The Dampier Archipelago is the west wing. It’s the arm that flutters on the Kimberley’s port side with a colour clash of red shoreline and lime ocean.
At the very tip, you’ll reach Cape Leveque, and Kooljaman Wilderness Camp, a legit touring icon, and a final destination where tourers feel like they’ve made it to paradise and can take it all in.
This is Bardi Jawi country and the rare experience that any 4WDing tourist can engage in here with the locals simply cannot be done anywhere else in Australia.
THE SETTING: You’ve made it. After a bumpy couple of hours in the saddle, the iconic red Cape Leveque Road deposits you at the gates of paradise, right here at Camp Kooljaman.
Cape Leveque deserves every bit of its wrap as one of Australia’s favourite remote coastal destinations, and Kooljaman is the shining gem in the Cape’s crown.
Sublime beaches are adorned with rustic beach huts, all the mod cons you could desire, and all bathed in that indescribable Kimberley light. Take me to Kooljaman!
THE STORY: The local Bardi Jawi people set up shop here at the tip of the peninsula eons ago, and they’ve developed a culture in tune with the marine ecosystems they interact with daily. Kooljaman is regularly held up as a prime example of indigenous tourism done right. The camp is owned and run by the local communities who form the board. The managers and staff are friendly and their welcoming vibe is infectious.
THE ATTRACTION: The cultural tours are on another level. The tour guides Bundy, Brian Lee, and Bolo Angus, draw on decades of lived experience plus the knowledge of ancestors to impart some real wisdom on visitors.
Learn to identify seasonal bush fruits, then take a crash course in traditional fishing and mudcrabbing methods before putting your skills to the test and whipping up a sensational fresh caught seafood feast.
THE DRIVING: Seriously, some of the best beach runs anywhere. Take Brian Lee’s cultural tour and follow his trusty HiLux through the dunes, deep into Bardi Country and explore the hidden reaches of Hunters Creek.
THE ACCOM: Deluxe Safari Tents: Perfect for couples. Complete with king size bed, gas BBQ, private ensuite and spacious balcony with uninterrupted views.
Family Safari Tents: Spoil yourself and family. Awesome views, ensuite, decks, one queen bed and two singles.
Ensuite Cabins: Ideal family option with queen bed plus three singles and an extra trundle. All set in a private bushland setting.
Beach Camping Shelters: Get your Robinson Crusoe on. These beach shelters are simple but elegant and allow you to get back to basics with a million dollar view.
Camping: Powered and unpowered sites to match every camper’s needs.
THE DINING: At Raugi’s Restaurant experienced chefs marry modern culinary techniques with local ingredients to create distinct Kooljaman feasts. Midweek pizza + live music is a specialty.
Pro Tip: Try the barra. But if you want to match it with a crisp glass of sauv blanc, you’ll need to bring your own, this being a ‘dry’ region. BYO is welcome.
THE CAMPING: For our money, you just can’t beat a couple of nights in the Beach Camping Shelter.
Each shelter has palm frond walls and roof with a sand floor, private fire pit with a night’s wood supply, picnic table, outdoor freshwater shower and a view you’d mortgage your left kidney for.
THE X FACTOR: The locals are full of fantastic stories. Make the effort to join them on the 4WD, cultural and fishing tours and you’ll be brimming over with new knowledge bites to drop on your mates and family back home.
THE MUST-DO: If you’re any way piscatorially inclined, get out there for a day’s fishing on the good ship Oolard, or try a daytrip out to Sunday Island. Almost within casting distance of the shore, the skipper will have you stuck into shoals of coral trout, blue line emperor and perhaps even a feisty Spanish mack.
(08) 9192 4970