Camping at Cape Leveque

Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
Trip End Nov 15, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ah… gorgeous Cape Leveque. Located just over 200kms north of Broome on the Dampier Peninsula, Cape Leveque is a little paradise. In saying that, it is no mean feat to get there, accessible by 4WD only, the initial 90kms from the highway is gravel and unpredictable.  Just south of Beagle Bay the road becomes bitumen and this continues almost 100kms to One Arm Point.  We leave the bitumen again a short distance south of One Arm Point to reach Kooljaman Resort at Cape Leveque, a deep sandy track.  

We had been told so many times that the road was woeful and so we were glad when friends we had met early on in our journey at Coffin Bay; Syd and Cheryl surprised us turning up in Broome a couple of days before we were heading out to Cape Leveque.  They intended taking a trip out there themselves and so ventured out together. 

We left our caravans in Broome and started out on our adventure. It just happened that Syd was in front of us as we hit the gravel and it made the task so much easier for we were able to monitor the movement of his car and thus avoid some major bumps. There were some big ruts, dips and heavy corrugation in stages but overall not as bad as we had been led to believe.

The road was a red powdery soil that became a blood red colour in the hardened rock sections.  The road side was littered with stunning gum trees, pandanus trees and spinifex. We passed through areas which had been burnt out and others that were lush and green. We were thrilled when we spotted some brumbies resting under the shade of a large gum tree escaping the heat.

We went into Beagle Bay to look through their famous church.  It really is amazing, reminiscent of a Spanish monastery; built in 1915 from handmade bricks, this large crisp white structure stands proud.  The interior is adorned with hundreds of thousands of shells.  It is something special and as such has been well maintained. 

It was a relief to be back on bitumen; however this was short lived as we wanted to stop in at Middle Lagoon for lunch.  Now this road was bad! It had it all, heavy corrugation, deep sand, rocks, massive undulations and there was 33kms of it each way!  When we arrived however we felt it was well worth the detour.  We called into the office and paid our $8 per car admittance before having lunch in the shade of a thatched beach shelter. It was 41 degrees!  The Lagoon was lovely with a white sandy beach sweeping around it.  The water was crystal clear, tepid and apparently safe to swim in, a rarity this far north.

We continued on to Cape Leveque and Kooljaman Resort.  As I mentioned earlier, it was merely a sand track from the main road into Kooljaman and yet when we reached the resort there was a stunning reception building housing a small shop and large restaurant, it was so civilized!

We loved that they catered for everyone, with a wide range of accommodation options. We had initially booked for three nights and whilst we had requested a beach shelter we could only get this for the first and third nights, we needed to move out for the second night and stay in a safari tent.  Syd and Cheryl had a safari tent for the two nights they were staying.

As the name would suggest Cape Leveque is situated on a cape and whilst the majority of the accommodation is on the western side, the beach shelters are situated north/east.  Our first beach shelter was located adjacent to the swimming beach but back a little from the cliff top. 

The beach shelter was a large thatched structure covered with palm fronds.  There was a picnic table, a freshwater shower in one corner and the floor was powdery fine pindan.  We pitched our tent in one corner angled to take in the best view. Yes… we were camping!  We had picked up some camping gear along our travels whenever we found a bargain and were relieved when the tent was easy to erect and our swish bargain air mattresses just fitted, even if the sides of the tent bulged slightly!

We were awake at the crack of dawn, with the birds chirping and bright daylight there was no way we could stay in bed, so we were up by 6am and witnessed a stunning Kimberley sunrise. We set off on a walk along the beach, we scrambled over rocks and up along sand dunes to the next beach.  This was a long curved beach with a broad white shoreline, clear of any rocks, it was again simply stunning. We walked as far as we could before access was restricted by the local indigenous owners.

Whilst it was shame we had to move into a safari tent for a night it was again adding to our experience in both trying something different and on the practical side practicing packing up our tent!

Whilst on our morning walk we had seen plumes of smoke in the distance, however did not realize how close it was until we drove around the cape to the camp ground and were hit with the smoke and wind.  The fire having been burning throughout the night and we had been oblivious to it.  The fire was on the road into Kooljaman and we were lucky that for some reason unbeknown to us it had not jumped across the sandy track and set the entire cape alight, especially with the current heat and wind.

The safari tents were basic and whilst it was nice to have a solid floor underfoot, all the tents were close together overlooking a car park and camp ground, we missed the beach shelter.

We drove down to Lombadina to buy a loaf of their 'delicious' bread however when we arrived we were told there was a $10 charge per car.  We explained we didn’t want to drive through the town or use the facilities we just wanted to spend some money in the community at their shop… to no avail.  Needless to say we declined to part with the $10 and went without the bread!  We continued on to Chile Creek to be greeted with a sign which said that unless we were staying overnight we were not permitted!  Oh well, where are we welcome? We turned around and headed up to One Arm Point.

It was $10 per person to enter One Arm Point; this however gave us a tour of the hatchery and access to the beaches until 5pm.  We drove along the coast and admired the stunning beaches and looked across to the nearby islands.  This is just such a stunning unspoiled part of Australia.

At the hatchery we enjoyed a casual yet informative tour before wandering around on our own.  There were two big turtles floating around in a tank bored and keen to climb out the sides.  We were told they liked having their backs scratched so I spent most of our visit doing that.  The colours of their shells was amazing, with geometric patterns so precisely covering their back shell, head and limbs. Deep terracotta, cream, yellows and greens, gosh they were cute!

When we drove back along Middle Beach and saw a group of locals gathered near the boat ramp.  We couldn’t believe our eyes; there they had surrounded a massive green turtle.  It was huge and there sat atop the turtle was one of the young toddlers no doubt having the ride of his life! It was a funny sight.

Syd and Cheryl headed back to Broome the following day whilst we moved down to our new beach shelter and extended our stay by another two nights. Situated right on a cliff top above the beach it had a stunning outlook.  Look to the right along the white sandy beach, look ahead out over the stunning turquoise water and watch whales frolic, or look to the left and see the stunning cream and red pindan cliffs drop down onto black rocks and into the water.

We were so happy to have this opportunity to stay in such a unique location.  We had been keen to try camping and this was a great way to do it.  It was nice to know we could enjoy three nights there without having to move again.  As we set up the wind was getting stronger and the powdery red soil was blowing through the thatched shelter and covering everything. 

Unfortunately there were gale force winds which refused to abate for a couple of days and so we became accustomed to getting sand blasted.  We took the opportunity to spend time reading books and taking in our spectacular view.  The wind would die down just after 4pm each afternoon enabling us to light our camp fire.  We’d pour a drink, watch the sunset over the cliff to our left while the fire heated up, cook dinner and then enjoy the ambience of the fire as the flames danced into the evening sky.

We enjoyed an informative tour of the Cygnet Pearl Farm.  Located just up the road toward One Arm Point, this farm has the most gorgeous coastal setting. Regardless of the strong winds and thus choppy waters, the bay looked stunning with white sandy beaches, gorgeous turquoise water and the edges were lined with mangroves. 

We were now enlightened as to why pearls can be so expensive.  It takes such a long time to cultivate them and they are rather high maintenance needing regular care and attention during cultivation.  Whilst I did get to try on a $53,000 strand of pearls we got out of there without a purchase!

On our last full day the wind had finally dwindled to a breeze and we were no longer getting sand blasted.  We could take a decent walk along Western Beach.  To the right towards the island, there are the most amazing red pindan cliffs that fall into pristine sand and beautiful turquoise water.  To the left is a long sandy beach which curves its way along the coast.

We walked for almost three hours and just loved every moment of it.  Rod is such an expert at spotting turtles and we must have seen four or five of them.  We observed whales out a little further, but still close enough to see the white of their chest as they breached.

We were in awe of the rich red rock formations which make up such a dramatic coast, the different textures and patterns had me wanting to turn them into some form of art, anything to capture the natural raw beauty of this unique area.

Our last morning we were once again up for the sunrise, making the most of yet another glorious morning, the wind having finally abated.  One last walk along the pristine beach, one last breakfast taking in the breathtaking views, and yes, even when we are camping we still manage to make a flat white coffee at breakfast, oh how camping has changed!  We reluctantly packed the car and bid farewell to our new found paradise.

The bush fires were still burning as we drove south to Broome, there was heavy smoke in some places, smoldering trees lay by the roadside and there were still flames in some pockets.  We were again amazed that with the soaring heat and gale force winds that the fire had not engulfed the entire cape.  The green bush we had so admired on our drive in just five days ago was now a scarred landscape longing for the wet season to bring it back to life.

Highlights of Cape Leveque:

-          Our thatched beach shelter

o   Camping – I know; can you believe that it is listed as a highlight!

o   The breathtaking views

o   Camp fire every night

-          Stunning pristine beaches

-          Pindan Cliffs

-          Sunrises and sunsets

-          Turtle interaction

-          The drive
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G &BIG M on

Lyndal you have certainly demonstrated you are well on your way with the new career as a writer! Keep up the great work, you desciptions are so clear, it feels like we are there enjoying the surroundings and the views with you. Thank you

Mr Bigglesworth on

Turtles are good. Taste a bit like chicken but with a hint of fish. Best thing though - they come in their own bowl..

Val S. on

You might be in awe of the rock formations but we are in awe of your journey.. and yes, your writings do give the feeling that we are all along with you, can almost feel the winds and smell the sea spray... keep writing!

Kym on

I was just wondering if there are any biscuits left or does Felicity have to bake some more and send to you

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