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Kimberley, sometimes called The Kimberley, is one of the 9 regions in Western Australia. It is one the most rugged areas of Australia and a popular region for travellers. The region was actually called after Kimberley and surroundings in South Africa, because of its similar landscapes, and after the discovery of diamonds in the Australian Kimberley, the similarity only has gotten stronger. Today, most travellers certainly don't come here for diamonds, but for its surreal beauty, its wideness, big skies and beautiful gorges, pools and some of the most rewarding 4wd tracks in the country.
Kimberley is located in the northern part of Western Australia. It borders te Indian Ocean in the west, the Timor Sea in the north, the Great Sandy Desert and Tanami Desert and the Pilbara in the south and the Northern Territory in the east. It covers an area of 423,517 square kilometres and yet only about 41,000 people live in this vast region. The Kimberley consists of the ancient mountain ranges of northwestern Australia cut through with sandstone and limestone gorges and steep ridges from which the extreme monsoonal climate has removed much of the soil. The southern end of the Kimberley beyond the Dampier Peninsula is flatter with dry tropical grassland and is used for cattle ranching. Most of the area is steep though, including the coastal area which has steep cliffs, becoming a little bit flatter in the southern coastal region.
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The Kimberley has a tropical monsoon climate and gets 90% of its rainfall during the wet season, from November to April. This is also the time when cyclones can occur, especially in the southern regions around Broome, and rivers can flood. The annual rainfall is highest in the northwest, ranging from 1,300 mm over here to just over 500 mm in the southeast. In the dry season, from May to October, typical days are and nights can become chilly, especially inland. Rainfall has become more severe, but also less predictable over the last decades, with sometimes severe rains and heavy flooding. It is, on average, also the hottest area in Australia, with temperatures during the colder months (July and August) mostly around or even above 30 °C. Temperatures gradually increase again from September onwards, and combined with the high humidity during this so-called build-up season (towards the rainy season), it becomes a little unbearable sometimes. Temperatures rise to 37 °C on the coast to 40 °C in the south around Halls Creek during this time, though can become much higher in the southern desert areas. Minimum temperatures range from around 12 °C in the cooler areas in July, to around 27 °C in the hottest places in November. Obviously, the best time for a visit is from May to September.
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Broome International Airport (BME) provides links to Perth, Darwin, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney as well as several smaller regional towns. Qantas, Virgin Blue, Skywest and Air North are the main carriers.
Kununurra Airport (KNX) has links with Air North to Darwin and Perth, and with Skywest to Perth. Argyle Airport GYL) has flights to Perth with Skywest as well. Argyle is not far from Kununurra.
You can easily reach the region along good sealed roads (the Great Northern Highway), but it is going to be long drive anyhow. From Darwin, it is about 900 kilometres to Kununurra]], from Broome to Perth is around 2,000 kilometres.
Greyhound stops in a number of places on its route between Darwin and south towards the rest of Western Australia. Broome, Derby and Kununurra are the most likely places to break your trip.
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There are flights between Kununurra and both Argyle and Broome, the three largest airports in the region. Other then that, it is most likely that you will be in a plane (or helicopter) during trips across the region, for example to the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu).
You can travel through the Kimberley along the main highway, the Great Northern Highway, which connects Broome, Derby and Kununurra. But if you want to see something more off the beaten track, you really have to go on one of the gravelroads. The Gibb River Road between Derby and Kununurra saves you about 250 kilometres but the going is much slower. Take it easy and try to travel if possible just after the grading of the road, which usually is done first in May and then a couple of times during the dry season until October when the rain makes the going not advisable for travellers.
Greyhound travels between the biggest towns on its route north and south of the region.
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