As a landscape photographer, there is almost no better place in Australia to photograph than the Kununurra region of East Kimberley. The landscape here is incredible and as dramatic as it gets in Western Australia. It’s filled with rugged mountain ranges, mighty rivers and an abundance of wildlife.
In this travel guide, I will be sharing my experiences in Kununurra and giving you an overview of what to expect on your travels here – including where to stay, best places to visit, how to get around and some important travel tips. Before doing so, let me tell you a little bit about myself.
My name is Nathan (@naturebynathan) and I’m a landscape photographer of seven years from Perth, Australia. Growing up just outside of Mundaring in the Perth Hills helped me gain an early appreciation of nature and the outdoors. Every hobby I have ever had has revolved around being outdoors.
I would take the long route to work just so I could watch the sun rise behind the Mundaring Weir. Occasionally I would arrive at the lake covered in mist. When the sunlight burst over the hill and hit the rising mist it was stunning! Watching this was the thing that made me purchase my first camera, a Nikon d7200, which I used for the first five years of my journey.
I have always loved the idea of travel but being quite young (pretty much straight out of school) when I was starting out in photography, I couldn’t afford to go overseas or interstate. So, I started to explore my own backyard.
Starting out close to home, I spent a lot of time searching the Perth Hills for waterfalls and other points of interest to photograph. From there I have expanded out and in seven years covered the majority of Western Australia, from the Kimberley and all the way down to the Southwest of the country.
3 Months in Kununurra During Wet Season
East Kimberley is an obvious destination to visit for myself as a landscape photographer. The region receives a lot of tourism throughout the dry season (April to September/October) and is quiet in the wet season. My recent visit there was the second time I have been to the Kununurra area.
The first time I was only in Kununurra for a week in March, right at the end of the wet season, which was just a tease as there is so much incredible scenery around. So much that it could take a lifetime to see it all really.
After that first visit to Kununurra, I decided that I wanted to return for an entire wet season to capture East Kimberley at its best. There are enormous waterfalls around Kununurra that only flow during the wet season, so most people miss out on all the action when they visit in the dry season.
I based myself in Kununurra for almost three months to ensure I would be around for a few storms and good rain events, and after a great wet season I managed to photograph just about everything I had set out to and more.
Finally, one of the best experiences was taking a helicopter flight to Revolver Falls which is the largest single-drop waterfall in WA at 120m. Kununurra is a long way from home. It’s about a 38-hour drive but there is a lot to see on the way as well so it’s worth taking your time if you are driving.
Favorite Place in Kununurra: Ord River
Kununurra is the ultimate destination for those wanting to see some of the best scenery that WA has on offer. The views right in town are amazing and a quick visit to Mirima National Park (which is walking distance from the shops) will make you feel like you have stepped back in time.
The Ord River must be one of the most scenic waterways not only in WA but all of Australia! In the wet season after some rain, there are hundreds (seriously) of waterfalls cascading down the hillsides into the river. This was such a great thing to see, and we couldn’t believe there was barely another boat in sight throughout an entire day of chasing waterfalls up the river.
7 Best Places to Visit in Kununurra
- Revolver Falls: Only accessible via the air and the best time to visit is in the wet season. It’s Western Australia’s biggest single-drop waterfall.
- Lake Argyle: One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and many other people agree. This is a great place to visit year-round but if you visit in the wet season there are many waterfalls to see too.
- Middle Springs: A series of cascading waterfalls and infinity pools about 30-minutes from Kununurra. A 4×4 is required in the wet season, so it’s best to contact Kimberley 4×4 Tours if you aren’t prepared yourself.
- Ord River: This is a beautiful destination to visit year-round. Explore the dramatic scenery along the clear freshwater river. There are several tour operators that can show you around if you don’t have a boat.
- Black Rock Falls: Just up the road from Middle Springs, and when visiting in the wet season, you can find an 80-meter waterfall that flows down into a pristine blue pool. This is another gorgeous spot to capture!
- Mirima National Park: There are several fantastic walking trails through Mirima where the rock formations resemble a miniature version of the Bungle Bungle range. You will easily forget that you are right in town!
- The Grotto: The only reason this is number 7 is because it’s a 45-minute drive from Kununurra. In the dry season, this is a crystal clear swimming hole at the bottom of an incredible gorge and in the wet season there is a stunning waterfall flowing. It’s also the most easily accessible gorge/swimming hole in the area with a sealed road the entire way.
Getting Around in a 4×4 Vehicle
If you have your own 4×4 and can drive to Kununurra, this is definitely the best option. If you don’t want to drive, the next best thing would be to fly up and book a hire vehicle. A 4×4 is recommended (especially in the wet season) but not essential. You can still see a lot without a 4×4, and Kimberley 4×4 Tours can take you to some of the gems that require a bit more adventure! Public transport isn’t really an option up in the Kimberley.
Where to Stay in the Kununurra Region
On my recent trip I booked an Airbnb about 20 minutes out of town for just under three months which was great and only cost us $60/night. But unfortunately that property has sold and is no longer operating.
We have also spent a lot of time at Kimberleyland Waterfront Holiday Park, which has a pool and a cafe right by Lake Kununurra, so this would be my pick for the next visit and my top recommendation of where to stay.
Need to Know Before you Go
If you want to see waterfalls, go in the wet season or just after. Be aware that the roads here flood and sometimes the highway can be closed for days if not weeks due to flooding! So it’s safest to visit in the dry season.
Many of the shops/cafes/restaurants aren’t operating 7 days a week outside of the tourist season. It pays to double check opening hours if you are there between October – March. You won’t get to see everything without a 4×4, but you can still see a lot and it’s definitely worth visiting even without one.