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Lifestyle : Discover the Kimberley 2012
1HERSA1 U004 www.outbackspirittours.com.au All fares quoted are per person, twin share, land content only. Cape York Tour includes Horn Island flight with QANTAS. All fares include Australian GST. All tours operated by Outback Spirit Tours Pty Ltd. ACN 006 972 130. Licensed Travel Agent 2TA4575. EM_120105_SH Specialists in escorted outback travel Explore The Exquisite Kimberley Adventure 15 days $7,895 Frequent departures Apr to Oct 2012 Explore the awesome Kimberley region with the people who know it best – Outback Spirit. Travel from Broome to Kununurra return via the Bungle Bungles and the stunning Mitchell Plateau. Enjoy 2 nights at Outback Spirit’s new Ngauwudu Safari Camp in deluxe ‘Safari Suites’ – the most luxurious and permanent accommodation on the Mitchell Plateau. Explore the area with a walk to the Mitchell Falls and visit several ancient Gwion Gwion and Wandjina rock art galleries with indigenous guides. Your helicopter flight over the falls is included! Also visit Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary in the upper Fitzroy Catchment and stay on working cattle stations – Home Valley and Mount Elizabeth. Also spend 2 nights at El Questro Wilderness Park and enjoy river cruises on the Ord River, Geikie Gorge and Chamberlain Gorge. Also includes an ecology tour, Barramundi fishing on the Pentecost River, Bell Gorge, Galvan’s Gorge, Windjana Gorge and much more. The tour is fully accommodated and fully inclusive of all meals, all attraction and entry fees, exceptional accommodation and travel aboard a 5-star 4WD Mercedes Benz tour vehicle. Travel in a small group – maximum 20 passengers. 4 SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2012 THE SUN-HERALD kimberley cover story Ontheupandup From joining the aerial highway to hovercraft skimming, a wild landscape calls for extreme sightseeing, writes Caroline Gladstone. Trip notes Touring there Ǡ The two-hour Alligator Airways Bungle Bungle tour costs $275 a person from Kununurra. Air and ground tours, which include flights, landing in the national park, hiking through the beehive domes and gorges and lunch and afternoon tea, cost $620 a person. Flights also depart from Broome and Halls Creek. See www.alligatorairways.com.au. Ǡ You can also do Bungle Bungle flights with a four-wheel-drive component. The plane lands near the beehives, followed by a drive and a hike into the rock cathedrals and gorges. Flight from Kununurra. THERE’S no getting around the fact the Kimberley is huge. The statistics say it all: at a whopping 423,000 square kilometres, it is twice the size of Victoria and three times as big as England. But despite this immensity, there are just six main towns and only three – Broome, Derby and Kununurra – have populations of more than 2000. This is remote, red and rugged land whose tyranny of distance has, not surprisingly, created an industry of aerial sightseeing. I’m taking a light aircraft to the dress-circle destination of the East Kimberley, the dramatic Bungle Bungle Range in the Purnululu National Park. I’m excited as we take off in an eight-seater Alligator Airways Airvan from Kununurra. A big town by Kimberley standards, with nearly 6000 folk, it’s a newcomer, having sprung up in the 1960s to service the Ord River Irrigation Scheme. We skim over Lake Kununurra and the Ord by way of a drum-roll build-up to the enormous Lake Argyle, an expanse of water so large that it is classified an inland sea. It takes a good 15 minutes to fly from one end of Lake Argyle to the other. During this time the plane cruises at 700 metres over its dozens of islands and follows the jagged Carr Boyd Ranges that line its western shore. Established in 1972, this man-made lake was the last stage of the irrigation scheme and holds more than a few secrets under its megalitres of water and no fewer than 25,000 freshwater crocodiles. Vast tracks of pastoral land were flooded to create the Ord River Dam, including sections of Argyle Downs Station, once owned by the famous Durack dynasty. The historic homestead, built in 1895 by the Irish pioneering family, was dismantled stone by stone and moved to higher ground. Now a museum, the homestead was the centre of social gatherings and documented in Mary Durack’s family history, Kings in Grass Castles. An hour into the flight and 200 kilometres south of Kununurra, the pilot announces our approach. We have arrived at Purnululu National Park, whose name means ‘‘sandstone’’, a moniker the Kija Aboriginal people gave to the huge massif that sprawls over the 450 square kilometres we call the Bungle Bungle Range. We fly in a figure of eight for 20 minutes over towering beehive mounds, some 300 metres high and which, although striped black and orange, look purple in the afternoon light. The diversity of the shapes, formed more than 350 million years ago, is fascinating: some are clumped others ar from dry shimme palms cl Headi Diamon world’s s along the Peerin Call 1800 OUTBACK (1800 688 222) For your comprehensive brochure Kimberley with the Experts WA 1 1 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 2 Derby Fitzroy Crossing El Questro Mitchell Plateau Kununurra Wyndham Home Valley Station Mount Elizabeth Station Bungle Bungles Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary Broome ✓ Over 90 departures for 2012 ✓ Most modern & luxurious touring fleet ✓ Luxurious safari camps & lodges – best in the Kimberley ✓ Locally based operations in Broome ✓ Small groups for a rewarding personal experience ✓ Partners with local indigenous people ✓ All meals included Exclusive to Outback Spirit Ngauwudu Safari Camp Mitchell Plateau Our exclusive Ngauwudu Safari Camp on the Mitchell Plateau consists of 14 ‘Safari Suites’ furnished with beautiful hotel furniture and linen. The en-suite bathrooms boast superb finishes such as tiled showers and beautiful timber vanities. To complement the cabins, our architecturally designed restaurant seats guests inside or outside. The pristine waterhole right next to the eco friendly camp is ideal for swimming and relaxing. THE SUN-HERALD SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2012 5 kimberley cover story Landandsee... clockwise from main, the Kimberley coast; pearl lugger Intombi; the Ord River; Lake Argyle. Photo: Penney’s Prints d tightly together like stalagmites, re sheer escarpments rising abruptly y creek beds and others house ring water holes and have livistona inging to their sides. ing home, we swing over the Argyle d Mine, which produces half the supply of pink diamonds, and track e aptly named Ragged Ranges. ng below, I see a lonely scar of a road and a huge road train heading north in the same direction as we are going. It’s hardly surprising, then, that tourists opt to travel on what’s known as the Kimberley Aerial Highway – a network of some 20 airstrips that link remote areas of stunning beauty in this vast land. The writer was a guest of Orion Expedition Cruises. More fixes for thrillseekers Rapid descent . . . Ord Rivers canoeists put down the paddle and jump in. Shoot the rapids at the Horizontal Falls This six-hour trip combines the thrill of a seaplane ride and the adrenalin rush of a speedboat through the Horizontal Falls, intense tidal currents that hurtle between two narrow coastal gorges in Talbot Bay. After landing on the bay’s calm waters, passengers strap themselves into the 500-horsepower jet boat for a bumpy ride through the 10-metre gap in the gorge. There is a leisurely cruise and breakfast or lunch to follow before the flight back to Broome flying low over the 1000 islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago. $695 a person. (08) 9192 1172, horizontalfalls adventures.com.au. Cruise aboard a historic pearl lugger Relive Broome’s pearl-diving history without the hardship aboard the historic pearl lugger Intombi. Built in Fremantle in 1903, it is one of a handful of wooden pearling luggers still afloat after a career that has included a stint as a cray- fishing vessel. The restored vessel sails Roebuck Bay on champagne brunch and sunset cruises, during which guests are likely to see dolphins. Priced at $105 and $139 a person. (08) 9192 7321, broomelugger.com. Paddle your own canoe on the Ord Take a self-guided canoe trip along 23 kilometres of the gently flowing upper Ord River. Cut through the magnificent Carr-Boyd Range in a two-person Canadian canoe, stopping along the way to swim and take photos. Operators supply a portable cooler to keep lunch and drinks cool, as well as watertight barrels for camera gear. At 2pm their boat, Crocodile, picks up canoeists wherever they are on the river for a guided bushwalk and a swim in crystal-clear waterholes. Tour includes bus transfer from Kununurra to Lake Argyle and a boat journey back to town. $105 a person. 1300 663 369, gowild.com.au. Skim over the turquoise waters of Roebuck Bay Hop aboard a space-age hovercraft to skim over the tidal flats of Broome’s Roebuck Bay in order to view the wrecks of Catalina flying boats that were destroyed by Japanese bombers in March 1942. The tour zooms over turquoise waters past the red pindan cliffs of Broome’s dramatic coastline. $150 a person. (08) 9193 5025, broomehovercraft .com.au. Boat trips in the wilderness Sit back and let someone else steer the boat on the combined Lake Argyle and Ord River trip. After a 75-kilometre bus ride from Kununurra, it’s a two-hour cruise on Lake Argyle — the largest freshwater lake in Australia — followed by a ground tour visiting Durack Homestead, now a museum. After a lunch stop at Resort Lake Argyle, it’s a 55-kilometre cruise back to Kununurra on the Ord River. $220 a person. (08) 9168 2682, triplejtours.com.au. 4WD Cape Leveque adventure Board a four-wheel-drive truck and head north along the rugged Buccaneer Archipelago to Cape Leveque 220 kilometres away. There’s a visit to the historic Sacred Heart Church in Beagle Bay, with its mother-of-pearl altar. Swim, snorkel and picnic on the beach at Cape Leveque. Operators including APT and Kimberley Wild Expeditions run tours from May to October priced at $269 a person. 1300 336 932, aptouring.com.au; 1300 738 870, kimberleywild.com.au.
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Rest and Relaxation 12