The final frontier

The West Australian

Some of the Kimberley's wild places can be reached only by air or sea. You wheel in a great arc in a light aircraft over the high red, rocky plateau ranges and drop down to a scallop in the coast with a small retreat, set against a turquoise sea.

Or you pull up on a beach knowing that, even if the Kimberley coast didn't have an extraordinary tidal range to wipe them away, there would be very few footprints in the sand before yours.

But it's not all like that - not by any means.

To get to many of the Kimberley's wild places, travellers have only to pull off the road and stroll a few metres from the carpark.

With some, visitors can camp in the heart of wilderness, or stay in comfortable accommodation.

And yet these are still wild places.

Indeed, the central Kimberley bioregion was recognised as one of the world's last true wilderness areas by Conservation International.

I have met earth scientists, biologists and naturalists who speak of the 424,500sqkm of the Kimberley in the same breath as Antarctica. Wild places. Last frontiers.

Its seasonality is part of the picture - part of its drama and charm and crucial to the environment. It has a tropical monsoonal climate, the wet season, November to March, and dry season, April to October.

In this guide, we pay special attention to the Kimberley's national parks, conservation areas and nature reserves - and to how they are managed, and their future.

We travel to wild places.

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