The Kimberleys walker’s guide: Windjana

Windjana Gorge

Not far onto the western end of the Gibb River Road in Western Australia’s the Kimberleys region, is the beautiful and historic Windjana Gorge. The Kimberley as a whole offers some brilliant walking options and Windjana is often people’s first (or last) stop of the Gibb.

3.5 kilometres long with walls as high as 100 metres, this stunning feature is actually an ancient reef system that would have been lying in shallow tropical waters during the Devonian period (over 300 million years old!).

The reef is made up of limestone that was secreted by a now extinct cyanobacteria. There are lots of fossils to be found in the walls of the gorge, so it’s easy to spend a few hours just staring at the walls.

But don’t stare for too long because there is some walking to be done!

Windjana was the scene for part of the story of Jandamarra. For those not familiar, it is a tremendous story and worth it’s own blog post in the future. To learn more about his story, visit  http://www.jandamarra.com.au/

Windjana Gorge - Kimberley Walking Tour
Walking the Kimberleys in Windjana Gorge

 

As you enter the gorge, it is quite open and sandy underfoot but not difficult going. There is always a bit of water in the gorge, so chances are you will soon see some of Windjana’s friendly reptilian inhabitants. The fossilised bones of crocodiles that measured up to 15 metres long have been found in Windjana Gorge, however these days the resident Johnsoni, or “freshies” are more likely around the 1.5-2m mark. Generally these crocs are not dangerous, but like any animal or teenager, you don’t want to get between them and the thing that they want. For freshies, that’s the water; and for teenagers, it’s either some sort of electronic device or the fridge.

Freshwater Crocodile, Windjana Gorge
Freshwater Crocodile, Windjana Gorge, the Kimberleys
Beware of crocs in Windjana Gorge!
Beware of crocs in Windjana Gorge, the Kimberleys

 

The trail continues on the right hand side of the gorge. It becomes fairly firm underfoot and well shaded. At times you are walking fairly close to the gorge wall.

How far into the dry season you visit Windjana Gorge, will affect the distance you can walk along this trail. Each year they have to re-cut the track, as the wet season rain causes lots of regrowth and can cause trail damage. In May it is often only possible to walk for an hour or so each way, but by July they have generally cut the track a substantial way, and it is possible to walk a full 7km.

The track in Windjana Gorge
The track in Windjana Gorge

 

We usually allow half a day to explore the gorge at a nice slow pace. You might have to do a bit of bush bashing, but you really can’t get lost unless you try (please don’t try!).

Boab in Windjana Gorge
Boab in Windjana Gorge

 

Sunset in Windjana Gorge
Late afternoon in Windjana Gorge

 

The camp ground is just outside the gorge. It is a spectacular site to see the afternoon sun hitting the gorge wall and starts to glow orange. The perfect end to a beautiful day in the Kimberleys. Cheers!

We hope you enjoyed this post. If you would like to experience Windjana Gorge and many of the other sites in the Kimberley such as El Questro, consider joining us on one of our Kimberley Walking Tours.

Happy Trails,

Team Inspiration Outdoors.

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