Among the most multicultural cities in Australia, Broome became a base for fortune-seekers the world over during its ‘pearl rush'. Many of them never left. The pristine waters here grow great oysters, and the resulting pearls are prized by lovers of all things that gleam. The hardest thing you have to do today is decide how to spend it. We have a few ideas.
Opt to go to the source and see how pearls are painstakingly grown and harvested, perhaps. Or head north to feel the full force of nature on an optional scenic flight over (and heart-starting cruise through) the magical Horizontal Falls. Only then will you begin to grasp just how mighty the tides are here, ramming through two narrow chasms and creating a waterfall that appears to have been tipped on its side. It will take your breath away, in more ways than one - those boats move fast.
We wouldn't blame you for simply enjoying Broome's tropical climes, strolling along 22-kilometre Cable Beach, discovering colourful Chinatown then following locals to the sand, or a beachside bar, to salute the end of a spectacular day in WA. (B)
Things are bigger in Broome, including the footprints. Preserved for 125 million years in the reef rock at Gantheaume Point are the imprints of long-extinct dinosaurs. Remarkably, the Broome coast has become one of the most significant paleontological sites in the world. Next stop - Fitzroy Crossing, the gateway to Danggu (Geikie) Gorge.
Jump aboard a boat to discover how this part of the Kimberley was formed by the Fitzroy River carving the Napier Range, leaving behind a dramatic chasm with 30-metre walls, home to a plethora of wildlife. This all happened in Devonian times, some 350 million years ago. Keep watch for all creatures great and small, from freshwater crocs to fruit bats and wallabies. Look up to see white-bellied sea eagles and rare purple-crowned fairy wrens. (B/D) Stay: Fitzroy River Lodge
Until recently, the Argyle Diamond Mine was the world's largest producer of rare, and dazzling, pink diamonds. While operations have ceased, you can still visit and go behind the scenes. Your First Nations guide will not only point out where the magic once happened, but also explain the Aboriginal significance of this land - the traditional Barramundi Dreaming site - to First Nations communities.
Then it's on to the Gibb River Road, the stuff road trip legends are made of. You'll see why, your route to El Questro Wilderness Park covering a few kilometres of the epic expanse. Now exhale - your safari-style tents for the night are backdropped by the Cockburn Range, surrounded by an oasis of pandanus and palms. When darkness falls, expect a bedazzlement of stars overhead. (B/L/D) Stay: Emma Gorge Resort, Tented Cabin with private facilities (2 Nights)
The best way to wake up? With the sun streaming through your tent, wildlife all around. The Kimberley's sounds follow you across the mighty Pentecost River, a mecca for those who love a spot of barramundi fishing. Arriving at Chamberlain Gorge, an enormous fresh waterhole, your cruise chariot awaits.
Jump aboard to feel very small indeed, your boat dwarfed by soaring 60-metre escarpments, a brilliant shade of orange in the morning sun. When it's time to cool down, take an afternoon dip, whether in the resort pool or at a waterhole within Emma Gorge. Take your pick. The latter is a challenge to reach - you will work up a sweat hiking there. But diving in at the end is worth the effort. Be back on your patio in time for sundowners. (B/D)
It's not every day that you have the privilege of glimpsing the inner workings of a rum distillery with the family that owns it. Thanks to our AAT Kings connections, we've organised for you to meet the makers and discover how Hoochery Distillery prepares its lip-smacking, award-winning rums and whiskys. Try a tasting paddle to get your heart started, or sit down to a slice of rum cake - morning tea sorted.
Kununurra is the middle of nowhere, and only exists because of the Ord River Irrigation Scheme. Before it was a twinkle on the map, farming pioneers came here to establish vast cattle stations. The life of one such family is chronicled at the Durack Homestead Museum, revealing how the property was dismantled then reassembled on higher ground when much of the countryside was flooded for the dam.
The project not only helped water the countryside, but created Lake Argyle. A sunset cruise here, surrounded by tens of thousands of freshwater crocs and an embarrassment of birds, is something you won't forget in a hurry. (B/D) Stay: Kununurra Country Club Resort (2 Nights)
How active and adventurous do you want today to be? Rise early to enjoy a bird's-eye view of the beehive-like rock formations of the Bungle Bungles on an optional scenic flight over World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park. Or opt to stay grounded on a 4WD tour through the ethereal landscape. Otherwise lace up your walking shoes and wander with your Travel Director through Mirima National Park, known as the ‘mini-Bungles' for its rocky resemblance.
Both destinations reveal the mind-boggling geology of this part of the world. Whatever direction you go, be sure to join the locals atop Kelly's Knob for views over town as the sun sets. (B/D)
Nature reigns supreme at Nitmiluk National Park bordering Kakadu. This is Jawoyn land, and a place where you'll feel your spirit soar. Particularly when you're cruising through dramatic Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge, your boat the only sound echoing around this enormous chasm. Remarkably, this is one of 13 gorges carved through the national park, and at every bend in the river, the sun casts soaring sandstone cliffs a different colour.
As you ease north, reminders of the impact of WWII line the banks of the Adelaide River. The headquarters of a military base once stood here, and there's a cemetery nearby to remember those who lost their lives here. It's a sobering sight. The balmy Darwin climate sets the pace for your city tour: relaxed. Meet locals (there are some characters), discover the city's architecture and learn about the events that have shaped life in the Top End, from Cyclone Tracy to WWII when the Northern Territory capital was bombed.
It doesn't matter how long you've lived in Darwin, the Mindil Beach Sunset Market is an institution. Browse the food stalls before gathering to watch the day disappear and exchange email addresses with your new friends. (B/D) Stay: Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront