With a base population of around 5,000 which swells during the dry season, Kununurra’s people include traditional owners, farmers, pastoralists, miners, service industry workers and visitors. The town is a focus for economic and social activities throughout the Ord River Catchment.
Kununurra is one of WA's newest towns and is located in the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley. The Shire covers 121,000 sq kms and is one of the four local governments in the Kimberley Region, and has a total population of about 7,300. The port for the Shire is at Wyndham on the Cambridge Gulf, which is one of the oldest towns in the State.
In and around Kununurra you can find ancient and diverse landscapes, waterways, irrigated agriculture, the urban life of a township, biodiversity in abundance, one of the world’s biggest diamond mines and outback pastoral stations .
From pastoralism and agriculture, traditional use and tourism, conservation and resource development.
The Kimberley Region in Western Australia covers 420,000 km2, and with the exception of about 20,000 hectares of irrigated land, is all rangeland. Just 35,000 people, half of them Indigenous live in the vast area, which is twice the size of Victoria. The diversity of rangeland types within a single region is arguably unparalleled in Australia, varying from extensive Mitchell grass plains along the major rivers systems, to almost inaccessible mountainous areas in the north Kimberley to remnants of rainforest vegetation left over from a previous climatic period. The whole region is classified as one of Australia's 15 National Biodiversity ‘Hotspots', with much of the region still to be properly explored for its floral and faunal riches.
As well as the environment values, occupancy by Indigenous peoples for an estimated 60,000 years has left a rich legacy of story, rock art, and traditional knowledge that is beginning to be appreciated properly by Australian society. The grazing lands first attracted European settlers in the 1860s, and the pastoral industry is an important land use in the region, with about 600,000 cattle grazed through the area, supplying a diversity of markets. Tourists from Australia and all over the world are attracted to the Kimberley by the vast landscapes, the sense of wilderness, the easy-going lifestyle, and the contrasting yet complementary traditional and pastoral cultures. The area is rich in mineral and hydrocarbon resources, with many of these only now beginning to be explored and developed. The world class Argyle Diamond Mine south of Kununurra is the one of the largest producer of natural coloured diamonds in the world. Currently, the Ord River Irrigation Area is being expanded in size from 14,000 to 22,000 hectares which will bring new activities and new jobs to the Kununurra area.
Given the important environmental, cultural and production values, the WA Government has released a Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy and a Kimberley Regional Water Plan for the area, and is in the process of developing a Kimberley Planning Framework to set out the strategic directions for the development of the region over the next 25 years.