Waterfalls of Kimberley Region
Kimberley Region in Western Australia has hundreds of waterfalls. These waterfalls have their own, unique beauty. The streams here fall over the layers of ancient, orange-red sandstone. There is not much vegetation here – the cliffs, for the most part, are bare and the beauty of waterfalls can be easily appreciated from afar. The local sandstone is quite durable and often the streams fall directly in the ocean or in flooded estuaries.
Description of waterfall
Beauty is a relative – but many visitors consider that King George Falls is the most beautiful waterfall in this enormous region.
King George River divides into two branches some 400 meters before the falls. As a result here have formed two waterfalls, divided by some 250 m wide island. This waterfall has formed on some 1.8 – 1.6 billion years (!) old Warton sandstone. Of course, the waterfall is much younger, but not that new either. The estuary below the falls was flooded some 6 – 18 thousand years ago when the sea level rose after the ice age. But the waterfall, most likely, has been flowing here for millions of years.
There is no road leading to these waterfalls. But many (around 5,000 per year) people see them from cruise ships and some – from scenic flights. These ships can safely enter the estuary and after an exciting, 12 km long, calm drive through the canyon approach the falls. The waterfall (especially the left branch) is less impressive at low water, but in the rainy season, visitors are rewarded with a view on roaring and powerful falls. The best time to come here could be around April when the rainy season comes to the end.
According to the local Balanggarra people, these twin falls are a personification of female and male Wunkurr – Rainbow Serpents.
This is a sacred site with occasional burials under the cliffs (1). Especially sacred is the upper rim of falls and area around it. Thus the few locals living in this area not too happy to see thousands of strangers here.
But people love to see beautiful places. Every visitor brings a message to the world: Kimberley Region is gorgeous and its values need to be protected for future generations.
In 2015 along the Kimberley coast operated 22 cruise vessels (2). Tickets on these cruises can get quite expensive and visitors feel entitled to explore this exotic land as much as possible. Tourists often walk and climb in search of unforgettable sights and images… and, wouldn’t you want to be one of them? There is a climb which is often used by visitors to ascend the top of the falls, with a chest halfway up. In this chest are letters left by other visitors. Does it all happen with the permission of the local Aboriginal community?
Swimming at the base of the falls is dangerous – crocodiles are common here and sharks have been seen as well. Above, in the pools before the falls, it would be safer to swim… but this is sacred land. Please, show respect.
- King George Falls, World of Waterfalls. Accessed on 17th December 2019
- Cole M. du Plessis, MSc Thesis, Murdoch University. Cumulative visitation and activities of expedition cruise vessels along the Kimberley coast, WA. October 2015. Accessed on 16th December 2019
King George Falls on the map
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|Location, GPS coordinates:||14.0428 S 127.3211 E|
|Where is located?||Australia and Oceania, Australia, Western Australia, Kimberley region, King George River some 12 km before its fall in the ocean|
|Height:||around 80 m|
|Stream:||King George River|
Promotional video of Australia, featuring King George Falls
This video (2008) by Baz Luhrmann features Sibyla Budd and the young Brandon Walters. The fact that actors were swimming in the pools above the falls, caused negative reaction from a part of Australian Aboriginal community: this is a sacred place.
This giant Australian state is spectacular and very rich with diverse, unusual landmarks. Highlights of Western Australia are refuges of biodiversity in remote parts of desert, amazing cliff formations and unique aboriginal art.
Today, in the vast Australian wilderness, some of the our waterfalls remain accessible, but most are seldom seen or heard. This is a personal journey into the wilderness to record falls and cascades within reach of most. It is not a record of the impossible but of what any moderately fit person can achieve.
Lonely Planet’s West Coast Australia is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Snorkel among pristine coral at Ningaloo Marine Park, tour the wineries and breweries in the Margaret River wine region, and experience the bizarre landscapes of the Pinnacles Desert at dawn, sunset and full moon – all with your trusted travel companion.