January: Australia Day breakfast. April:
Dam to dam dinghy race. May: Kimberley moon experience, Ord
Valley muster. June: Mardi gras, Writer's festival. July: Agricultural
show. August: Race round and cup day, Camp draft and rodeo. Ladies
Day. September: Kununurra Cup. October: Night rodeo.
Ord River dam
the major centre for the Argyle Diamond Mine (the mot prolific producer of
diamonds in the world) and
the Ord River Scheme (Lake Argyle) which is
Australia’s second largest reservoir.
The mine is about 250km from Kununurra and produces about 35% of the world’s
diamonds, (mostly industrial). The Argyle mine started operation in 1985. In
1988 a second mining operation started at Bow River just 30 kilometres from
the main site.
The town is the residential and administrative centre for the Ord River
Scheme. The initial construction began in 1958 and the first stage was
completed by 1963. Three years later there were thirty one farms in the
area. It wasn't until 1972 that the second stage of the project was
completed with the opening of the Argyle Dam.
The townsite was gazetted in 1961 but much of the construction of the town
occurred later in 1967.
Australian Inland Mission established a hospital in
1963 and a pre-fabricated building was shipped to the new town from Sydney.
Over 7 tonnes of medical equipment were brought in from the defunct hospital
at Radium Hill. On the first day of operation 22 patients were treated. In
the first 5 months of operation the two nurses treated 2215 patients with
only 754 of these actually paying their bills. A new hospital was built in
1967 and taken over by Government health services the following year.
The name is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘meeting of
big waters.’ The original proposed spelling of the name was Cununurra but
this was changed due to its similarity to a name in use in Queensland..
Many crops have been tried in the area, and most have failed. Rice seems to
be the most successful. Many new crops are being tested in the area
including melons, peanuts and soy beans. Due to the irrigation scheme, crops
can be sown and harvested without any rain at all falling in the area.
Kununurra is 36km from the Northern Territory border. It is a modern town
with good shopping facilities and a host of scenic attractions in the
immediate area. If you are going to spend time in any of the other small
towns around the Kimberley then take the chance to stock up while you are in
Kununurra. Prices in the smaller towns like
Halls Creek and
Some mileage figures for distances from Kununurra are:
1057km, Darwin 1057km, Sydney 4300km.
Set almost in the middle of the town is
which is more-or-less
a miniature Bungle Bungle. There are three different tracks in the park
ranging from the easy Lily Pond to the more difficult Didbagirring Track
which traverses the slopes of the valley.
A special mention needs to be made of both Kona and Kimberleyland caravan
parks. Both are situated on Lake Kununurra and both are beautifully
maintained. Kimberleyland just has the edge in my opinion as it has a large
The Shire of
Wyndham East Kimberley covers 121,000 square kilometres and is one of 4
local government districts in the
The best time
to visit the area is between May and August as the weather at this time of
year is dry and cool.
and true: Sleeping crocs.
Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Kununurra on a tour of
inspection the locals thoughtfully shot two large salt water crocodiles and
laid them out so that the Royal couple could see some of the local wildlife
'sunning' themselves on the river bank.
Triple J Ord
This is an
excellent cruise from Lake Kununurra along the Ord River to the base of the
Ord River Dam at Lake Argyle. Pickup is around 10:30am and the tour finishes
after sunset (around 5:30pm.)
The boats average about 50kph and have a top speed of 80kph. They are fully
covered although it isn't possible to be in full shade all the time so hats
and sunscreen are a good idea. The tour covers about 110 kilometres and
includes a light lunch (basically cold meats, salad, cheese and crackers and
cool drinks.) and afternoon tea (coffee, tea, scones and cake.)
It is very hard to find fault with the tour but it is quite expensive. There
is plenty to see along the way including gorges, birds, fish, turtles, fresh
water crocs, wallabies, some bush tucker and of course the Ord itself.
Our tour guide (Jeff) was a founding member of the business and has taken
tours along the river for many years. His knowledge of the area and wildlife
is encyclopedic and he is very keen to share his knowledge with anyone who
We had been told by a number of people that this was the boat trip to do in
Kununurra and having done the trip we have to recommend it to anyone coming
up this way.