The remote and surprisingly modern town of Kununurra in Western Australia’s rugged Kimberley region is a grey nomad’s oasis. Kununurra, which incidentally means ‘big water’ in the local Aboriginal language andhas a population of around 6,000.

It is blessed with excellent facilities and is the perfect place to stock up, service your vehicle, and generally catch your breath before the next stage of your big adventure. There are also some excellent and scenic van parks in the town and enough interest around and about to encourage you not to rush away.

Lake Argyle is about 70 kilometres from Kununurra and is vast enough to completely dwarf Sydney Harbour. A boat trip is the best way to explore the waterway and to appreciate the flora and fauna that have sprung up in and around it. If you’re feeling flush, you can also take a flight over the top.

Ivanhoe Crossing

Although Kununurra is what you could safely call remote – it’s more than 3,000 kilometres from Perth and more than 1,000 kilometres from both Darwin and Broome – it is still strangely well located … at least from a grey nomad’s point of view.

You are virtually next door to the truly unmissable Keep River National Park just across the border in the Northern Territory. It may be just a hop, skip and a jump away but you may have to add on a few minutes if the fruit inspectors nab you on the way back to town. So don’t carry anything you shouldn’t and try to look innocent!

The rock formations at Keep River near the camping area can best be described as smaller versions of the Bungle Bungles. They are genuinely spectacular, and an undemanding walk through the area is an unforgettable experience … particularly at sunset. A well-maintained dirt track will take you into the park and be aware that there is also great camping on offer here … well worth a night or two.

Another top spot for camping in the Kununurra region is along the River Ord. Take the back road towards Wyndham and there are a number of absolutely beautiful free spots to set up camp. Mambi Island boat ramp is among the most popular … particularly with barramundi seekers. Stretches of lush green grass stretch along the attractive river making it incredibly picturesque … but danger lurks. Saltwater crocodiles are abundant in this stretch of water and you will soon see them sunning themselves on the far bank. Use your commonsense whether camping or fishing. The access to Mambi Island Boat Ramp is not for the faint-hearted so it’s probably best to leave the van in Kununurra and go for a look-see before committing. You can then carry on to Wyndham and make a day of it.

Another fishing spot favoured by the locals is Ivanhoe Crossing, a concrete causeway over the Ord River just out of town. This is a really long crossing and if you’re game to make the trip across, make sure someone takes a photo of your vehicle going over. It will take pride of place in your mantel places in years to come. As previously mentioned, the crossing is also a popular hangout for barramundi … and crocs.

Just out of Kununurra is the aforementioned Lake Argyle, which was created when the Ord River Dam construction was completed in 1972. It’s Australia’s largest body of freshwater covering over 900 square kilometres at normal full supply level. It has a flood capacity in excess of 2000 square
kilometres. The lake has formed its own unique ecosystem and is now home to a rich array of birdlife, fishlife, and animal wildlife.

Kununurra is then a place you can enjoy for a few days or a few weeks. It’s a place where you can consolidate and plan. If you’re heading west from here, it’s either down the bitumen towards Fitzroy Crossing, hopefully via the Bungle Bungles, or down the Gibb River Road and all the adventure and beauty that that route offers. If you’re heading east, you’ve still got Gregory National Park and Katherine Gorge to look forward to. Either way, you’re almost certain to look back at your time in Kununurra with fondness… particularly if you’ve still got some barramundi in the freezer!

At least try to catch a barramundi; spot a saltie on the Ord River; consider driving the Ivanhoe Crossing; visit Keep River National Park; check out the wildlife at Lake Argyle.

An assortment of caravan parks in Kununurra itself and surrounding areas; sensational camping at Keep River National Park; numerous top spots along the Ord River (watch out for crocs).


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