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Gateway to the red dust road - new flights

Manning Gorge (image courtesy Tourism Australia)

Western Australia’s dramatic Kimberley region is scheduled to come within easier reach this summer with the launch of direct flights from Singapore to the coastal town of Broome.

Melbourne based low cost airline Jetstar - a Qantas subsidiary -will operate two flights a week in the area’s dry season. Between 25 June and 26 October flights will depart in both directions on Tuesdays and Saturdays. While it is possible to fly from Perth to Broome the move (depending on connection times) may cut the total journey time from the UK significantly. 

Broome lies on the Indian Ocean. It has long been a major centre of the pearling industry, which was launched there in 1880. More than 900 Japanese divers are buried in the town’s Japanese cemetery. Visitors may take camel rides along its 22km long, white sand Cable Beach. It is also home to the world’s oldest open air cinema.

Waterfall on the Gibb River Road (image from Wikimedia Commons)

But arguably its greatest importance to travellers is as a gateway to the almost 660km Gibb River Road, much of which entails driving on red dust. If you rent a vehicle you will be advised not to open the doors immediately you stop - until the cloud you have whipped up rolls on past. This is an unforgettable experience. The route will take you, for example, to Windjana Gorge, where, woken early by a cacophony of rosellas,  you may spot crocodiles basking on a far bank of the Lennard river and walk in the shade of trees festooned with sleeping fruit bats. Not far from there is Tunnel Creek, a hideaway used by the late 19th century Aboriginal leader Jandamarra, who led resistance to colonization. Make sure you have a torch to help you wade through the tunnel.

Further along the road, which was originally created to move cattle, there are diversions to waterfalls and swimming holes.

Most people camp. But more comfortable accommodation is available. Not least of the options is the resort of El Questro, formerly on a vast cattle station You may pitch your own tent there, stay in a complex of en suite tented cabins with a restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or spend the kids’ inheritance in evenb greater luxury at The Homestead, perched on a clifftop overlooking the Chamberlain River. Activities include swimming, hiking, horse riding and waterway cruising.

One way car rentals are available. You could fly back to Broome from Kununurra, on Airnorth or Virgin Australia, for example. A 4x4 may be required - and is essential should you extend your trip to the Bungle Bungle (Purnululu National Park), with its curious, striped rock formations.


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