Lying between the Great Sandy Desert and the Timor Sea /Indian Ocean, the Kimberley region occupies Western Australia’s far north, adjacent to Northern Territory – with which it shares many features.
Animals found here include huge saltwater crocodiles and a particularly rich variety of birds – such as channel-billed cuckoo and Pacific koel. The sandstone gorges of north Kimberley are important refuges for several endemic species including some that have disappeared from flatter areas – such as purple-crowned fairywren, the endangered Gouldian finch and a many frogs. In the flatlands several mammals have fallen into decline including the bilby, Northern quoll, pale field rat, golden-backed tree-rat, and golden bandicoot.
Windjana, Tunnel Creek, and Geikie Gorges in central Kimberley are renowned for their fossils and large colonies of bats, while Lake Argyle plus the Ord and Kimberley rivers are important wetland habitats, and there are major populations of shorebirds in the Ord estuary, Eighty-mile Beach and Roebuck Bay, which has been described "one of the most important stop-over areas for shorebirds in Australia and globally". And off the north coast, a number of rocky islands are home to birds and turtles.
The landscape is complex, composed of a vast central plateau of deeply dissected sandstone ranges; an extensive limestone range formed from an ancient barrier reef; a rugged coastline of steep-sided tidal gulfs, mangrove-fringed estuaries and numerous offshore islands; the floodplains of the Fitzroy and Ord Rivers; large tracts of undulating sand country, and extensive grasslands and woodlands.
This immense region covers an area of 421,000 square kilometres, stretching roughly 700 kilometres east to west by 600 kilometres north to south making it 1.7 times the size of the United Kingdom and occupying 16.6 per cent of Western Australia. The former cattle station of El Questro Wilderness Park alone makes up more than 405,000 hectares of the Kimberley, which contains eight national parks and many smaller reserves .
The remoteness is part of the attraction. Broome lies somewhat closer to Denpasar in Bali, than it does to Perth and it is precisely this remoteness and inaccessibility, coupled with the tiny human population and lack of disturbance that has protected the Kimberley’s nature. It was, however, one of the first parts of Australia to be settled –the first inhabitants arrived around 41,000 years ago, probably from the archipelago of what is now known as Indonesia.
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