Manning Gorge, Mount Barnett Station, Kimberley
This 5.6 kilometre return hike is hot going, but the great thing about it is a cooling swim when you get to the end as well as the beginning. The well-marked trail goes over broken rocky terrain, with some climbing and scrambling at the end. The reward for effort is a magnificent swim in a massive and gorgeous waterfall fed pool.
About the Trail
Manning Gorge is located on Mount Barnett Station, about half way along the Gibb River Road. Access is via the Mt. Barnett Roadhouse.
The roadhouse is really well equipped, well set up and offers good service. This is also where you pay your entrance and camping fee for Manning Gorge.
(You pay that first, and then you drive on for about 7 kilometres to the camping area and gorge.)
The 5.6km return trail starts at the Manning Gorge Campsite. The trailhead is right on the Manning River and you have to cross it, swimming, wading or both. When we did it in 2017 you could drag yourself across using a rope pulley system and a dinghy. It adds a bit of adventurous fun to the walk.
The well-marked trail starts for earnest on the other side of the river. Along the way are views to the ranges and savannah woodlands, culminating in a massive gorge with a huge waterfall fed pool. It is one of the best swimming spots in the Kimberley.
The gorge itself is huge and you can easily spend hours exploring it. It has several pools to swim through and rocks to climb up and over. You can also climb to the top of the waterfall.
The trail goes through uneven, rocky terrain getting progressively harder near the end. Most people of reasonable fitness should do the Grade 4 trail without big problems. Be sure you take plenty of drinking water and don’t leave too late in the afternoon to avoid being caught in the dark.