Birds, Billabongs, Waterfalls and Rivers – taking the scenic route from Kununurra to Wyndham
Take the scenic route on a 4WD adventure from Kununurra to Wyndham in the Kimberley Region in WA. Swim in year round springs, glimpse some of the 160 species of birds in the region and witness the meeting of five rivers before they flow into the ocean.
The Kimberleys are renowned for being a sanctuary to a plethora of bird species, boasting boab trees with trunks so fat they look like they’ll burst and flaunting glorious swimming holes that quite often you’ll have to yourself. If you are sick of endless highway kilometres and ready to hit the dirt with your four-wheel-drive, heading up the Parry’s Creek track on your way to Wyndham is a perfect day out from your Kununurra base.
Before you leave Kununurra, grab your free Kimberley Glove Box Guide from the Kununurra Visitor Centre which includes the map of the Parry’s Creek Road. Pack your bathers and a picnic lunch and head west onto the Victoria Highway from Kununurra towards Wyndham. There are several take-away venues in town including bakeries and cafes like the Cornerside Café and the Kimbercrust bakery providing fresh sandwiches, rolls, wraps and salads. After 14 km, take the right hand turn onto the dirt road signed Ngamoowalem Conservation Park. Home to the Miriwoong and Gajerrong people, the park features four swimming and picnic areas – Valentine, Middle and Molly Springs and Black Rock Falls. You could easily spend the day hopping from waterhole to waterhole, but after a quick refreshing dip (which does become quite “refreshing” in the dry season), you’ll be keen to explore more of what the area offers.
The Marlgu Billabong and bird-hide is a must for avid birdwatchers. This billabong is a RAMSAR listed wetland, internationally recognised and protected as a place hosting migratory bird species. The bird-hide is mounted over the billabong giving you a “birds-eye” opportunity to be amongst rainbow bee-eaters, whistle ducks, darters, egrets and magpie geese later in the season. Over 160 species of birds have been observed at this site alone! Birds aren’t the only inhabitants of this area – below the succulent white and purple waterlilies lay saltwater crocodiles which you may spot from time to time - ensure you observe from a safe distance away from the water’s edge. If you want to take your time spotting those more allusive species or you just want to enjoy the tranquillity of Marlgu, just up the road is Parry’s Creek Farm which offers meals, accommodation and camping options.
A few kilometres more on this track, you can choose to either continue your 4WD adventure or otherwise join up to the Great Northern Highway for a smooth drive to Wyndham. Drive to the top of the Five Rivers Lookout, which at 335 metres above sea level rewards with panoramic views and the meeting of the Durack, King, Pentecost, Forrest and Ord Rivers before flowing into the ocean. Be sure to stop at the Big Croc sculpture on your way out of town.
Return via the Great Northern Highway with one last treat in store before you reach Kununurra. The Grotto is a tessellated canyon with incredible views from the top into the waterhole at the base below. Take the steep climb down in the dry season for a swim; if you are visiting in the wet season, the canyon erupts as water thunders into the valley below. Although these sites are all generally accessible throughout the year, visit the WA Parks and Wildlife website for up-to-date information or the Kununurra Visitor Centre open daily.
Kununurra is a fantastic place to base yourself for a few days to explore the surrounding East Kimberley Region. There is a range of accommodation options from the tranquil surroundings of the Kununurra Country Club, to the executive The Kimberley Grande, or the Freshwater Apartments. There are also a range of caravan and cabin parks for those preferring to self-cater.