberley. Our tour starts as we board the Bathurst Bullet to Central Station.(Opal Card required) Here, wetransfer by train to Sydney Airport where we board our direct flight to Broome. QF1042 departs at 1120hrs and arrives in Broome at 1435hrs. On arrival, we’ll be met by Ian “Bushie” Gardiner our driver-guide for the tour. Broome is situated on the coast at the southern tip of the Kimberley region. It is bounded by wide sandy beaches and turquoise water and enjoys a warm climate with plenty of sunshine. The discovery of rich pearling grounds off the coast in the 1880s led to the foundation of Broome township in 1883. By 1910 Broome was the world’s leading pearling centre. Bushie will give us a brief introduction to Broome – as we drive through town, we take a look at Chinatown and pass by The Sun Pictures building, the open air theatre owned by the Yamsaki family. After check-in, we can relax and freshen up for dinner. Our holiday has begun!
Wednesday 3 August, 2016
Following a hearty breakfast, we take a drive out to Willie Creek Pearl Farm. Here we discover how the rare and beautiful Australian South Sea Cultured Pearl is produced at the Willie Creek Pearl Farm. Knowledgeable guides will reveal the intricate processes of today’s modern cultured pearling industry – from the seeding of an oyster to the harvesting and grading of a pearl, right through to the final stunning product on display in the showroom. Our farm tour also includes a Willie Creek boat cruise, a light lunch and time for some retail therapy in the shop. Back in town, we continue our sightseeing. We’ll see the rugged, red rocks of Gantheaume Point and look for the cast of dinosaur footprints! See Anastasia’s Pool which was created amongst the rocks by the former lighthouse keeper for his wife who suffered from arthritis. Late afternoon, we’ll drive out to the famous Cable Beach for dinner. We arrive just before sunset for a unique photo opportunity.
Thursday 4 August 2016
BROOME – FREE DAY
We have a totally free day today. You may like to just relax around the pool, or spend some time in town or there are other sightseeing opportunities like visiting Pearl-luggers, take a flight to Cape Leveque or the Horizontal Falls, or even a ride on a camel at Cable Beach. (Own expense MUST be pre-booked).
Friday 5 August 2016
BROOME TO DERBY
We complete our check-out procedures after a leisurely breakfast and depart Broome. Today’s journey takes us past Willare Bridge Roadhouse where we can stop to purchase an early lunch. On our way into Derby, we can see the Derby Boab Prison Tree, 7 miles south of town. This tree was used in the early days as an overnight lock up for prisoners before the final trek into Derby. Capable of holding a number of prisoners, it has an entrance which is about one metre wide and two metres high. Have your photo taken in front of the water trough – at 120m long and 1.2m wide, locals claim it is the biggest water trough in the southern hemisphere. When we arrive in Derby, Bushie will show us the port area where the giant northern tides rush in to meet the town and explain some of the rich history of the “oldest” town in the Kimberley.
Saturday 6 August 16
DERBY TO MT. HART
A journey along the Gibb River Road four wheel drive route is one of the last true outback adventures. Originally constructed in the 1960s to transport stock from surrounding cattle stations, it stretches some 660kms from King Sound in Derby to Wyndham. This morning we join the Gibb River Road east to Tunnel Creek where we enjoy our smoko. Tunnel Creek National Park is Western Australia’s oldest cave system. Part of the same ancient reef system as Windjana Gorge, the cave has been carved by the waters of Tunnel Creek flowing beneath the Napier Range. We can walk 750 metres into the tunnel, wading waist-deep through freshwater pools. The cave features many beautiful formations, including stalactites and stalagmites, and is also home to a variety of bats, olive pythons and freshwater crocodiles. Be prepared to get wet! For anyone who chooses not to do the walk, seats will be supplied under a giant boulder and you can chat to tourists coming out of the tunnel. We now move on to Windjana Gorge. The Windjana Gorge National Park is part of a 375 million-year-old Devonian reef system (the same as Geikie Gorge). Carved by the Lennard River, Windjana Gorge is over three kilometres long with 300 metre-high walls. At the base of the gorge, deep freshwater pools surrounded by native fig, cadjeput and liechardt trees attract flocks of noisy corellas, fruit bats and fresh water crocodiles. The area is of great cultural importance to the local Bunuba people who once lived here. This afternoon, we continue to Mt Hart, a former cattle station located in the heart of the breathtaking King Leopold Ranges, our home for the next two nights.
Sunday 7 August 2016
FREE DAY OR BELL GORGE
We have an option today – some of us may like to have the day off! Sleep in, just relax and enjoy the area around the homestead. Lunch is included whilst enjoying the superb ambience of our surroundings. Recharge!
For those of us who are motivated and physically fit, we can embark on a day tour to Bell Gorge. Water flowing west from the King Leopold Range has cut down through the ancient rock to form spectacular gorges and one such is Bell Gorge. Bell Gorge, about 300 metres above sea level is the beginning of a series of waterfalls which descend through the Isdell Range to Walcott Inlet. There is a reasonably demanding walk down through exposed escarpment rocks then along a dry rocky riverbed. We’ll enjoy a packed lunch on the Bell Plateau and a further walk into the gorge for a swim if you wish. Bell Gorge is a spectacular spot for swimming, photography and enjoying what nature has to offer. When we’re ready, we’ll retrace the beaten path back to Mt Hart.
Monday 8 August 2016
MT HART TO DRYSDALE RIVER
We’re on the road early this morning as we head to Galvans Gorge – a 30 minute walk passing through bushland, granite rock outcrops and lily-lined waterways. This picturesque waterhole has boab trees clinging to the escarpment above. After our smoko, we travel on to Mt Barnett where we have a restroom stop and the chance to buy an ice cream! Next is Manning Gorge. We don’t actually take the walk to the gorge as it’s a 90 minute walk each way, however we do stop for our late packed lunch by the waterhole – and have the chance to swim in this wonderful oasis. Later this afternoon, we arrive at Drysdale Station where we can marvel at the stunning landscapes of Baz Luhrmann’s epic movie – Australia.
Tuesday 9 August 2016
DRYSDALE RIVER TO HOME VALLEY
This morning we have the opportunity for a special optional flight which must be prebooked, own expense and on a first come/first served basis, so subject to availability.
This scenic flight follows the Drysdale River as it carves its way across the station. We see the Mitchell Plateau Country, the untouched Kimberley wilderness of gorges, cliffs and ranges. The best known feature of the flight are the Mitchell Falls, but we also see the escarpment – a sandstone mountain range within the Prince Regent Nature Reserve, Mt Hann, Mt Trafalgar and Mt Waterloo, and water features such as Prince Frederick Harbour, The Saint George Basin – the spectacular cliffs along the coastline have to be seen to be believed!
Late morning, we depart Drysdale River Station and enjoy our packed lunch alongside the King River. We then pass Mt Ebenezer before arriving at beautiful HQ8, another working cattle station. We nibble on a cheese platter and sip champagne as we watch the sun disappear on the majestic Cockburn Ranges – the colours are indeed spectacular.
Wednesday 10 August, 2016
HOME VALLEY TO KUNUNURRA
Our Gibb River Road adventure is nearly at an end as we travel towards Wyndham, a small frontier town that typifies the character of the Kimberley. Established near the tidal waters of the Cambridge Gulf, the port town is guarded by the thrusting summit of the Bastion Range, towering 1100 feet above sea level at its highest point. Many people say the “5 Rivers Lookout” from the top of the Bastion is one of the finest in Australia! As we travel along the picturesque King River Road, we can see a (lesser known than Derby) Boab Prison Tree. This ancient and very large (14 metre diameter) tree has significance to Aboriginal people as well as being a very interesting botanical specimen. This remarkable boab tree was used by the early police patrols as an overnight lock-up. These patrols would take regular trips out to the surrounding stations to collect wrongdoers and ensure all was well. We can also see stands of unique Boab trees on our way. We enjoy a Ploughmans lunch at the station. More recently, much of the film “Australia” was shot at this station. Digger’s Rest Station was home to over 90 of the film’s crew and cast for several weeks in 2007 when the property was transformed into a whirlwind of cinematic activity. Names such as Baz Luhrmann, Hugh Jackman, David Wenham, David Gulpilil, and others have been left in signature on the walls of the homestead. As we travel south towards Kununurra, we stop at Parry Lagoons Nature Reserve for our afternoon smoko. Parry Lagoon is an important waterbird feeding and breeding area. It is also a stopover point for more migratory waders, some of which travel from as far afield as Siberia. As the wet subsides and billabongs and lagoons shrink to their semi-permanent and permanent dry season courses, the barramundi, mullet and tarpon left in the pools provide a year-round food supply for fish-eating birds of prey, pelicans and jabirus, and the occasional crocodile. Both freshwater and saltwater crocodiles inhabit Parry Lagoons, so stay well back from the water’s edge! From here, it’s not far to Kununurra.
Thursday 11 August 2016
There will be an opportunity for an optional fixed wing flight over Purnululu National Park ex Kununurra (early morning is the best time to fly over the Bungle Bungles). For those of us not wanting to fly (we’ll have another opportunity IN the National Park), Bushie will introduce us to Kununurra. The town was established as the residential and administrative centre of the Ord River Scheme – a huge irrigation scheme that was developed in the 1970s. Our sightseeing will include a visit to the town centre and the Diversion Dam, Kellys Knob for excellent views over the surrounding irrigated land and Ivanhoe Crossing. We’ll then head for the Zebra Mine where we spend the rest of the day. Lunch will be freshly caught Silver Cobbler and they say the lunch hits a 10 on the “fish ‘n chip-odometer”!! We’ll take a tour of the mine then enjoy our afternoon tea. It’s now time to board our Wetlands Cruise; the wetlands are situated on the eastern side of Lake Argyle where the many creeks feed into the dam. We’re sure to see a huge variety of birds, in particular, Mr and Mrs Osprey and nest, brolgas, cormorants, ibis, egrets, darters, corellas, herons, whistling ducks, magpie geese, sea eagles – just to name a few! We might see a few Johnston freshwater crocodiles too. How does some champagne and nibbles sound as we watch the sun set over Lake Argyle. After dinner we head back to Kununurra – it will be quite late but what a fantastic day!
Friday 12 August 2016
Today we make our way to the Bungle Bungles – the next exciting part of our holiday! Our journey will take us to Doon Doon for a break and then to the Warmun Art Gallery for our late smoko. As we make our way into the park, we’ll find a picturesque spot for our picnic lunches. Our next two nights accommodation is in the Purnululu National Park. It is world heritage listed and is famous for its Bungle Bungles Range – a landscape of stripped beehive-shaped rock towers. We will arrive and settle into the Camp by about 4pm which will give us time to prepare for the sunset
Saturday 13 August 16
THE PURNULULU NATIONAL PARK
This morning, we have the opportunity to take a helicopter flight for some amazing sightseeing over the national park (own expense – to be prebooked). Of course a chopper can get a lot lower than a fixed wing aircraft! Mid morning, we head to Piccaninny Creek where we can enjoy the Cathedral Gorge Walk. Cathedral Gorge is a huge natural amphitheatre. The acoustics are fascinating. The rock ledges will invite us to just sit down and reflect on the time, the amount of water and the forces it took to form this amazing Gorge. If you don’t care to do the walk, we’ll pick a nice shady spot with a number of shorter walks to investigate. This afternoon there’ll be another walk to explore before we return to the camp to relax
Sunday 14 August 2016
THE BUNGLES TO FITZROY CROSSING
We leave the park this morning and head back to the highway. We then drive to Halls Creek, the site of Western Australia’s first gold rush. The ruins of Old Halls Creek, a few kilometres from the existing town, bear testament to those early harsh days of pioneering and search for wealth in this remote area. Time and road conditions permitting, we take a brief look at the ruins before we return to town. This afternoon we drive to Fitzroy Crossing.
Monday 15 August 2016
FITZROY CROSSING TO BROOME
This morning, we embark on our Geikie Gorge cruise through some spectacular landscape. The Fitzroy River has carved its path through the fossil “Barrier Reef” formed 300 million years ago resulting in mountainous cliffs and breathtaking scenery. We then begin our journey back to Broome; once again, we’ll purchase our own lunch at the Willare Roadhouse.
Tuesday 16 August, 2016
BROOME TO SYDNEY
Unfortunately, our tour is coming to an end but not before a little bit more sightseeing. We take time to wander through the Japanese Cemetery. The cemetery dates back to the very early pearling days and bears witness to the close ties Japan established with Broome in the early 20th century. The first recorded interment in this cemetery is 1896. Literally hundreds of young Japanese divers died either from the bends or from drowning. A large stone obelisk in the cemetery recalls those who were drowned at sea in the 1908 cyclone. We also have a look at the Port area – it is the largest deep-water access port serving the Kimberley region. It’s now time to head to the airport where we say our goodbyes to our outback adventure. We board our non-stop flight to Sydney, arriving at approximately 9.30pm, on arrival we transfer to our City hotel.
Wednesday 17 August, 2016
SYDNEY TO BATHURST
We walk ourselves across to Central Station to connect with the Central West XPT back to Bathurst. We arrive home with some wonderful memories, fantastic photographs and great new friends!
Join us on this once in a life time tour Standard $7,600 Superior $7,700