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The Kimberley region is located in the northern part of Western Australia, extending from Broome in the west to Kununurra and Lake Argyle in the east, from the sea to a bit south of the main Great Northern Highway (Route 1). It covers about 421,000 square kilometres -- slightly larger than Japan and much larger than United Kingdom, New Zealand, or the Australian state of Victoria. It is bordered on the west by the Indian Ocean, on the north by the Timor Sea, on the south by the Great Sandy Desert, and on the east by the Northern Territory. Click on the map to see it larger.

The Kimberley has only three towns with a population of more than 2,000 (Broome, Derby and Kununurra), and the total population is only around 25,000. In addition to Route 1 (a sealed road), which runs along the southern part of the area, the unsealed Gibb River Road runs through the heart of the region from Derby to the highway near Kununurra. Access to much of the region is by dirt road (often impassable in the wet season), air (a helicopter is necessary for many parts) or sea.

The Kimberley region was one of the earliest settled parts of Australia, with numerous groups of people arriving over thousands of years from the islands of what is now Indonesia. European settlement, however, is quite recent, dating from around 1885, when the MacDonalds and the Duracks arrived to set up cattle stations, having spent several years droving their cattle from the eastern colonies. Many other Europeans arrived soon after, when gold was discovered around Halls Creek. Although the gold rush didn't last long, some people stayed.

Other industries have included pearling (a big industry in Broome for many years until the 1940s), mining (including the Argyle Diamond mine, which began operation in 1983 and is still producing about 1/3 of the world's diamonds), agriculture (centred on the Ord River Irrigation Area near Lake Argyle) and tourism. The geology of the area is varied and fascinating, as well as producing some spectacular scenery. You can also see some ancient Aboriginal rock art.



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