One of the plus sides of living in the outback is that you get to see some of the most unique places in the world; places you would normally not think of visiting. You would expect that there is not much to do in such a remote area, but that is luckily not the case. Last week we took the opportunity to explore the town of Kununurra. Kununurra is a town at the eastern edge of the Kimberley Region. While we live in a very dry place, in Kununurra you can finds lots of water and places to swim. Gorges, spring pools, waterfalls, rivers… We visited some great spots and made some recommendations for you guys, for if you’re ever wanting to visit the Kimberley Region – which you should!
Elephant Rock/Sleeping Buddha
There is a large rock on the edge of the town alongside the Ord River. The rock is officially known as the Carlton Ridge, but because of its shape it’s often nicknamed the Elephant Rock or the Sleeping Buddha, depending from where you see it. There are two ways to look at the rock: one is from Celebrity Tree Park, where you’ll see it as the Sleeping Buddha. The second is from the upper Ord River, where it resembles an elephant’s head. Unfortunately we didn’t have the chance yet to go on the river, but we did drive to Packsaddle Road with our car, and you get some glances of the rock as a elephant’s head over there.
Just like the amazing Palm Springs, this is a beautiful little spring pool, but this one comes with a waterfall! A very small waterfall, but it makes the place just a bit more beautiful. Molly Springs is located 30 kilometers out of Kununurra. The pool is only a few meters across, but the vertical rocks and the trees give the pool a relaxing shady place to sit in the water. It’s a great place for a little swim, but an even better place for just sitting on the rocks in the water and enjoying life.
This was definitely the highlight of our trip. The Grotto is actually closer to Wyndham, the oldest town in the Kimberley Region, but it’s still only 70 kilometers out of Kununurra. You can easily combine a trip to Molly Springs with a trip to The Grotto on the same day – which is what we did.
The Grotto is a large deep rock pool with waterfall, surrounded by vertical cliffs. The cliffs are covered with moss and tree roots. To get there you have to walk over a hundred steps made out of either concrete or rock. Ropes are tied to trees, so you can have a lot of jumping fun. People also jump from the ledges, but be careful: some places in the water are covered with rocks. It’s safer to jump from the ropes. The waterfall is at the end of the rock pool, and you can easily go swim up there and take a bit of a shower under it. It’s best to go to the Grotto during the wet season, as the waterfall dries up during the dry season. However, the pool is still there regardless of the season.
Five Rivers Lookout
Also closer to Wyndham than Kununurra, this look out is easy to get to by following the signposts with your car. The views are not disappointing, it’ll blow you away. Located 335 meters above sea level, you can see the meeting of five river mouths of the Gulf: Durack, Kink, Pentecost, Forrest and the Ord River. Just enjoy the view and maybe even an amazing sunset if you are on time.
Food and accommodation
Don’t expect Kununurra to have a lot of great restaurants, bars and hotels. It’s still only a small town in the outback. The town we are living in at the moment has no restaurants at all, so it was great anyway that we could finally go out for dinner. We went to Kelly’s Bar & Grill, which is based in the Country Club Resort. If you’re wearing flipflops, like we were, you will be put in a different part of the restaurant. You’ll get the same food and service, but the lighting is just a bit worse. It sounds very harsh, but actually almost everyone was in that part of the restaurant, because almost everyone wears flipflops.
Except for the bad bright lighting in the restaurant, we had a very good experience. It was pretty fancy actually. It wasn’t cheap, but you really get what you paid for. If you’re looking for some drinks, go to Hotel Kununurra, where there is a bar with some music, pool tables and sometimes a live band. It’s also a good place to stay for the night, if you enjoy a good swimming pool and decent rooms.
We had a lovely time in Kununurra and the surrounding area. It made us realize how lucky we are to be in this beautiful part of Australia. There are still enough places to explore and we can’t wait for our next little escape! See you next time.