An Australian Traveller Resort Review on Kooljaman at Cape Leveque, northwest WA
Kooljaman at Cape Leveque in WA’s far northwest, hides out from the world in remote coastal luxury.
The sky to the west glows with the aftermath of a blood-red sunset, the wild and rocky shoreline forming a jagged silhouette. To the east, the ocean shimmers under a full moon, rising like a larger-than-life version of one of the region’s famous pearls. It’s a stunning transition from day to night and we watch it all from the balcony of our safari tent, at the remote and rugged top of Australia’s west coast.
We’re staying at Cape Leveque on the tip of the Dampier Peninsula, an isolated pocket of the Kimberley about 220km north of Broome. The cape is a pristine coastal wilderness reached only by a very sandy 4WD road, or by plane. It can take a few hours by car but the rough track is a blessing in disguise, keeping the crowds down.
The only accommodation is at Kooljaman Resort, which is owned by local Aboriginal communities (Kooljaman is the Aboriginal name for Cape Leveque). It was built in the late 1980s as a wilderness camp, designed to have minimal impact on the environment, and offers campsites, dome tents, cabins, beach huts and the more upmarket safari tents.
Past winner of the Unique Accommodation and Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Tourism divisions at the Australian Tourism Awards, it’s easy to see why the resort has been so successful. Our safari tent is comfortable and spacious, erected over a large wooden floor. There’s no roughing it required, with a double and two single beds, plus an attached ensuite bathroom and kitchenette and a large balcony, equipped with outdoor furniture. It’s also private, with plenty of space between us and our neighbouring tent.
The lodgings are impressive, but perhaps the best thing is the location. Set high above the peninsula, our safari tent offers panoramic views to the east, north and west. Red earth meets pure white sand and aqua blue water in a striking image, iconic of so much of Australia’s west coast. Our balcony quickly becomes our favourite place to relax, the ocean stretching so far we can clearly see the curve in the horizon.
We’ve brought plenty of our own food, so we make ample use of the BBQ. If, however, you don’t feel like self-catering, Kooljaman has a café restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The café is just a short walk downhill from the safari tents, but if you don’t feel like going anywhere, there’s a “Bush Butler” room service of a continental breakfast hamper or an uncooked dinner package.
Not wanting to leave the comfort or unbeatable views of our balcony, we organise to have the Bush Butler come to us one night and receive a delightful meal, complete with sirloin steaks and mushroom sauce (ready for the barbeque) along with a prepared salad and garlic bread.
We eat our delicious food outside as the full moon once again rises over the ocean (we couldn’t have timed our visit with the lunar cycle any better) and a pleasant sea breeze rolls in, refreshingly cool. After dinner we retreat indoors and lie in bed, bathed in the soft moon glow, as the sound of the waves lulls us to sleep.
Our days are spent exploring Cape Leveque’s empty beaches and rock pools, swimming in the clear, warm water, or happily doing nothing much at all. The resort has snorkelling gear and dinghies available for hire and if you have more time there are also organised tours on offer, including boat and snorkelling trips, fishing charters, scenic flights and Aboriginal cultural activities.
Between July and October the peninsula is also a perfect spot to watch humpback whales on their annual migration. Despite reports of recent sightings, we aren’t lucky enough to see any. We do, however, witness some spectacular sunrises and sunsets. We rise before dawn to watch as the first light of day cast a soft, ruby glow across the eerily still morning ocean.
Then, in the afternoons, we walk to the western beach. The sun sinks quickly beneath the ocean, its parting rays illuminating the towering red and orange sandstone cliffs in what seem to be a final salute to another perfect Cape Leveque day.
DETAILS // Kooljaman at Cape Leveque
Style // Luxury safari tent
Where // 222km north of Broome
Fee // $210 per couple (April-November), $170 per couple, (December-March)
Size // Each safari tent sleeps up to four
Service // Excellent – friendly and accommodating
Cuisine // Good café-style lunches and breakfasts with restaurant dinners
Outlook // Fantastic coastal views.
Room Service // Yes, uncooked breakfast or dinner hampers delivered on request.
Disabled Facilities? No
Inclusions // Ensuite bathroom, kitchenette, room servicing every 3-4 days
Exclusions // Meals, any Kooljaman tours
Best months to go // May-September
Best thing // The location – remote and ruggedly beautiful coastline
Worst thing // It’s a long unsealed road in, but that adds to the appeal
Phone // (08) 9192 4970 Website // www.kooljaman.com.au