Broome to Cape Leveque

By Australia / Broome / Darwin / Northern Territory / Perth / Western Australia /

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.


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Great driving holidays – Australia’s world famous Ayers Rock

By Australia / Northern Territory /

LADIES and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the one, the only … Ayers Rock.

After picking up a Drivenow Campervan Rental in Alice Springs, it’s about a four or five hour drive to Ayers Rock, otherwise known as Uluru, mainly via the Stuart Highway and then Lasseter Highway. Otherwise, if you are coming from Cooper Pedy, it’s about a six-hour drive.

Upon arrival at Ayers Rock you will quickly realise this is the most majestic, utterly enchanting place on the planet. Coming from “the Alice”, it’s all bitumen the whole way and really is a great drive. In your campervan go off-road and take a long cut via Kings Canyon, but if you tow a van, then remember it’s best to stick to the road.

Camels are in abundance after the Stuart Highway turn-off. Herds of these awkward looking ships of the desert sprawled along the sides of the roads along with wild cattle.

Once you enter the township of Yulara there’s an immediate feeling of “The Rock’s” presence. It truly is magical. There she stands in all her glory, so imposing yet so tranquil. I would highly recommend viewings at both sunrise and sunset – they are so different and not to be missed! Make sure you get out there at least an hour before sun up or sun down and choose a great spot, settle in, take a deep breath and prepare to be mesmerised by nature at its best. Keep in mind this sunrise experience includes dingoes freely roaming around near your car, trying their luck at any scraps you might have. It’s the Australian Outback in all its glory and, trust me, you will not want to leave.

There is just something unexplainable about Ayers Rock. Please respect the local Aboriginal heritage. They don’t like you to walk on Ayers Rock, so don’t. It’s theirs and we should all feel lucky that we are even allowed to get that close to it. We stayed at the Ayers Rock Caravan Park, with a fabulous view straight behind our van! Just be careful of the dingoes and wild dogs at night, as they love to fossick around in your rubbish.

The Great Australian Doorstep – visit

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Driving Holidays – Alice Springs to Tennant Creek (NT)

By Alice Springs / Australia / Northern Territory /

The journey

What a drive this was! A total of 531km in 47-degree heat and and the air-conditioning wasn’t working. Worse still, we had it quoted in Alice Springs to fix for a whopping $3100! Fortunately, we got it fixed for $434 in Broome.

While in Alice Springs, dinner at the Outlander Steak House is a must. They have 2kg steaks and I finished mine in 42 minutes, which was a mighty achievement. It is very funny watching people try to do it, so just make sure you eat dinner first as it can be quite off-putting.  The old Jail is home to the Women’s First Gallery, which highlights all women who were first in their field and makes for some very interesting reading. The old Jail is also haunted so go for a stroll through the cells if you dare. Keen hikers should take in Stanley Chasm, absolutely spectacular. A huge lizard ran in front of me and scared the life of me, but it was all worth it and there’s some great photo opportunities. There is so much to see and do in Alice that you could easily spend a few weeks here. A prayer for Peter Falconio along the way and then we stopped in at the Barrow Creek Hotel, where they are more than happy to talk about all the different scenarios surrounding his disappearance and, believe me, they seem to know a heck of a lot more than the media ever published about it. My wife Sheree was there for almost two hours! His disappearance site isn’t marked, as requested by his family, however people have left many tributes on the roadside nearby, which is 1.3km north of the pub.

Now don’t be fooled – the Devil’s Marbles (top right) aren’t in Tennant Creek; they are 126km south. You will spend hours here marveling about just how they have come to be.
Then driving into Tennant Creek is a thrill – the oasis in the desert – with its lush greenery and water in abundance. It’s quite amazing at how different it is to Alice. It was built on gold mining money and has great museums and the
Battery Hill. It’s definitely worth a few days here.


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Driving holidays – Darwin to Timber Creek (Northern Territory)

By Australia / Darwin / Northern Territory /

The journey

Warning: when doing this 564-kilometre drive, make sure you fill up at every single petrol station – even if it’s for only $10! We were caught out and ran out of diesel. Mind you, it wasn’t entirely my fault as the last petrol station we had stopped at had no diesel, but if I had topped up at the previous one, I would have been OK. Thank God for road trains! One kind chap stopped and syphoned me out a few good litres of diesel. It was 46 degrees outside and I couldn’t work out how to get the air-con going using the gas bottles … another lesson: one should learn everything about their rig before they set out.

Wild experiences

All that aside, it was a fantastic drive. While in Darwin, make sure you visit the Cyclone Tracy Museum (its free) and also the War Museum, the actual site of the Army barracks and check out the remains of bombs. It’s hands down the best war relics site I have ever seen.  And if you want a fill of adrenalin, try your luck at Crocosaurus Cove and go swimming with the Crocs in the Cage of Death (pictured)!


After leaving Darwin, we headed back down to Katherine before taking an abrupt right-hand turn to head out towards the coast. While going through Katherine just be mindful of people sitting on the medium strip down the main street. An elderly Aboriginal man was killed while we were there after being hit by a truck.  If you get the chance, definitely stop and experience the awe-inspiring Katherine Gorge. It’s 45 minutes’ drive north of Katherine. Boat trips are about $55 and definitely a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity.  It’s a nice drive, long, but easy on the eyes. The roads are fine, but just be careful of the road trains.

Once you arrive at Timber Creek, be prepared for the real Outback. All the food is frozen as deliveries only come through every couple of weeks. There is a pub, a small grocery store, petrol station and the caravan park – all in one!  The caravan park is nestled on the banks of a croc invested river… but don’t worry, they are freshies and they don’t bite (or so they kept telling me!). But it is very safe and the owners confirmed they have never had a croc come out of the river – a couple of idiot tourists go in, but never any crocs climbing out. They have a bridge where you can stand and feed the crocs, which is really exciting. Timber Creek is a neighbour to one of Australia’s biggest airforce bases, even though you wouldn’t know it, as it’s very well hidden. But at 2am each morning, you can hear the cowboys playing in their fighter jets … some people get all the great jobs!  There is an excellent little Lookout you can drive up to and at night you will see the most magnificent sunsets.  There isn’t any phone reception at Timber Creek, pay phone yes, but funnily enough we could access great wireless Internet reception – must have something to do with the airforce base.  The local Aboriginal children are very talented too, with some great souvenirs to be snapped up.  Just watch out for the local mark-up on DVDs. Jean Claude Van Damme movies were going for $46 each! And Mad Max was $65!


Great Australian Doorstep appears on the How To Channel, Foxtel. Check guides for screening times.