Best Adventure Hub: Kununurra, Australia

Outside chooses the top vacation spots of 2013

The Ord River, Australia.     Photo: Annabelle Sandes/Kimberley Media

This leafy green outpost (pop. 4,600) in Western Australia’s Kimberly Region has just a few hotels, one sports tavern, and a handful of restaurants. In other words, you come for the surroundings: a remote landscape 10 times the size of Switzerland that has 250-million-year-old red rock, ancient pictographs, the bizarre beehive-shaped Bungle Bungle Mountains in Purnululu National Park, and a Delaware-size reserve (Camden Sound Marine Park) off the coast to protect the largest humpback whale calving area in the southern hemisphere.

Fly here in the dry season (from April to October) from Darwin, Broome, or Perth on Qantas, rent a 4x4 at the airport (US $647 per week), and check into the new Freshwater Apartments (US $200) overlooking Lily Creek Lagoon. Then go play. One recommendation: a 68-mile cruise in a 700-horsepower speedboat on the Ord River for instant immersion in the area’s natural history and wildlife (US $167). Another: El Questro, a lodge sitting on one million acres of El Questro Wilderness Park, 60 miles west of Kununurra (from US $301).

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