Kununurra is the largest town in the East Kimberley.
As you arrive into the town whether it be by plane or road you cannot help but be struck by its vast beauty – waterways, lush vegetation all with a real outback feel. Meaning ‘meeting of big waters’ you will find Kununurra located on the banks of Lake Kununurra and the Ord River and is truly the Kimberley destination for any outback adventure.
Just minutes from the town is Mirima (Hidden Valley) National Park or the mini Bungle Bungles as it is also known thanks to its similar appearance. Mirima is the name given to the area by the local Mirriwong people and retains many sites of significance associated with Miriwong sites.
Going further afield yet less than an hour’s drive, experience luxury in the outback at Voyages El Questro. Choose between a hike into one of the many gorges including Emma Gorge, spend a morning relaxing in the thermal Zebedee Springs or take a chopper and go fishing, your choice of distraction is endless with accommodation options to match.
Heading out of Kununurra, 15 kilometres south of Wyndham take the turn off to Parry Lagoons Nature Reserve, a wetland providing important feeding and breeding grounds for many birds including some migratory shore-birds from as far as Siberia. This area is a RAMSA rated wetland of international significance and Kununurra Visitor Centre have a selection of local bird identification booklets.
Back in the town site, Kununurra was gazetted in 1961 making it one of WA’s youngest towns. Kununurra has a population of approximately 6000 and originally developed through the construction of the Ord Irrigation Scheme. This scheme has created many recreational waterways used by locals and visitors for many tours and attractions.
Lake Argyle was also created as a result of the damming of the Ord River making it the largest man-made lake in the Southern Hemisphere. In fact, in flood it can cover 2000 square kilometres. The dam was completed in the early 1970’s and also now powers a hydro-electricity plant that provides power to Kununurra and Wyndham.
In addition to the town’s multitude of natural attractions, from Kununurra you can take a tour of the Argyle Diamond mine. Located 185 kilometres south of the town, this mine, owned by Rio Tinto is the world’s largest producer of diamonds, producing approximately one quarter of the world’s natural diamonds. These diamonds have been made famous by celebrities owning a vast array of coloured stones from pale pinks, smokey cognacs to vivid champagne diamonds. There is plenty of opportunity to see these precious stones in the shops in the town if you do not get chance to get out to the mine.
A favourite attraction at Kununurra is the Zebra Rock Gallery. Kununurra is the only place in the world where this rock is found naturally occurring and the gallery shows off the many creations including jewellery and wine racks – you can even take bits of the rock home to shape yourself.
You cannot visit Kununurra without seeing Lake Kununurra. It was formed with the construction of the Diversion Dam and provides permanent water to the irrigation areas. Locals use the area for water sports which is great for those who miss the beach and need to cool off in the hot summer temperatures. Be sure to notice the Sleeping Buddha or Elephant Rock depending on who tells you about it!!
What we have discovered only just scratches the outback itch. Head to the Visitor Centre for more info on tours available including Barra fishing, remote coastal camps, scenic flights, BBQ sunset cruises not forgetting the rum distillery!!
If you are in the area in May, grab your tickets for the Ord Valley Muster – a real outback event.