If paddling along private gorges is your thing, then Dimond Gorge and Sir John Gorge are for you! Situated in Mornington Wilderness Camp they are some of the most impressive gorges in the Kimberly. Located 90kms off the Gibb River road, it is a bit off the beaten track. However the drive to get there is an attraction in itself, so get your camera at the ready! The 312,000 ha Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary covers much of the upper catchment area of the Fitzroy River and sections of the King Leopold Ranges. It comprises four major river systems with many gorges and billabongs perfect for exploring by SUP.
Dimond Gorge is a must see when visiting Mornington. Try visiting early morning or late afternoon to see the colours of the rocks change and the wildlife come to life. It is an easy paddle as you don’t need to carry the SUP over multiple rocky paths. However, the walk down to the launch is steep and may be best done with the board deflated in the backpack.
For the more experienced at several kilometres long, Sir John Gorge is a challenging yet rewarding paddle. Paddling between gorges you will need to navigate rocky outcrops whilst carrying your SUP between the pools. (An inflatable board makes this a lot easier!) The reward at the end is worth it, as you will likely have the gorge all to yourself, with amazing rock ledges and beautiful clear water.
It is recommended to check in with reception at Mornington Wilderness Camp to access route maps and more detailed descriptions of the gorges and canoe/ paddle trails. There is little shade in the gorges so it is advised to take adequate sun protection and is recommended to paddle either early morning or late in the afternoon.
- .First take the 24 km self drive trail from the camp to Dimond Gorge (about 1.5 hours return)
- .Carry your SUP board down from the carpark to the launching point. Continue down the steps to the bottom then continue over rocky boulders until you see where the canoes and kayaks are. This is a good launching point for the SUP. This walk can be difficult so be careful and take your time.
- .Paddle through the gap at the start of the gorge and keep paddling until you reach the end. You may be sharing Dimond Gorge with other canoes or kayaks, but there is plenty of space to find your own secluded spot!
- .To return head back the same way you came and paddle close to the walls of the gorge to try and see some rock wallabies.
You will find parking near the gorge.
When you reach Dimond Gorge and get out of your car you initially have to go down steps and then clamber over rocks to get to the gorge. Once you reach the canoes and kayaks you are at a good launch point.
Things to know
- Please travel to Mornington Wilderness Camp well-prepared. The Gibb River Road requires preparation and depending on the time of the season there are creek crossings and rough roads that require a well-equipped 4WD.
- There may be freshwater crocs in the gorges. Please take local advice when visiting the area.
- This area can reach temperatures up to 45C, make sure to bring enough drinking water, sunscreen and adequate sun protection.
- Mornington Wilderness Camp is run by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and are working to protect a variety of bird, mammals, reptiles and frog species including the Bilby, Gouldian Finch and numbat. Due to this no dogs are allowed.