Windjana and Geikie Gorges
The easily accessible Windjana and Geikei gorges are well worth a visit.
Windjana Gorge is one of the top daytrip destinations from Broome and Derby as it is relatively easy to get to via the scenic Gibb River Road. The 3.5kms-long gorge—part of a Devonian limestone reef—has lots of interesting features, including refreshing pools, high cliffs and fine walks.
The Lennard River cut a swathe through the Napier Range and is geologically similar to other gorges in the area. The park itself is small, covering only 130-odd hectares, but the ancient reef is very important and well preserved. The area is also well protected and is inhabited chiefly by crocodiles, fruit bats and Aussie cockatoos.
Aside from the obvious scope for chilling out and dipping in the waters, walking is the main pastime at Windjana Gorge. There are a few options, with the Gorge Walk taking in the length of the gorge, while the Time Walk and Savannah Walk reveal some the ancient history and the nature of the gorge respectively. The best place to see crocs is at Bandigan Rock.
You can also head to the nearby Lillimilura Homestead, built from limestone in the late 1800s by one William Forrester. It was used to stave off attacks by Aboriginals when white people started to settle. Farther afield, Tunnel Creek is just down the road and also included on many tours.
The best time to be here is after the rains and before the tourist hordes hit in the main season, and before it gets too hot. Aim for May-June. This area in particular can get extremely warm, so having extra water and high factor sun block, even for the shorter walks, is essential.
There is camping at Windjana Campground, but it’s quite basic. Both Broome and Derby are relatively close and have many good hotels and it is better to stay here to enjoy the facilities and hospitality, while also being near the sea. Note: be aware that the national park is closed in the wet season.
Geikie Gorge is one of the most striking gorges of all Australia and is also one of the Kimberley’s most accessible. Named after Sir Archibald Geikie, it has national park status today and is unique with half-bleached walls. Best of all for those not into inconvenience, it is very easy to approach by road and is best seen by boat.
The gorge itself lies at the Geikie and Oscar ranges and hails back to the Devonian period, while the Fitzroy River cut out its 30-metre high walls. As with other parks in the region, Geikie Gorge National Park remains closed between November and April, when the river swells up the walls of the gorge, inhibiting access.
The main pastime here is to tour the river by boat and there are a couple of options. Most visitors go with the one-hour Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) tour, which runs a couple of times a day. A more in-depth option is the half-day Darngku Heritage Cruise, which includes talks and a guided walk.
The main hike through the gorge at Geikie is the 90-minute Reef Walk, going along the gorge wall and river bank to allow for the best views of the bleached walls. You can also do a shorter, loop walk which cuts off from the main one and takes in a bit of lush vegetation, while the River Walk gives hikers the chance of a swim.
Fitzroy Crossing is the closest place for hotels, at just 20kms drive from the park. You cannot camp within Geikie Gorge National Park itself, although there are day use picnic shelters and basic facilities. The closest main towns with the best accommodation are Derby and Broome and you can make the drive from both of these via the Great Northern Highway (1).