On my trip through Kakadu and the Kimberleys with Adventure Tours, I was taken to some of the most ruggedly beautiful places in Australia. It was fantastic hiking through the gorges and chasms to appreciate the stunning vistas.
From ground level you can really only appreciate the landscape from one perspective. However from the air, you can experience the outlook from an entirely different angle.
Here are the major scenic flights on offer through Australia’s top end and the Kimberleys.
While the beehive shaped rock formations that constitute the Bungle Bungles are now a key attraction, they were only identified in the 1980s and are located within a wider reserve known as the Purnululu National Park. Having walked through Cathedral Gorge and Echidna Chasm, I was keen to experience the Bungles and the other gorges in the national park from the air. Slingair Heliwork operate helicopters flights from within the National Park. To maximise the views, they fly helicopters without doors, which for the novice flier such as myself seems a little precarious, it is in fact completely safe. The friendly staff on the ground pointed out that without even wearing seatbelts, you wouldn’t fall out of the helicopter because of the way gravity and the helicopter forces combine to essentially ‘pin’ you to your seat. Soaring above the dozens of domed rocks is a definite highlight of my Kimberley adventure.
A jewel in Northern Territory’s crown is the Katherine Gorge, located in the Nitmiluk National Park just south of Kakadu. The gorge is a spectacular waterway where massive rock walls enclose pristine water – it’s actually made up of 13 different gorges, each gorge is separated by rocks across the river. A boat cruise is a relaxing way to appreciate the natural beauty; I’d also recommend walking to the lookout point, high on the cliff. However for an added visual perspective, consider taking a scenic flight. While there are several companies that offer the experience, Heli-Muster is a professional outfit that are located between Katherine town and the gorge itself. They offer several options including a 15-minute trip where you’ll see eight gorges and a 30-minute flight that allows you to admire all thirteen gorges.
Around 200 kilometres north of Broome lies Cape Leveque, at the top of the Dampier Peninsula. The Cape itself boasts a lighthouse and a pristine beach – however in my mind, it’s the red cliffs that flank the western side that make the Cape particularly striking. The only way to fully appreciate the true beauty of this region is from a scenic plane. I enlisted the services of Kimberley Aviation to fly me over Cape Leveque, the Horizontal Waterfalls and the mesmerising Buccaneer Islands. Yohan, my pilot, provided a terrific commentary along the way and made sure at all times that myself, together with the three other passengers, were enjoying the flight.
The various regions of Kakadu are justifiably famous – Ubirr with its rock art rising to a pinnacle over the nearby plains, Jim Jim Falls and the Mamukala wet lands. While it’s really only during the dry season that access by land is possible to many locations in the Kakadu National Park, scenic flights operate year round. In fact, a pilot based in Darwin mentioned to me that the sight of the volume of the wildlife on the wetlands during the wet season never ceases to amaze him. Scenic flight operators are located both in Darwin and fly from air strips from within the park itself.
On your next holiday to the Northern Territory or Western Australia, ask your Escape Travel consultant to organise scenic flights over the region.