Inala’s Kimberley Tour: Kununurra to Broome 4-14 July 2023
Including excursion to Mitchell Plateau and Gibb River Road
The Gibb River Road is an iconic Australian Outback experience that has gained popularity particularly with Australians who wish to adventure into more ‘out of the way’ Australian areas. We have run this tour as a private tour option over many years, but due to popular demand, are now offering a small group tour option on scheduled dates to make it more available to our guests. This tour visits areas that are only accessible by 4WD or air, and provides a unique chance to stay in roadhouses and on vast cattle stations en route and we have also included a rarely-offered chance to stay for two nights and a full day on the Mitchell Plateau. Here we will have the chance to explore the spinifex-clad rocky escarpments and Livistonia palm monsoon thickets of the Mitchell Falls area, where we’ll have our only chance of the rare and range-restricted Black Grasswren, as well as Kimberley Honeyeater, Partridge Pigeon, Rainbow Pitta and Green-backed Gerygone. Two overnight stays in the Mitchell Falls area also enable us to explore at night for a unique range of reptile and mammal species, most of which are only found in this area.
This small group tour has been designed to follow on from our popular Top End to Eastern Kimberley tour and precede our Broome tour, which allows for maximum opportunity to visit this remote and little-explored area of Outback north Western Australia.
Day 1. Tue 4 July 2023. Arrive Kununurra.
Day 2. Wed 5 July 2023. Kununurra to Wyndham.
Day 3. Thu 6 July 2023. Wyndham to Cattle Station, Gibb River Road.
Day 4. Fri 7 July 2023. Gibb River Road to Mt Elizabeth Station.
Day 5. Sat 8 July 2023. Fly Mt Elizabeth Station to Mitchell Plateau
Day 6. Sun 9 July 2023. Mitchell Plateau/ Mitchell Falls area
Day 7. Mon 10 July 2023. Fly Mitchell Plateau to Mt Elizabeth Station.
Day 8. Tue 11 July 2023. Gibb River Road: Mt Elizabeth Station to Mt Hart Station.
Day 9. Wed 12 July 2023. Mt Hart to Fitzroy Crossing.
Day 10. Thu 13 July 2023. Fitzroy Crossing to Broome via Dangu Geikie Gorge and Derby.
Day 11. Fri 14 July 2023. Depart Broome.
DETAILED Itinerary: B-breakfast, L-lunch and D-dinner
Day 1. Tuesday 4 July 2023. Arrive Kununurra.
Today has been set aside as an arrival day so you are free to arrive at any time that suits your travel plans. Please make your own way to the hotel. For those continuing from the Darwin to Kununurra tour you will also arrive in Kununurra this afternoon. The group will meet for a welcome dinner this evening.
Accommodation: Kununurra (en suite rooms). Meals included: D.
Day 2. Wednesday 5 July 2023. Kununurra to Wyndham.
After an early breakfast we will leave Kununurra and head north-west towards Wyndham, birding along the way at a lagoon for birds like Yellow Chat, Zitting Cisticola, Yellow-rumped Mannikin, Red-chested Buttonquail and Horsfield’s Bushlark, plus hundreds of different waterbirds. We will stop at Wyndham for lunch and check out any leaky taps or sprinklers around town for a good chance of Gouldian Finch, as well as Pictorella Mannikin and Masked Finch. If time permits later in the day, we can check out the mangroves on the edge of town; we may see Saltwater Crocodile here, and at dusk we can look for Short-eared Rock Wallabies at a nearby lookout.
Accommodation: Wyndham (en suite rooms). Meals included: B,L,D.
Day 3. Thursday 6 July 2023. Wyndham to Cattle Station on the Gibb River Road.
Today we will have a look in the extensive mangroves along the Wyndham wharf area for birds like Broad-billed Flycatcher, Yellow White-eye, White-breasted & Mangrove Golden Whistlers, Red-headed Honeyeater, Lemon-bellied Flyrobin (endemic Kimberley ssp tormenti), Black Butcherbird (western edge of range here) and Mangrove Grey Fantail. Great-billed Heron and Chestnut Rail are sometimes recorded on the muddy banks at low tide.
We’ll bird en route as we start to head west, stopping at a rocky gorge just south of Wyndham, which may hold White-quilled Rock Pigeon (Kimberley ssp albipennis), Spinifex Pigeon(ssp plumifera), Sandstone Shrike-thrush, Black-chinned Honeyeater (Golden-backed ssp laetior), and Varied Sittella. Our accommodation this evening will be based on a 1,400,000 hectare (3,459,475 acre) pastoral lease on the Gibb River Road, owned by the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC).
Accommodation: ILC Pastoral Lease. Meals included: B,L,D.
Day 4. Friday 7 July 2023. Gibb River Road.
We will have a look around pre-breakfast here for tropical woodland birds like Square-tailed Kite, Silver-crowned Friarbird, Varied Lorikeet, Buff-sided Robin, Paperbark Flycatcher and Bar-breasted Honeyeater, before we travel west along the Gibb River Road, crossing the Durack River and the Gibb Range; this route requires a 4WD. We’ll be on the lookout for various raptors including Black-breasted Buzzard, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Spotted Harrier and Australian Hobby, as well as iconic outback species like Budgerigar, Cockatiel and Australian Bustard. Mammal possibilities include Antilopine Wallaroo and Northern Nailtail Wallaby. Our accommodation tonight is based on a 500,000 acre (200,000 ha) fully operational cattle station.
Accommodation: Mt Elizabeth Station (en suite rooms). Meals included: B,L,D
Days 5 & 6. Saturday 8 & Sunday 9 July 2023. Mt Elizabeth Station to Mitchell Plateau.
Today we will fly to the spectacular Mitchell Plateau, where we will stay two nights. Here we will look for the highly range-restricted Black Grasswren, as well as Kimberley Honeyeater, Purple-backed Fairywren (Lavender-flanked ssp rogersi), the “Yellow eyed” Partridge Pigeon (Kimberley ssp blaauwi), White-quilled Rock Pigeon and Sandstone Shrike-thrush. Also here in the monsoon thickets, are Rainbow Pitta, Green-backed Gerygone, Little Woodswallow, Silver-backed Butcherbird (Kimberley ssp colletti) and Rufous Owl, as well as a chance of Red Goshawk overhead. Like the other grasswrens, the Black Grasswren can be elusive at times and may take a bit of searching for although we have also visited when they have been quite obliging. The additional time we have allowed in this area will certainly be a huge benefit.
After dark we will explore the area again in search of the unique range of mammals and reptiles that occur on the plateau. These include Scaly-tailed Possum, Rock Ringtail Possum, Monjon, Golden Bandicoot, Northern Quoll, Golden-backed Tree Rat, Black-footed Tree Rat, Brush-tailed Rabbit Rat, Ghost Bat, Gracile Velvet Gecko, Superb Dragon and Rough-scaled Python.
Accommodation: Lodge on Mitchell Plateau (tented cabins) for 2 nights. Meals included: B,L,D each day.
Day 7. Monday 10 July 2023. Mitchell Plateau to Drysdale River Station.
After a final look around the area we will fly back to Mt Elizabeth Station where we can explore the environs of this huge property. Birds we can look out for include Crested Shrike-tit (the very scarce northern subspecies whitei), Buff-sided Robin, Purple-crowned Fairywren, Black Bittern, Banded Honeyeater, Azure Kingfisher, and as always. the chance of Red Goshawk. Tonight, we can spotlight around the property to search for Barking Owl, Tawny Frogmouth or Australian Owlet-nightjar.
Accommodation: Mt Elizabeth Station as for night 4. Meals included: B,L,D.
Day 8. Tuesday 11 July 2023. Gibb River Road: Mt Elizabeth to Mt Hart Station.
Around the Station we will have an additional chance to search for the star attractions of the area - Purple-crowned Fairywren and Crested (Northern) Shrike-tit (ssp whitei). The fairywrens live in the pandanus-lined waterways where we can also see Azure Kingfisher, Crimson Finch, White-gaped & Rufous-throated Honeyeaters and Black Bittern. The shrike-tit is a likely future taxonomic split and is found in the tropical eucalypt woodlands on the station.
We will then travel from Mt Elizabeth to Mt Hart Station, heading further west along the Gibb River Road. Along the way we will have lunch at a Roadhouse, visit a nearby Gorge and traverse the King Leopold Range. Along the way we’ll have further chances of Kimberley Honeyeater and White-quilled Rock-Pigeon, as well as woodland species like Black-tailed Treecreeper, Red-browed Pardalote, Northern Rosella and Purple-backed Fairywren. Reptiles include the possibility of the localised Storr’s Monitor, Kimberley Rock Monitor and Black-headed Python. Our accommodation for this evening is based on a former pastoral lease that once operated as a cattle station. The lands are now part of a large conservation area.
Accommodation: Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge (en suite rooms or tented camps TBA). Meals included: B,L,D.
Day 9. Wednesday 12 July 2023. Mt Hart to Fitzroy Crossing.
Today we will leave the Gibb River Road and cut back to the main sealed road. We will visit Winjana Gorge, and the Tunnel Creek National Park. Birds here include more chances of Gouldian Finch and Crested (Northern) Shrike Tit, as well as Diamond Dove, Pictorella Mannikin, Star Finch and Red-winged Parrot. We will stay overnight tonight at the township of Fitzroy Crossing. Accommodation: Fitzroy Crossing (en suite rooms). Meals included: B,L,D.
Day 10. Thursday 13 July 2023. Fitzroy Crossing to Broome via Dangu Geikie Gorge and Derby.
This morning we will take a one-hour cultural boat tour in Dangu Geikie Gorge with a Bunuba Indigenous guide whose connection to this land goes back to the Dreamtime. The gorge has been carved by the Fitzroy River through part of an ancient limestone barrier reef which snakes across the west Kimberley. It was laid down in an ancient sea that covered a large part of the Kimberley in Devonian times, some 350 million years ago. We will also do some exploring and birding around the general area in the morning around the general area before we travel to Broome today with a side trip to Derby. In Derby we can look for shorebirds if the tide is in our favour, or more mangrove species like Torresian Kingfisher, Mangrove Robin, White-breasted Whistler and Mangrove Gerygone. We will arrive in Broome in time for a quick town tour and view the sunset over the ocean and meet with any new participants who are joining the group for the Broome-Dampier Peninsula tour.
Accommodation: Broome (en suite rooms). Meals included: B,L,D.
Day 11. Friday 14 July 2023. Depart Broome or continue to the Broome-Dampier Peninsula tour.
Those participants who are not continuing onto the Inala Broome-Dampier Peninsula tour will make their own arrangements to depart from Broome airport. Please see separate Broome-Dampier Peninsula Tour itinerary for those who are continuing to explore with us.
We can organise an optional extra two-hour scenic flight over the Bungle Bungle Range, Carr Boyd and Osmand Range and Ord River on day 1 or 2 (depending on your other tour arrangements-current flight departure times are 06:00, 09:00 and 14:30 each day). To be advised but price around AU$500 per person based on current rates.
Group size: 4 people with one specialist Inala driver guide or 8 people with 2 driver/guides.
Tour Price: AU$11,560 per person sharing for 4 people + 1 Inala driver guide or 8 people + 2 Inala driver guides.
Single supplement: AU$1,710.
Price includes: 10 nights’ accommodation, specialist guide and transport, flights in and out of Mitchell Falls (fixed wing and helicopter), meals, entrance fees and activities as mentioned in the itinerary and GST.
Price does not include: Airfares other than flights to/from Mitchell Falls, gratuities, alcoholic beverages, snacks, internet, laundry, or other items of a personal nature.
The itinerary: Whilst we aim to follow the itinerary as planned, please note that the itinerary provided should only be used as a guideline. Depending on individual trip circumstances, weather, and local information, the exact itinerary may not be strictly adhered to. The guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary as they see fit.
Remoteness: Please note that for much of this tour we will be birding in a wonderful yet remote part of Australia. Some of the roads are unsealed and rough and travel will be in 4WD vehicles. If you have medical conditions or health concerns, it is important you make us aware of these in advance of this tour. This doesn’t necessarily preclude you. We just need to be well-informed.
Luggage: We won’t have a huge amount of room for lots of luggage on the trip and will need to restrict the luggage to one soft sided duffle bag 2-3 ft long or similar per person plus a day pack/camera/binoculars etc that can be carried in the vehicle with you. We are trying to avoid hard sided suitcases which don’t pack well in the back of 4WDS. We’ll need to carry other essentials like water which we think is more important than too many clothes.