Discovering the Kimberleys.
Lazing about with the locals.
Get off the beaten track and take an adventurous outback safari for a true taste of what the Kimberley region has to offer.
Hotland Wilderness Safaris' slogan is "a true Outback getaway". Started by Jake and Iggy Zahl because of Jake's overwhelming passion for the bush, the safaris go to the most remote parts of the Kimberley. He began about six years ago with a fitted-out Landcruiser and set about taking people to places the tour companies don't.
Four years ago, Jake upgraded to a Landcruiser Troop Carrier, and had the army-style seating changed to front facing, and added a side-opening door.
A third of Jake's custom-built off-road trailer is a fibreglass icebox for perishables. The rest is used to carry camping gear, tents, chairs and cooking gear. There is also a dust-free, lockable luggage compartment. People usually just take their day-packs and cameras in the vehicle.
There are four-, six- and 10-day trips, each taking a maximum of six people. Bedding, camping gear, all meals, non-alcoholic drinks and fishing gear are included.
Guests are encouraged to pack a soft, medium-sized bag or pack of around 15kg. Daywear should be comfortable and light with long sleeves, but as Kimberley nights are cool, tracksuits are perfect. Walking shoes and boots that can get wet, swimming gear, towel, hat and sunscreen, personal toiletries, camera, film and day-pack are essential.
Nights are spent in "mozzie domes" beside cool, clear waterholes at quiet campsites. One swag, ground sheet and mozzie dome is supplied for each person.
Meals are varied and delicious. Dinner might be a roast and damper, casserole, curry, steak or fresh fish and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
The six-day safari is ideal for families. You travel about 220km on day one, going along the Gibb River road to Lennard River Crossing and the magnificent Lennard Gorge. After lunch, it's off to the King Leopold Ranges where you camp by crystal-clear rock pools that have a permanent waterfall.
After breakfast and a swim, you begin day two by heading for the historic Mt House and Glenroy Stations. Lunch is taken at Glenroy's stone homestead. Long abandoned, it has plenty of early Kimberley stories. Next, it's Old Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary where you set up camp for two days under tall paperbarks at the Fitzroy River.
Mornington Bush Camp is a station of 405,000 hectares an average size for the area. It is owned by Martin Kopley, who runs Fund for Wildlife Australia. Martin buys degraded pastoral leases and has scientists assess the wildlife. They aim to rid the area of feral species and turn Mornington into a wildlife sanctuary.
Situated on Annie Creek, which has lots of fish and prawns, Mornington is a great place to stay. It has a camping area with barbecues, toilets and hot showers, a bush restaurant, licensed bar and loads of character.
On day three, you travel 1½ hours through huge escarpments to Dimond Gorge, which you can explore by canoe. You will see hidden waterfalls and great towering walls.
Day four is a 17km journey to Old Mornington Stock Camp and Sir John Gorge. You can trek upstream to good fishing holes, swim or just laze about. Dinner is hosted by the people of the station.
Bell gorge and creek are day five's destinations. You travel around 180km via Bell Gorge where you swim and enjoy more cascades and falls.
Windjana Gorge is around 150km on and you travel through the high walls of Devonian Reef, home to a large population of freshwater crocodiles. Then it's on to Tunnel Creek for a torchlight wade through limestone caves. Two hours later, you're back in Derby.