Kununurra is located 3,040 km north of Perth on the River Ord, at the edge of the Kimberley region. The nearest town is Wyndham, 100 km northwest, while Broome, south of the Kimberley and our 'jumping off point' for Sea Serpents (OBA 2.9) is 1,045 km southwest. The Northern Territory border is only 37 km east and Darwin is 820 km to the northeast. The population of Kununurra is transient and growing but is currently thought to number around 5-6,000 residents. Kununurra was the location for much of the filming of the movie Australia (2008) staring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, Australia's 2nd largest grossing film after Crocodile Dundee. Kununurra was somewhat quieter when we visited in 2000.
Kununurra in 2000
We flew up from Perth, the film crew plus Rob Porter, a New Zealander gecko specialist working at John Weigel's Australian Reptile Park (ARP), Gosford, and Alf Britton, a friend of John's who often accompanied him on his field trips. We would spend two nights in Kununurra while the team gathered and equipment and supplies were organised. Around the hotel we found a Northern mulch skink (Glaphyromorphus darwiniensis) under a stone and Blotched snake-eyed skinks (Cryptoblepharus megastictus) on living and dead timber.
Time in Kununurra allowed Alf, Rob and myself to make a short herping trip to the 191 m Kelly's Knob, a local landmark which "herping heaven" written all over it. We drove and climbed to the top and saw several Twin-striped lashtail dragons (Lophognathus temporalis) which scattered from their basking points as we approached but the icing on the cake was a Kimberley rock monitor (Varanus glauerti) basking on the top of the rocks. The lizard was photographed in situ and then captured for more detailed photography, then released.