Broome to Katherine – The Land
The Kimberley has some fascinating aspects to its geography. It is only 500 kilometres from Indonesia and boasts some of the most ancient landforms on the planet. You’ll notice great variety in the mountain ranges you pass, from the limestone of the Napier Range you can explore at Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge to the striking sandstone layers of the Bungle Bungle Massif, Hidden Valley National Park at Kununurra and Keep River National Park.
The Kimberley Coast is renowned as one of the most ruggedly beautiful in the world. Derby’s tides are the country’s highest at 11.8 metres – note the wharf height on your town tour! You may choose to visit the “Horizontal Waterfall” on a tour as the tide changes.
Broome sits on Roebuck Bay and has some beautiful coastal scenery including beaches and sandstone weathering. The habitat suits migratory wading birds so even for the non-birder some times of the year this is quite a spectacle. For more on this see our birding page. Red pindan soil contrasts spectacularly with the ocean colours. This red sand has a high clay content as well as the colouring of iron oxide and supports low, scrubby vegetation including various acacia and Spinifex species.
The “Staircase to the Moon” is a famous Broome phenomenon when the reflection of the rising moon on mudflats gives an unusual and picturesque impression. Check dates with the Broome Visitor Centre. A regular Broome sunset is something to see as well.
Eastwards rich cracking clay soils replace the pindan, supporting the tussock grasslands that have allowed the cattle industry to develop.
The mighty Fitzroy River incorporates 20 tributaries and flows for 350 kilometres. Fitzroy Crossing is located at a naturally rocky section where cattle could be driven across the river during the dry season.
You can take some of Kununurra’s geology home in the form of Argyle Diamonds and the unique Zebra Rock, sediments formed within local siltstones.
Notice how the vegetation changes with each new landform. There are many endemic species here including in the classic Australian genera of Acacia, Eucalyptus and Melaleuca. The most distinctive tree is of course the Boab (Adansonia gregorii) which is long lived (perhaps over 1000 years), a valuable food source for Aboriginal people (fruit pulp) and very hardy. One giant was taken to Kings Park in Perth in 2008 and is doing very well in its new home.
Further information on Australia’s Tropical Savannahs is available at www.savanna.org.au and you can find out about some of the natural resource management issues on the Northern Territory Natural Resource Management website.
Several Information Centres on The Savannah Way stock the very informative book “Savannah Way Landscapes” by John Ludwig and John Courtenay (100 pages, full colour, A5 size) although it is not available in commercial bookstores.
To order a copy please contact us – $AUD15.00 within Australia or $AUD20.00 International (cheque or electronic transfer only).