Filmed and Edited by: Dan Proud
The Kimberley is Western Australia’s sparsely settled northern region. It’s known for large swaths of wilderness defined by rugged ranges, dramatic gorges, semi-arid savanna and a largely isolated coastline. The mostly unsealed (unpaved) Gibb River Road runs 660km through the region’s heart, passing by Windjana Gorge National Park, which has towering limestone cliffs and pools where freshwater crocodiles gather.
The Kimberley was one of the earliest settled parts of Australia, with the first arrivals landing about 41,000 years ago.
In 1837, with support from the Royal Geographical Society, Lieutenants George Grey and Franklin Lushington and 12 men sailed on the schooner Lynher from Cape Town, reaching Hanover Bay on 2 December 1837. The party started inland on 19 January 1838. Leaders and men were totally inexperienced, progress was delayed by flooded country, many stores were abandoned, and the party was constantly split up despite the presence of large numbers of hostile Aboriginals. On 11 February, Grey was speared and became critically ill, but after two weeks, continued the exploration. The party found and named the Gairdner River, the Glenelg River, the Stephen and Whately ranges and Mount Lyell before returning to Hanover Bay in April. There they were picked up by the Beagle and Lynher and taken to Mauritius to recuperate.
The region was named after John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley, who served as Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1870 to 1874 and 1880 to 1882.