Inala’s Kimberley Tour: Kununurra to Broome 4-14 August 2024
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’ regions. 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. This tour visits areas that are only accessible by 4WD and provides a unique chance to stay in roadhouses and on vast cattle stations en route. We have also included a scenic flight and full day on the Mitchell Plateau where we will walk to the famous Mitchell Falls and explore the spinifex-clad rocky escarpments and Livistonia palm monsoon thickets hoping to spot the rare and range-restricted Black Grasswren, as well as Kimberley Honeyeater, Partridge Pigeon, Rainbow Pitta and Green-backed Gerygone. Not only will we fly in a light plane to Mitchell Plateau, but we will enjoy a short helicopter ride back from our walk to Mitchell Falls. Along the Gibb River Road we will explore ancient gorges, tropical savannah lands and spectacular ranges.
Day 1. Sun 4 Aug 2024. Arrive Kununurra.
Day 2. Mon 5 Aug 2024. Kununurra to Wyndham, birding along the way
Day 3. Tue 6 Aug 2024. Explore the Wyndham area
Day 4. Wed 7 Aug 2024. Scenic flight to Mitchell Falls, then on to Balanggarra (Home Valley) Station
Day 5. Thu 8 Aug 2024. Balanggarra (Home Valley) to Mount Elizabeth Station
Day 6. Fri 9 Aug 2024. Explore Mount Elizabeth Station
Day 7. Sat 10 Aug 2024. Mount Elizabeth Station to Mount Hart Station.
Day 8. Sun 11 Aug 2024. Explore Mount Hart Station
Day 9. Mon 12 Aug 2024. Mount Hart Station to Bandilngan (Windjana Gorge) National Park, then overnight at Derby
Day 10. Tue 13 Aug 2024. Derby to Broome, including a tour at the Broome Bird Observatory
Day 11. Wed 14 Aug 2024. Depart Broome
DETAILED Itinerary: B-breakfast, L-lunch and D-dinner
Day 1. Sunday 4 August 2024. 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. Monday 5 August 2024. 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 Zitting Cisticola, Yellow-rumped Mannikin, Red-chested Buttonquail and Horsfield’s Bushlark, plus hundreds of different waterbirds. We will reach Wyndham around lunchtime 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. Later in the day, 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.
Accommodation: Wyndham (en suite rooms). Meals included: BLD.
Day 3. Tuesday 6 August 2024. Birding around Wyndham.
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. Then we will head to 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. 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. On our return to Wyndham late in the day we may see Saltwater Crocodiles at low tide and we can also look for Short-eared Rock Wallabies at a nearby lookout before returning to our accommodation for the evening
Accommodation: Wyndham (en suite rooms). Meals included: BLD.
Day 4. Wednesday 7 August 2024. Scenic flight to Mitchell Falls, then on to Balanggarra (Home Valley) Station
This morning we will take an early flight to the spectacular Mitchell Plateau, where we will make the most of our time birding and admiring the spectacular scenery. 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 and Silver-backed Butcherbird (Kimberley ssp colletti). 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. We will walk the beautiful 4.3km track to Mitchell Falls past ancient rock art, and Red-headed Honeyeater. Andrew Browne Mitchell Falls then we will treat ourselves to a helicopter flight back to where our hike started. After a final search for elusive birds, we will fly back to Wyndam and then head out on the Gibb River Road and to our destination at Balanggarra (Home Valley) Station. Tonight, we can spotlight around the property to search for Barking Owl, Tawny Frogmouth or Australian Owlet-nightjar.
Accommodation: Balanggarra (Home Valley) Station (en suite rooms). Meals included: B (continental) LD
Day 5. Thu 8 Aug 2024. Balanggarra (Home Valley) Station to Mount Elizabeth Station along the Gibb River Road
After an early morning birding session, we will head slowly towards Mount Elizabeth Station, stopping along the way at waterholes and river crossing always on the lookout for new species and to revisit some we have already seen. Along the road we may see species such as Varied Lorikeet, Paperbark Flycatcher, Horsfield Bushlark, Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Black-chinned Honeyeater (Golden-backed ssp laetior), Varied Sittella or some of the many raptor species that occur in the region. Birds we can look out for include Northern Shrike-tit (Falcunculus whitei) Buff-sided Robin, Purple-crowned Fairywren, Black Bittern, Banded Honeyeater, Azure Kingfisher, and as always. the chance of Red Goshawk.
Accommodation: Mt Elizabeth Station. Meals included: BLD
Day 6. Friday 9 August 2024. Exploring the Mount Elizabeth Station.
Mount Elizabeth Station is a 500,000 acre cattle station in the heart of the Kimberley. Within the property there is a huge variety of native flora and fauna, along with Aboriginal rock art, waterfalls and gorges. We will enjoy a full day of exploring; a welcome break from the corrugations of the Gibb River Road. Here we hope to see many of our target species, along with the chance to spot fresh water crocodiles, fish, turtles and lizards. We will have a look for the star attractions of the area - Purple-crowned Fairywren and Northern Shrike-tit (Falcunculus whitei). The fairywrens live in the pandanus-lined waterways where we can also see Azure Kingfisher, Buff-sided Robin, Crimson Finch, White-gaped & Rufous-throated Honeyeaters and Black Bittern. The Northern Shrike-tit is now a species in its own right and is found in the tropical eucalypt woodlands on the station.
Accommodation: Mt Elizabeth Station. Meals included: BLD.
Day 7. Saturday 10 August 2024. Mount Elizabeth Station to Mount Hart Station.
We will then travel from Mount Elizabeth Station River to Mt Hart Station, heading further west along the Gibb River Road. Along the way we will visit gorges, have lunch at a Roadhouse and traverse the King Leopold Range. Bird spotting at the gorges may reward us with sightings of the green backed Gerygones. We’ll also 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 localized 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. For those wanting to stretch their legs, the walk up to Sunset Hill promises spectacular views. Accommodation: Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge. Meals included: B (continental) LD (3 course).
Day 8. Sunday 11 August 2024. Exploring the Mount Hart Station area
Today we have a full day to explore Mount Hart Station. Once a working cattle station, Mount Hart now sits in the heart of the 3,700 square kilometre Wunaamin Miliwundi Ranges Conservation Park. There are plenty of opportunities here to explore gorges, waterfalls and shady billabongs for those keen for a dip as well as spectacular landscapes and wildlife. While we are exploring we will be on the lookout for Pheasant Coucal, Green-backed Gerygone, Mertens Water Monitors and Dingos. This is also the western limit for some of the top end specialties such as Spangled Drongo and Yellow Oriole. Around the homestead there are plenty of Agile Wallabies, finches and honeyeaters around the well-watered lawns. At night there is the opportunity to explore one of the gorges in search of elusive mammals such as Northern Quoll, Kimberley Rock Rats, and Golden-backed Tree Rat. The march of the Cane Toad across northern Australia means that some of these species, particularly Quolls, have become difficult to see. However, night-time also presents the opportunity to look for frogs, owls and Tawny Frogmouths (northern sub sp.). There is a grove of Batwing Coral Trees (Erythrina vespertilio) that should be flowering at this time of year and attracts nectar loving birds during the day and gliders at night. Also recommended is a walk up to this station’s Sunset Hill which is across the airstrip from the Homestead. Accommodation: Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge. Meals included: B (continental) LD (3 course)
Day 9. Monday 12 August 2024. Mount Hart Station to Derby.
Today is our final day on the Gibb River Road, with a worthy diversion to Bandilngan (Windjana Gorge) National Park and Tunnel Creek National Park. Birds here include more chances of Gouldian Finch and Northern Shrike Tit (Falcunculus whitei), as well as Diamond Dove, Pictorella Mannikin, Star Finch and Red-winged Parrot. We will then head back to the final section of the Gibb River Road and the welcomed sealed road at Derby and our accommodation for the night. Accommodation: Derby (en suite rooms). Meals included: BLD
Day 10. Tuesday 13 August 2024. Derby to Broome.
This morning 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, before we head to Broome. We can also visit the Mowanjum Arts Centre and the famous Boab Prison Tree (also known as Kunumudj) which is believed to be around 1500 years old. Once we arrive at Broome we will head to the Broome Bird Observatory, where we will meet our specialist Broome guide and enjoy either a shoreline, mangroves, Roebuck Plains or bush tour (type of tour dependent on tidal and weather conditions). This will provide one last chance to look for the Yellow Chat (if we go on the Bush & Plains tour), or the amazing shorebirds and ecology of Roebuck Bay.
To end our tour, we will head to Cable Beach to view the sunset over the ocean and meet with new participants who are joining the Broome-Dampier Peninsula tour.
Accommodation: Broome (en suite rooms). Meals included: B (continental) L, D.
Day 11. Wednesday 14 August 2024. 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.
Group size: 4 people with one specialist Inala driver guide or 8 people with 2 driver/guides.
Tour Price: AU$11,750 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.