Travel to Kununurra in Australia. Kununurra is a small town built on big dreams. In a remote corner of the vast Kimberley region of Western Australia, its unaffected pastoral feel makes a comfortable base from which to explore the majestic natural attractions in the rugged surrounding landscape.Kununurra’s existence is due entirely to a grand engineering scheme to harness the Ord River, and establish an agriculture industry in the area. The town itself came into existence in the late 1950’s as a support centre for the Ord Irrigation scheme. A few vanguard families slowly spread their multi-thousand acre properties across the fertile plain. In recent years, it has unceasingly shaken off its pragmatic origins to develop infrastructure for the growing number of visitors to this previously difficult-to-visit part of the Kimberley. From the initial handful of pioneering farmers, the permanent population has now grown to around 7,000. The town was officially gazetted as recently as 1961. As early as 1882, fortune seeking pastoralists and farmers have been drawn to pin their hopes on the Ord River and the wide open plains around it. The Ords potential was first identified by explorer Alexander Forrest in 1879. He encouraged graziers in search of new land to the area and subsequently built his empire on leases of 51 million acres. The most well known of these pastoralists was the Durack family, who in 1882 drove 7,250 head of cattle and 200 horses overland from Queensland to establish the Lissadell, Argyle, Rosewood and Ivanhoe stations. At Ivanhoe station, north of the present Kununurra townsite, the potential of growing crops on the rich alluvial soils of the Ord Valley became apparent and after early experiments literally bore fruit, many acres of cattle country were turned over to agriculture. It was soon realised that the full potential of the Ord to grow thirsty crops could only be achieved with more water.Begun in 1958, the Ord Irrigation Scheme was an ambitious idea to capture the huge volume of water flowing down the Ord during the monsoon for irrigation of the fertile plains along the river’s lower reaches and to develop a productive agriculture industry and create a food bowl for Western Australia. The first stage was completed in 1963 with the construction of the Diversion Dam, creating Lake Kununurra and feeding a network of canals that supported 31 farms by 1966. Spurred on by this success, the second stage saw the building of the Ord River Dam further upstream, subsequently creating Lake Argyle, Australia’s second largest artificial Lake. Construction of the 335 metres long, earth wall dam was completed in 1971 and ceremoniously opened a year later. The reservoir’s initial capacity of a hefty 5,641 gigilitres (equivalent to 11 Sydney Harbours by some peoples estimate) was increased in the early 1990s, when the wall was raised by 6 metres to double its current capacity to an oceanic 10,763 giglitres. The extra capacity enabled a hydroelectric power station to keep spinning and provide the towns power. In the early days, farmers experimented with a range of crops and had variable results. Crops such as cotton and rice were dismal failures as pests and birds ate it quicker than it could grow. But sugar cane, bananas, melons and mangos became a very successful cash crop. In recent years, sandalwood plantations became more abundant. A trial of commercial hemp proved to be viable and production is tipped to be expanded once the states draconian laws can be modernised.There are a few explanations for the etymology of the town’s name, the most popular being a mangled English pronunciation of Gunanurang – “Big River” in the local Miriwoong people’s language.Many scenes from the movie Australia were filmed in the area surrounding Kununurra.Kununurra has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons

Airport: KNX Kununurra Airport Cities in Australia

Country: Australia