Kununurra Tourism & Travel
The east Kimberley town of Kununurra, is the springboard into various natural and man made wonders. The Bungle Bungles and Purnululu National Park; man made Lake Argyle at 9.5 times the size of Sydney Harbour; Ord River; Ord River Irrigation Scheme; Lake Kununurra.
Kununurra is 1057km east of Broome and over 3000km north of Perth, depending on which the road travelled.
Sitting along side Lake Kununurra, Kununurra is the key service town for the Ord River Irrigation Scheme and Lake Argyle Diamond Mine, and an excellent base for exploring the natural attractions of the beautiful Mirima Valley National Park.
Kununurra is a modern town, kept up to date with a thriving population and ever increasing air access. Kununurra is the perfect base for exploration of the Kimberley and forms an excellent access point for beginning fully documented self-drive holiday packages to Broome, perhaps along the Gibb River Road outbound and returning via the Great Northern Highway and the Bungle Bungle Purnululu National Park.
Kununurra did not come into existence until the early 1960s when it was purpose-built as the service town to accommodate the construction workers and farmers of the Ord River Scheme.
From 1941, work had been conducted to gauge the agricultural potential of the black alluvial soils of the Ord River plains. A joint Commonwealth-State Research Station was established in 1945 at Ivanhoe Plain to the north of Kununurra. Over the years, experimental farms were developed without great results; water was a key missing ingredient.
Ord River Irrigation Scheme
Construction of the Ord River Irrigation Scheme begun in 1958 and by 1963 the first stage had been completed and during this time, Kununurra was established. In 1972 Lake Argyle Dam, just south of Kununurra, was opened up and signified the completion of the second stage.
Lake Argyle is Australias only inland sea. Storing 10,760 million cubic metres of water or about nine times the size of Sydney Harbour Lake Argyle is also Australias largest man-made reservoir!
Water is released from Lake Argyle into Lake Kununurra then supplies irrigation channels needed by 80 or so Ord River farms. Today, farms grow everything from melons, sugar cane, pumpkins, bananas, mangoes, cotton, hybrid seeds and other crops. Driving through the irrigation area, you can see the developments that have taken place over the years. Flying over the area, with crops for as far as the eye can see, it is difficult to believe that you are in the outback of Australias North West.
See also the old Ivanhoe Station of the fabled pioneering Durack brothers. The Duracks were amongst the first pioneers in the Australias North West. When Argyle Station was flooded to create Lake Argyle, the Argyle Station Homestead was transported to its present site for posterity.
The famous author, Mary Durack wrote the book Kings in Grass Castles, telling the wonderful story of the lives of her grandfather and his brothers from their departure from Ireland to the million acre cattle stations that they established in the Kimberley. Paintings and sketches by her famous sister, Elizabeth Durack, are amazingly evocative of the love and trust that grew between the good settlers in Australias north west and their aboriginal workers.
Near Lake Kununurra lies magical Mirima Hidden Valley National Park, just minutes drive from the Kununurra town centre. Local Aboriginal people call this area Mirima and stories of its year-round wealth of plant and animal food are still told. There is a lot of evidence of ancient Aboriginal activity throughout the park including rock art carvings on boulders where Aboriginals have sharpened their weapons. Famous for its steep, broken walls of rock that vividly reflect the changing light and distinctive tropical tree species such as the Kimberley boab, Mirima National Park is also known as a kind of mini Bungle-Bungles. The quartz sandstone wonderland has been eroded by wind, rain and nearby Lily Creek into banded domes reminiscent of those in the Purnululu or Bungle Bungle National Park.
Mirima boasts a wide variety of wildlife. Agile short-eared rock wallabies are active during the day, as are dingoes - ginger-coloured wild dogs that have white-tipped ears and tails. Echidnas, frogs, tortoises, geckoes, goannas, snakes and other reptiles can sometimes be seen, especially near the waters of Lily Creek. There is an abundance of birds in Mirima, particularly black kites, double-barred and crimson finches and the white-quilled rock pigeon, a distinctive bird of the Kimberley.
The Kimberley and Kununurra has distinctive wet and dry seasons. The spectacular wet, from November to April, means dramatic storm, torrid, gushing rivers and tropical heat and fantastic light shows as nature shows off. The dry season is usually late May through to October when the build up for the wet starts.
Kununurra Kimberley Base
Kununurras close proximity to both man-made and natural attractions, friendly locals and variety of facilities and accommodation styles makes it the perfect pre or post-adventure destination when exploring the dusty red Kimberley outback. Kununurra is the place to add extra days to any itinerary. The town is in the middle of an oasis in the true meaning of the word, surrounded by an astounding variety of fruit all made possible by the remarkable irrigation scheme that was conceived and built in the 1960s.
The areas around Kununurra are without doubt blessed with world-class natural icons in relatively easy reach by air or by fully documented self drive packages.
Visitors to Kununurra are blessed to have access to world-class tourism operators that live locally and are delighted to take visitors on reasonably priced superb tours.
When ever you visit Australias north west, do not miss a trip up the Ord River with the outstanding Triple J where you will see Jesus Birds elegantly strolling across the tops of lily pads, but seemingly walking on water; see the amazing archer fish; visit to the Zebra Rock Gallery; visit to the outstanding gallery of the Kununurra artist in residence; absolutely do not miss a visit and a helicopter trip over the Bungle Bungle Purnululu National Park.