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Kalumburu is located on the banks of the King Edward River in the far north of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. This location was chosen because of the abundance of fresh water and is only 15 kms from where the river empties into Napier Broome Bay.
Access may be gained to Kalumburu by gravel road during the dry season only. It is some 550 kms from Kununurra in the south east and 650 kms from Derby in the south west. In addition, light aircraft access from Kununurra or Wyndham is provided all year round, thanks to an excellent airstrip at Kalumburu. Both these towns are some hour and a half flying time.
The area experiences what is described as a dry, tropical climate, with a cool, dry winter (May - September) and a wet, humid summer (October - April). The average "wet season" rainfall is 48 inches and is received as monsoon and thunderstorm downpours.
The community of Kalumburu is populated by approximately 400 people, mainly of aboriginal decent. There are approximately 25 non aboriginal residents who, together with those at the Mission, provide essential services such as schooling, a health clinic, a self service store and power and water.
Many tourists visit Kalumburu together with service providers and government personnel, swelling the population, especially during the dry season. There is a regular, twice a week mail service. A health clinic is staffed permanently by two nursing sisters and a doctor visits the town once a week. Eye specialists, dentists and other professionals also make regular visits to Kalumburu. Radio and television are also transmitted to the town.
Entry Permits are required for transit through Aboriginal Reserves, including Kalumburu, and can be obtained from the Department of Indigenous Affairs. Permits can be applied for online under the Entry Permits section.
The furthermost, permanent settlement in the north of Western Australia is today known as Kalumburu. It is situated on the King Edward River, which supplies plentiful fresh water at all times.
The wild, rugged, magnificent landscape of this area has been home for many thousands of years to the Kwini and Walmbi, the Cambra - Kulari people. No doubt before them were other aboriginal races, for this corner of the continent was one of the main entry points into Australia of our first ancient inhabitants. Evidence of their passing is preserved in the rock art sites which abound in the north Kimberley.
At the request of the Plenary Council of Bishops in Sydney, 1905, the second Abbot of the Benedictine Abbey of New Norcia, Abbot Fulgentius Torres, was requested to establish a mission in the virtually unknown land of the Drysdale River area.
In 1908, he decided on a beach in Napier Broome Bay where there was water and some advantages in the position as a jumping off place to further inland Drysdale River.
The spot was called Pago - the name of the local women’s fighting stick. Camp was set up and the temporary stay lasted almost thirty years.
Benedictine Sisters arrived in 1930. Their convent stood near the still evident baker’s oven. But plans were already afoot to shift the mission to a spot by a marvellous pool in the King Edward River, called Kalumburu, about thirty kilometres from Pago overland. Using donkey carts and anything with wheels, the big move began in 1932 and went on till 1937. The Pago church was dismantled and simply rebuilt at Kalumburu. As much as possible all was brought across from Pago.
The Kalumburu parish includes a large section of the famous Gibb River Road, takes in the aboriginal community at Gibb River itself, the Mt Elizabeth community of Dodnun and Waa, down to Mt Barnett.
Today Kalumburu parish has Benedictine Sisters, lay missionaries and volunteers, a priest and parish council.
The historic Kalumburu Mission provides a wide rante of goods and services. With a takeway general store, air conditioned donga accommodation and lawn covered camping grounds (powered sites available), Kalumburu Mission is the ideal base for exploring the magnificent scenery or taking in a spot of fishing.
Kalumburu Mission Camping Area
The Mission Camping area is lawn covered with plenty of shade, gazebo type covered meal areas. New ablution facilities have been installed and BBQs are provided for patrons use. Power and water is available to all sites.
The palm covered tropical surrounds make this an ideal camping area from which to explore the local area or to pursue your favourite pastimes, whether they be fishing or sightseeing. Tariff: $15 per person per night, children 6-15 yrs $8 (children under 6 yrs no charge), family $40, powered site $10 extra per night. Permits are not required for camping at Kalumburu Mission, but must be obtained for beach access.
Kalumburu Mission Dongas
The Mission Dongas has both single and double air-conditioned accommodation with a self contained kitchen (including refrigeration) for the use of patrons. Television, undercover recreation / meals area together with laundry facilities make this an ideal stop over whilst at Kalumburu. Tariff: $100 single, $150 twin share per night.
The service station stocks diesel, unleaded and leaded fuel, motor oils/fluids, outboard motor oils, LP gas and block ice. Facilities are also available for motorists to undertake minor mechanical and tyre repairs. Hours of trade: Monday to Friday 7:00am - 11:30am and 2:00pm - 4:30pm. Saturday and Sunday closed.
The mission store is the cheapest place to buy your daily requirements whilst in Kalumburu. It stocks food items, toiletries, and even fishing tackle can be purchased here. Store opening hours - 7.30am-11.30am & 1.30pm-4.00pm Monday to Friday
Visit the Museum that tells the story of one of Australia's most isolated missions: Monday-Wednesday-Saturday guided tour. Self guided tour- Tuesday, Thursday & Friday. Hours 8.30am to 10.30am. Entry fee $10
Please note: Kalumburu is a "dry" community and alcohol is not permitted.