Remote and sparsely populated, The Kimberley, covering almost 423,000-square kilometres, is larger than 75% of the world’s countries yet ranks amongst the least-settled places on earth. Accounting for the majority of northwestern Australia, The Kimberley consists of vast plains dotted with boabs, punctuated with mountains containing palm-fringed gorges and spectacular waterfalls, surrounded by deserts to the south and east, and ultimately the treacherous coastline to the north and west.
Traveling here is a true adventure — each dry season (May-September) a steady flow of people comes to explore what many consider to be Australia’s last true frontier. Aboriginal culture runs deep across the region, from the Dampier Peninsula — where coastal communities welcome travellers — to the distant Mitchell Plateau — where Wandjina and Gwion Gwion art stand vigil over sacred waterholes.
Interestingly, one of the universal truths of remote travel is that despite searching for secluded solace it’s always the people that make the difference. This is true of the Kimberley and those people were primarily, brother and sister, Scotty and Melissa Connel. Both children of The Kimberley, they have a warmth resilience and a gentle, intimate understanding for the beautiful, often harsh environment. They were to be my guides and it soon became clear I could not have landed in more capable and knowledgeable hands.
What follows is the first of two pieces, characterised by the mode of transport — firstly some of the inner Kimberley, by 4×4, kayak, and on foot; and second, some of the endless coast, accessible only by boat and the interior from the air, photographed from plane and helicopter.