The striking and rugged Kimberley is Western Australia’s most northern region and covers an area twice the size of Victoria at 424,517 square kilometres. Its geographical and ecological diversity provides WA with natural resources, unique flora and fauna, terrain and the greatest diversity of rock art in Australia.
The Kimberley has a rich indigenous heritage and strong indigenous culture dating back 50,000 years. Nearly half the Kimberley’s population is indigenous, representing approximately one quarter of the State’s total Aboriginal population, making the region truly unique in Australian culture. There are more than 100 Aboriginal communities of various sizes, scattered throughout the region.
Indigenous organisations are involved in pastoral industry, art, culture, tourism, and aquaculture which contribute to the region’s economy and sustainability.
The Department of Environment and Conservation's biological survey found the Kimberley Islands were free of introduced weeds and animals, unlike the mainland that faces challenges in keeping these pests at bay.
Continued programs like the Cane Toad Strategy 2009–2019, weed management and Safe Horizons Project are vital in managing threats to the region and preserving its unique flora and fauna.
The Kimberley coast is lined with contrasting sandy beaches, mudflats, tidal creeks and cliffs. Its marine environment is internationally recognised as being in good ecological condition and having low impact from humans. Fisheries and water programs like the Integrated Marine Observing System centre around sustainability as the Kimberley contains yet-to-be discovered species many of which exist nowhere else on earth.
Lake Argyle, the largest fresh water storage in mainland Australia boasts a capacity of 10,760 million cubic metres and together with the Ord River irrigates over 14,000 hectares of farm land. The agriculture and food activites in the Ord River Irrigation Area include chickpeas, melons, pumpkins, mangoes, bananas, citrus, irrigated pasture, tropical forests and sugar cane. Pastoral leases for stock grazing take up 224,000 square kilometres of the region.
The Kimberley was the site of WA’s first gold rush at Halls Creek in 1885. Industry and resource mining for diamond, iron ore, nickel, lead, zinc, copper, gold, rare earths and dimension stone continues to contribute to the region’s economy, together with the production of onshore oil. The development of extensive offshore gas reserves is underway.
Technology and innovation through research will advance the mining, pastoral, and fishing industries in their sustainability in the Kimberley. Research like the CSIRO’s Northern Australia Sustainable Yields Project explores how we can tap into the Kimberley’s water resources sustainably.
Health and medicine research concerns mostly indigenous health research adapted for the isolated area. The Kimberley is home to many native flora studied for their medicinal properties. Many of these plants have been used by Indigenous communities for thousands of years as natural remedies.
As the Kimberley is one of Australia’s last true wildernesses, science and conservation will be critical to understanding how we benefit environmentally, culturally and economically from this unique region.
Proudly supported by the Western Australian Government as part of the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy.