Kununurra is a small town built on big dreams. In a remote corner of the vast Kimberley region of Western Australia, its unaffected pastoral feel makes a comfortable base from which to explore the majestic natural attractions in the rugged surrounding landscape.
HistoryAs early as 1882, fortune seeking pastoralists and farmers have been drawn to pin their hopes on the Ord River and the wide open plains around it. The Ords potential was first identified by explorer Alexander Forrest in 1879. He encouraged graziers in search of new land to the area and subsequently built his empire on leases of 51 million acres. The most well known of these pastoralists was the Durack family, who in 1882 drove 7,250 head of cattle and 200 horses overland from Queensland to establish the Lissadell, Argyle, Rosewood and Ivanhoe stations. At Ivanhoe station, north of the present Kununurra townsite, the potential of growing crops on the rich alluvial soils of the Ord Valley became apparent and after early experiments literally bore fruit, many acres of cattle country were turned over to agriculture. It was soon realised that the full potential of the Ord to grow thirsty crops could only be achieved with more water.
Begun in 1958, the Ord Irrigation Scheme was an ambitious idea to capture the huge volume of water flowing down the Ord during the monsoon for irrigation of the fertile plains along the river's lower reaches and to develop a productive agriculture industry and create a food bowl for Western Australia.
The first stage was completed in 1963 with the construction of the Diversion Dam, creating Lake Kununurra and feeding a network of canals that supported 31 farms by 1966. Spurred on by this success, the second stage saw the building of the Ord River Dam further upstream, subsequently creating Lake Argyle, Australia's second largest artificial Lake. Construction of the 335-metre-long, earth wall dam was completed in 1971 and ceremoniously opened a year later. The reservoir's initial capacity of a hefty 5,641 gigilitres (equivalent to 11 Sydney Harbours by some peoples estimate) was increased in the early 1990s, when the wall was raised by 6 metres to double its current capacity to an oceanic 10,763 giglitres. The extra capacity enabled a hydroelectric power station to keep spinning and provide the towns power.
In the early days, farmers experimented with a range of crops and had variable results. Crops such as cotton and rice were dismal failures as pests and birds ate them quicker than they could grow. But sugar cane, bananas, melons and mangos became very successful cash crops. Sandalwood plantations are abundant. A trial of commercial hemp proved to be viable and production is tipped to be expanded once the states draconian laws can be modernised.
CultureThere are a few explanations for the etymology of the town's name, the most popular being a mangled English pronunciation of Gunanurang - "Big River" in the local Miriwoong people's language.
Many scenes from the movie Australia were filmed in the area surrounding Kununurra.
ClimateKununurra has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons; the monsoonal ‘wet’ season and the touristy ‘dry’ season. The wet season starts around October, typified by heavy rain, 40°C days and uncomfortable humid nights, and ends in April. The rest of the year is the milder, dry season, bringing 30°C highs, blue skies and the bulk of tourists.
When to visitThough the dry is typically the peak tourist season, the wet is arguably the best time to see Kununurra. The monsoonal weather brews up billowing thunderclouds flashing with electrical storms that make for some beautiful sunsets. The ensuing downpours create rushing cascades to usually dry waterholes and bring a flush of new green growth to the landscape. If you can endure the humidity and incessant rain, you will see a Kununurra that many miss.
phone: +61 8 9168 1177address: 75 Coolibah DrYour best source for free pamphlets about services in Kununurra, maps and Kimberley themed knick-knacks. Staff can be quite helpful in answering your questions, even more so if you look interested in booking a tour.
Also unwelcome at the border are cane toads, who are slowly hopping over the border on their own and sometimes hitch a ride in under trucks and caravans. They pose a serious threat to native fauna, and though their arrival is inevitable, it'd be a good idea to look over your vehicle for any illegal amphibians trying to make an early appearance.
By carKununurra is a mere 30 km from the Northern Territory border, but a long way from anywhere else. The drive over vast distances, through some very isolated country to get there should not be taken lightly, though with a bit of forward planning the getting there can be a great trip in itself.
From BroomeThe easy way is on the Great Northern Highway, taking about two days to cover the 1,044 km if you push it. The good sealed road passes through a few small towns and sights. The more interesting, but harder way, is via the Gibb River Road, taking at least seven days to trundle over its 650 km length. The Gibb is an unsealed 4WD only track across the Kimberleys northern parts, passing many gorges, waterfalls and generally beautiful country. It is prone to flooding in the wet season and may be closed entirely. It's best to check with the tourist bureau before setting out.
From DarwinThe sealed Stuart Highway runs 324 km south from Darwin to Katherine. From Katherine, you can turn right and drive the final 524 km stretch on the Victoria Highway to Kununurra.
Kununurra airporthas flights to regional centres as well as some charter and scenic flights. The airport is small but modern and the runway has one of the most scenic approaches you are likely to find. Taxis wait for every arriving flight and cost around $10 to town. Some hostels/hotels offer a free courtesy bus if you are staying with them. There isn’t a local bus or airport bus service into town.
phone: +61 8 89204001One flight a day leaving at 1:05PM takes just short of 90 minutes. Airnorth is a bit more pricey than the other carriers but offers full service.
phone: 1300 660088 (local rate)Operates three flights a week. On Monday and Wednesday departure is at 2:10PM but earlybirds can get one on Friday at 10AM. The flight takes about 90 minutes.
phone: +61 8 89204001One daily flight leaving at 10:40AM (Sa 7:45AM) NT time and arriving at 10:10AM WA time. The flight takes about 60 minutes if you work out the maths for the interstate time difference.
phone: 1300 660088 (local rate)Operate 4 flights a week, one each on Monday and Wednesday (11:15AM) and two on Friday (7AM - via Broome, 9AM). Flights via Broome take about 4.5 hours whereas direct flights are 1 hour quicker. Though it's a full service airline, you might only get offered a cup of tea and a biscuit.
phone: +61 13 13 13Daily flights via Broome. One flight each on Tuesday and Saturday at 9:55AM and two flights on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday-Friday at 7:10AM and 9:10AM. Flights via Broome take between 4.5 hours and 7.5 hours depending on how long they stop over. You will get something to eat on the Perth-Broome leg and a snack on the second half.
- From Broome. Greyhound runs daily services virtually flying there in 14 hours.
- From Darwin, it's about 9 hours.
- From Perth is theoretically possible, but if you are not insane before taking on the 48-hr journey, you may be afterwards.
Driving around town, you will encounter few cars and not a single traffic light. On street parking and carparks are free. Most corners, even major intersections, follow the give way rule and stop signs are given the same regard by most local motorists.
Outside town, the long, straight stretches of highway give you a chance to put the foot down and eat up some miles. If you are inexperienced in country driving, watch out for oncoming road trains that can push you off the road with their draft, and kangaroos at sunset.
The major car rental outfits have offices in town and the airport:
phone: +61 8 91691424address: 6 Coolibah Drive, Kununurra, Western Australia, AustraliaAlso has an office at the airport.
phone: +61 8 9168 2033address: 1 Konkerberry DrAlso has an office at the airport.
phone: +61 8 9169 1258address: 208 Konkerberry DrCan arrange pick ups from the airport.
phone: +61 8 136139address: 19 Bandicoot Dr
A few well known areas, such as Lake Argyle, appear on well worn itineraries, but casting off in any direction will lead to less traversed but no less interesting spots. While some spots are not easily reached without a 4WD or boat, Kelly's Knob and the Mirima National Park are reachable on foot or bicycle and equal anything found at the end of a corrugated dirt road.
Sunset and sunrise are the best times to get out and look at rocky things. Not only are the temperatures cooler, but the quality of light ignites the stone with a luminous orange tone. You're also more likely to see animals that have been hiding from the mid day heat venturing out to feed.
Close to town
Celebrity Tree Parkaddress: Old Darwin RdEstablished in 1984, the park displays different species of trees planted by famous people during their visit to Kununurra. Despite the eminent provenance of the trees' placement here, they are really just trees in a park.
Diversion DamThis antiquated looking dam holds back Lake Kununurra which feeds a constant stream into the irrigation channels for use on the farms. All kinds of massive iron pulleys, levers and mechanical doodads from an erstwhile grand engineering age can be seen as you drive slowly over the wall. A spray on white water continuously surges through one of its 20 gates next to a shady picnic area and boat ramp. A good place to cast a fishing line into the churning water during the dry season, but is sometimes submerged in the wet.
Ivanhoe Crossingaddress: Ivanhoe RdPermanently submerged crossing over (or under) the Ord River. Popular with locals fishing for Barramundi, it's also a nice spot to have a BBQ or explore along the waters edge. As inviting at the water looks, taking a dip isn't advisable as freshwater crocs got in first, and they don't like to share. Crossing in a 4WD is possible when water levels are low, but during the wet season, the river swells to a torrent and makes the way impassable for all but the most foolhardy.
Kelly's Knobaddress: Kelly RdVisible from anywhere in town, Kelly's knob is the highest point (191 m) for miles, making it the ideal place to get a wide view of the valley and surrounding ranges. A railed lookout area next to the carpark is a suitable vantage point to see all the main features. Those itching to see further can hop over the pitiful fence uphill from the carpark and follow a well worn trail along the hill face to the service stairs that lead to TV tower and the knob's peak. Sunset is the best time to visit.
Lake ArgyleLiterally the reason Kununurra is on the map; this enormous man made lake is about 70 km out of town. Any superlative you care to think of fails to do justice to the size and beauty of what is here, but the odd four letter word usually enters the mind of most on arrival. Besides being dumbstruck with the spectacular landscape, you can also swim, hike or fish around the myriad of islands, bays and beaches. Cruise and fishing charter boats ply the waters and are a good way to explore the less easily accessible parts of the lake.
Lake KununurraThe smaller brother to lake Argyle. The middle of the lake is littered with the ghostly drowned trees poking their limbs above the water, but the outer edge wet lands support a huge range of plants, birds, fish and other animals. There are a few picnic spots (some with barbecues) where you can swim, off Victoria Hwy. A cruise boat does a tour around the lake and up to the Ord Dam.
Mirima National Parkaddress: Barringtonia AveThough the park is huge, a small area close to town has been developed with walkways, information boards and a viewing platform. Often described as the mini Bungle-Bungles by marketing types in tourist brochures, it offers more diversity than just striped domes. It’s worth visiting at sunrise or sunset when the orange colour of the rock is at its most intense. An entry fee is payable into an often out of order ticket machine, but can be avoided by either walking in from town or parking out front (next to the cemetery) and walking the 500 m into the park.
Sleeping Buddha/Elephant RockNamed Carlton Ridge on maps, but fancifully called the Sleeping Buddha by locals, this meandering outcrop is said to resemble a slumbering Buddha or an elephant depending on your viewpoint. Kelly's Knob lookout or Celebrity Tree Park are ideal spots for a good view of the Buddha, and the elephant with its trunk dipped into the water is best seen from Packsaddle Rd or a boat on the river.
The outlying areas hide many interesting sights that emerge fleetingly during the wet season, when water flows and brings waterfalls, waterholes and creeks to the normally arid landscape. Only a 4WD will get you to most places and access to some may even be cut off by floods. A visit might be less of a hassle in the dry, but you won't be seeing them in their full splendour.
Black Rock FallsWell hidden in the hills northwest of town is a deep waterhole at the base of a 30-m waterfall popular with locals in the know. The waterfall only comes to life in the wet season, when monsoon rains flush out the waterhole and temporarily creates a cool place to swim between the sheer rock faces. It's not the easiest spot to find or get to, but if you have the means and get a long enough gap in the wet season rain, its a worthwhile visit.
Middle SpringsPartly shaded by overhanging trees is a large sandy bottomed pool fed by a small waterfall gently tumbling down the rock face. A climb up the side of the falls will bring you to smaller secluded swimming holes and a great view over the valley.
Climb the Sleeping BuddhaIf the view from afar suitably whets your curiosity, you can access the Buddha's foot (or is it the head?) at the end of Drovers Rd, next to the racecourse/rodeo grounds. Though the sheer rock faces may look discouraging, it is possible to climb to the top, though you will have to forge your own path up. It's not an easy climb, but it offers views that exceed those from Kelly's Knob.
Explore Lake Kununurra and the Ord River by boatphone: +61 8 9168 2682With the amount of water around Kununurra, often the best way to see some areas is by boat. Triple J is the only outfit in town to provide trips around Lake Kununurra and the upper reaches of the Ord River. Their big covered boats cruise different routes at varying times of the year depending on what looks good at the time. An informative commentary points out interesting features in the landscape as you pass craggy hills, precipitous gorges and the odd bemused native animal watching as you cruise by.
Hike in Mirima National ParkThe rest of the National Park outside of Hidden Valley is open bushland with a network of unmarked trails winding around the rocks and boab trees. It can be accessed from anywhere along the northern side of Victoria Hwy. A good entry point is at the gated service road opposite Hibiscus Drive. Walk up the gravel road, pass the water tank and follow any of the trails into the bush. Many hills can be climbed for a better view but finding a way up can be tricky. Make sure you pay attention to where you are going as it is easy to get lost among the winding valleys and be wary of getting too close to ledges as the brittle rocks are prone to break away.
Leisure Centre & Swimming Poolphone: +61 8 9168 2120address: Coolibah DrIf swimming with the crocs is not your thing, you can still take a dip in the eight lane pool or run riot in the children's water play area. There are also Gym and Squash courts facilities.
phone: +61 8 9169 1055address: Lakeview DrSet on the banks of the lake and striking through some fairly swampy area, this 18-hole course makes avoiding water hazards a definite challenge. Greens are well maintained but fairways give little relief from the surrounding natural terrain. Nonetheless, you would be hard pressed to find a more isolated course of this standard.
Festivals & events
phone: +61 8 9168 1177An annual festival held over two weeks in May that brings some big names (and big money) for two weeks of art, music, dance and culture events in and around Kununurra and Wyndham. The festival's finale is the Kimberley Moon Experience dinner, featuring a performance by the headline act and lots of corporate schmoozing. Events change each year, but past years have had rodeos, Kimberley inspired artwork and the frantic Diamond Dig.
phone: +61 8 9168 2885address: Showgrounds, Cnr Ivanhoe Rd and Coolabah DrHeld on a weekend in July each year, the Ag Show is a chance for local farmers to meet and see who has the biggest vegetable. It's a good insight into the local way of life, there are displays of prize cattle, local produce, preserves and homecrafts, plus competitive equestrian and lawnmower racing events.
Kununurra has long been a magnet for travellers seeking backbreaking work to fund a few more months of leisurely wandering. Most of the unskilled labour jobs are on the farms when short term harvesting gigs become available between June and November. Harvesting jobs are advertised in the local paper and on backpacker and supermarket notice boards. The truly lazy who want their jobs to come to them can sign up with one of the recruitment agencies.
If you are skilled and they are short-staffed, hospitality work at the hotels comes up mainly in the peak tourist season, but most places want a commitment for longer than a few weeks. Most of the time these jobs are not advertised, so the best approach is to do the rounds of the hotels and inquire directly.
Nefarious rumours of working without a valid work visa are often whispered in the dark corners of pubs and, true as it might be, the right way is to have a proper Australian work visa. The main Australia page can tell you what you need to legally work in Australia.
Artlandish Aboriginal Art Galleryphone: +61 8 91681 881address: 10 Papuana StSpecialising in Aboriginal Art from the Kimberley, the gallery style store displays a wide range of styles from unknowns and established artists alike. If names like Minnie Pwerle, Tommy Carrol or 'Lofty' Bardayal Nadjamerrek aren't on your art radar, it's still worth a wander around to see some good paintings, even if you don't want something for your wall.
phone: +61 8 9169 1133address: 93 Konkerberry DrIf you have a bit of style and a pile of cash, a piece of hand crafted jewellery featuring rare Argyle Pink Diamonds could make a unique souvenir.
SupermarketsThe two supermarkets in town are your only option for stocking up on groceries and your last chance for many hundreds of kilometres if you're travelling onwards. Between them, they have most staples and a limited range of gourmet products.
Colesphone: +61 8 9168 2711address: Cnr Konkerberry & Messmate DrThe usual range of products you would expect, plus some cheap-o camping and fishing equipment. Almost everything is trucked in frozen and then defrosted on the shelf, so freshness of products like bread can be sub-par. Staffed by some of the surliest check out chicks in the state.
Tucker Box IGAphone: +61 8 9169 1270address: 191 White Gum StLess slick looking than the other place, but they do have fresh vegetables and bread from local producers, plus you get a friendly smile at the checkout.
Kununurra is surrounded by agriculture, so there's a steady supply of fresh, sometimes organic, vegetables and fruit throughout the year. The popular Kensington Pride mangos come into season between September and December and are prized for their unique flavour.
There was a time when farms sold their produce from rickety wooden tables in front of their properties. Sadly, this doesn't seem to happen much nowadays. If you still like the idea of buying your food directly from the farmer, it might be worth driving around the farmlands on the towns outskirts and keeping an eye out for a hand painted sign propped up against a fence.
Those with a more adventurous palate should try a Boab Nut. Boab trees start to fruit in October and reach maturity around mid-January when the mature nut drops to the ground. The nuts are generally too high up to pick from a branch, so you will need to search for an intact one among the litter of smashed shells left by birds. The flaky dry white flesh inside the thin shelled nut has been described by some as tasting like citrus flavoured powdered milk, but others maintain it's closer to sour Styrofoam. The tuber of baby boabs are also edible and taste similar to a water chestnut. Bottles of boab chutney flavoured with various spices can sometimes be bought at the Saturday markets.
BudgetGood budget food is hard to find. If the fast food chains don't appeal, you may be better off heading to a supermarket and eating DIY.
BP Ord River Roadhousephone: +61 8 9169 1188address: 5 Messmate WayYou may be asking how food from a petrol station could possibly be worth eating, but this place has decent home-made take away food that's consistently raved about by visitors and locals alike. If burgers and pies are too ignoble for your tastes, try some lasagne or beef stroganoff.
Kimberley Asian Cuisine Restaurantphone: +618 9169 3698address: 75 Coolibah DrTaking an influence from a mixed bag of Asian cuisines, their menu is a welcome variance in your dining options. The Asian-style dishes are not particularly authentic, but are nonetheless spicy in the right way.
Rumours Patisseriephone: +61 8 9168 2071address: 4/64 Konkerberry DrDespite the fancy name, Rumours is more of a sandwiches and pies place that does a decent fry up breakfast that is a popular hangover cure. Freshly made burgers are of a hunger busting size and the cakes, slices and muffins taste like something your mum used to make. Avoid going there after 3PM, when school children descend like a flock of crows to eat the last sausage roll in the warmer.
The Durack Room Steakhouse/Sails Bar & Bistrophone: +61 8 9169 1092address: 50 Casuarina WayThese two restaurants operate at different times of the year from the same property. Carnivores will feel right at home at the steakhouse with an animal heavy menu and a decor that feels like you're in someone's lounge room. Sails has a large outdoor dining area and offers pretty standard breakfast, lunch and dinner fare. Steakhouse open Mar-Dec, Sails open May-Sep.
Zebra Rock Bar & Restaurantphone: +61 8 9168 0400address: 37 Messmate WayKeeping an Aussie theme right through to the menu, they serve up simple pasta, steak and seafood dishes, plus some genuine vegetarian options. Breakfast buffet and limited lunch dining are available on weekdays, but for a truly Australian feed, get to the $20 BBQ on Sundays.
phone: +61 427 692 775address: Ivanhoe Rdis a good moderate eat
phone: +61 8 9168 3626address: Shop 2, Gateway Shopping Centre, Konkerberry Dveprovides excellent food and a half-price lunch menu
phone: +61 8 9169 1167address: 4 Cotton Tree Ave.
phone: +61 8 9169 2810address: Konkerberry Dve
The Argyle Room/The Grande Bistrophone: +61 8 9193 8340address: 20 Victoria HighwayAn upmarket place that offers fine dining in the Argyle room and more casual bistro eats out in the courtyard. The menu, albeit limited, is spoken of by many in the same favourable terms as the service. Offering among the usual modern Australian dishes, a buffet, daily specials of local produce and wood fired pizzas. The buffet breakfast can be hit and miss — some days, you may get fresh pancakes and hot food and on others, a loaf of bread and a toaster.
Kelly's Bar and Grillphone: +61 8 9168 1024address: 47 Coolibah DrPopular with locals trying hard to emulate sophisticated city folk, the restaurant's cramped indoor seating area forces most diners to the tables on the spacious deck outside. The menu changes with the seasons and features local produce. The choices can be variable interestingness wise, but it's worth ignoring the usual run of the mill dishes and trying out a unique local style meal such as barramundi and crocodile risotto. They also have a decent selection of wine and fancy beer.
phone: +61 8 9169 3222address: Lot 3005, Lakeview DrIt's in a decommissioned pumphouse built in early days of the Ord River irrigation scheme. This stylish place overlooks the Ord River and serves modern Australian dishes made with produce from all over the Kimberley and WA. If the reverberant seating inside the cavernous space dampens your appetite, a table on the riverside deck makes a nice place to simply have a beer and watch the crocs swim past.
Occasionally, bottle shops are prohibited to sell full strength beer, wine and spirits till after 7PM, whenever the local police deem that a community event will be marred by availability of booze during the day. Though it might feel like a ridiculous inconvenience, there's no point complaining to the bottle shop staff. Just come back after 7PM like everyone else.
The rest of the time there are plenty of ways to get something cold and numbing to slake your thirst.
phone: +61 8 9168 2467address: 300 Weaber Plain RdThe oldest continuously operating rum distillery in Western Australia, the Hoochery uses local cane sugar to make some pretty potent booze. Though it is aged in oak barrels, it's still a harsh gulp, but the high alcohol percentage (up to 70%) hits in the right way. Tours of the distilling operations run twice a day.
Liquorlandphone: +61 8 9168 3723address: Lot 2252 Konkerberry DrStocks a limited selection of WA wines, imported beers and the most popular spirits. Their walk in freezer is a nice place to browse the aisles on a hot day.
address: Messmate WayBottle Shop. Past the mountains of domestic beer and premixed drinks stacked inside the door is a decent selection of wine, imported beer and spirits. A drive-thru service is also available if you know what you want and are reluctant to leave your car's air-conditioning.
phone: +61 8 9168 0400address: 37 Messmate WayA kitschy Aussie-themed place with a corrugated iron bar and other rustic paraphernalia on the walls. Beer aficionados would be well advised to try one of ales from Matso's Brewery of Broome they have on tap. A band or DJ provide the tunes on Fridays or you can belt one out yourself at Karaoke on Wednesday.
Gulliver's Tavernphone: +61 8 91681666address: 196 Cottontree AveA nice place to hangout in the courtyard with some of the less haggard looking locals. They can fill up a pint mug with a half a dozen beers on tap or give you a bottle of something more boutique. Some patrons speak effusively about the friendliness of the bar staff.
KG Sports Barphone: +61 8 9166 5600address: 20 Victoria HwyA weirdly minimal styled interior with boxy wooden tables and tree trunk stools. Of course, the big attraction here is the huge TV surrounded by glazed eyed males, glued to the cable sport channel while sipping on one of the wide range of ales the bar has on tap. You might want to bring a cushion for those hard wood seats if you plan on staying till the final whistle.
Kimberley Cafephone: +61 8 9169 2574address: 4 Papuana StThis is about as sophisticated as it gets here, with fresh coffee, tea, cakes and a limited menu of light meals. The coffee is great so if you need something with more kick than the free instant coffee in your hotel, this place might be your best option.
Ivanhoe Village Caravan Resortphone: +61 8 9169 1995address: Cnr Coolibah and Ivanhoe RdOn the outer edge of town, this caravan park and campground has numerous sites that spread to the local football oval to meet demand in the peak season. The Barra cabins are basic but clean and comfortable for the price, but the two bedroom Ivanhoe Suites look like a bargain if you bring friends.
phone: +61 8 9168 2702address: 120 Konkerberry DrBang in the middle of town, 600 m away from the Greyhound bus stop, this hostel is the best of the backpacker options. It has everything you expect, plus a pool and a nice communal kitchen. Pickups from bus station or airport can be arranged in advance.
Lake Argyle Caravan and Camping Parkphone: +61 8 9168 7777address: Lake ArgyleOne of the best places to stay at the cheapest price would have to be here on the edge of Lake Argyle. Even though it's 70 km from town, you won't need to do without any conveniences as a small shop, restaurant, laundry and camp kitchen are on site. There's some upgrading going on, so it might be even better by the time you visit.
phone: +61 438 608 079address: Cnr Victoria Hwy & Messmate WayThis was once the best place in town, but now the rooms could do with a style update. Nonetheless, they are clean, comfortable and quiet, making it one of better bargains in town. The garden provides a pleasant walk to the pool.
phone: +61 8 9168 1763address: 40 Bloodwood DrHidden away in town are shady grassed caravan/tent sites and air-conditioned studio or villa rooms. Facilities to make use of include the shaded swimming pool, plentiful hot water showers, internet and a campers kitchen with possibly the cleanest BBQ in the entire top end.
phone: +61 8 9168 0000address: 31 Victoria HwyDomesticated couples or big groups might find these 1-3 bedroom self-contained apartments suitable to their style. The rooms surround a shaded swimming pool with spa next to a BBQ area. Guests have been impressed by the friendly owners helpfulness.
phone: +61 8 9169 1092address: 50 Casuarina WayWhat the rooms lack in style, they make up for in views. Though it's right on the edge of Lake Kununurra, it is nonetheless somewhat inconveniently located in a residential area, a lengthy walk from the useful part of town.
phone: +61 8 9168 1024address: 47 Coolibah DrA fairly upmarket place, but the quality doesn't quite match the premium price. Modern rooms scattered through a tropical garden with a pool and popular but overrated restaurant. A courtesy bus can take you to/from the bus station or airport if you arrange in advance.
address: 20 Victoria HwyThis is about as upmarket as Kununurra can offer. But the large modern rooms have enough style to satiate your expectations if you want some luxury to take refuge in after a day in the sun.
Information and news
Kimberley EchoA thin community newspaper that's a good source for upcoming event listings, job ads, classifieds and news reports on whatever local incidents the editor deems newsworthy. Available on the counter at supermarkets and service stations.
phone: +61 8 9169 1227address: Mangaloo StStocks a good collection of Kimberley and Aboriginal culture books, plus a selection of currentish local and interstate newspapers. Don't even think about Internet as faster connections can be found elsewhere at far less exorbitant prices. You may borrow books if you have a current WA public library card. Everyone else can get the same privileges with a cash deposit.
PhonePayphones are scattered throughout town, but some on the street side suffer from vandalism and may be inoperable. It might be best to try the one at your hostel or at the tourist centre. Phones are coin-operated or use prepaid Phonecards, available from most supermarkets or newsagents. International calling cards are also available at these outlets.
Mobile phone coverage can be sketchy. The Telstra, Optus and Vodafone networks have a good signal within town, becoming variable to non-existent the further away you get. Other networks are hit and miss, but those with 3G/NextG phones might have more luck.
If you intend to spend any amount of time off the beaten track, it is advisable to rent a satellite phone to call for emergency services should anything happen.
InternetMost hotels and hostels will have wireless or terminals for you to get your Internet fix.
- Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungle Range) — a striking jumble of striped sandstone domes that truly deserves to be described as a must see. Although scenic flights from Kununurra are popular, Purnululu is really best appreciated from ground level.
- Darwin — Route 1 continues eastwards from Kununurra into the Northern Territory, passing through Gregory National Park and Katherine before reaching Darwin after about 800 km.
- Warmun (Turkey Creek) — an Aboriginal community around 200 km south of Kununurra. Besides being an entry point to the Purnululu National Park, it also has a long standing arts scene that's produced a number of internationally recognised Aboriginal Artists. A roadhouse, caravan park and basic hotel accommodation are enough to rest and refuel.
- Wyndham — the oldest and most northerly town in the Kimberley. Wyndham is about 100 km from Kununurra and sits in the Cambridge Gulf at the confluence of five rivers. Among the desolate natural scenery are a number of interesting relics from the towns boom and bust history.