Scenic flights are a great choice to enrich your travel experience. They allow you to see a destination from a whole new perspective and in a very efficient way. This is particularly true in areas where road access is limited or non-existent, and the vastness of the local landscapes virtually impenetrable. Northern Australia has many of such places, and choosing where to include a scenic flight can be a tough decision- unless your holiday budget is unlimited. We have been lucky enough to participate in many scenic flights and would like to share our recommendations on the most worthwhile aerial expeditions in the Top End and the Kimberley Region.
30 minute Bungle Bungle helicopter flight from Purnululu National Park
This flight departs from within Purnululu National Park, giving you the advantage of getting straight to the good bits! Fly to the northwest tip of the Bungle Bungle range witnessing spectacular gorges, track along the entire length of Picanniny Gorge and witness the unique beehive formations that have contributed to the listing of the Purnululu National Park as a World Heritage listed area. This exciting flight shows off the famous striped domes, the deep caverns and gorges with palm trees clinging to cliff faces, the western wall and the meandering creek bed of Picaninny Creek. Combining the walking tracks of Purnululu with the aerial perspective is a great way to experience the vastness and spectacular landscapes of this national park.
48 minute Mitchell Falls coastal helicopter flight
While you will need to dig a little deeper into your pockets to participate in this flight, we believe it’s worth every cent! After having travelled all the way up to the remote Mitchell Plateau, there is a high possibility that you won’t return to this part of the world, and this helicopter flight is a unique opportunity to witness the spectacular Mitchell Falls and surrounding landscapes as well as a virtually untouched coastal area of the Kimberley Region. You will get an unparalleled perspective of the land in relation to the coast, witnessing how the Mitchell River makes its way from the plateau into the ocean, then flying out to the waters of Admiralty Gulf and following the stunning coast where you might even be able to spot marine life. Of course you will also get a close up look at the Mitchell Falls and at the way the Mitchell River has carved magnificent gorges and waterfalls into the layered sandstone of the Mitchell Plateau.
2 hour fixed wing Bungle Bungle flight from Kununurra
For travellers who do not have the time or vehicle to make their way to the Bungle Bungles, a fixed wing scenic flight from Kununurra is the next best thing. While you are flying higher than in a helicopter, the small aircraft still allows you to get stunning views of the landscapes of this vast wilderness area. Not only will you witness the unique Bungle Bungle formations of Purnululu, you will also fly over the massive Lake Argyle, the Carr Boyd Ranges, Osmand Ranges, the Ord River and the Bow River. Closer to Kununurra you will also see the Argyle Diamond Mine and Ord River Irrigation Area from above. This is an opportunity to witness a variety of spectacular Kimberley landscapes on a two hour flight from a convenient departure location. The ranges in the area are a great visual example of how the local landscape has uplifted and folded over hundreds of millions of years.
60 minute fixed wing falls flight at Kakadu National Park
This flight is only available in the wet and early dry seasons, while the walking tracks into Jim Jim and Twin Falls are still inaccessible. This means that the waterfalls you will witness on this 60 minute flight are in good flow, sometimes, after local rainfall, in spectacular flood! Flights depart from Jabiru or Cooinda, and as well as seeing the waterfalls you will also get an unparalleled perspective of the Arhnem Plateau and Kakadu stone country.
Katherine Gorge 13 Gorge helicopter flight
The Katherine Gorge complex at Nitmiluk National Park is comprised of a total of 13 spectacular gorges. Without flying, even experienced canoeists will only be able to paddle up to the fifth gorge, and this requires an overnight trip. To explore the full extent of this unique gorge system, the best option is a scenic helicopter flight. Each gorge within the system is different in height, shape and atmosphere and an aerial adventure over this lush environment is unforgettable.
Horizontal Falls half day tour from Broome
Last but not least, we could not write about scenic flights in the Kimberley and not include the Horizontal Falls expedition… The Horizontal Falls are a spectacular phenomenon, described by David Attenborough as “Australia’s most unusual natural wonder”. The half day tour from Broome has become a very well-known and popular activity for very good reasons. Apart from the natural beauty of this phenomenon, it is an opportunity to take a seaplane flight all the way from Broome to the falls at Talbot Bay, witnessing the breathtaking coastal landscapes of the Buccaneer Archipelago and Cape Leveque along the way. The tour also includes a speed boat ride through the Horizontal Falls, before flying back to Broome.
Oh and by the way, a domestic flight between Darwin and Kununurra is also a bit of a spectacle! So make sure you don’t spend it napping…