Bandilngan (Windjana Gorge) National Park, 140km north-east of Derby, experienced extensive damage by a record-breaking flood of the Lennard River in January. The entry road, ranger infrastructure and ablutions were damaged in the impact. “We’re still waiting for waters to recede, but parts of the walking trail into the gorge have washed away and there’s been significant damage to the banks. There’s been half a metre of water through the ranger quarters and mud through the buildings,” said Craig Olejnik from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).
The gorge, which features striking limestone cliffs, is visited by up to 20,000 tourists per year.
The second popular national park to be struck was Danggu Geikie Gorge National Park, near Fitzroy Crossing. This park will also remain closed after the flooding Fitzroy River wreaked havoc through the area, including washing away 37 hectares of the Danggu Park including all its visitor and ranger infrastructure, according to the DBCA.
Both gorges are popular day-trip destinations from Derby, Broome and Fitzroy Crossing, and Kimberley tourism operators had been preparing for a bumper season after three years of pandemic-related cancellations and border closures.
January’s monsoonal low dealt the entire region a blow, more than 100 homes were extensively damaged, the Fitzroy River Bridge was broken, and dozens of people remain displaced months after the event.
Other attractions such as Dimalurru (Tunnel Creek) National Park, Purnululu National Park, Dalmanyi (Bell Gorge) and Mitchell Falls are expected to reopen when road conditions allow.
DBCA hopes repairs this year will allow Bandilngan Windjana Gorge to reopen as normal in 2024 while Danggu Geikie Gorge may open later in 2024.
Dalmanyi (Bell Gorge), Wunaamin (King Leopold Range) Conservation Park
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