It may not be one of the big-name attractions for most Kimberley travellers, but Galvans Gorge is a real gem and should not be bypassed on your way to somewhere else
Yes, most of us have heard a little (or a lot) about the highlights to be found along the Kimberley’s famous (or infamous) Gibb River Road. Indeed, around almost every corner in this part of the country are some of the most dramatic and beautiful gorges, escarpments, waterfalls and outback swimming holes (away from dangerous crocodiles) to be found anywhere in Australia.
Located around 180 kilometres east of Derby, between big-named features like Bell and Manning Gorges, Galvans (apart from being a splendid natural attraction) is one of the most easily-accessible of them all. From a car park just a few metres off the Gibb River Road and deep within the extensive Phillips Range, an easy walking trail of around 800 metres beside a small flowing stream leads to a lovely, picturesque splash pool at the base of a 30-metre waterfall. In the wet season a torrent of water pours down through a gap in the mountain – and access to Galvans Gorge (and much of the other Gibb River Road gorge country) is virtually impossible.
As the wet gives way to the long Kimberley dry season, the waterfall here at Galvans slows to almost a trickle and the beautiful circular pool at the base of the falls is a truly delightful sight. This lovely pool, with a small sandy beach-like section, is an ideal safe swimming spot for visitors… free from crocodiles and other nasties found in a number of other northern rivers and waterways.
Even during winter, Kimberley temperatures are often still in the 30s and the pool here entices many visitors to laze around in the water or to swim across to the other side and sit on a ledge with the waterfall cascading down upon them, which is a really great experience.
At the top of the falls is a large boab tree standing quite majestically on a rock ledge; while around the pool on the rock tiers below are a variety of delicate ferns and mosses looking for all the world like a picturesque garden – simply delightful.
On a rock wall on the far side of the pool, look out for some local Aboriginal ‘Wandjina’ rock art. From its cliffside vantage spot the Wandjina face (a symbolic protector of the pool) seems to oversee the comings and goings here at Galvans.
Galvans Gorge… don’t let it slip below your radar on your next Kimberley adventure as it’s likely to be one of the real highlights of your trip. Make sure you bring your bathers and a towel. There’s no camping (or other facilities) here at Galvans – this is a day visit site only. There are camping facilities at Silent Grove (near Bell Gorge) and at nearby Manning Gorge.