I’d only been in Wyndham a couple of hours, but I was liking it already.
First up was the 20 metre (65.6 ft), grinning crocodile at the town’s entrance – the most creative way to use up 5.5 km (3.4 miles) of steel rods, 50 kg (110 lb) of welding rods, 10 rolls of bird mesh and 6 cubic metres (212 cubic feet) of concrete I’d ever seen.
The croc was looking pretty good for a 28 year-old!
Quite a bit older, the largest Boab Tree in captivity in Australia – 25 metres (82 feet) around its widest point – lurked behind its neat fence just a short walk from our cosy campsite at the Three Mile Caravan Park. It didn’t appear to be planning a break-out any time soon – but don’t take my word for it; I’m one of the majority of Australians untrained in in the fine art of Boab-wrangling …
And like the thrill-seeker I am, I got a kick out of being in Western Australia’s northernmost town at the end of the Great Northern Highway!
But alluring though these drawcards were, they’re not what kept us in Wyndham for several days. Here’s FIVE MORE of the attractions that make Wyndham a TOP Aussie town!
1 The Landscape
Wyndham’s bizarre and varied landscape has sweeping tidal mud flats covered with mangroves and washed by some of Australia’s highest tides. The coastline is blurred by the massive tides so causeways linking old and new parts of the town ensure year-round accessibility.
The massive Cambridge Gulf – final destination for five Kimberley rivers – flows out into the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf near Western Australia’s northernmost tip.
The impressive sandstone escarpments of the Cockburn Range between Wyndham and the Gibb River Road are visible along the King River Road.
And the jewel in the crown, towering 330 metres (~1082 ft) above the Gulf and the town, is the Bastion, part of the Daharwi Range and named by explorer Philip Parker King in 1819.
2 The History
Never heard of Aussie explorer Philip Parker King? That’s probably because his exploratory trips were disaster-free, unlike those of, say, Burke and Wills – who EVERYBODY’S heard of!! I rest my case.
And I digress …
Established in the 1880’s, the Port of Wyndham was established to support the Halls Creek gold rush, and the East Kimberley pastoralists. In 1919 the Wyndham Meatworks was completed, operating until 1986.
Nowadays, the port continues to service the live cattle export and mining industries, and the Ord River Project.
Of course there’s a LOT more to the town’s colonial history than that – and the best place to discover it is at the Wyndham Museum in the old Courthouse. That’s where I found out about the crocodile hunting; wreck of the MV Koolama during World War II (the remains are nearby in the Gulf); a wartime attack on the airfield; the ‘Pussycat’ taxi service; Chinese market gardeners; visits from famous aviators and so on.
Other historic sites are nearby, like historic buildings and sites at the Old Wyndham Port, the Prison Tree and Singh’s Gardens along the King River Road; and Telegraph Hill near Marlgu Billabong on the back road to Wyndham.
But to experience a small part of the region’s Indigenous history, take a look at the petroglyphs near Moochalabra Dam (town water supply) along the King River Road.
3 Birding and Parrys Lagoon Nature Reserve
After clocking over 60 bird species and several crocodiles in two separate visits to Marlgu Billabong, part of the Parry Lagoons Nature reserve and oasis in the middle of a grassy plain not far from Wyndham, I was experienced enough to become an unofficial ‘tour guide’.
I didn’t have anything else to do while the REAL birdos – Pilchard and his new friend-with-a-telescope from the caravan park – were still arguing over whether that odd looking bird I’d pointed out to them what seemed like hours before was actually a rare sighting of Oriental Reed Warbler or something more ordinary.
But although the mostly overseas tourists seemed quite happy to have me point out the crocodiles and assorted Aussie bird life, no one actually offered me any money! Maybe they were just being polite?!
Read more about my Marlgu Billabong adventures HERE!
It’ll be unsurprising to any keen birdo that Pilchard’s real target species in Wyndham was the rare Gouldian Finch. They’d apparently been seen at the campground waterhole a couple of days before so we staked it out whenever we weren’t doing anything else. But a few days later a new arrival was told the exact same thing!
Maybe it’s just a way to keep the twitchers in town?
Our next hot tip was to hang out at the Shire Offices when the sprinklers are on – but despite our best (and most tedious) efforts, Gouldian Finch remained elusive.
I’m kinda glad. That means I won’t have any arguments from Pilchard for a return visit.
4 The Grotto
140 steps down the sheer walls of a natural amphitheatre and I was on a direct descent into Middle Earth. At the base lies the Grotto – reportedly 122 metres (400 feet) deep.
I SO admire the nerve of whoever hung the rope swing from its precarious position high above the swimming hole, but not enough to actually test it out.
Not because I’m a total coward – but because my foot went numb with cold when I dipped it into the pool and the thought of immersing my whole body into water that icy seemed like the worst sort of torture.
Read more about my Adventure at the Grotto HERE!
5 True Blue Two Loo View!
Although most visitors ascend the Bastion to the Five Rivers Lookout atop the peak at sunset, the view overlooking Cambridge Gulf and surrounds is staggering at any time of day.
And ‘Five Rivers Lookout’ isn’t just a randomly inaccurate name – there really ARE Five Rivers visible from the vantage point if you know where to look.
The final destination for the King, Ord, Durack, Forrest and Pentecost rivers is right here in the Cambridge Gulf where there’s enough water to support numerous Crocodiles – and Barramundi, making this a top fishing spot as well as a danger zone!
I can only imagine what it’s like during the wet season.
But despite the awe-inspiring vista of what is arguably one of Australia’s finest lookouts, my mind remained firmly in the gutter and turned to toilets. One up the top near the car park. And one down below by the jetty. SO good, I just HAD to put it into my book Aussie Loos with Views!
Read more about the Five Rivers Lookout HERE!
Tourist information suggests taking a day trip to Wyndham from Kununurra, 100 km (62 miles) to the east. But as we reluctantly left Wyndham after 4 days with a list of enough things to ensure a return visit, I wondered if the day-trippers actually saw what I’d seen.
And that’s a TOP Aussie town with a wealth of attractions that’ll bring me back again!
Wyndham Fast Facts:
Where: Wyndham is in North-Western Australia’s East Kimberley on the Cambridge Gulf. Click HERE for a map!
When: Temperatures are generally cooler during the Dry Season from April to October.
How to get there: Wyndham is 100 km (~62 miles) by road from nearest town, Kununurra on fully sealed roads on the Great Northern Highway. Fly to, or drive from Kununurra, Darwin or Broome.
What to do: Wyndham is at the end of the Great Northern Highway. Use it as a base to explore this corner of the Kimberley with day trips to Marlgu Billabong, the Grotto, the King River Road; or as a starting point to visit Kalumburu; or connect with the Gibb River Road. Discover the history, wildlife and landscape with local attractions, or go fishing in the Gulf.
- The Kimberley
- Red Nomad OZ in the Kimberley
- More Wyndham Photos on Flickr HERE
- More Kimberley Photos on Flickr HERE
- MORE TOP Aussie Towns!
PS … if all that’s not enough for you, then maybe Fuzzy – a tame donkey who scavenges through the Three Mile Caravan Park – might just tip the scales 😀
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