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They are two of the country's most spectacular outback destinations and choosing between them won't be easy, but our experts are here to help.


By Mal Chenu

The northern bits of the wide brown land are the most striking and dramatic wilderness areas on the planet. Steeped in tens of thousands of years of Indigenous lore, and with a geological chronicle that dwarfs even that, Kakadu and the Kimberley are spectacular at any time, and even more amenable and exquisite during the comfortable - and fast approaching - dry winter months.

King George Falls in the Kimberley. Picture: Tourism WA

King George Falls in the Kimberley. Picture: Tourism WA

In short, these are both must-sees for every Australian. I mean, what could be more 'Strayan than Kak and Kim? Each of these natural masterpieces is very noice but Kim has a bit more "Look at moyyy" factor. It is the hornbag of the Oz outback. (And if you are confused by these references, you have some serious cultural catching up to do.)

Excluding the frozen parts, the 400,000-odd-square-kilometre Kimberley is the remotest and most sparsely populated place on Earth. The Kimberley's rugged, otherworldly landscapes offer adventures at every turn, even though turns may be few and far between on the never-ending roads, such as the 660-kilometre Gibb River Road between Derby and (nearly) Kununurra and Wyndham. This unsealed ultimate outback road trip takes in Windjana Gorge National Park and many other drop-dead gorgeous gorges. Cattle Station accommodations out here include the celebrated Mount Hart Wilderness Lodge and El Questro Station.

You can also drive to the incredible, beehive-esque Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park. A scenic flight provides an even better perspective of this multi-layered phenomenon.

At the western end of the Kimberley, where the intense red dirt and rocks of Gantheaume Point meet impossibly turquoise water, lies the town of Broome. A pearler of a place, Broome is the gateway to the Kimberley and is home to Cable Beach, the "coastal-sunset-camel-ride-iconic-photo-op" capital of the world. This 22-kilometre stretch of fine white sand is a regular on listicles of the world's top beaches and is overlooked by the excellent Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa.

In short, these are both must-sees for every Australian. I mean, what could be more 'Strayan than Kak and Kim?

Broome is also one of the departure points for Kimberley cruises, and this is the way to explore the coastal icons - such as the King George Falls, Berkeley River, Montgomery Reef and the Horizontal Falls (to name but a few) - in luxurious style. Cruises on "expedition" ships are run by several top-notch operators, all of which have tenders and rubber duckies that get you into the nooks, crannies and waterfalls, take you to freshwater swimming holes and Aboriginal art sites, and then serve up barramundi for dinner.

Kak and Kim are both bonzer vacay destinations and you should definitely see both of them in your lifetime. But if you have to choose just one, then - look at moyy! - it has to be the Kimberley, Australia's tropical hunk of spunk.


By Amy Cooper

Mal, I'll see your Kak and Kim and raise you a ... Crocodile Dundee. Although in these enlightened times Paul Hogan's leathery brand of 1980s masculinity might seem an ocker shocker, there's no better screen showcase for Australia's tremendous terrain than our biggest ever grossing movie - and for this we can thank the real star: Kakadu National Park. The Kimberley auditioned but didn't get the part. Instead, Kakadu's blockbuster landscapes wowed the world. Without the majestic waterfalls, dramatic rock formations, billabongs, vast plateaus and wetlands filmed in Australia's largest national park, Hoges would still be throwing shrimps on the barbie.

Yellowater Billabong in Kakadu National Park. Picture: Tourism NT

Yellowater Billabong in Kakadu National Park. Picture: Tourism NT

Kakadu's stories are ageing much better than Mick Dundee's one-liners. Billions of years old and home to the planet's oldest continuous human civilisation for 65,000 years, this 20,000-square-kilometre swathe of Northern Territory is a canvas for the planet's first Hollywood. About 5000 rock art sites, some up to 20,000 years old, trace the histories of Kakadu's 19 Aboriginal clans and their ancestors. From forensic-style X-ray art to vivid tales of creation and first contact, these paintings have thrilled audiences for millennia.

Want to croc around the clock? The world's largest wild crocodile population lives in the NT and a tenth of them - about 10,000 - have snapped up real estate in Kakadu. You can see these croc stars in jaw-some numbers at Yellow Water Billabong (Ngurrungurrudjba) from a Yellow Water Cruise, while marvelling at the waterlily-dotted waterway's other wondrous wildlife, including feathered residents representing more than a third of Australia's bird species.

    Kakadu is World Heritage-listed for both its natural and cultural riches, and the biodiversity is cinematic in scale. A quarter of all Australian freshwater fish species thrive alongside 68 types of mammals, 2000 plant species and more than 10,000 insect species. Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Bowali Visitor Centre will deepen your appreciation of the inseparable spiritual connection between the Bininj/Mungguy people and this land. And you'll fall for the towering Jim Jim Falls, Twin Falls, plus Maguk, Gunlom and a deluge of cascades tumbling from red ochre cliffs into crystal-clear plunge pools.

    Kakadu is the only place you'll benefit from ending up inside a saltwater crocodile. At Jabiru's saltie-shaped Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel, you'll pass through gaping jaws to a comfy bed, pool and restaurant with delicious bush tucker including the native Kakadu plum, the earth's highest natural source of vitamin C.

    Whether you opt for Kak or Kim in your northernmost Aussie odyssey it's a win-win, but remember: Kakadu's your one-stop shop for top crocs and rocks.

    Posted by Mal Chenu and Amy Cooper on

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