Kununurra – Overview & Things to See and Do
Kununurra is a young town, built in the early 1960s to construct and service the amazing Ord River Irrigation Project. Because of its age and the striking countryside, Kununurra does not have that pioneering, frontier feel that people expect from an outback town. Possibly because Kununurra , is so young and didn’t grow up on adversity and become strong through self-reliance, it also doesn’t have the outback characters you find in other locations.
As a tourist location, the town is appealing. It is neat and well planned and makes an ideal base to explore the surrounding attractions. Kununurra has a relaxed atmosphere with all the amenities you would expect including a shopping mall and good standards of accommodation.
Things to See and Do
Zebra Rock Gallery
6km out of town on the Packsaddle Road, this gallery has examples of a unique banded rock that is not known to be found anywhere else in the world. The owners have also established a small wildlife park. Open 8am-6pm 7 days a week. Ph 08 9168 1114.
Kelly’s Knob Lookout
There are few better places to in town to watch the sunset. This lookout also provides good views of the town, irrigated fields and Lake Kununurra. The view during the thunderstorms can be spectacular but caution is recommended as the Knob itself if frequently struck by lightning. The top of the knob houses telecommunication transmitters and the towns water supply.
Also known as Diversion Dam, this is the artificial lake beside the town. Swimming is allows in several spots and there is good fishing below the lower dam. This is also plentiful bird life to view.
Sleeping Buddha and other Rock Formations.
There are many rock formations close to town that are fascinating. The Sleeping Buddha is also known as Carlton Ridge or Elephant Rock is along Lake Kununurra near Packsaddle. From one angle the formation can resemble a person lying down and from another it looks like an elephants head with trunk and ears.
Celebrity Tree Park
This local park was opened in 1984 to document the passing through of domestic and international celebrities. Celebrities such as John Farnham, H.R.H. Princess Anne, Rolf Harris and Harry Butler have all planted trees here. Plaques identifying the celebrity and the date they participated are located near the relevant tree.
City Of Ruins
A marked walk amongst natural sandstone formations that loosely resemble an ancient city.
During the wet season and after heavy rains Valentine Springs, Middle Springs and Black Rock Falls make some of the most refreshing swimming and picnic areas. Access is by 4WD only and it is important to note the water becomes stagnant in the middle to late dry. Valentine Rockhole An interesting series of rock pools and shady beaches best seen during the wet season. Popular with all the locals as a swimming hole.
Mirima (Hidden Valley) National Park
Not everyone is fortunate enough to explore Purnululu on foot. However, there is an easily accessible alternative that, while it may not be as extensive or impressive as that perhaps better known wonderland, still has the capacity to instil in the visitor a sense of wonder and a feeling for the banded sandstone towers of the Kimberley. Mirima National Park, which covers 1817 ha, is less than five minutes by car from the centre of Kununurra, yet within its narrow gorges, the only signs of civilisation are the graded tracks and picnic facilities.
There are several boabs near the road within Hidden Valley. The more enthusiastic visitor can climb to the top of the ridge past the end of the road for a bird’s-eye view over the northern part of Kununurra. It’s a dramatic contrast. In one direction there’s a modern, rural Australian service town, but as you retrace your steps into the glade, you are stepping into a scene that is as old as the ancient landforms around you. Mirima is often referred to as the ‘mini-Bungles’ and is well worth the visit.
Originally a causeway on the main road from Wyndham to Kununurra, the crossing has been permanently flooded since the 1960’s. It is now an excellent Barramundi fishing spot. Please note that swimming is not recommended as salties are present. Officially the ford is closed to vehicles and you wouldn’t want to try crossing it in anything less than a hefty 4WD.
Black Rock Falls
A spectacular wet season attraction and favourite swimming hole of the locals. Water tumbles over a 30 m semi-circular cliff face into a small pool area. Over the years the cliff face has been stained black by minerals in the water giving rise to it’s name.
Originally a causeway Is the original dam built for the Ord Irrigation Scheme. Its concave wall created Lake Kununurra and diverts water into the irrigation channels which carry water to the irrigation area north of town. South of town in the Packsaddle area water is pumped into irrigation channels. The Diversion Dam comprises 20 radial gates which control the flow of water. The diversion dam forms part of Highway 1 and has created a unique wetland environment