The area of Drysdale River Station was first taken up in January 1882 by the Victorian Squatting Company. Regretfully, this company is best known for their failed attempt to settle at Camden Harbour in 1864.
The Drysdale River was named in 1886 by Charles Burrows during an exploration of the area on behalf of the Victorian Squatting Company.<
One of the great problems this area faced was it's isolation. Although the Gibb River Beef road received funding allocation, it only went as far as Gibb River Station. The Kalumburu Road was surveyed by Surveyor J.F. Morgan in 1954, this then opened the area up a great deal more.
The story goes that when the current homestead was built in 1967, the trucks arrived with building materials which were unloaded at the chosen position at the top of the river bank. Thankfully someone happened to look up and notice flood debris a very long way up, in the tree tops. The homestead was then positioned 1.5 km back from the river. In the floods of 1986 and 1997 the river level rose to within 200 m of the house and 5 meters of the staff quarters. All I can say is I am glad they did not build it on the first choice!
We purchased the lease in the wet season of 85 / 86. With 3 4WD vehicles and a truck we set of from Derby only to be caught in the floods from cyclone Hector and had to do a dash back to town. We barely made it , crossing the last river when it was 2 feet over the bridge. After waiting two weeks for the floods to drop we tried again, and it took one day to do the first 300 km and 4 more to do the next 180 km. At one point we were stuck between two rivers and one of our children suddenly became very ill, not an experience I would like to repeat. Luckily she got better, the river dropped and we finally arrived.
At that time there was no telephone service to the area at all, the only means of communication was by the Royal Flying Doctor radio service.
This experience taught me the futility (and looking back, the stupidity) of attempting to travel these roads when they are very wet. I have the greatest admiration for early settlers to the area. Back then, even in a time of dire need it was just not possible to radio or phone for help. Now, we are pretty spoilt in the knowledge that even if a plane can't get to you, then a helicopter probably can. The size these rivers can get to is amazing, the depth of water running down the road makes it appear to be a creek.
Please keep this in mind if someone suggests an adventure holiday over the Wet season traversing North Kimberley dirt roads. The Main Roads Department don't just close the road because they are concerned over damage; they close them because they can be very dangerous ! Both the Main Roads Dept. and the locals are tired of the damage done to the road by people forcing through just for fun when it is still soft and boggy. You may get through but the ruts you create hold the water and make it a lot longer before the road dries out and all are able to use it.
Drysdale River Station is a family owned, million-acre working cattle station. We have been here since 1985 making our family by far the longest resident leaseholder since this land was first released for pastoral use.
We have now separated the cattle station side of the business from the tourism operations.
Drysdale River Roadhouse and Drysdale River Flight Centre now manage all the the tourism operations.
We hope you get to visit the area and enjoy the wonderful North Kimberley.
Please Note: Regretfully, we are unable to offer