Keep River National Park
Small Park - Big Scenery
Keep River National Park is comparatively small, but the scenery and landforms are just as spectacular as in the bigger parks.
The 700 something sq km park is situated near the border between the Northern Territory and the Western Australia Kimberley region.
Keep River National Park allows you to see the two different sides of an area that marks a change in geology.
The small size of Keep River National Park has advantages: It's only 28 kilometres from the entrance to the far end, where the most beautiful walk starts.
Better still, the formed gravel road can be used by two wheel drive vehicles. You shouldn't have problems to fit in a visit, even if your schedule is busy.
You can easily visit Keep River National Park on a day trip from Kununurra, or stop there on the way when travelling to or from Kununurra.
The entry into the park is only 3 km from the border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory, on the Territory side, to the north of the highway.
The formed gravel road that runs the length of the park is ok for two wheel drive vehicles during the dry season, although the corrugations can get a bit rough at times. (Corrugations are ridges and dints that make the road look like a sheet of corrugated iron.) Just drive slowly and carefully.
During the wet season some or all roads in the park may be closed. (Nov - April, it depends on the weather, you can enquire about the current road conditions by phoning the Parks & Wildlife Commission, contact details are at the bottom of the page.)
Visit the information centre near the entrance to find out more about the park. Alternatively you can get information and fact sheets beforehand from any of the Visitor Centres in Katherine, Timber Creek or Kununurra.
Two camp sites, several walks, and Aboriginal art sites featuring over 2500 drawings are located along the 28 km of main road.
The drive itself is enjoyable, too.
To your right you will still see the sharp rise of the Victoria River escarpments, and to your left you can get the first glimpse of the sandstone formations that characterise the Kimberley, and that the Purnululu National Park is so famous for.
Cockatoo Lagoon is not far from the entrance and information centre and is a good place to watch birds.
Three walks in the park lead to places of cultural significance and to some ancient rock art:
- Ginger's Hill Walk: starts not far from the entrance. (200 m return)
- Jinumum Walk: follows the bed of the Keep River, located some 20 km along the main road. (3 km, 2 hr)
- Nganalam Art Site: a few kilometres beyond Jinumum. (200 m return)
Interpretive displays give insight into the lives of the Miriwoong and Gadjerong people. They are the traditional owners of Keep River National Park and have lived in the area for thousands of years.
The two campsites, Gurrandalng (18 km from the entrance) and Jarnem (at the far end of the Park,) offer tables, barbecues and pit toilets. Both also feature interesting walks.
Gurrandalng is a lovely location for a camp site, surrounded and sheltered by sandstone formations.
The walk from here takes about 30 min to 1 hour and leads you to some magnificent views of the rock formations in the area.
Jarnem is my favourite. Not as pretty a camp site (still very nice, though!), but the walk is fantastic.You can either do the whole track in a loop of 8 km, which includes the lookout and the art sites, or opt for a shorter return stroll on either end.
The lookout at the eastern end of the walk is reached after a moderate climb and offers you spectacular views in all directions. Signs explain the interesting change in geology, and give you information about the history of the area, as well as the flora and fauna.
But if you are pressed for time I strongly recommend the walk to the art sites on the western end. It's shorter, and it's the most impressive part.
And after you enjoyed the rock art just walk a little bit further around the next corner to experience some spectacular views and photo opportunities.
Actually, what I really recommend is the whole loop walk, starting on the eastern side with the lookout. It's an interesting and varied track, taking you through many different habitats.
The best time for this walk is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and that makes camping at Jarnem a very attractive option.
But since the park is so close to Kununurra it is even possible to enjoy the Jarnem walk in the late afternoon and then continue driving to spend the night in the comfort of a hotel room.
For more information contact the Parks & Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory:
Keep River National Park
Ph: 08 9167 8827
Fax: 08 9168 7396