A HOLIDAY in Broome and the far north coast of Western Australia requires more commitment than any other destination in Australia. This sunny, sparkling city is more akin to an island resort than a bustling hub – totally isolated, surrounded by wilderness, and possessing that chilled ‘manana’ attitude that pervades the South Pacific.
Getting here is not only a chore, but it’s expensive. You either have to take the long haul up the coast from Perth – ideal if you want to take your time and have the luxury of a campervan rental campervan rental in Western Australia – or trek across the Gibb River Road from Darwin via Kununurra: once again, the perfect adventure for 4WDrivers with plenty of time on their hands.
But what if you only have a week of precious vacation, yet still want to see something beyond the town itself? While Broome is a pleasant distraction for two or three days, once you’ve thawed out on stunning Cable Beach, watched the sunset, taken an obligatory camel ride and visited several pearl farms, there’s not a great deal more to do than relax by your resort pool. Not a bad thing in itself, but not everyone’s cup of tea.
Instead, head north to the Dampier Peninsula and Cape Leveque, an amazing destination for people dreaming of that true Robinson Crusoe experience in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Two hundred kilometres north of Broome, access is via Aboriginal land on a largely unsealed (and corrugated) road –a 4WD is necessary, with correct insurances in place. En route there are some fascinating stop-offs, such as the church at Beagle Bay, decorated with mother-of-pearl shell.
Another well-known Aboriginal community is Lombadina, the first on the peninsula to promote tourism. The beach here is mind-blowingly beautiful, and you can join indigenous tours including mud-crabbing and traditional fishing.
While there is simple accommodation available here, most people choose to stay at Kooljaman Resort at Cape Leveque, a wilderness retreat with a range of accommodation to suit every budget. All profits from the resort go back into the two Aboriginal communities that run it, with conservation projects ensuring the environment stays pristine.
Kooljaman has found that nice balance between luxury and wilderness. For those who like their creature comforts, there are stunning safari tents built on hillside decks, all with en suite bathrooms and kitchenettes. At the other end of the scale are thatched beach shelters – as basic as it comes, but unbeatable for views, fresh air and access to the ocean. There’s a store to stock up on supplies, while a new restaurant is the ideal place to watch the legendary Kimberley sunset.
And in the morning, you’re likely to have the whole beach to yourself. Not another footstep to be seen on the sand … pure bliss.
ANGELA DE LYON