Are you planning on visiting or road tripping to Kununurra and are looking for the things to do in the area? Kununurra is packed with beautiful swimming holes, adventurous hikes and amazing activities. I’ll highlight where to stay, how to access these spots and other things to note!
Where to Stay around Kununurra
Depending on what kind of accomodation you’re wanting to stay at, there are a few options. Within Kununurra there are range of caravan parks. However, if you prefer the idea of free camping in Kununurra (like us) Cockburn Rest Stop is a great place to base yourself. It is 30 minutes out of town but perfect in location to go to the swimming holes and gorges that I mention below.
If you’re planning on visiting Lake Argyle on you road trip (which I would highly recommend), even though it’s on the more expensive side, I would recommend staying at the caravan park there. I’d encourage you to plan ahead and check out their website to ensure you’re there on a night when they have live music, as well as booking one of the sunset cruises.
Things to do in Kununurra
Emma Gorge is easier to access than the following mentioned spots. Mostly bitumen road until the last 2km driveway. Depending on recent rain, there may be a couple of “crossings” that are quite often just large puddles in the dry season. When we visited, one of them was still a bit too big for us to cross in our van – however we are quite cautious. Plenty of people park on the side of the road just before this and walk the five minutes to the start of the trail.
The entry permit to access Emma Gorge is $22 per adult and $11 per child. This is for the El Questro Visitor Permit and gives you access to the following gorges in the El Questro area below (El Questro gorge and Zebedee Springs) for 7 days.
The 3.2 km walk is pretty flat most of the way, with some rock-hopping and some steps towards the end. There are two swimming holes. The first one is a beautiful light blue colour which is perfectly safe for swimming, but there is occasionally a resident freshwater crocodile present. If you’ve swum in other place in the area, you’ll know freshwater crocs aren’t usually dangerous unless threatened.
The second swimming hole it much larger with more space for people to spread out. It’s nice to be here at the peak of the day so there is sun entering the gorge as the water (like most freshwater swimming spots in the are) is quite chilly. If you venture towards the right of the swimming area, you’ll find a small waterfall with water from neighbouring hot springs spilling in – the perfect spot to warm up.
Zebedee Hot Springs
Getting to this iconic Kununurra hot spring means driving about 10km on a gravel road. This road can be corrugated depending on how recently it was graded, but if you drive according to conditions, it’s usually accessible in a 2WD. Zebedee Hot Springs is a beautiful spot that can get busy pretty quickly in peak season. We arrived at about 8am. So, just after the 7am rush when it opens, but before it got too busy. Keep in mind this spot closes at 12pm to the general public as that is when private tours go there.
It’s also only a 600m return walk, so, nice and easy.
El Questro Gorge
This adventurous hike is also down the same 10km gravel road as Zebedee Hot Springs, just a little further. It’s ALMOST completely accessible in a 2WD. As you turn off the main gravel road, there is a moderately sandy track, but we did alright in our Ford Transit. And about 1km before the start of the trail, there is a big, 80m, deep, creek crossing. However, you can park your car just before it to the side and walk through a (muddy) track to the right of the creek crossing, or wait for someone to give you a lift over (that’s what we did).
There are two pools at El Questro Gorge. The first is easily accessible whilst the second involved more rock and boulder hopping and some scrambling. Though the waterfall at the end isn’t the most extravagant you’ll see, the climb itself to get to it is beautiful and part of the experience. It’s 7.2km return in total, and definitely make sure you keep your shoes after the first swimming hole. You’ll have to swim through it, so a lot of people leave theirs, but I’d recommend keeping them in hand has it’s still a fair way! You can also choose to just swim at the first pool, it’s super beautiful, surrounded by trees and lush greenery.
A spot that is SUPER easy to access by 2WD is the Grotto – it’s bitumen all the way to the carpark. However, getting to the swimming hole itself is more of a challenge. It’s 144 steps down into the gorge without any railings – and back up. Nevertheless, we believe it’s worth it. Out of all the swimming holes we spent the most time here and had so much fun on the rope swing. The water here is pretty cold (like most of the other ones) so getting here with the sun still high in sky would be ideal so you can warm up in the sun after going for a dip. Or, you can just warm up coming back up those 144 steps!
Fun Fact: the swimming hole at the Grotto is over 100 metres deep!
Australia’s second largest man-made lake is a must see when you’re in Kununurra. With heaps of bushwalking trails, and a beautiful caravan park with an iconic infinity pool, what’s not to love? However, our favourite experience was the sunset river cruise.
So large it’s considered an inland sea, Lake Argyle has more than 70 islands, freshwater crocs, wallabies, fish and over 240 bird species. On a sunset cruise you get to explore part of this water supply that is 18 times the size of Sydney Harbour! Watch the sun go down, and have a bevy whilst you swim, doesn’t get much better than that.
All in all, Kununurra really surprised us. We hadn’t heard much about the things to do in the area before we got there, so hopefully this helps you plan your trip. There is so much to do to fill a few days with adventurous hikes and beautiful swimming holes.
Are you driving from Kununurra to Darwin? Check out my blogpost on things you can’t miss here!
Other notable blogposts: