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Cockburn Range (WA)

View of the Cockburn Range from the Gibb River Road. Click to see the full-sized image.

Few people have heard of the Cockburn Range but it is fast becoming one of the focus points of Western Australia’s Kimberley region. This incredible escarpment region stretches for about 50km and lies trapped between the Pentecost and King Rivers (both filled to the brim with saltwater crocodiles) only an hours drive from Kununurra. The range is actually a high plateau and is dissected with hundreds of gorges and cliffs. The massive El Questro (a private company) owns a substantial portion of this area and it is heavily marketed as a wilderness park. We had a look at these cliffs recently from a rockclimbing perspective and although some of the rock is fairly loose other sections reminded me of Moonarie in the Flinders Ranges. Here are a couple of images which show the cliffs facing the Gibb River Road. These escarpments average 70-80m high and would offer some pretty amazing climbing. The rock is generally good quartzite (the same rock as Mt Arapiles).

2 thoughts on “Cockburn Range (WA)

  1. I got up to this range (although unfortunately not the section pictured, so it could still be ok); it all looks the same – but it’s not Moonarie and certainly not Arapiles-like rock – it’s hard, but very fractured rock.

    Did you walk up to the base Glen? The main cliffline was incredibly loose-looking close up, with very little protection. I managed to find some ok routes tucked away near a tall cave and water-streak towards the Eastern end. …see them on The Crag: http://www.thecrag.com/climbing/australia/the-kimberley/area/544306692

    Cheers,
    Goshen

    1. Hey Goshen. We had a walk up to a couple of the escarpments (didn’t get to the crag in the pic unfortunately) and one of them was really good rock with good features although I didn’t pay any attention to the pro as it was just a run up, look see and run down again deal. You’re definitely right about the fracture zones and loose stuff in general though. The best climbing potential we saw was in the narrow gullies which appeared to be waterfalls in the wet. These also provided lots of shade. Almost everything looked hard though and would require equipping. Probably not worth the effort considering the location. I reckon there is potential for some good climbing but not unless you lived nearby. Sounds like you had a great trip. Drop into the Nati Cafe sometime and say hi.

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