Kim­ber­ley Ex­pe­ri­ence

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Read & React - WORDS GEMMA CHILTON PHOTOS C/O APT & STEVE STRIKE

Aus­tralian tour com­pany APT has launched a new Kim­ber­ley ad­ven­ture that caters to ex­pe­ri­enced bush­walk­ers look­ing to ven­ture off the beaten track.

THE KIM­BER­LEY RE­GION in north­ern Western Aus­tralia is one of the most re­mote and stun­ning places on the planet. At al­most half a mil­lion square kilo­me­tres, it’s roughly the size of the US state of Cal­i­for­nia, but with just one sealed road and about 0.001 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

The world’s last re­main­ing pris­tine sa­van­nah en­vi­ron­ment, the Kim­ber­ley is also an out­door ad­ven­turer’s par­adise – but the lo­gis­tics of ex­plor­ing this enor­mous, un­spoilt re­mote wilder­ness and all it has to of­fer can seem in­tim­i­dat­ing, even to the most ex­pe­ri­enced trail­blaz­ers.

En­ter APT, which has launched the Kim­ber­ley Chal­lenge, a new 15-day 4WD ad­ven­ture pro­gram based on the tour com­pany’s most pop­u­lar ex­ist­ing of­fer­ing, the Kim­ber­ley Com­plete. The Chal­lenge is packed with longer, more ex­treme hikes aimed at ex­pe­ri­enced bush­walk­ers who can han­dle a faster pace that will al­low them to ex­plore even fur­ther away from the beaten track.

The tour is rated ‘Dif­fi­cult’, which APT de­fines as re­quir­ing par­tic­i­pants who are fit enough to hike

up to 10km at a time, in­clud­ing scram­bling over large boul­ders and un­even ter­rain. “It is a much more phys­i­cally de­mand­ing ad­ven­ture than any of our other tours, and it is ad­vised that you are a reg­u­lar bushwalker,” the com­pany states.

If that sounds like you, then you’ll be in for a treat. Over the same 15-day time pe­riod as the Kim­ber­ley Com­plete, APT’s new Chal­lenge al­ter­na­tive adds four ex­tended hikes tak­ing you into the depths of the best the re­gion has to of­fer – to Bell Gorge Look­out (6 hours, 9km re­turn); Man­ning Gorge Wa­ter­fall (4 hours, 9km re­turn); El Que­stro Gorge (6 hours, 7km re­turn); and Pic­caninny Gorge in the World Her­itage-listed Bun­gle Bun­gle range (6 hours, 9km re­turn).

As for the lo­gis­tics, APT has it sorted – this Aussie-owned tour­ing com­pany first started es­cort­ing trav­ellers around the Kim­ber­ley re­gion more than 40 years ago and has hosted more peo­ple in this re­gion than any other op­er­a­tor, so it knows what it’s do­ing. Your small group – with a max­i­mum 20 trav­ellers – will be trans­ported in one of APT’s be­spoke 4WD ve­hi­cles, de­signed and equipped for the rough Kim­ber­ley ter­rain, and you’ll be guided by one of APT’s 70 Kim­ber­ley team mem­bers, each with spe­cial­ist lo­cal knowl­edge, in­clud­ing In­dige­nous guides, nat­u­ral­ists and his­to­ri­ans.

As well as a few sat­is­fy­ingly gru­elling days hoof­ing it in some of the most spec­tac­u­lar, re­mote wilder­ness on the planet (think scram­bling over gi­ant boul­ders, wad­ing through crys­tal clear wa­ter­holes, and long days hik­ing through gorges flanked by tow­er­ing ochre walls) there’s also the same op­por­tu­ni­ties for more chilled sight-see­ing that the Kim­ber­ley Com­plete of­fers. A few less phys­i­cally de­mand­ing but no less awe­some trip high­lights in­clude a he­li­copter flight over Mitchell Falls, vis­it­ing out­back town­ships and iconic pubs, see­ing the fa­mous boab prison tree, plus top-notch ac­com­mo­da­tion and din­ing to fuel the next day’s ad­ven­ture.

To find out more about APT’s new­est, tough­est ad­ven­ture pro­gram, visit kim­ber­ley­wilder­ au/chal­lenge or phone 1300 334 872.

Clock­wise from left Ex­plor­ing the Bell Gorge area; a guide ex­plains the sig­nif­i­cance of the Wan­jini rock art; tak­ing the plunge at Gal­vans Gorge.

Clock­wise from left The in­cred­i­ble rock for­ma­tions at Cathe­dral Gorge have to be seen up close to be­lieve; APT’s 4WD ve­hi­cles will take you to an­other world of out­back ad­ven­ture; fol­low­ing Pic­caninny Creek in the Bun­gle Bun­gles; spot­ting fresh­wa­ter crocs in Wind­jana Gorge.

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