A destination’s weather and climate conditions are often a critical factor when planning a holiday. Many travellers from overseas assume that the weather all over Australia is always nice and warm, while domestic travellers from down South seem to picture the weather in the North as constantly hot and sunny. However, the Kimberleys, located in the far North- West of Australia, are actually characterised by very complex weather patterns. Local indigenous groups have, for a long time, defined at least six different seasons in a year. These are identified by what food sources are available; which plants, fruits and flowers are blooming and which animals are out and about.
For the traveller, it is important to know that due to the weather in the Kimberley Region, the main attractions of the area are not always accessible. Heavy rains and swelling rivers prevent access to the Kimberleys central plateau area and many gorges and waterfalls between November and April each year. The Pentecoast River to the East of the Gibb River Road and the Fitzroy River to the West flood during the wet season and make access impossible. During this time, you can only access the Great Northern Highway which runs along the South of the Kimberley. You will miss the most popular attractions of the Central Kimberley, and even Purnululu NP on HWY1 will be closed.
During the Kimberleys dry season from May to October, access via the Gibb River Road is possible as soon as rivers are low enough to pass. The exact time depends on how much rain the Kimberly received in any given wet season, but opening is scheduled for May 1.
So when is the best time to travel the Kimberleys in the dry season?
Many visitors choose to travel the Kimberley Region between the months of June and August, as they find the local weather most comfortable during this time of the year. Day time temperatures are about 30-35 degrees Celsius with blue sunny skies, while temperatures at night decline to a comfortable 20- 25 degrees. There is almost no chance of rain, apart from the occasional but rare “sun shower”. The disadvantage of travelling between June & August is that the Kimberley Region can get quite busy. The Kimberley has gained in popularity as a visitor destination over the past decade, and especially in June and July, when Australian schools have their main holiday period, many families are on the road. Popular campgrounds and attractions can be crowded. If you are looking for a quieter time to visit the Kimberleys, opt for May.
We recommend May as the best time of the year to visit the Kimberley region in Western Australia!
In May, the Kimberleys rivers and waterfalls are still pumping from their wet season top up. There is lots of surface water around keeping the country nice and fresh. At the same time, the wet season’s high temperatures and humidity have passed, making for more comfortable weather. What’s more, the Kimberley Region is much less visited during May than during the following months. There might be the occasional rain shower in May, but the big storms and rains are over and showers are normally short and refreshing.
If you are a photographer, May is a great time to visit the Kimberley. Later in the dry season, there will be controlled burning in the region leading to smoke that can make your photos look hazy. Increased traffic, moreover, leads to more dust on the roads. In May, the recent rains have nicely set any smoke and dust and there is less traffic, providing better conditions for your photography.
September and October are also good months to visit the Kimberleys if you prefer to avoid crowds. Most cattle stations and attractions close their doors at the end of October. While September can still see a fair amount of tourist traffic, if you travel in October, you are very likely to have some of the Kimberley attractions all or almost all to yourself and traffic on the Gibb is often very low. However, temperatures and humidity are starting to rise along with a risk of rain. If you are not a fan of hot weather, this is probably not the best time for you to visit the Kimberley.
Interested in visiting the Kimberley on a guided tour? Check out our Kimberley Tours and take advantage of our Early Bird Discounts until December 2016.
If you have any more questions about your Kimberley holiday, please contact us.