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Will Parker

Bell Gorge, immerse yourself in the natural beauty :

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The main waterfall at Bell Gorge.

 

The Gibb River Road in Western Australia’s north-west has in one way or another been an exciting last frontier for people since 1895. The King Leopold Ranges in the heart of the Kimberley region were impassable to early explorers, maybe they were just protecting their secrets – locations like Bell Gorge.

Nestled amongst the King Leopold Ranges, perched at 300m above sea level is perhaps the Gibb River Road’s most stunning waterfall and gorge system, definitely its most popular – Bell Gorge.

Bell Creek snakes its way through the Kimberley landscape. Hundreds of wet seasons and as many dry, have shaped the imposing yet stunningly beautiful escarpment and gorge that provide the tiered amphitheatre that Bell Creek plummets over to create these stunning cascades.

Bell Creek, meanders towards Bell Gorge.

 

This waterfall beautifully shaped like a u, sits perfectly in a tiered gorge system. The walls of the gorge, a commanding 100m vertically up in places, dwarf all who stand looking up in awe.

To immerse yourself in this bit of the  Kimberley’s natural beauty is to get lost in the passing of water from Bell Gorge, be it just for a short period of time in the grand scheme of this landscape.

How to get there:

Bell Gorge is situated in the King Leopold Ranges in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. You access the area via the Gibb River Road.

Boab’s and termite mounds along the Gibb River Road.

 

If you are travelling to see Bell Gorge exclusively you would travel from Derby at the western end of the Gibb River Road at a distance of 250km, roughly three hours.

Alternatively, you could also travel from Fitzroy Crossing via the Fairfield Leopold Downs Road,


Related Post:

Should you choose to travel from Fitzroy Crossing or make a detour from the Gibb River Road on route from Derby this post on Windjana Gorge & Tunnel Creek will be a useful read.

Welcome to the Geikie – Windjana Way, you’re complete guide.


linking up with the Gibb River Road. This distance is 295km, roughly three & half hours (providing you don’t stop and explore Windjana Gorge & Tunnel Creek).

Please Note: Google Maps estimated travel times are very overstated.

If you are on a Gibb River Road adventure and you started at the eastern end up Wyndham, way well you’ll get to it eventually about 115km after passing Mount Barnett Roadhouse.

Travelling along the Gibb River Road you will come to the turn-off, once you turn off the Gibb River Road you will be on the Silent Grove Road which is 20km long and takes you to the campground.

The Carpark for the gorge is a further 10km from the campground.

Camping – Silent Grove Campground:

The campground at Silent Grove took its name from the old homestead at Mount House Station in which Bell Gorge used to be a part of before it was included in the King Leopold conservation park.

The campground does not take bookings, and on a daily basis it’s first in gets the better spots. The campground is divided into three sections – tour operators, general camping and a generator area.

There are approximately 200 camping sites or spots spread across the three areas, the facilities are good with flushing toilets, showers and taps for water located throughout the camping area. The water from the taps is good to drink. Fires are permitted at Silent Grove in the fire pits provided which are scattered throughout the camping space. Of course having a fire is dependent on the fire restrictions of the day and you must  bring with you all your firewood.

Camping at Silent Grove.

 

This is a relaxed, comfortable riverside campground. A ranger is on site April – October.

Top Tip: The showers are solar hot water, they work great – just don’t leave your shower till too late in the day or it might well be cold, especially in the busy dry season months of June-August.

Cost of Camping – Silent Grove: 

$13 per adult or $10 for concession card holders

$3 per child (5-15yrs) 

https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/silent-grove-campground

Top Tip: The roads in and around this campground are rough at times, 4WD vehicle is required and only off-road campers and off-road caravans are permitted.

When to visit Bell Gorge:

Bell Gorge is most accessible during the dry season May – October. On the Silent Grove road into the campground, there are two small water crossings.

Water crossing at beginning of the dry season.

 

If you are travelling early in the season and depending on the size of the wet season there may still be water flowing in these creeks, care should be taken. July & August are the coldest months while September & October will be starting to warm up.

Top Tip: Local visitor centres are a wealth of unto date useful information, any doubts or questions ask.

http://www.derbytourism.com.au

Broome

The Walk into Bell Gorge:

From the campground, it is a 10km drive to the carpark and the start of the walk into Bell Gorge. 

The distance of the walk is about 2km, which the racers will do in 45min and the slower amongst you in about 90min or 1.5hrs.

The walk starts with a descent which takes you over a rocky, however, a pretty good track, keep alert and be sure on your feet. The track then meanders along the creek, this is the most shaded section of the walk, before opening up onto the escarpment. A short walk gets you to the top of the falls and a view both up and down the gorge and of course the falls themselves.

It’s at this point the walk gets a little tougher, you have to cross the creek the rocks will be slippery and you will have to go barefoot. 

Bell Creek, this is where you cross to start your escarpment walk.

 

Once on the other side the warm walk over the top of the escarpment will be completed, large rocks and spinifex are features of this section before a  steepish descent down into the gorge.

This walk is by no means the easiest you will complete. Having said that it is totally achievable to anyone who is of pretty good fitness and sure of balance on their feet. Kids should be fine, five and up should do it comfortably.

Top Tip: The last bit of the walk home is uphill, be aware of this and leave a little in the tank. Take it easy.

The Gorge itself:

The reward for the walk down into the gorge is a swim in the plunge pool beneath the falls. The beautiful natural amphitheater down in the gorge is highlighted by enormous big flat rocks on one side and sheer vertical drops on the other.

The reward, what a swimming pool.

 

The majority of people who make their way down to the falls, find themselves a beaut rock and park themselves, alternating between swimming and sunbathing.

It is so much more, don’t sell the gorge or yourself short and explore.

Be sure to swim or float down the gorge to the bottom falls, nowhere near as busy as the main one but equally as beautiful – explore, there is more than meets the eye here.

There are many rocks, rapids, over-hangs and generally less populated areas to explore and spend time in, a little extra effort will find you something memorable.

The plunge pool is deep and the water cold so be prepared to take an extra breath.

Upstream a bit, Bell Creek reflects a treat.

Warming up after a swim.

Boab lined pools,a great swim & look.

 

On the return walk or on another day altogether wander upstream. From where you cross the creek instead of wandering left over the top of the escarpment, go right and head upstream. There are no waterfalls up here, however, you will find tranquil pools fed by rapids, great to sit in for a cool off or for those with kids who don’t want to make the walk down into the gorge.

Again this is a beautiful area and one you will more or less have to yourself, even during the busiest periods.

At the top of the falls is one of nature’s most gorgeous infinity pools a wonderful place for a late afternoon dip, this pool has commanding views of the gorge. It’s a great place to stop for a cool off on the return walk or alternatively it’s a really nice place for a sunset dip, as the lowering sun softens the harshness of the surrounding escarpment and rocks bringing out beautifully warm colour, often reflected in the creek along with beaut boab trees.

Top Tip: if you are planning to still be at the top of the falls at sunset ensure you pack a torch in your backpack for the walk back. A lack of twilight means things get dark quick.

Top Tip:During the busy months of the dry season, things get crowded during the middle of the day. Get into the gorge early and take it in while it’s peaceful. Better wildlife spotting opportunities too.

Duration of stay:

Depending on the time of day you arrive and how long it takes you to set up camp, determines how much time you have left in that day. However, two days and two nights is about right for the average traveller. Having said that we have gone straight to Bell Gorge and stayed five days and filled in every day.

Planning your trip:

If you are planning a trip to Bell Gorge while staying in Broome it will be 470km to the campground. In addition to this it’s 10km one-way to Gorge carpark, 20km return to campground. Do it twice, that’s an additional 40km on top of the 470km for a total of 510km.

Please Note: These distances do not allow for side trips to Windjana Gorge or Tunnel Creek.

Your only fuel opportunity will be Derby.

If Bell Gorge is part of a bigger adventure coming from the east you can obtain fuel at Mount Barnett Roadhouse and Imintji Roadhouse and to the west, Derby.

Conclusion:

As with most of the Kimberley’s best spots you have to put in a bit of effort  to get a pretty big reward out – Bell Gorge is no exception to the rule.

Take the time to explore and put in the effort to find your piece of memorable and Bell Gorge will be a rewarding travel experience.

Have you been to or planning a trip to Bell Gorge? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

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Welcome to the Geikie – Windjana Way, your complete guide.

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Geikie Gorge.

Windjana Gorge

A journey through a 350 million-year-old Devonian reef, home in parts to the lands best natural theatre in which to view freshwater crocodiles, themselves prehistoric yet only somewhat a blink of an eye in the timeline of this country.
All of which fringes the biggest lounge-room in the world, which sparkles after dark with millions of lights and no light bulbs to change.
WA’s oldest cave system, in which it’s said, if you listen quietly on the breeze during the 750m passage through you’ll hear the voice of one of the Kimberley’s greatest Aboriginal figures – Jandamarra.
With boabs so ageless, all full of character and story, lining the track will bring you to perhaps one of the crowning glories, the Fitzroy River, as it meanders its way through an often reflective yet imposing Geikie Gorge.
This is the Geikie – Windjana way, enjoy it, you must, if you’re up this way.

Location of  the Geikie – Windjana Way

The West Kimberley in Western Australia’s north is where you will find this intriguing and beautiful little journey. It is located pretty well in the middle between the towns of Derby and Fitzroy Crossing.

Start and end points for this trip

You can begin this journey from either the west – Derby or the  east – Fitzroy Crossing, depending on which direction you are traveling. Alternatively, you could compete the trip as a loop from Broome if that’s where you’re staying.

Please Note: Please ignore Google Maps best estimate for travel time, just look at the map.

Windjana Gorge National Park is located in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia.
It is 145 kilometres from Fitzroy Crossing, 146 kilometres from Derby.
Tunnel Creek is 38 kilometres north-west of the Windjana Gorge campground along the Fairfield-Leopold Downs Road.

 

Sign says it all, come & enjoy.

Fairfield – Leopold Downs Road is a 125 km two-lane unsealed road that runs through the Tunnel Creek National Park. It links the Gibb River Road and Great Northern Highway.

Completing The Loop from Broome

As this is what we did I will write from this perspective, adapt details to suit your own situation.

Boab Sentinel.

Broome to Derby is an easy 2hour – 220km drive. The Derby prison Boab tree makes for a wonderful morning tea stop. While you are in the area check out the big long cattle trough-Myall’s Bore, windmill and Frosty’s pool.

Believed to be 1500yrs old.

Myall’s Bore 120m long.

Best we get it from every angle

In Derby, there is not a huge amount to see, however, the town’s main street is attractively lined with Boabs and the drive out to the jetty is a chance to view the huge expanse of mud flats.

Derby Jetty sunset

Should you be in Derby early in the day, there is probably no need to stay the night. However, having said that there are a few things to fill a day with.

Derby has the biggest tides in Australia and if you could time your trip with some big spring tides it is an impressive sight seeing the tide run. The Derby jetty is an interesting walk. The jetty makes for some good fishing for those so inclined.

The One Mile Dinner Camp Boab is an impressive old Boab that sits on the edge of the mud flats, with a story to tell.

An imposing figure

A giant boab with a story to tell

The Mowanjum Aboriginal community is only 10km out of town, they boast a fantastic art gallery and once a year host an acclaimed festival.

Top Tip: The Horizontal Falls are closer to Derby than Broome. Perhaps a flight out to view could be made part of your visit to Derby.

Top Tip: The Derby visitor centre is a wealth of great information.

http://www.derbytourism.com.au

The turn off to the Gibb River Road is 5km out of Derby, if you’re approaching from the Prison Boab it will be on your right, on your left if you’re coming from the Derby township.

Once on the Gibb River Road, it’s 119km to the turn-off onto the Fairfield – Leopold Downs Road and Windjana Gorge National Park. The first 75km of this is sealed road, the remaining 44km is unsealed. However, there is a stretch of flood way that is sealed in the middle of the 44km section.

The Fairfield – Leopold Downs Road is 125km long from start to finish, the turn off into Windjana Gorge camping ground is 21km in from the Gibb River Road then a further 2km into the camping area.

Windjana Gorge

Windjana Gorge National park is one of the Kimberley’s stunning gorges. See the striking glory of a 350 million year old Devonian period reef rising majestically above the surrounding plains

Windjana gorge rising above the surrounding landscape.

The park is located in the Napier Range and covers an area of 91 hectares (220 acres). The range is composed of limestone and is the remains of a Devonian reef system formed around 350 million years ago.

The gorge was formed by the Lennard River having eroded away a 3.5-kilometre section of the Napier Range. The range is composed of Devonian limestone. The gorge is over 100m wide and the walls are between 30 meters and 10 meters in height.

The enormity of Windjana

The Lennard river cuts through the gorge. During the dry season (May – September ) it all but contracts to a series of pools, in which the resident freshwater crocodiles take full advantage. Windjana Gorge is one of the best wild locations in Australia for viewing these prehistoric survivors.

Freshwater Crocodile

Fantastic viewing

Ive had enough Im out of here.

Crocodile dreaming at Windjana Gorge

There are several really achievable walks to be enjoyed. The first is into the gorge itself, the large beach like expanse will give you a beaut perspective of the enormity of the gorge walls, not to mention the crocodile viewing.

Wide open spaces are for me.

For the more adventurous there is a 7km return walk up along the banks of the River, through the paperback forests. Nice views of the vertical gorge walls can be had along with wildlife such as fruit bat colonies, flocks of corellas and numerous lizards.

Moody presence

Highlighting its beauty

At sunset be sure to complete the walk along the base of the escarpment, the colours on the rock face and surrounding landscape are something to behold as the sun drop

Late afternoon light is a delight.

Top Tip: Well after the sunset, when all is dark and the stars are out. Grab some torches and head into the gorge, pull up a bit of sand, then turn your lights out and watch the Kimberley sky light up your world. While in there use your torches to do a bit of croc spotting, count the pairs of red eyes.

Camping at Windjana

You can’t book a site at the campground, it’s first come first served. There are no powered sites, but plenty of high powered views. There are showers that run on Solar hot water and flushing toilets, running water is available from numerous taps and is good to drink.
The campground is split into two sections noisy and quiet, those with a generator meander over to the noisy section.

Flat ground & great view – gold.

Most spots are not far from toilets & taps.

Top Tip: There are communal fire pits scattered around the camping ground. You do have to bring your own wood and you do have to share with others, but you can have a fire.

Costs at Windjana

There are both entry and camping fees to be paid upon your visit. The entry fee is $13.00 per vehicle this has to be paid if you’re just visiting for the day or staying a few days. If you are staying a few days and camping it only has to be paid once upon entry.
The camping fees are as follows $13.00 per adult per night and $5.00 per child (5-16yrs) per night.

https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/windjana-gorge-campground

Top Top: If you’re traveling throughout Western Australia and think you might visit many of the states National Parks then a parks pass might be the go. The cost of the pass covers your entry fee, camping fees still apply.

Tunnel Creek

From the Windjana Gorge campground, Tunnel Creek is 38km further along the Fairfield – Leopold Downs Road.

Top Tip: Before you get to Tunnel Creek stop and check out the ruins of the old Lillimilura police station. It’s roughly 3km down the Fairfield – Leopold Downs road from the Windjana campground.

As you are driving along the ranges will be on your left-hand side, until you cross through McSherry Gap. This is a really cool spot, because from here on the ranges will be on your right, keep an eye out and take note.

The turn-off into the Tunnel Creek car park is 7.5km further along from McSherry Gap.
Once at Tunnel Creek, it’s time to grab the torches and head off into the darkness. The entrance into the tunnel is very rocky and there is a fair degree of clambering and hopping in, around and over some sizable rocks.
Having said that taken easy it is entirely achievable for anyone with pretty good fitness.
Once inside things open up considerably, the ground is rocky and you will get wet. To what degree will be determined by how early or late in the season you are there.

The tunnel component of Tunnel Creek has a length of approximately 750 m (2,460 ft) that runs underground and it’s one of the oldest cave systems in Western Australia.

Inside Tunnel Creek

Inside the tunnel, the formations are impressive, as is the opening at the end of the tunnel which is a complete contrast to the entry.

The end of the tunnel.

There are numerous sections of Aboriginal art scattered around, all of which is fading and becoming harder to see each time I visit.

There is no camping at Tunnel Creek, once you finish your exploring you will either be continuing on towards Fitzroy Crossing and Geikie Gorge or back to your camp at Windjana Gorge Campground.

Top Tip: If you are planning to stay at Windjana Gorge campground and go to Tunnel Creek as a day trip remember to factor the extra distance into your fuel calculations 38km will in actual fact be 76km

Tunnel Creek – Great Northern Highway

Leaving Tunnel Creek you rejoin the Fairfield – Leopold Downs road its a further 70km to the Great Northern Highway make sure you do this stretch of road in good light as there is plenty to see-the rocks, escarpment and Boabs are superb, plenty to point a camera at. Another reason is cattle and lots of them. There is also one water crossing. This creek is spring feed so there is always water in it, it’s only the depth that varies, as a general rule it’s deeper earlier in the season.

Great Northern Highway Junction – Fitzroy Crossing

Coming off the Fairfield – Leopold road and onto the sealed Great Northern Highway it’s an easy 43km drive into Fitzroy Crossing.

Fitzroy Crossing – Geikie Gorge

Once in Fitzroy Crossing, it’s a sealed road out to Geikie Gorge National Park which is a distance of 20km one – way. There are two main walks to do, a short walk of 500m – 1km

The magnificent Geikie Gorge on the Fitzroy River.

return or a longer walk of 4km return. The boat cruises which run up and down the River are extremely popular and depart at various intervals during the day. Check for times at the Fitzroy Visitor Center or the Fitzroy River Lodge.

http://www.fitzroycrossingtourism.com.au

https://www.fitzroyriverlodge.com.au

Top Tip: The Fitzroy River Lodge is a nice place to stay a while, they have everything you need for a night or a few days.

If there is a member of the family who likes fishing, the sandbar has easy and safe access to the river, especially for the kids.

The sandbar is a safe place for kids to have a fish & play.

Enjoying a fish on the sandbar.

While at the National Park include a picnic lunch into your day. A boat cruise, a walk, perhaps a little fishing with a picnic- a lovely day can be had.

Other things to do in Fitzroy Crossing

Check out the old/original crossing across the Fitzroy River
Have a look at the old Post Office/Telegraph station – first built 1895.
Check out the pioneer cemetery – earliest marked grave 1908.
Main bridge over Fitzroy River, wander down onto the river (provided it’s dry) near the bridge and look up. Now imagine the water up near the top of the bridge. This will exhaust anyone’s imagination as to the volume of wet season water that flows.

Fitzroy Crossing – Junction Broome/Derby Highway (Great Northern Highway)

From Fitzroy Crossing back to this juncture in the highway is distance of 156km. This is pretty much a straight stretch of road, dotted with boab trees of varying sizes to entertain the eye. Once you reach this junction in the highway, turn left and head South.

Junction of Highway – Willare Roadhouse

Once you’re on the Great Northern Highway heading southwest you’re 60km from the Willare Roadhouse. This is a good place for a rest, with everything you’ll need. If you have time take a moment and walk across the bridge, it has a pedestrian walkway and gives you a great look at the Fitzroy River.

Top Tip: Try the hamburger with the lot (Make sure you starve yourself first) & try not to purchase fuel here if you can help it – very expensive.

Willare Roadhouse – Broome

The final stage of the trip a distance of 166km.

Total Distance of the trip from Broome – Return to Broome.

Is 950km.
This is to complete the Windjana-Geikie Way via Derby, Fairfield -Leopold Rd, Fitzroy Crossing, returning to Broome via Great Northern Highway.

Note: This would be increased by at least 40km if you went to Tunnel Creek and Lillimilura police station ruins return from Windjana Campground. A 1000km is a nice round number to work with for fuel purposes.

A Plan for Fuel

Most people don’t have a range of 950+km to complete the round trip on one tank, filling up just the once in Broome before departure and again on return.
It also has to be realized that between Derby & Fitzroy Crossing via the Fairfield-Leopold Downs Road is a distance of 300km, without any side trips or backwards and forwarding, with no available fuel.
So main refueling opportunities after leaving Broome are Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Willare Roadhouse and Roebuck Roadhouse.
It would be advisable to avoid filling up at either of the Roadhouses. So a top up in Derby and a fill up in Fitzroy Crossing will probably be the best plan.
The distance from Fitzroy Crossing to Broome is about 400km and should be within the reach of most vehicles, if you’re a bit iffy the Roebuck Roadhouse is 30km before Broome, aim for that.

Top Tip: If the distances are of a concern, invest in a Jerry can and carry a get – out – of – trouble 20 litres.

Proposed Itinerary

I’m always a little bit hesitant to give a too strong opinion on how long people should or shouldn’t stay due to the fact people are on different timelines and schedules. People get more out of one place but find nothing in another, and above all I always say the more time you have the better.
Having said all that 3 days is a reasonable time, adding a 4th will give you time to sit down somewhere.

Trip options could look something like this:

Option#1

Day One:
Broome to Derby Prison Boab (Morning Tea break)
Drive out to Windjana Gorge – Set up Camp / Do sunset walk & croc spotting – stars walk
Day Two:
Walk into Windjana Gorge (AM activity) – Walkthrough Tunnel Creek (Arvo activity)
Continue on to Fitzroy Crossing – camp the night.
Day Three:
Break camp – AM Cruise on Geikie Gorge (first of the day)
Return to Broome.

Option #2

Day One:
Broome – Derby Boab Prison Tree (Morning Tea Break)
Proceed into Derby, check out the Jetty, One Mile Dinner Camp Boab & Mowanjem Aboriginal art gallery.
Finish day at Windjana Gorge Campground.
Day Two:
Spend entire day exploring Windjana Gorge.
Day Three:
Explore Tunnel Creek then proceed to Fitzroy Crossing – camp the night.
Day Four:
Get on the first cruise of the day at Geikie Gorge, explore for a bit after the cruise depart Fitzroy no later than 2pm to be back in Broome around dark.

Option #3

If you have the luxury of a fifth day spend it wherever you think you might like the extra time. It buys you time to breathe.

 

Another great planning resource is the www.australiasnorthwest.com.au heaps of useful stuff. @austnorthwest Click To Tweet
In Conclusion

By Kimberley standards in regards to distance this is a mere detour, however, its a detour that punches well above its weight – it’s fantastic. No matter how you decide to do it, wheather it be a day trip out of Fitzroy Crossing or Derby or a few days out bush camping it won’t be time wasted and you won’t be disappointed.

Boabs, each one a character, many will leave a lasting impression.

 

You Might also enjoy reading

 

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Simple steps to master your next clothes pack

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Darwin waterfront from the Adina apartments.

 

You have spent hours planning and researching your next trip. Accommodation, restaurants, tours and activities, everything is in place, passports and visas – check, caravan or camper good to go.
Then a week or perhaps days before departure, ’panic’  –  the clothes pack. What do I need? Where am I going again? Sound familiar – why is that?
When everything else is planned in infinite detail, why do we not forward think on the clothes pack and have a plan in place to take the stress out of it?

I get asked a lot, how best to fit it all in and how much to take?
Valid questions, however before I answer them a few questions for you to ponder.

 

Lists

 

Whether your holidays are taken as road trips in a caravan, camper-van or tent, or perhaps by air to some distant location, lists are a great way of making everything you have to do material and real, they become a visual thing. You can perhaps have a general trip  ‘to do’ list which outlines everything in point form, then have sub-categories or lists, for example ’clothes packing’.
These lists should be ordered in a way that suits you, however, the outcome should always be an easy to follow reminder of what you should take or might need. Eventually, you’ll understand your own packing habits and rely less on your lists, they will become reference only.

 

Plan

 

If you do the same sort of holiday or travel on a regular basis, you’ll start to get a feel for what you need – what works best. However, if you vary your trips and everyone is different, then planning is the key.
When planning on what clothes you might need first take a moment and put some thought into a few other considerations.

What climate or climates will you be visiting or passing through?

What type of holiday are you about to pursue? Cruise, backpacking/hiking or 4WD camping.

Will you have laundry facilities during your journey – would you use them? Would you wash your underwear with soap while you’re having a shower and pack only a few pairs? Or just pack enough for the trip from the get-go?

As you think about the above point remember dirty clothes still have to travel with you.

Are you doing a camping road trip, traveling by 4WD,  or on a plane staying in accommodation? Do you pack differently for different types of trips?

Will you have to carry everything you pack?

Will you have a weight or space restriction on what you pack?

Do you give any thought to the type of clothes you pack? Are they quick drying? Are they iron free or be worn without being ironed? Are they breathable?

 

Make a list

 

No one list is going to be a one size fits all solution. Planning a skiing trip to the snow will be different than a tropical holiday to Hawaii or Broome.
That said, elements of many lists can cross over or interchange with each other. And once you start the process of making lists you will build up a reference in which to refer to.
If you are about to embark on something completely new, start your list weeks in advance so you give yourself time to refine.
There are many online apps and resources to help with list making, I don’t use any personally. However, if that’s your thing, trial and error until you find one that suits.

My method of packing changes little, regardless of how I’m travelling or where I’m travelling to. What I pack might vary but how I pack it, not so much.

 

Less is Best

 

What you want is not necessarily what you need.

When you are thinking about your clothes pack, formulating a plan, perhaps a list, be honest with yourself and think clearly about what you’re are packing and why you are packing it.
Especially if you’re a family and you’re packing for more than yourself, as things accumulate pretty quick.

When we travel as a family there are four of us, kids being 8 and 6, so keeping the pack manageable is both tough and important.

The pile of clothes for our family of four for a three-half week trip.

 

Travelling light and keeping things as minimal as possible will not only save you space, it will save you time and money at airports. Unburden your shoulders if you have to carry it and help lighten your load if you have to tow it.

 

Packing Cubes & Compression Bags – They’re sure to be your solution and your new best friend.

 

To me the art of packing is being able to fit everything in that you need and be able to get to any one thing with out having to pull everything out to find it.

Packing cells from Kathmandu.

Packing cells in various sizes & colours.

 

https://www.kathmandu.com.au/travel/luggage-accessories/packing-cells-cases.html

 

Top Tip: I purchased our packing cells from Kathmandu. Amazon would be another place that would have a great selection at good prices.

 

This is the genius of packing cubes and compression bags.
Without them one would stuff a backpack or layer a suitcase with varying degrees of care, knowing full well that under “Murphy’s law” the first thing that they’ll want would be at the bottom.

Both packing cubes and compression bags come in various sizes and colours. What is their brilliance? They enable you to segment your pack. So when you do decide you need something out of your pack, you can quickly and simply grab the packing cube holding the item.

All our gear neatly separated and packed.

 

Devise a system that works best for you, in regards to sizes, colours and what goes in what. Try and get different colour cubes for each member of the family, easily identifiable. Use the same size cube for the same items across whole family, for example small cube is underwear and socks, easily identifiable.

Keeping things uniform makes for easy identification in awkward or difficult situations.
Which product is better? That is personal choice, some who travel with backpacks prefer compression bags as they mould to the contours of a pack better than a cube, it’s whatever works for you.

 

Choose your clothes carefully

 

Lightweight clothing can be layered.

A little bit of thought into selection of what you pack will help you immensely. Selection of clothes that don’t require ironing will enable you to neatly roll them up to pack rather than meticulously fold and lay flat. You will also be able to wash and hang – no worries.
Pack clothes that are quick drying, so you can give something a wash and have it dry quickly.
Be selective on what you wear opposed to what you pack. Not quite as important if you’re on a road trip however, if you’re on a plane wear your pants, boots and jumper and pack your shorts, T-shirt and thongs.

 

How much to pack

 

Everyone is different, having different ideas, requiring different things. Different locations often throw up different requirements and the facilities they offer.

However as a very good guide to my packing routines when we travel be it roughing out bush or a city hotel, is three sets of clothes plus the one you’re wearing on the day.

That’s one to wear, one for spare, one in the wash and one for emergency.
For each member of the family – four of us.

This has been a very good rule of thumb guide for me over the years. Make sure you tweak it a little to suit your circumstances for example if you’re toilet training kids, extra underwear is essential.

 

Conclusion

 

Ask yourself in all honesty, how many times have you got home from a trip, unpacked and noticed a heap of stuff you haven’t worn. You might be under the weight but you’re carrying excess luggage.

“Less is more”  a lot of the time. With a little thought a few hard decisions and implementing a few tried and tested packing techniques you might find yourself not only being able to put your hand on things quicker but taking less gear in a smaller bag or case.

 

Have you been on a trip recently, and been overwhelmed by the pack? Perhaps you’re a seasoned traveller and can afford me some tips. Are you going on a trip soon? Would love to hear from you.

 

Other blogs you might be interested in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Guide to exploring Perth, Western Australia with kids.

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Perth skyline from Elizabeth Quay

 

The world’s most remote capital city, where sipping down gorgeous sunsets with your favourite refreshing drink is the done thing, as the sun sinks slowly into the Indian Ocean, novel for many – tempted? This is one of the many fantastic opportunities this modern and evolving city offers.
Surrounded by the raw natural beauty of the Swan River and Kings Park and flanked by many kilometres of pristine ocean beaches, Perth is best experienced outside.

 

Where is Perth

 

Perth is the capital of Western Australia. The state of Western Australia occupies the western one-third of Australia, in which Perth sits down in the South-West corner on the Swan River.
In Australia, the nearest capital cities to Perth are Adelaide 2,690km to the east and Darwin 4,027km to the north.
The other two big Australian capitals of Melbourne – 3,414km to east, and Sydney – 3,933km to the east are further away again.
The nearest place to the west of Perth is another country on the other side of the Indian Ocean, the island of Madagascar and South Africa.

How to get to Perth

 

Fly

Perth has a wonderful international and domestic airport. You can fly into or out of Perth to just about anywhere internationally. Qantas https://www.qantas.com/au/en.html and Virgin https://www.virginaustralia.com/au/en/ airlines fly to all the major Australian capital cities out of Perth, there is also a great network of regional locations within Western Australia that can be reached, with Qantas Link and Virgin.

 

Drive

Getting to Perth by vehicle from the east or north makes for one epic road trip. Allow yourself time not only because of the distances involved but because there is so much to see, it’s not your average point A to point B road trip.

 

Train

You can also get there by train, The Indian Pacific http://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/trains runs between Sydney and Perth another option.

 

How to get around once in Perth

 

We decided not to hire a car, instead using public transport http://www.transperth.wa.gov.au on this trip. And to narrow our focus to Perth and Fremantle not venturing too far out into the suburbs.
We found it is totally achievable and financially viable, with a little pre-planning and by keeping a timetable in your daypack it can be done.

Catching a Transperth bus

Riding a Transperth train, pic Clancy Parker

At times the convenience of a car would have been very handy, however not having the hassle of finding parking and paying for it, navigating a city you’re not familiar with and the outlay of rental money on days when the car would be parked up, made the eight days of navigating public transport worth it.

Top Tip: Choose your accommodation carefully. Get yourself as close as you can to most things you want to see and have, a public transport station or stop nearby to where your staying – plan.

In Perth, you have two options when it comes to public transport. The Transperth http://www.transperth.wa.gov.au network of trains and buses which detour out all over the place-costs money. And the Cat (Central Area Transit) http://www.transperth.wa.gov.au/Timetables/Live-Perth-CAT-Times  buses which are a free service running around the CBD’s of Perth and Fremantle. These Cat buses often cross at different points so it is easy to get off one and on to another to get to where you want to go.

Great map of where the CAT buses run.

 

Transperth also run a ferry across the Swan River from Elizabeth Quay to South Perth.

 

Where to stay in Perth

 

We stayed at the Comfort Hotel Perth http://www.perthcityhotel.com.au, it’s actually in East Perth on Hay street. It would be roughly a 15min walk from the centre of town, bit longer with kids. It was within walking distance of Langley Park and the Swan River and had a Red Cat bus stop almost at the door. The hotel itself was clean and tidy with good WIFI a great shower and friendly helpful staff.
The hotel is a $35.00 taxi fare from the airport, roughly 20 – 30 minutes.

Alternatively, if you were travelling by road and had a caravan or camping gear or had a hire car from the airport and were looking for a cabin as an alternative to a hotel, then Karrinyup Waters Resort http://www.kwr.net.au is the go.
The cabins are wonderful, some with ramps for wheelchair access, each powered site has a concrete slab for the caravan, camping area grassed and shady.
There is a well-appointed camp kitchen with tables, chairs, BBQ, sinks and fridges. Several playgrounds for the kids not to mention a bouncing cushion.
The swimming pool area is simply stunning with something for everyone and well worthy of the resort name.

 

One of three pools

Lap Pool

Spa Pool bottom left looking across.

Powered Caravan Site

One of many cabins, this one has wheel chair ramp.

Unpowered camping area

 

 

BBQ’s & Sinks in camp Kitchen

Reflection

Seating area in camp kitchen.

 

Playground near pool area

Bouncing pillow – endless fun.

Playground near camp kitchen.

 
Places to see while staying in Perth

 

There are many options here, unfortunately, a lot of them cost money. However, travelling with kids you want to give them the best experiences possible while getting the best bang for your buck – without breaking the bank.
I have broken it up into two sections, free activities and ones that will cost you a little coin.

 

Activities with costs attached

 

Perth Zoo

 

Allow a full day to explore the expanse of this zoo. The gardens of this place are as much a feature as the animals. The animals, over 1500 of them including elephants, rhinoceros, orangutans, giraffe and lions are surrounded by lush gardens, there is something for all your senses and all ages – a great day out https://perthzoo.wa.gov.au

 

It’s not everyday you see an elephant being taken for a walk.

 

Dolphin Sculpture at entrance to Zoo.

On a warm day, whats left to do.

Even elephants love a swim & play.

Getting there: We caught a Red Cat (Free) from our hotel into the CBD, taking a short walk to Elizabeth Quay. We then boarded a Transperth Ferry ($6.20 one-way family four 2×2) to cross the Swan River to South Perth. Then it’s a short five-minute walk to the zoo.

Note: The map on the left are the possible vehicle routes. The map on the right is the public transport route, this is a bus route from CBD, Google maps didn’t have a ferry option which runs directly between Elizabeth Quay and South Perth foreshore and my recommended option.

Costs: It cost us $80.00 for entry that got us a family ticket (2 adults x 2 kids). How much it costs others will depend largely on the makeup of your group. Allow a full day, you won’t get much change.

Top Tip: Although there is a nice café at the zoo, buying lunch for a family of four will add $50.00 to the bottom line of your day, pack a simple picnic into a backpack and take your own, make sure you take your water bottles too as there are refill water stations all over the place.

 

AQUA – Aquarium of Western Australia

 

Western Australia has 12,000km of coastline with many different ecosystems. A visit to AQWA at Hillarys Boat Harbour https://www.aqwa.com.au takes you on a journey from the tropical north to the icy waters of the Southern Ocean. It’s an underwater journey of Western Australia’s marine life.

 

Every now again the extra special AQWA residents, drop by and say Hi.

 

A beam of light, highlights a highlight.

Lots of child interaction at AQWA.

Mesmerised by size and majesty.

 

A familiar face from northern Australia.

 

Getting there: From the city by car – Drive north, approximately 17km from Perth on the Mitchell Freeway. Exit left at Hepburn Avenue for Hillarys Boat Harbour and AQWA.

Note: The map on the left are the possible vehicle routes. The map on the right is the public transport route.

 

Parking: if you’re driving a car there is free parking at the Marina, however, be aware on weekends and during school holidays it can get busy.

From the city by public transport – Take a Joondalup line train from Perth to Warwick station. Connect with the No.423 bus to Hillarys Boat Harbour and AQWA. Cost of fare was $12.60 – a family rider ticket (2 adults & 2 kids).

Note – this ticket only available after 9 am on any given day.

Costs: It cost us $79.00 for a family ticket (2 Adults x 2 Kids) once in the door, you can stay as long as you like. There is a lot to see, depending on the level of engagement & interaction of your kids to how long you might spend there. My two absorbed everything in like sponges we were there for around four hours.

Top Tip: AQWA did have a café inside, however, there are nicer offerings in the marina. Perhaps plan your visit to AQWA to marry up with Hillarys Boat Harbour. Making Lunch somewhere over in the marina, AQWA in the morning before lunch or afternoon after lunch. All the while checking out what the marina has to offer either side of your AQWA visit.

 

Swimming area at Hillary’s Boat Harbour.

Looking Back towards shops & restaurants at Hillary’s.

 

Go to a show or exhibition

 

We’re here & ready to explore the Cretaceous.

 

When two kids from remote northern Australia arrive in a major capital city, what’s something they’re never done? Been to a major show or exhibition. So when the opportunity arose to check out ”Dinosaur Discovery – Lost Creatures of the Cretaceous” put on by the Western Australian Museum http://museum.wa.gov.au it was perfect and too good an opportunity to let pass. A brilliant show, life-sized dinosaurs that wowed all the senses. Kids were transfixed and engaged not to mention excited from go to woe.
Of course, this show will probably have moved on, however the moral to the story is keep an eye out for others like it. Especially during school holiday periods, The Western Australian Museum has a revolving door of good stuff.

 

Life size dinosaurs & interactive touchscreens.

Dinosaurs that towered over the city skyline.

Budding palaeontologist.

 

 

Getting There: The Dinosaur Discovery show we saw was at the Perth Convention Centre https://www.pcec.com.au. The Blue Cat Bus will get you practically to the door.

 

Dinosaurs that filled the room. Top to bottom.

Larger than life.

 

Costs: A family ticket (2 adults x 2 kids) was $70.00, again once in you could stay as long as you liked, which was great because it was not just a looking thing there was a lot to touch, play with, engage with – total interaction. We enjoyed this exhibition and did not get much change out of two hours.

 

Sci-Tech

 

Sci-tech makes all things science engaging, stimulating and fun. The thought-provoking activities of the main area, to the space discovery zone and planetarium your grey matter won’t stop ticking over and the smile, won’t leave your dial while its happening. A really good space for kids to interact with science and for parents to interact with their kids while enjoying their discoveries https://www.scitech.org.au.

 

Learning & having fun.

Disabled are well catered for.

Learning through interaction.

 

Getting There: Jump on a Yellow or Green Cat Bus, they don’t take you directly to the door, however, you’re not far away. An easy walk of perhaps 200-300 meters will get you there.

 

Underwater & I’m dry – “cool”

What you’re looking for from outside.

Hope I don’t end up like this guy.

 

Note: The map on the left are the possible vehicle routes. The map on the right is the public transport route.

Costs: A family ticket (2 adults x 2 kids) was $52.00, once in the door you could play as long as you wanted to. We stayed for around four hours.

 

Driving the Mars rover – boys own adventure.

 

Top Tip: Don’t miss the Planetarium Show, fantastic!

Top Tip: Be warned this place has a killer gift shop, which is hard to avoid at the end when leaving. Be prepared to part with some coin or have your game face ready to go.

 

Maritime Museum Fremantle

 

The Maritime Museum is part of the Western Australian Museum, it houses a bit of everything relating to Western Australian maritime history, from pearling luggers in Broome to submarines and wartime stuff, to immigration history and the Americas Cup with Australia two. It’s a great display, with lots to see and read http://museum.wa.gov.au/museums/maritime.

 

Old pearling lugger from up Broome way in states North West.

Boat John Sanders went around world in. Angle shows biggest wave he surfed.

 

Getting There: From Perth station jump on the Fremantle Line train , take the train to Fremantle. From the station, it is a short walk around the corner to the museum situated on the waterfront at Victoria Quay. Cost of fare was $12.60 – a family rider ticket (2 adults & 2 kids). Note – this ticket only available after 9 am on any given day.

Note: The map on the left are the possible vehicle routes. The map on the right is the public transport route.

 

Costs: Entry to the Maritime Museum was $30.00 (2 adults & 2 kids) once in it was up to you how long you stayed.

Top Tip: If you have kids six or under this museum might be lost on them a bit, my eight-year-old enjoyed it my then five-year-old couldn’t get out quick enough.

Top Tip: This museum will often have a feature exhibition attached to it, which will cost extra to see. The price I have stated only gets you into the Maritime Museum.

 

Activities that were free

 

Kings Park

 

Perth’s pride and joy. Explore the bush while in the city, covering more than 400 hectares and supporting 200 native plants and strands of eucalyptus, wander pathways that interlink different sections of the park. Large grassed spaces give loads of space to run the kids ragged, while the views of the Swan River and Perth skyline are stunning.
The Noongar Aboriginal people refer to the area as Kaarta-Gar-up for them the area was prime hunting land, their stories are represented around the park, and make interesting reading.

 

Standing atop Mt Eliza, city & Swan River in distance.

 

There is much to see and do in Kings Park, one could easily spend as little or as much time there as one pleased or as time allowed. I found the park to be a great place to be without being anywhere specific. Kids had the freedom to move without restriction, parents opportunity to take a little time out. Come the end of the day you have still been out and about, seen some stuff, but the kids are tired and the parents are not shagged. https://www.bgpa.wa.gov.au/kings-park

Note: The map on the left are the possible vehicle routes. The map on the right is the public transport route.

 

War  Memorial

 

This beautiful memorial and cenotaph sits atop Mount Eliza, overlooking the Swan River and Perth skyline. Take a moment to explain to kids why it’s there and what all the names mean. My eight-year-old after a bit of discussion reflected as he took in the view of the skyline and city.

A short walk from the War Memorial is the

 

Kimberley Boab:

 

This may not mean much to many of you, however to a mob from the Kimberley who know and understand the country – exactly where this ancient old tree came from and the journey it made to get to Kings Park, we were very excited to see it doing well. The kids and I paused for a bit and had a few quiet words, this old Boab has definitely taken one for the team – the winters are freezing in Perth for a tree from Fitzroy Crossing.

 

A long way from home, but surviving with the help of a great view.

 

Not far along the walking track from the Boab tree is the

 

Tree Top Walk – Elevated Bridge:

 

This is a wonderfully positioned elevated walkway, 620 metres long and pretty much up in the canopy of the eucalypts – birdsong abounds as you wander across, fantastic views of the Matilda Bay brewery can be had and Perth’s wonderful river system.

 

Off we go.

Matilda Bay Brewery, from half-way along.

Up with the birds, in the tree tops.

 

Playgrounds:

 

There are three to choose from

Ivey Watson – Lottery West Playground – This is a wonderful playground set over several levels with lots of different activities to amuse the kids and engage their minds. All ages are catered for, let the kids off the leash, it’s fully enclosed – fenced all around. Stickybeaks Café provides the necessary coffees and chai for parents.

 

Synergy Parkland (May Drive Parkland) – This space will engage the kid’s imaginations and engage their minds. As they take the windy walk over the lake in search of life-sized dinosaur footprints and mega marsupials.

 

Rio Tinto Nature Scape – A fantastic environment to get the kids engaged and excited about the natural environment, learning about different materials and ecosystems while being able to touch, feel, smell and see.

 

Top Tip: The three parks are not close to each other, they are a little spread out. If you are planning a day to visit all three perhaps visit in a vehicle rather than public transport.

 

A good old fashion picnic – With so much space and a good choice for playgrounds, pick carefully and the view will be eye-popping. Pack yourself a picnic and enjoy. You’ll be spoilt if you do.

 

Shaded & fun

On what to play next.

Swinging good fun.

 

Top Tip: If you get the chance the DNA tower is pretty good.

Top Tip: If you are in town in September (Spring) check out the wildflower displays in the park. Perhaps the wildflower show.

 

Getting There: From the Perth CBD (Elizabeth Quay) jump on a Green Cat Bus or the 935 Transperth bus both travel along St Georges Terrace. The Green Cat will get you to the entrance of the park at Fraser Avenue, then it’s a beaut walk down to the War Memorial then where ever after that. The 935 will take you through the park and out the other side. Remember the Green Cat is free, the 935 you will have to pay a fare.

 

Top Tip: Kings Park is only 1.5km from the CBD however for those who choose to walk Jacobs ladder awaits a staircase of 242 steps on an incline of 40 meters. A challenge for some, to be avoided for others.

 

Elizabeth Quay

 

Perth’s love affair with the Swan River is rolled and moulded into what is today Elizabeth Quay. A vibrant waterfront playground full of waterpark, parks, walking paths, restaurants and cafes. It’s a lively free space on the banks of the river that bridges the gap to the CBD and invites you to explore and enjoy such places as Barracks Street jetty, The Bell Tower and Langley Park. https://www.mra.wa.gov.au/projects-and-places/elizabeth-quay/see-and-do 

 

My intrepid explorers.

Playground fun at Elizabeth Quay.

Sculpture of all shapes & sizes at Elizabeth Quay.

 

Getting There: Get yourself into town, the CBD then walk down to Elizabeth Quay. Alternatively, both the Green & Blue Cat buses stop there.

 

Cost: It’s free, the only spend you’ll have is food or drink or the ferry to South Perth.

 

The Dolphin Sculptures:

Swimming into town from 20 January  – 4 March 2018 in iconic locations around Perth. This interactive art display will be a spectacular sculpture trail for all to enjoy, and taking the family for a day out to visit the dolphins will be a must-do activity. My kids loved it! We had to jump off buses to have a pic with a newly spotted dolphin, grab the app, follow the trail. It’s a great intuitive.

 

Interactive sculpture. Had us looking for dolphins all over town.

 

London Court – Centre of Perth

Built-in 1937 London Court is one of Perth’s best-loved heritage listed shopping destinations. Captured in a setting of Tudor England and located in the heart of Perth city, the court links Hay Street Mall and St Georges Terrace. Walking through your eye is drawn to all parts, it takes a little while to fully absorb and appreciate the surrounds. This is as good a place as any to stop for coffee or a bite to eat, and just take it all in for a while.

 

Old London, in modern Perth.

 

Perth Cultural Precinct

The Perth cultural precinct is a revitalised space in Northbridge, where the arts, culture, knowledge and community come together. The area is home to the Art Gallery of Western Australia, The Western Australian Museum and the State Library. All of which have permanent and feature or touring exhibitions or displays, they are a revolving door of good, interesting and ever changing stuff. https://www.mra.wa.gov.au/projects-and-places/perth-cultural-centre

Top Tip: If you are in Perth during a school holiday break make a point of checking out what is on. School holidays are prime time for great exhibitions, displays and workshops.

 

Fremantle

 

Take a stroll through a beautifully preserved 19th-century port streetscape, where you can see two-hundred years of European history in a single day – just 30 minutes from Perth.

 

Grand old architecture is a highlight of a visit to Freo.

 

Following the walking path from the Maritime Museum at Victoria Quay, it’s a short walk to the

 

Roundhouse:

The Round House was the first permanent building built in the Swan River Colony. Built in late 1830 and opened in 1831, it is the oldest building still standing in Western Australia, used until 1886 it was the site of Western Australia’s first hangings. The Roundhouse also housed many Aboriginal’s from all over the state before they were transported to Rottnest Island. Today people are free to move about inside the Roundhouse and get a feel for what it was like all those years ago. http://www.fremantleroundhouse.com.au 

 

One of Western Australia’s. earliest buildings.

 

The kids getting an understanding of the way it was.

Cost: Gold coin donation.

 

Keep following the walking trail from the Roundhouse which overlooks the ocean, eventually, after a pleasant walk you’ll end up at

 

Fishing Boat Harbour:

The harbour is but a short walk from the middle of Fremantle. It has been a working fishing port since the early 1900’s when it was only a single timber jetty and fish market. Today you can still see the fishing boats come into the port and offload their catch of the day. While enjoying a coffee or a lunchtime feed of Fish N Chips in a buzzing, vibrant harbour. With restaurants, cafes, sculpture and a hive of working and social activity this is a nice place to take a look at and perhaps spend a little time.

 

Remembering the past.

Getting ready to tuck in.

 

Leaving the harbour almost directly across the street as you wander under the Norfolk pines is the

 

Shipwreck Galleries Museum –

 

A grand entrance to a beautiful old building.

 

This is another offering from the Western Australian Museum, however, it is vastly different to the Maritime Museum. Inside you will learn about all the early explorers of Western Australia’s coast, the routes they took, where the wrecks lie, the names of the explorers and the countries they came from. They have the wreck of the Batavia on display and hundreds of other relics, maps, cannons, anchors, etc, etc. There are many volunteers floating around only too happy to help explain things. Both my kids got a lot more out of this museum than the Maritime Museum, the exhibits, maps, touchscreens and as my eight-year-old pointed out ”I know some of these names” – locations in Western Australia that were bestowed after explorers or members of exploring parties. This museum was a bit more real. http://museum.wa.gov.au/museums/shipwrecks

 

The other ship din’t stand a chance.

The Batavia wreck – very cool.

Kids in the captains quarters.

 

Cost: Gold coin donation.

 

Top Tip: We visited both Museums in Fremantle. If you’re thinking of only going to one and tossing up to which, I think the Shipwreck Galleries is the better of the two.

 

From the Shipwreck Galleries Museum, it’s an easy walk into the centre of Fremantle and the famed Cappuccino strip, as you walk you are shadowed by the beautiful architecture of this old port town. It’s everywhere the boldness and attention to detail of the period, as captivating as it is demanding of you to slow down and take it all in.

 

Fremantle Markets

”Make sure you visit Fremantle on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday” and get amongst the vibe and the hussle that is the markets. Every one of your senses will be activated upon entering this place, a hive of activity awaits. https://www.fremantlemarkets.com.au

Top Tip: This market is super busy it’s a thriving, beating place – keep the kids in close check, little curious minds are easily distracted and wander, easily lost.

 

PS: Fremantle Prison: We did not get to see the Prison on this trip, sometimes you just run out of time. However, we had full intentions of going and think it would be a great day out, it will be one of the first places to visit next time.

 

Go visit a beach

 

So many – spoilt for choice. Take a drive between North Beach in Fremantle up to Cottesloe and along the West Coast Highway to Hillarys passing City Beach, Scarborough, Trigg Point, North Beach and you’re sure to find your place in the sun. With endless white sandy beaches, eye-popping turquoise water all with waves of various sizes, a bad decision is hard to make.

 

Take your pick, all the beaches are a delight.

 

Cottesloe Beach – This is an iconic Perth beach, the surf club, the Norfolk Pines and great sunsets, a really nice, enjoyable place to spend some time.

Note: The map on the left are the possible vehicle routes. The map on the right is the public transport route.

 

 

 

Scarborough Beach – Long white sandy beaches, this place is great for a walk. With the newly open waterfront baths and café – restaurant scene it’s well worth a look.

 

Top Tip: All these beaches are ocean beaches and as such have all the associated dangers, swim between the flags on patrolled beaches.

Top Tip: Get down the beach early, have your fun in the morning before the sea breeze blows up. The Fremantle doctor, as the prevailing sea breeze is affectionately known, can make a good beach day uncomfortable.

 

In Conclusion

 

Australia’s sunniest capital is more than sunsets over the ocean. Visit and you’ll experience a vibrant riverfront city which is overseen by one of the nicest City parks around – Kings Park. With a beautifully preserved old port town just down the road and fringed by stunning Indian Ocean beaches, Perth has the natural attractions, outdoor climate & dining options to package up into a memorable visit.

Have you been to Perth recently? perhaps your planning a trip. Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

 

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Amazing Rottnest, equisite beaches & Quokka’s that delight.

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The beaches are stunning, however, it’s these little critters that will leave you with a lasting memory of Rottnest.

 

From the mainland, the island “is so close yet so far”. Take the passage across, only a short trip it be, you’ll be whisked away, feeling a million miles from everything, be tempted you’ll see.

Bobbing around in the Indian ocean just off Perth is a fabulous jewel boasting 63 beaches and 20 bays all pristine just a short cycle away. Doesn’t matter how far you ride or how many bends you round, no filters required, this island is “Wow”.

All the while be welcomed by many of the earth’s most renowned-happiest little creatures, you won’t be able to help yourself, you’ll have more than one go, a #quokkaselfie will be your most treasured memory.

I got a secret! Would you like to hear it?

Love having you guys visit Rotto

Love me fruit snacks.

So many words, they all describe the beauty the overwhelming relaxed vibe. To fully understand you must put your feet in the sand, stop for a while – take it all in.

Rottnest will enchant.

What’s in the name?

Seventeenth-century Dutch explorers stumbled across this beautiful island. On investigation, they noted many large rat-like animals, which gave birth to the Dutch name “Rotte Nest”. This translated into English is “Rat Nest”
Yes, the Quokkas of today take it all in humour and are often only ever too obliging to accommodate photos and selfies. From humble beginnings of giant rat-like creatures the Quokka has risen to Instagram stardom with there on hashtag #quokkaselfies

Where is Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is in the Indian Ocean off mainland Australia. Approximately 30km as the crow flies from Perth, Western Australia. It’s closest point to the mainland is 18km this is to the south of Perth at Fremantle. Rottnest Island covers approximately 20 square km, roughly 11km long and 5km wide

How to get to Rottnest Island

You can get to Rottnest by air, private boat or by far the most popular way fast ferry. Fast ferries leave from three locations around Perth.

  • In the CBD from Barracks Street jetty – journey of 90min
  • North at Hillary’s Boat Harbour – journey of 45min
  • South at Victoria Quay Fremantle – journey of 25min

We departed from Hillary’s boat harbour. If you are going just for the day there is plenty of parking. If you are planning a longer stay on the island, Rottnest Fast ferries http://www.rottnestfastferries.com.au have a free shuttle service from the CBD. Alternatively, you could stay at the Karrinyup waters resort caravan park which is only a short taxi ride away.

Hillary’s Boat Harbour Perth, Getting ready to board our Rottnest Fast Ferry

 

Day Trip or Longer stay

The first thing you have to decide is how long you are going for. Will it be a day trip or an extended stay, overnight, two or three days, perhaps a week?

Let me start by saying, Rottnest is not the cheapest place to go on holiday. However, there are options and with a bit of planning in advance, it is achievable.

Rottnest is built for families. For everything you want to do as an adult, there is an option for kids or families.
With so many options on offer, it’s a case of seeing Rottnest or experiencing Rottnest.

Day Trip

If you are budget conscience or time poor a day trip is a wonderful option. Catch the first ferry across in the morning and make sure you’re on the last one out at the end of the day, this will give you maximum time to see what interests you.
What you do exactly with your time might be determined by your circumstance. Have you been before? Do you have kids? How fit are you? Do you just want to check out the beautiful beaches or do you want to test drive? So many variables and they are all personal to individuals. Read on, hopefully, I will shape your thinking. http://www.rottnestisland.com/see-and-do

Longer Stay

There is so much to do once on Rottnest and some of it you’ll enjoy so much you might want to have a second go. Travelling with kids it’s always nice not to have the worry of rushing and factoring in some time out time. Rottnest does timeout time really well. However, I fully understand – I get it, time is money and accommodation’s not cheap.
Some things to think about,

Everybody wants to go to Rottnest in the summer school holidays, fair enough too, it’s probably the time when everybody has the most time off and the weather is warmest. However, the key to a better deal is planning and lots of it, the further in advance you book the better.
If possible avoid school holidays and weekends. Instead of January, maybe December or February. Perhaps even March, October or November.
Midweek is always better than weekends, Tuesday through Thursday or Friday.
Keep a close eye on events. Rottnest hosts many over the course of the year, http://www.rottnestisland.com/whats-on unless they interest you avoid them.

There are a few options for accommodation from Chalets, cottages, Karma resort, Rottnest Hotel and the Kingston Barracks Hostel. http://www.rottnestisland.com/accommodation

On our recent trip, we stayed at the Kingston Barracks Hostel http://www.rottnestisland.com/accommodation/accommodation-types/basic-accommodation, located an easy 1.5km bike ride around Thomson Bay from the settlement.

The old Army Barracks.

Each section of Barracks has dorm rooms. Ours was in here.

Plenty of bike parking & riding space.

Our family sized dorm was more than adequate and very comfortable. With shared amenities nearby and a great kitchen area, it had everything you needed. A communal lounge – TV room and many tables and benches scattered around, it also had a nice BBQ area. The large parade yard in the middle gave the kids loads of room to ride their bikes and there was always someone around to have a yak to.
Our Dorm cost us $120 per night from memory and we stayed 7 nights, this included linen and towels.

How to get around on Rottnest – once you’re there

Rottnest is too big to walk around, especially if you’re only there for the day.

Bikes:

Are a great fun way to get around Rottnest, the island is not huge in distance and for the most part is flat. However, be aware there are some hills and many steep inclines, ”younger-smaller kid’s” or the, ”not quite as fit as I thought I was” adult will find challenging.
You can bring your own bike should you have one, alternatively you can hire, either way, there are costs involved.

If you’re bringing your own it will work out much cheaper, however, be aware they are charged as excess luggage on the ferry.

If you choose to hire, Top Tip: organize bike hire at time of booking ferry or accommodation as you can obtain a discount. Be aware this is only on adult bikes, kids bikes cannot be pre-booked and have to be collected/hired once on the island. There is a $100 deposit per bike hired so be prepared for the initial outlay, you will get this deposit or bond refunded when you return the bikes in good working order.

http://www.rottnestisland.com/see-and-do/island-activities/Pedal%20and%20Flipper%20Activities

Family fun, riding bikes on Rotto

Everyone loves a ride on Rotto

Got little ones who cant ride? Perhaps a bit of gear. Great option.

Island Explorer Bus:

This is the option for those who don’t think cycling is for them or who don’t think they’ll make it around the island on the old deadly treadly.
This bus leaves the settlement on the half-hour, it continuously circuits the island. You can hop on and off the bus as many times as you like at designated bus stops.
There is a cost to this service and it’s charged on a daily basis.

Adults $20
Kids $16
Family (2×2) $50

http://www.rottnestisland.com/see-and-do/Island-tours/bus-tours 

Air conditioning and a soft seat. Pic by Clancy Parker

Accomadation shuttle & selected tours. Pic by Clancy Parker

Walking

When you get off the ferry you’re in Thomson Bay and on the doorstep of the settlement. If you plan to walk during your time on Rottnest and you’re of average to good fitness you will be able to see a bit. Two, perhaps two & half kilometers to the north or south of the settlement will get you looking at some beautiful scenery. To the south wander around Thompson Bay to Kingston Barracks, once an Australian army barracks now dormitory accommodation. To the north, The Basin is very achievable along with Pinky’s beach and Bathurst lighthouse. And of course, the history and heritage of the settlement will fascinate.

http://www.rottnestisland.com/see-and-do/Island-tours

Part of Vincent Way. Australia’s oldest unchanged street.

Pic by Clancy Parker

Yesterday a Jail-The Quad, today accommodation.

The old salt works building, welcomes you.

100y/o fig trees line the streets of the settlement. Pic Clancy Parker

Quokkas up for a selfie & yak. Pic Clancy Parker

 
Options for hire gear on Rottnest – once you’re there

If you’re travelling, and are anything other than a Perth local, then chances are you will need to source some gear for your time on Rotto.
Bikes and snorkelling, equipment can be hired on the island at Rottnest Pedal and Flipper. These guys will deck you out and load you up with everything you’ll need. Be aware it all comes at a cost and the cost might set you back on your heels a little.
The best advice I can give is to plan, long before you arrive on the island.
Are you staying for a day, three days or a week? Just a day, “Cool”. When you book your ferry ticket book your bike & snorkelling gear too as a package, discounts can be obtained.
Staying a few days, “You’ll love it” book your bike when you book your accommodation to receive a discount.

Top Tip: Remember, earlier tip. Kids bikes can’t be pre-booked & you’ll be required to part with a deposit so factor it into your costs.

However, hold off with the snorkelling gear, it would work out quite costly to hire for your entire stay, there would be periods of time where you wouldn’t be using the gear so its wasted money.
My advice would be:

  • Dedicate one day of your trip to snorkelling and check out as many places as possible. Hiring the gear for the day.
  • Go to Kmart or BigW prior to leaving Perth and pick yourself up a cheap set that will get you amongst the action.
  •  The Rottnest Island general store in the settlement precinct has a selection of gear at various prices, you will find something cheaper than the cost of a day’s hire charge.
Best swimming beaches on Rottnest Island

There is so much choice, spoilt for options you’ll be. These were our favourites, they were all safe for the kids, crystal clear with lots of sand to play on.

  • The Basin is easily reached from the settlement either on a bike or by foot, crystal clear pools of water with mostly gentle gradients. Main swimming area beautifully protected from swell by a reef, a great place for the beginner snorkeler in the family to have a bash.

The Basin, Crystal Clear.

Enjoying the view, The Basin – Rotto.

  • Pinky’s Beach is also easily reached from the settlement either on a bike or by foot. It’s nestled in behind the camping ground, access is gained by walking through the campground. This beach is a nice little sweeping bay, with a long sandy beach, a rocky headland at one end and the Bathurst lighthouse at the other. The water is a delight and another great place for the kids.

Pinky’s Beach & Bathurst Lighthouse. Kids enjoying a play

Beauty at Pinky’s on Rotto.

  •  Little Parakeet Bay This little bay is a little bit further away, it’s the next one along after Geordie Bay. It’s achievable by bike and has its own bus stop. This place is not as big as the first two I mentioned and space on the sand on a warm summer’s day could be a little limited. however, the swimming and snorkelling are great, especially for kids.

Idyllic Rottnest.

A Beautifully protected little bay for swimming.

All three of the above-mentioned swimming beaches are on the north side of the island and by and large, on most days are relatively protected from the wind.

  • Little Salmon Bay is a most delightful place, it is extremely beautiful. The swimming is great, however if the kids go for a snorkel here keep a close eye on them. It’s deeper and a lot more open. Sand is at a premium here, as beautiful as the water is the sand is prized sitting space. This beach faces the south so it gets quite a bit of breeze. Pick your day and perhaps get there early before sea the breeze picks up.

Simply Exquisite Rottnest

Fun at the beach on Rotto.

The clarity & colour is incredible.

The Parker’s point at Parker point.

Best snorkeling beaches on Rottnest Island

Most of the marked snorkelling beaches on Rottnest Island have snorkelling trails. Underwater mud maps which you can follow, all points of interest are numbered so you know where you are and what you have seen. It’s a great idea and initiative as it gives a point of interest, a little direction and depending on the age of your kids a goal to achieve. My eight-year-old did not find everything however, he had a ball trying.

  •  The Basin is by far the most protected and safest place to have a go at snorkelling.

Early morning at The Basin.

 

  • Little Armstrong Bay has lots to explore at varying distances from the beach. On a nice day or before the wind blows up the clarity of the water is superb. If your kids are good swimmers, in the company of an adult this place has lots to offer and well worth a go.

Dreaming of adventures.

Go find your snorkelling adventure.

 
  • Little Salmon Bay is a most delightful place, it is extremely beautiful. The swimming is great. However, if the kids go for a snorkel here keep a close eye on them. It’s deeper and a lot more open. Sand is at a premium here, as beautiful as the water is the sand is prized sitting space. This beach faces the south so it gets quite a bit of breeze, pick your day and perhaps get there early before sea breeze picks up.

 

  •  The West End – Fish Hook and Eagle Bays These would be two of the more remote locations on the island. Both areas are very beautiful however only the experienced need think about giving it a go

http://www.rottnestisland.com/see-and-do/natural-attractions/beaches-and-bays

Other activities of interest on Rottnest Island

There are many activities that can be undertaken while staying on Rottnest Island, and although all of them would be worthwhile and fun they all come at an extra cost, all of which tend to add up.
We participated in a lot of the free activities such as the Rottnest Island Volunteers guided walks, the Museums and Galleries. We also took a Discovery Tour and the Lighthouse tour (Wadjemup Lighthouse). And made a point of checking out the NZ fur seal colony from the wonderful viewing platform at Cathedral Rocks on the West End of the island. There is much more such as:

  • Eco Express Tour – boat ride around island
  • Subsea explorer – glass bottom boat ride
  • Segway tours
  • Oliver Hill military tour – You can visit Oliver Hill anytime you wish and have a look around and check out the big gun. However under the hill is a rabbit warren of tunnels. To check these out you must go with a guide – would be interesting.
  • Golf & Mini Golf courses.
  • Surfing (Generally at Strickland Bay)
  • Fishing (Charters available)
Playgrounds

Rottnest Island is one big playground, however, should the need arise for a set of monkey bars and a slide the island has you covered. There are two playgrounds one is overlooking Thomson Bay, not far from the settlement precinct almost out front of the Dome café. This is the biggest of the two, is in view of the jetty where the ferries dock and is pretty well shaded.
The other is at the Geordie Bay Café, this play area is fully fenced and you can watch the kids play from just about any table you sit at in the outdoor seating area of the café. A great place for a pit stop as you explore the north side of the island.

Playground overlooking Thomson Bay, near the Settlement.

Playground at Geordie Bay Cafe.

Eating & Drinking on Rottnest Island

Whether you are coming for a day or a week the following list of eaterys you will more than likely find yourself in or be tempted by.

  • General Store: This store is like an emporium, it has a bit of everything, from booze to snorkels and most food items in between. If you are staying a while you can pre-order your shopping and they will deliver it to your accommodation for you, it’s a great service.

Top Tip: Although we found the prices to be reasonable (we are from Broome mind you) there are savings to be had by purchasing in Perth prior to arriving items such us, Shampoo & Conditioner sun cream, insect repellant, batteries, lip balm, moisturizing cream and deodorants.

Top Tip: Bring your own water bottle as there are water bottle refill stations dotted between Geordie Bay and the Settlement and Kingston Barracks and the Settlement. There is no water on the west end of the island so be prepared.

  • The Bakery & Simmo’s Ice Cream: These two just play on your weaknesses. Treats galore – temptation hard to ignore.
  • Subway: An easy meal.
Cafes & Coffee shops

There are three main offerings here, and the two little guys punch well above there weight and are well worth a try.

  • Dome: is the biggest and offers a lot more than coffee, a good option for breakfast or brunch if you’re looking.
  • The Lane: This was a happening little coffee joint. Good coffee, vibrant staff and yummy muffins. For what its worth it’s my pick.
  • Geordie’s: Another nice little place for breakfast, brunch, lunch or coffee. The added bonus of playground.
Restaurants & Bars

Even though we stayed on the island for seven days we did not eat out, choosing to self-cater. Having said that there are options.

  • Frankie’s on Rotto
  • Thomson’s Rottnest
  • Governors Sports Bar
  • Hotel Rottnest
  • Riva Restaurant

http://www.rottnestisland.com/eat-and-drink

WI-FI on Rottnest Island

Around the settlement precinct, out about as far as the pub (Hotel Rottnest), down in front of the visitor centre and at a pinch to the Bathurst lighthouse. The WI-FI signal is strong to good. Geordie Bay Café also offers WI-FI, as does the Rottnest lodge to customers only.

Conclusion

There are many islands that fringe the big island of Australia, there are many places in Australia that offer lots to the visitor. However, Rotto is right up there. It has beaches that are second to none, a little creature voted the happiest animal in the world, and history and heritage that for better or worse is none the less interesting and worth knowing about.
With more beaches and bays than you’ll ever go in one visit, 6,5000 years of history and just as many quokkas wanting to say Hi or have a selfie, Rottnest will enchant and spoil your senses from the moment you step off the boat and for the best part give you a great workout while its at it.

In my own good time, on this beach I roam.

Superbly, clear and clean.

Not all who wander are lost.

Have you been to Rottnest Island recently? Perhaps your planning a trip? Would love to hear from you.

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Kimberley Christmas from the Top Deck, Broome, WA

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There is no doubting the location.

There is no doubting the location.

 

On a warm tropical night I’m in the company of great friends and a mob of kids. Sitting front and centre – perched high, the wheels roll, the kids cheer for the lights of Christmas have been turned on in the North West Australian town of Broome http://www.visitbroome.com.au/  in the Kimberley. And what better way to see them but atop a double decker bus http://www.broometopdecktours.com.au/ , no less.

 

A sweet ride for seeing the Christmas lights

A sweet ride for seeing the Christmas lights

 

Double decker buses, decorated boab tree’s, camels dressed to delight and a night filled with laughter-candy canes and joyous anticipation of children viewing Christmas lights.

 

Even the camels are dressed to delight & be festive.

Even the camels are dressed to delight & be festive.

Christmas tree Broome style. Boab's lit-up a delight.

Christmas tree Broome style. Boab’s lit-up a delight.

Santa finds his way to all corners.

Santa finds his way to all corners.

 

Viewing Christmas lights on the top deck of a double decker bus in the top end of down under. “Does your town have its special/quirky thing at Christmas”?

Driving around Broome looking from above the street level, at all the different designs was wonderful. Some with local and traditional themes, others more traditional, all equal in effort and preparation.

 

Four mates. Sharing the wonder-enjoying the show. Pic Courtesy Sherri Gawel.

Four mates. Sharing the wonder-enjoying the show.Pic Courtesy Sherri Gawel.

Pic By Clancy Parker (8 yr/old son)

Pic By Clancy Parker (My 8 yr/old son)

Pic by Clancy Parker (8 yr/old Son)

Pic by Clancy Parker (My 8 yr/old Son)

The glittering array of lights was only matched by the sparkle of wonder and anticipation in the kids eyes. As passing satellites and shooting stars pass above in the vast Kimberley sky, for a second, lost in a moment -“Do you think Da that was, well Santa?”

Lost for words-lost in the wonder. Pic by Sherri Gawel.

Lost for words-lost in the wonder. Pic by Sherri Gawel.

Smile, it's Christmas.

Smile, it’s Christmas.

Stopped in her tracks with enchantment. Pic by Sherri Gawel.

Stopped in her tracks with enchantment. Pic by Sherri Gawel.

“To believe is the wonder.”

Small regional towns are pretty close, with kids on the bus cheering and acknowledging mates on the street outside decorated houses.Saying G’day, appreciating good work, acknowledging viewing, it was just the “ vibe” as was once famously said.

The bus would stop regularly, kids from the decorated houses making their way onto the bus-candy canes for all.

By the end who knows if it was the magic of the lights or the Kimberley night, perhaps the sugar or the special moments with mates. In the end “Life is about moments-create them, don’t wait for them”.

There are many things one can do, buy and think at this time of year. But perhaps doing something a little different or quirky and engaging in the wonder and anticipation of the kids want to “believe” while sharing a moment a laugh with friends and family is the simplest and most rewarding gift we can give others and ourselves.

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Complete Guide to Eco Beach, Prepare to surrender to serenity.

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Watching "wet-season" skies from deck of ocean-front villas.

Watching “wet-season” skies from deck of ocean-front villas.

A four and a half star resort in a million star Kimberley wilderness. Remote, isolated and hidden-away. A million miles away from anywhere you’ve been before – such a place?

Have you ever wanted to feel a million miles away remote amongst wilderness of raw beauty? Yet feel like you’ve not left home while experiencing it.

Such a place exists just a stone’s throw away as the ‘Osprey flies’ across Roebuck Bay from Broome in Australia’s North West- “Ngaji Gurrjin” – Welcome and Hello to Eco Beach.

The resort is set on Yawuru Aboriginal land, Yardoogarra is the Aboriginal name for Eco Beach.

“Prepare to surrender to serenity” with all but a meagre 10km of Pindan track left to wander before my biggest decision will be to do as much or as little as I wish.

A visit to Eco Beach will present you with a diverse variety of activities. All set in the breathtaking West Kimberley coastal environment, appealing to a wide and varied scope of travellers.

Whether it be yoga sessions and hot rocks, or turtle and whale encounters (in-season), perhaps fishing for the predatory silver streak known as Barra or just cocktail hour by the infinity pool there’s something for everybody -every time.

All the while knowing the pleasures and creature comforts of the resort’s bar and restaurant area are but a boardwalk stroll away.

The Retreat

 

There is nothing hard about Eco Beach http://ecobeach.com.au/ in – fact the hardest decision you will make is what to do next, even if the outcome happens to be nothing.

The beating heart of the resort is the reception area. Jack’s bar and restaurant and the infinity pool are located here and are framed beautifully by a view of Roebuck Bay – all boardwalks lead to this area.

View back towards "Jack's Bar" over the infinity pool.

View back towards “Jack’s Bar” over the infinity pool.

Roebuck Bay is the view and the playground of Eco Beach. To play in it, on it, walk along – marvel at her stunning colour or find yourself drifting away into the seemingly endless horizon you can’t avoid of dismiss her.

The view of "Roebuck Bay" is hypnotic.

The view of “Roebuck Bay” is hypnotic.

Eco by name and nature. Many initiatives have been implemented at Eco Beach, solar panels which generate 2kw of electricity. All water is sourced on site from a bore and three large water tanks capture water. Waste water is recycled through a micro-organic waste water system and used for irrigation. 1.5km of boardwalks linking all points of the resort ensures a minimal footprint.

Boardwalks linking some of the Eco-Tents.

Boardwalks linking some of the Eco-Tents.

Soloar panels powering ocean-view villas.

Soloar panels powering ocean-view villas.

Boardwalks, left takes you straight to Jack's bar & the pool.

Boardwalks, left takes you straight to Jack’s bar & the pool.

 

Accommodation Options

 

At the very least Eco Beach is glamping at the highest level, at best you’ll never be more treated in a remote wilderness location.
The 4.5 star villas leave you wanting for nothing, while the Eco Tents get you sleeping as close to nature as one can be – in a proper bed.
All who stay must be mindful to venture out of their 4.5 star comfort especially at night and wonder at the million star Kimberley sky that overlooks above – it puts everything into perspective when it comes to star ratings.

 

Luxury Eco Villas – Ocean Front & Ocean View Villas:

 

Perfectly suited for couples but with a maximum of four guests wanting to enjoy a getaway. The eco villas offer you your own luxurious space to enjoy. Included inside of these guys is a king bed, kitchenette complete with microwave, toaster, kettle, free tea & coffee and bar fridge . The ensuites are fabulous, there are fans throughout and all villas are air-conditioned.

Ocean-front villa kitchen & living area.

Ocean-front villa kitchen & living area.

Living area of villa out to deck & view.

Living area of villa out to deck & view.

Looking through the ocean-front villa, bedroom at rear of pic.

Looking through the ocean-front villa, bedroom at rear of pic.

 

King size bed in Ocean-Villa

King size bed in Ocean-Villa

View from bed in ocean-front villa

View from bed in ocean-front villa

http://ecobeach.com.au/rooms/villas/

Eco Tents

 

Are perfect for those who want to be close to nature whilst still enjoying comfort and convenience. This option will suit both couples and families wanting a casual family holiday. These tents are 12v only, they consist of a king size bed, ensuite & fan.

 

Well ventilated, nice bed & bit space-Eco Tents.

Well ventilated, nice bed & bit space-Eco Tents.

Boardwalks linking some of the Eco-Tents.

Boardwalks linking some of the Eco-Tents.

 

Top Tips for families planning to self cater:

Top Tip for families in Villa:

Each villa has a microwave and a small bar fridge. There are no hot plates or ovens, there is a communal BBQ which has a wok burner near by – remember to bring a bag or basket to carry your gear. Consider bringing your Engel to supplement the bar fridge and perhaps a small butane gas stove with frying pan to use out on the deck.

Top Tip for families in Eco Tents:

There is no power for anything other than a mobile phone in these tents.
An Engel hooked up to a portable solar panel would give you a fridge. Couple that with the communal BBQ, you could achieve/manage a couple of days.

If you were a family of four planning to stay for two or three nights and eat all your meals at the restaurant, added to the cost of the accommodation, it would be a pretty expensive get away. However if you can eat out once as a treat and self cater the remaining, it can be viable.

 

 

Catering for the disabled at Eco Beach

 

The disabled will cope well at Eco Beach Resort, especially people in wheelchairs. Selected villas have specially designed bathrooms with fully wheelchair access with all necessary seating and hand-railing. The resorts boardwalks make it possible to get around and most staired areas have accompanied ramps.

 

A wheelchair accessible bathroom - Eco Villa

A wheelchair accessible bathroom – Eco Villa

Getting my Daughter around with broken leg.

Getting my Daughter around with broken leg.

 

Accessible Adventure

 

Fishing – Jacks Creek:

 

A 12km 4wd east along the beach from the resort will land you at Jacks Creek. Thread fin salmon, Mangrove jack and Travelly are generally about. In the warmer months when the water is warmer the predatory Barramundi or Barra as they’re more affectionately known, become prevalent. One hooked will be a highlight.

Top Tip for families:

If you have young kids, say 5-8 year’s old, who are interested in fishing but concentration is an issue for long periods, and you’re reluctant to pay the expense to get to Jacks Creek, a short walk either way along the beach will find you some water away from any crowds and give your young one an opportunity. Should it only last 10-15 minutes before sand-castles and swimming are more attractive, all’s good.

Walking/Hiking:

 

There are some really interesting beach and bush walks to be enjoyed of various distances.
For us, the pick was the caves walk. Heading onto the beach from the resort wander left or west. Walking along this stretch of beach has to be completed on a low tide of less than 4m, on account of several headlands which have to be rounded. You will pass many varied and wonderful rock formations including the Mini Bungles, Lion Rock, Salty Cliffs, Osprey Rock, Cape Villaret and finally the caves. The attractions are evenly spaced – total distance is approximately 3.5km one-way.

Mini Bungles reflecting in the low tide.

Mini Bungles reflecting in the low tide.

The 'Old Boot' rock formation.

The ‘Old Boot’ rock formation.

First footprints in the cave after high tide.

First footprints in the cave after high tide.

 

Cape Villaret-marks southern entrance to Roebuck Bay

Cape Villaret-marks the southern entrance to Roebuck Bay.

Top Tip for families:

Engage the kids in what they are seeing, explore – not just look at rock formations and rock-pools, take lots of pictures. Nature and the natural world can become your best baby sitter.

Osprey Rock-tiny osprey at top.

Osprey Rock-tiny osprey at top.

Osprey enjoying the view from her prime real estate.

Osprey enjoying the view from her prime real estate.

Top Tip:

Always allow time to get home don’t get stuck on an incoming tide, Kimberley tides race and are incredibly quick.

Turtle Tour:

 

In season (Nov-Dec) the Kimberley’s Flat Back Turtles return to the beaches around Eco Beach. We joined Conservation Volunteers Australia on a Turtle monitoring survey and had a ball. Being able to watch turtles dig their chamber then clutch (lay their eggs), then do the scientific stuff like DNA samples, reading of bar codes off tracking devices, measuring/touching while learning was an invaluable insight and experience for the kids.

Monitoring 'Flat Back' Turtles with CVA.

Monitoring ‘Flat Back’ Turtles with Conservation Volunteers Australia  http://conservationvolunteers.com.au/get-involved/holidays/

 

Whale Watching:

 

In season (July-Sept) each year humpback whales wander up the Western Australian coast to the warm Kimberley waters to give birth and raise their young. Eco Beach is a wonderful location to see these leviathans of the Kimberley ocean with many breaching & frolicking in the waters of Roebuck Bay directly out from the resort.

 

Stand -up Paddle Boarding & Kayaking:

 

During the months of April – October the waters of Roebuck Bay are great for all manner of water activity, getting on a board or kayak is a great way to enjoy the beach.

 

Relaxed Adventure

 

Dragon Fly Day Spa:

 

This is the place to go when you want to say you’re doing something but what you’re actually doing is relaxing and not much at all. Massage, hot rocks and yoga – treat yourself. Outside of peak time, April-Sept, check for availability.

http://ecobeach.com.au/day-spa/

 

Infinity Pool:

 

Cool pool with a hot view! For some, the holiday starts and ends here.

View out to Roebuck Bay from Infinity Pool and Jack's Bar

View out to Roebuck Bay from Infinity Pool and Jack’s Bar

Top Tip for families:

The pool is wonderful and a great place to hang out but it’s not a public baths. There are lots of couples, honeymooners and parents enjoying special occasions without their kids. Kids are welcome but have to be well behaved to be here – rowdy, bad behaved kids get removed.

 

Hammocks on the beach:

 

Strung up under a series of beach shelters, these hammocks are like instant tranquillisers – sleep time as you shoot the breeze. And the kids play.

Shooting the breeze! Talking about adventures had & adventures planned.

Shooting the breeze! Talking about adventures had & adventures planned.

 

Dining

 

Jack’s Restaurant & Bar:

 

Open all day – everyday! Three square meals, drinks and ice-cream.

Occupying arguably the finest position of any restaurant in the North West perhaps even Western Australia, Jack’s restaurant will enchant you before you even order.

Imagine yourself enjoying a moment.

Imagine yourself enjoying a moment.

In addition to its standard menu, a range of special dining experiences are available upon request. Including beach dinners, picnic hampers and private dining.

Top Tip for families:

This is a restaurant as good as you’ll find anywhere, they have high chairs and a good kids menu. Plan a meal out – kids on best behaviour though, it’s no café.

Corporate & Wedding Opportunities:

 

With a host of ceremony and reception locations. Excellent facilities including business-conference centre and meeting room, accommodation and a world class chef.
Your special day, corporate event or workshop will be a breathtakingly stress free experience, for you and your guests.
Groups of 2-120 can be comfortably accommodated.

http://ecobeach.com.au/events/

 

When to visit:

 

The weather in the dry season (winter) April-Aug is most temperate for southern visitors – it’s also the busiest period. All villas are well positioned to catch breezes and are air conditioned. Eco Tents too are excellently ventilated and positioned to catch breezes with no air conditioning. The infinity pool is a wonderful asset. With Whales in August-September and Turtles in November-December, reasons enough to come out of peak time. Some great deals are also offered late in the year.

 

Dry season-winter is nice. However you won't be captivated with views like this from your ocean front villa unless you give the 'Wet' a go.

Dry season-winter is nice. However you won’t be captivated with views like this from your ocean front villa unless you give the ‘Wet’ a go.

 

How long to stay:

 

The whole vibe of Eco Beach is to unwind. However all the creature comforts and eye catching natural beauty doesn’t come cheap – as nice as it is.
Allow yourself two nights (during season) and come mid week out of season and stay four nights.

 

How to get to Eco Beach 

 

Eco Beach Resort is a 1.5 hour drive south of Broome – 120km along the Great Northern Highway and then 10km along a well maintained pindan-red dirt track. Alternatively a 25 minute scenic helicopter ride from Broome across Roebuck Bay.

This is your turn-off.

This is your turn-off.

Only 10km to go!

Only 10km to go!

You might also enjoy:

 

Conclusion:

 

Eco Beach is very much designed for couples of any age who want fantastic accommodation, who don’t want to cook, enjoying all meals in the restaurant and all drinks by the pool, surrounded by eye-popping wilderness. And if possible arriving by plane or helicopter.
Having said that, they are trying very hard to cater for families, the playground is a great addition, there are complimentary beach toys & heaps of board games for loan.

Kids playground-heaps of climbing fun.

Kids playground-heaps of climbing fun.

Complimentary beach toys for kids.

Complimentary beach toys for kids.

The restaurant has a good kids menu and there’s more than one high chair. Kids are welcome in the pool buts it’s a grown-up’s environment.
The tours are kid friendly, especially the turtle tour for kids between 6 year’s old & up. The natural environment is a great playground at Eco Beach, get your kids out on the beach and exploring the caves walk.
A trip to Eco Beach is very achievable with kids, however at times they will be required to be part of a grown up world.

About all that's left to do is this.

About all that’s left to do is this.

Yawaru man – Neil McKenzie best sums it up:

“As you move through this land, allow your body to relax, and tune into nature. Stop often! Look wide – listen, smell, have a feel of the rocks and shells. Let your senses come to life and appreciate the environment”.

Have you been to Eco Beach recently? Would love to hear your thoughts.

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Tucker packing Guide – For your next camping trip.

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final 20

Have you ever been camping and been totally frustrated with the process of packing? Tucker – so much stuff. You need it, so little space to put it.

Let’s narrow the focus a little-tucker and drink. It has to be packed, you can’t leave without it, so how to best pack it so it takes up minimal space.

The initial pack is the most daunting period of any camping trip. Everything has to fit, but how best to do it?
There’s an art to good packing and you know you’ve mastered it when you’re able to put your hand on whatever you need without having everything sitting on the side of the road to achieve it.

Preparation and planning is the key. The more you do at home before leaving, the smoother everything will run while away. After all, “camping is to be fun for all” including the chief cook and bottle washer.

In this post I hope to not only give you some good ideas on how to pack your tucker and drink, but inspire thought to think about waste, and how planning in advance at home prior to leaving can make things so much easier.

In this Blog I’m going to write it as if you’re going bush, rather than a caravan park in a coastal town where everything is available whenever you need it.

Planning

 

Planning – The process of making plans for something. Preparations, organisation, arrangement, forethought, design, setting up and ground work.
‘The planning should be every bit as enjoyable as the event’

When I’m planning my food and drink pack at home before a camping trip, my planning thoughts are broken up into six processes / categories:
: How long is the trip – where am I going
: How many meals will I need on a daily basis
: Meal plan – what have I already got in pantry
: Shopping
: Assess how much rubbish my food pack will have once consumed
: Unpack tucker from packaging & prepare for camp pack

How long is the trip – where are you going

 

This is the first step, nothing else can be planned till you know how long you’re going for. Where you are going is important too. Are you going remote like the Bungles or Mitchell Plateau in the Kimberley, or are you going to a camping ground in Lorne on the Great Ocean Road.

How many meals will I need on a daily basis

 

Think of how many mouths are in your camp and how often they like to be fed. When you’re out camping, meal times are not an exact science. You’re off doing stuff, maybe you’re driving. I generally work on five feeds a day – breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.
Breakfasts and dinners being the main meals, lunch is sometimes take it or leave it, often morning tea is more in demand than lunch and afternoon tea is nibbles with cold drinks to wash the dust away. Regardless all have to be planned and catered for.

Meal plan – what have you already got in the pantry

 

I find it really useful to make a meal plan. On your plan have each day you’ll be away, and each meal you plan to have on each of those days. Once you have this written down you have a meal map to follow.
Once you have made your meal plan for each meal of each day, go to your pantry and see what you already have in stock. You’ll be surprised how much you don’t need to buy, thus reducing your shopping bill.

Work out how many you will need &. put the rest back in the pantry.

Work out how many you will need &. put the rest back in the pantry.

Condiments into smaller containers in portion sizes saves heaps of space

Condiments into smaller containers in portion sizes saves heaps of space

Top Tip: Get yourself a small exercise book with blank pages and start to make a little food diary. Start to record your meal plans from your camping trips. Making notes as you go to what worked and what didn’t. You’ll soon start to frame a picture of not only what works for you but what your family enjoys seeing in the tucker box.

Shopping

 

Once you have your meal plan and you have gone through your pantry you will now have established your shopping list. It’s at this point of the whole planning exercise that you really have to put some thought into everything you buy.

: Fresh fruit – fruit is a must, don’t be afraid to buy it-have a plan on how your going to consume it. Certain fruits have a longer life than offers, so make an order strawberries, watermelon & bananas have the shortest life so eat then first, apples and pears will survive so put them aside for later, mandarines are some where in the middle. With a bit of planning and management all your fruit can be enjoyed.

 

Fresh fruit is a must & shouldn't be avoid when going bush.

Fresh fruit is a must & shouldn’t be avoid when going bush.

Watermelon cut up ready to serve. No waste & only a snap-seal bag for rubbish.

Watermelon ready to serve. No waste, only a snap-seal bag for rubbish.

Pre-parparing some fresh stuff into meal size portions saves time & space.

Pre-parparing some fresh stuff into meal size portions saves time & space.

: Try to avoid glass jars, as they break, look for alternatives in soft squeeze packages or cardboard Tetra Pack, that can be flatted.

Glass jars, ridged plastic containers, & tins I try to avoid.

Glass jars, ridged plastic containers, & tins I try to avoid.

Same products in alternative packaging.

Same products in alternative packaging.

Note: In the left hand image all the products could be taken out of there packaging, however by doing so all except the pancake mix would need refrigeration. So you lessen your waste and your Engell space. In the image on the right same sort of products in unbreakable packaging that is easier to make small and transport, once used.

: Try and get long life ingredients in single serve portions for cooking, as fridge or esky space isoften at a premium and once something’s opened it needs a fridge.

: Drinks – Always buy your alcohol in cans, beer, pre-mixed spirits and ciders are all easily purchased in cans. Milk, choc milk for kids and juices can all be bought in long life tetra packs.

None of these drinks need refrigeration straight away. Get them cold as you need them.

None of these drinks need refrigeration straight away. Get them cold as you need them.

Top Tip: All these drinks create rubbish once consumed, invest in a can crusher for your camping kit the smaller you can make the rubbish the better.

The more thought and planning you put into your meal plans and shopping the easier your packing will be.

Assess how much rubbish your food pack will generate, once consumed

When you get home from shopping place all your shopping onto the bench or table. Look past the food, what do you see? I see one of my major problems when I’m out bush – rubbish.
With a little forethought and planning before you leave home, you can avoid the problem of carrying large bags of rubbish around with you. Or it becoming completely necessary to find a rubbish disposal point, and making it someone else’s problem.

My camping shop straight after purchase.

My camping shop straight after purchase.

It’s the packaging, that the food comes in from the supermarket, that makes the job of packing it all into a much smaller space than the pantry, & family fridge a near on impossible task.

Unpack tucker from packaging & prepare for camp pack
A lot of rubbish that needn't make the trip with you.

A lot of rubbish that needn’t make the trip with you.

Once everything has been taken out of the supermarket packaging and is sitting on the bench in front of you, refer to your meal plan and start to place everything into their meals.

Banana Bread makes a great desert toasted. Pre-prepare before leaving.

Banana Bread makes a great desert toasted. Pre-prepare before leaving.

Sliced, wrapped in glad wrap and ready for a snap-seal bag.

Sliced, wrapped in glad wrap and ready for a snap-seal bag.

Tip your tucker box on it's side when packing. This will enable you to flat pack.

Tip your tucker box on it’s side when packing. This will enable you to flat pack.

 Your new best friends

Snap-seal bags of various sizes and small to medium sized see-through containers are your new best friend when packing your food for your tucker box. If you are the chief cook and bottle washer in your camp at home during the everyday, you’ll have a pretty good idea of portion sizes and how much of any one thing you might need at any one time.

Some of the handiest packing tools around.

Some of the handiest packing tools around.

Snap-Seal Bags – food can be packed in an appropriate size bag, all air can be removed from the bag. Bag can store flat, seal and can be frozen prior to departure – slowly defrosting over the journey.

Small/Medium Containers – are great for things that you will use but not all at once eg: condiments from home instead of taking whole jar of jam or vegemite or margarine. Make sure containers are all the same size so they stack neatly.

Place your meals and snacks into the snap seal bags. Pack in such an order that each one you put your hand on is part of something, number it if makes it easier. It’s not meant to go back in the tucker-box or fridge once it comes out. If you get it right, everything will be consumed and all you will be left with is a snap-seal bag for the rubbish.

Once you have packed all your meals and snacks into your snap-seal bags and containers and labeled them in such a way that you know what belongs to what and when it should be eaten, it’s time to think about packing.

Be ahead of yourself

The more prepared you are the better off you’ll be when it comes to packing, and when you’re away. Any meat that can be frozen, lay flat in your snap-seal bag remove all air. Then lay flat in freezer and freeze. When it comes to packing your Engel your snap-seal bags of meat will neatly stand upright and act as ice-blocks.

Top Tip: Alternatively, if you shop for your meat at a butchers, ask them to cryovac and freeze your meat. Remember always flat, keep as flat as possible.

Your Engel http://www.engelaustralia.com.au will not have to work as hard to keep cool and they will slowly defrost as you travel. Remember to leave the first couple of nights defrosted.

I also find it helpful to prepare some fruits, like removing the green leafy bits off strawberries.

Top Tip: Ensure your Engel http://www.engelaustralia.com.au is turned on and running at least two days prior to leaving. Make sure the tucker box is cleaned and good to go when you turn the fridge on.

The Pack 

Now you’re ready to pack your Engel http://www.engelaustralia.com.au and tucker box. Try not to do this the night before you leave, you’ll be guaranteed to forget something, a day before is good.
Pack your Engel & tucker box to somewhat mirror each other, so stuff for any given day and meal is easily accessible. First days morning tea and lunch on the top / front and last days snacks and dinner to the bottom / back

My 40ltr Engel is my main fridge.

My 40ltr Engel is my main fridge.

In the case of the Engel this is important so you’re not there for long periods with the lid up, rummaging.
Each night before bed re-arrange your fridge and tucker box a little keeping it in order and neat, this is best done at night as it’s cooler and easier on the fridge.

 

Tucker box box packed with a weeks provisions.

Tucker box box packed with a weeks provisions.

A weeks cold stuff packed and ready for the Engell.

A weeks cold stuff packed and ready for the Engel.

Thought is the key here, don’t just throw stuff in haphazardly, put everything into your fridge and tucker box in day and meal order as best you can, and with a bit of practice and training of other family members it should start to come out in the same order as you put it in.

Final Thoughts

‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’

If you’re having trouble getting all your tucker and drink into your initial pack, when your preparing to go bush, what have you got to lose by changing things up a little.
Make a plan, think about size & type of packaging your tucker comes in and pre-prepare at home before you leave. Reducing waste you have to carry or dispose of while out bush reduces your precious time organising and preparing meals.

Let me know your thoughts, I would enjoy hearing how you guys do things.

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Complete Guide – Kooljaman At Cape Leveque, Australia’s Most Vivid and Spectacular Coastline.

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Reflecting the colours of Kooljaman.

Reflecting the colours of Kooljaman.

Stop worrying about the potholes and corrugations in the road and celebrate the journey. For it’s often appreciation of the journey that makes the destination memorable.

All important info.

All important info.

The message is clear, the start of the track the first sign.

The message is clear, the start of the track the first sign.

The Mud Map.

The Mud Map.

 

Kooljaman is the Bardi Aboriginal name for Cape Leveque. The Aboriginal word for heading north is “Ardi”.

220km Ardi of Broome along a pindan gutter of a track is your chance to find a piece of the Kimberley. So rich in contrasts and vibrancy that it may take a while for your mind to catch up with what your eyes are enjoying.

 

Colours of Kooljaman.

Colours of Kooljaman.

Not so many moons ago it was  dirt all the way. The long dusty track is only dusty for half the distance as it once was, 90km to be exact. However the Cape road massage be it not as long is still a full body treatment.

The journey is part of the adventure.

The journey is part of the adventure.

 

Red earth, red dust, sunshine and warmth –  there’s a rawness to this road that belies the beauty of where it is taking you.
Kooljaman http://www.kooljaman.com.au/  is one of the most vibrant spectacular coastal environments in Australia. There are only a scattering if any that blend the elements as naturally or as stunningly.
Few locations offer the sublime colour contrasts of Kooljaman. An exquisite composition of white beaches, pindan cliffs, blue skies, turquoise oceans and green bush.
“What fills the eyes fills the heart” – Irish Proverb.
If you only go once, this place might just find a little corner of your heart and nestle itself there.

 

Where do you find Kooljaman

 

The Dampier Peninsula is located north of Broome. It is surrounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, King Sound to the east. The northern most part of the peninsula is Cape Leveque.
There is only one road that dissects straight up the middle of the peninsula to the Cape. 220km from go – woe with plenty of side tracks to other great locations.
“Always take the scenic route”.
The turn off to the Cape Leveque road is 10km from Broome or 20km from the Roebuck Roadhouse.

 

Top Tip: Note sure why Google rates it a six hour journey, the most conservative of drivers who drive straight through, no stops, will make it up in half that time, three hours.

 

Your options on how to get to Kooljaman at Cape Leveque

 

  • Drive your own vehicle
  • Hire a 4WD in Broome or elsewhere
  • Join a tour out of Broome
  • Fly from Broome return

 

Top Tip: Day Visitors, a $5 entry fee (Day Walking Pass) is charged for day visitors, day pass expires at 5pm on day of purchase. An additional $25 fee is charged for vehicle entry, maximum 25 vehicles per day.

 

Why you should visit Kooljaman

 

Adventure, relaxation, fishing, photography, Aboriginal culture, perhaps just curiosity or someone said don’t miss it if you’re up that way. Whatever takes you there you won’t be short of things to do.

http://www.kooljaman.com.au/tours

To experience the landscape

 

The landscape at Kooljaman has a pulse pumping through it, the colours are alive. Each element so bold and individual. They would make a statement independently of each other, yet as a collective come together so well to shout out Cape Leveque.

 

Western Beach, Kooljaman - Cape Leveque.

Western Beach, Kooljaman – Cape Leveque.

 

The Beach

The beach is where it’s at, at Kooljaman. Regardless of what else you find yourself doing, chances are the majority of your time will be spent on Eastern Beach. Western Beach is stunning, however this will be your late afternoon drinks and nibbles location. As the sun sets and the pindan cliffs glow and change colours with the sinking sun, a tour might be enjoyed –  there are a few on offer. However as Kooljaman time slowly takes hold, lazy relaxed Kooljaman down time will be enjoyed spent swimming, lying, walking or snorkelling on Eastern Beach.

Eastern Beach at High Tide.

Eastern Beach at High Tide.

Eastern Beach, Kooljaman - Cape Leveque.

Eastern Beach, Kooljaman – Cape Leveque.

Top Tip: Best time for swimming at Eastern Beach is on an incoming tide, while the tide is high and for about 45min to an hour after high tide. Once the tide gets low there are too many rocks and you loose your nice sandy bottom. Now’s the time for a walk, snorkelling or a sit on the beach.

 

Fishing & 4WD

 

Several options here. Four wheel driving is allowed around to the bay area beyond the eastern beach. It is a very soft sandy track to reach this part of the beach and it is recommend tyre pressures are dropped to 18psi before making the trip. 300m around the bay beach is a set of bollards, these mark the end of the track. This beach is the boat launching beach and the best beach fishing beach. The beach is mostly sand with a few rocks with a consistent gentle gradient, safe for kids. Fishing can be completed on the western beach however the gradient into the water is much steeper and the drop off more severe, this beach also supports a lot more rocks that run the length of the beach making it difficult to avoid snags. Large sharks also frequent the deeper waters along this stretch of beach. Fishing on both sides of the Cape are best on incoming tides.

If you have managed to crawl up the Cape road with your own boat bouncing behind you, offshore fishing awaits. Or there are charter options to be explored.

 

Walking/Hiking

 

Some nice walking is to be had in and around Kooljaman.

  • If you are not keen to drive your vehicle around to the bay beach then the walk is equally as nice. As you come down onto Eastern Beach from the boardwalk, look right or in a southerly direction. Roughly 300 – 400m down the beach is a headland. Pick your way through the rocky section taking note of the rock formations as you pass. Once through, the beach opens up and how far you walk from here is up to you. A few hundred metres down the beach are some small sand dunes where red pindan sand meets the white. This convergance is quite a highlight at either end of the day.
Plenty to explore as walk.

Plenty to explore as walk.

 

Top Tip: If you happen to trudge your fat bike all the way up with you, this walk is an equally good ride, at low tide when the sand is hard. 

 

  • The walk around the Cape is beautiful from the eastern beach to the western beach. This walk can only be completed at lowtide, and is well worth the effort.
    The walk along the western beach at sunset is stunning, the ever changing colours in the rocks over one shoulder will torment you as the sun sets over the other. It is a wonderful experience.

 

 

Top Tip: Which ever way you choose to walk this, keep two things in mind.

One, the walk back to your accommodation from the Western Beach carpark is a bit of hike, especially after the walk you’ve just completed.

 

The Cape: East to Left, West to right.

The Cape: East to Left, West to right.

Enjoying the walk along Western Beach.

Enjoying the walk along Western Beach.

 

And two, the Western Beach is best viewed in the late afternoon. My recommendation pick a late afternoon low tide walk from east to west and have someone meet you there with the sunset drinks and nibbles.

 

  • The eastern beach has plenty to offer too, long white sandy stretches with small yet attractive dunes. If the western beach is beaut at sunset then the eastern beach is equally nice at sunrise.

 

 

TopTip: The cliffs are not for climbing. The cliffs along the western beach and the cliffs at the end of the eastern beach are important Aboriginal areas. Look, admire, take a picture just don’t climb.
Also the dunes at the far end of the eastern beach are very important areas.

 

Aboriginal Cultural Experience

 

The two surrounding Aboriginal communities of Djarindjin and Ardyaloon (One Arm Point) jointly own Kooljaman, making it 100% indigenous owned. The communities have developed the camp in line with the communities’ aspirations and their inherent knowledge of the land.

Hence there are some great opportunities to immerse yourself in this. The following tours are a wonderful starting point.

 

Photography

 

See the sun rise and set over the ocean, a unique experience.
The eastern side of the Cape provides beautiful sunrise and pre–dawn opportunities, soft pastel hues will delight.
Afternoon and sunset are spent on the western beach. This engages with many points of interest. Signature Kimberley red pindan cliffs blaze a line cut clean against the white sand and engaged with whatever mother nature presents in the sky. Then you also have the sunset proper.
When you are wandering around Kooljaman, don’t discard mid–morning on a highish tide the colours can be eye popping.

Wildlife will present itself often when you’re least expecting it – birds, dolphins, frogs, goannas, and whales in season (July – September) can be snapped.

 

Sunset off Western Beach.

Sunset off Western Beach.

Pandanus View.

Pandanus View.

 

Top Tip: Whether you’re shooting a sunset or a black & white landscape with a pandanus, you’re sure to find plenty to inspire you.

 

 

Reflecting the colours of Kooljaman.

Reflecting the colours of Kooljaman.

 

Snorkelling

 

Off the eastern beach on low tide there are some very accessible reefs which are well worth the effort for a snorkel. These areas are kid friendly, however I highly recommend an adult tags along.
Even if the kids are a little older, Kimberley tides turn quickly and move fast. Extra eyes above the waterline is essential.

No boat needed, straight off the beach.

No boat needed, straight off the beach.

Loving it.

Loving it.

 

Top Tip: Both kids had a great time snorkelling at varying depths, my older boy out deeper, my daughter in shallower. Under supervision but with freedom to explore in safety.

Top Tip: Best time for snorkelling on Eastern Beach is on an out going tide. Roughly two hours before dead low. 

 

Scenic Flight

 

Should the opportunity present don’t pass it up. Getting up in the air presents a whole different outlook. Shapes, colours, contrasts and perspective.
A flight is another alternative to get to or back from Kooljaman.

 

Dining

 

If you enjoy food and it’s part of the traveling experience, or perhaps you just enjoy a treat on the last night of your stay, Kooljaman has your back.
Raugi’s restaurant http://www.kooljaman.com.au/dining is located overlooking the western beach. With stunning views, a Michelin trained head chef and breathtaking dinner, sunsets are fused with traditional bush flavours and ingredients. Some you may not be familiar with, a unique experience in a remote location is assured.
For those romantics without kids feast your eyes on the Bush Butler service. Have a feed cooked up and delivered to the serenity of your private balcony. Don’t lose sight of the view for a minute, take–out Kooljaman style. Like the idea, breakfast baskets also available.

Entree - In three course Meal.

Entree – In three course Meal.

Main: In 3 course Meal

Main: In 3 course Meal

Desert: In 3 course Meal

Desert: In 3 course Meal

Kids Meal.

Kids Meal.

 Accommodation Options

 

Kooljaman at Cape Leveque is an off–the–grid wilderness camp located on native title land sustained by solar power and local bore water. The low–impact accommodation has been specifically designed to capture the rugged character and beauty of the Bardi Jawi country.
Wandering around Kooljaman everything is low key, set back – almost inviting nature to hide it, ensuring nothing distracts from the renowned and truly unforgettable coast.
Staying at Kooljaman one has many options for accommodation. Something to suit every taste, budget and requirement.

There is a fantastic boardwalk that links all parts of the camp, its like the main central artery. Starting in the camp ground not far from the main reception/restaurant, it meanders up over the hill past the lighthouse and down the other side, finishing at Dinkas Cafe. From the cafe a further 50m or so across a car park to another short boardwalk on to Eastern Beach. Total distance of the boardwalk is roughly 150m,  it has a reasonable gradient to it and a few spots to sit down and rest if you’re feeling the pinch a little.

Heading down the hill towards Eastern Beach.

Heading down the hill towards Eastern Beach.

Heading back up the hill from Dinkas Cafe.

Heading back up the hill from Dinkas Cafe.

 

All the options of accommodation filter off this boardwalk at varying distances, so depending on what you choose and your inclination, it is possible to pretty much park your vehicle for the majority of your stay and walk to most places.

 

Top Tip: When considering which accommodation to choose, ask yourself the question how much do I want to drive my vehicle, and do I want to be able to walk to the beach.

 

Long white pristine sandy beaches stretch out either side of the Cape. From whichever accommodation option you find yourself in, it is a 10 min or less walk to one of these beaches.

 

Deluxe & Family Safari Tents

 

These two options are the top of the range at Kooljaman and both offer roughly the same thing with ever so delicate differences. Both offer a wonderful experience, in great locations within the Kooljaman camp.
All the necessities are provided, so you really do need only keep your packing to a minimum. Both have a fridge/freezer and BBQ with all cooking equipment, cutlery and crockery. Self catering is easy.
Both have a spacious deck with room to move and no matter where you sit you seem to always be pointing in the right direction to catch the views.
All linen and towels are provided. Really, all you need is clothes, food & drink.
The differences in the two are in the name. Deluxe is suited to couples with a king size bed and a couch. The family option has a queen size bed and two singles, no couch.
The deluxe option has an ensuite, the family option has a private bathroom.
And finally in the deluxe option you face the western beach so you will enjoy the sunsets. In the family option you will face the eastern beach and enjoy sunrise and moon rise.

 

Map of the Kooljaman camp you'll receive when you check in.

Map of the Kooljaman camp you’ll receive when you check in.

 

 

For this trip we stayed in the Family Safari Tent – Gumbanan. The tent itself was wonderful and the view was  captivating, sunrises & moon rises. Tools were downed to watch. The only problem we found with it was, as a family with two kids who are seasoned travellers and walkers we were too far away from the beach. The walking track leading from the safari tent to the boardwalk was a very undulating soft, sandy, hot track of roughly 300m one way. Completed a few times a day over our five day stay it became difficult. In future I think I would request one of the safari tents closer to the central boardwalk.

Family Safari Tent, view from bed & deck.

Family Safari Tent, view from bed & deck.

 

Family Safari Tent sleeping layout.

Family Safari Tent sleeping layout.

From deck looking through to kitchen-bathroom.

From deck looking through to kitchen-bathroom.

Kitchen, Fridge & Sink.

Kitchen, Fridge & Sink.

 

Elevated into the hill side at tree level.

Elevated into the hill side at tree level.

Immersed by nature.

Immersed by nature.

 

Top Tip: The fridge in the kitchen of the family safari tents is of a good adequate size however if you’re a family of four planning on staying for three or four days and self catering you might struggle to fit everything in, tucker and drinks. Take an Engel with you for drinks. Between the two you should get by.

 

Top Tip: The Deluxe Safari Tent-Pop Louie is somewhat separated or hidden away from everything else to ensure privacy. However because of this seclusion you will have to drive to get to both the Eastern &        Western beaches.

 

 

Camp Ground Unit

 

These camp ground units have everything you would have at home, you don’t want for much in these guys in the convenience stakes. Air conditioning, satellite TV, fridge/freezer, BBQ.
Perhaps the only draw back with these is they do not have their own bathroom. Bathroom facilities are shared with the campground, however all linen and towels are provided.
These units would be a nice retreat during the build up or wet season months.

 

Ensuite & Log Cabins

 

These two options are real rustic treasures, which allow you to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures.
Both are almost identical with the slightest differences. The ensuite cabin has its own ensuite bathroom, whereas the log cabin has a shared facility with the neighbouring log cabin. And the ensuite cabin has three single beds & the log cabin has two. Both cabins have a queen bed as the main bed.
They are the only differences. Both are located on the eastern side, very close to the eastern beach. Both are well set up for self catering, with everything you will need. They are well ventilated with fans provided. All linen and towels are provided, minimal packing required.

Log Cabin.

Log Cabin.

Sleeping configuration - Log Cabin.

Sleeping configuration – Log Cabin.

 

Sleeping configuration through to ensuite.

Sleeping configuration through to ensuite.

Ensuite - Log Cabin

Ensuite – Log Cabin

Ensuite in Ensuite Log Cabin.

Ensuite in Ensuite Log Cabin.

 

Mini Safari Tents
A great option for those who just want a bed.

A great option for those who just want a bed.

These mini safari tents are a great option for anyone who has jumped in a 4WD in Broome scooted up the Cape for a few days

with no gear and minimal supplies, plans on buying a few feeds at the restaurant and doesn’t need the bells & whistles of any of the bigger options.

They have a comfy bed, linen & towels provided. Shared bathroom facilities with the campground and are located centrally close to restaurant, boardwalk and entry down to the western beach.

 

 

 Camping Options

 

Top Tip: The track up the Cape is not caravan friendly. Only the most robust off road camper trailers and specifically designed off road caravans will survive the journey. Space is of a premium in campgrounds up the Cape. Please ring ahead and discuss your needs before departure.

 

There are some great options here for the self sufficient traveler. With three options available – powered & unpowered sites in the main campground, and the beach shelters which overlook the eastern beach.

 

Powered sites
Camping Ground-Camp Kitchen to right.

Camping Ground-Camp Kitchen to right.

within the main camp ground are 4m x 6m, your camp including your vehicle has to be set up within these dimensions. There is limited power available to each site, enough to run a fridge and lighting.
The powered section of the campground features two shared amenities blocks and a well maintained camp kitchen.
There are only 25 sites on offer so booking well in advance is advised, especially between the months of April – September.

 

 

 

Unpowered sites
There only a handful of sites. Check out the view.

There only a handful of sites. Check out the view.

are the same dimensions as the powered, the same rules apply, everything must fit within the boundaries of your site.
They have their own amenities block and camp kitchen.
With just four sites available, they are at a premium. These sites have incredible views out to the western beach.
These sites can be booked a year in advance, so enquire with optimism rather than expectation.

The campground areas at Kooljaman are the furthest accommodation options from Eastern Beach, that being said they are right on the door step of the Boardwalk. I generally write from a family perspective so if you have a mob with a bit of gear and struggle a little to keep the pack light, then the boardwalk option might not be seen as fun. Having said that, it is achievable. Walk vs vehicle option depends largely on your inclination. 

 

Beach Camping Shelters

 

Camp by the waters edge with a roaring fire and a ripper view.

View from water, back at cliffs in which Beach shelters sit.

View from water, back at cliffs in which Beach shelters sit.

 

If you’re going to camp at Kooljaman this is the option to take. It has been popular with locals and camping enthusiasts from all parts for a long time.

Camp on the sand and fall asleep to the sound of the water lapping just a few meters away, rise with the beautiful pre-dawn colours and enjoy a morning swim.

 

View from a beach shelter.

View from a beach shelter.

 

Then return to cook breakfast on your open fire.
Each shelter has its own fire pit and hot plate, fresh water outdoor shower and picnic table.

 

Top Tip: If you plan on parking your camper trailer up next to one of these shelters, make sure you tell them when you book it. As each shelter is slightly different in size and what access it offers. To get one that suits let them know.

 

Top Tip: If you are staying a few nights bring extra wood for your fire. Only enough complimentary wood for one night.

 

Top Tip: For all camping areas “No Generators” allowed.

 

For all your accommodation enquiries  http://www.kooljaman.com.au/stay/accommodation

 

When should you visit Kooljaman at Cape Leveque

 

Kooljaman at Cape Leveque is open all year round, and by and large has an option of accommodation whenever you might want to visit.
Having said that, in the off season or summer months commonly known as “the wet”, access can often be the issue be it by road or air. Monsoonal summer rains can often make roads impassable and cut air strips for long periods of time.
The winter months between May and end of August are by far the most popular and the busiest time. The temperate northern winter is by far the favourite of southerners.
For me the shoulder seasons are the best time of the year, they are a little warmer however they are a little slower and less populated as well, April – May or September – October.

 

How long should you stay at Kooljaman at Cape Leveque

 

The last time I visited, I chilled for a week. However not everyone has that amount of time. If you’re on the clock a bit and time is  an issue or you’re just not sure about being out there for too long, then three nights is a good stay. Gives you enough time to explore, play and be lazy.

 

Other Facilities
  • No WI-FI available – No stress, you’ll get a better connection without it.
  • ATM available during reception hours.
  • Full Visa/Mastercard & Eftpos facilities available.
  • There is a payphone at reception, no phone cards available bring your own.
  • Mobile Phone does work on Telstra service around Restaurant/reception area and up on hill near lighthouse.
  • Fuel available from near by communities – not at Kooljaman – Cape Leveque.
  • Guest Laundry available.
  • Beach equipment hire – umbrellas, beach towels, snorkelling gear.
  • Full Tour Desk.
  • No alcohol for sale at Kooljaman – You’re welcome to bring your own.
  • Strictly no pets.
  • There is a small store with limited essential groceries. Ice and bait available for purchase.

 

Final Thoughts

Are you planning a trip to Kooljaman any time soon, or perhaps you have been recently. Would love to hear your thoughts. That said if your ever in the area and have the opportunity to visit  you’d have to have your head in the sand to pass it up.

Kids having fun at beach.

Kids having fun at beach.

 

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Kooljaman – Cape Leveque is a great experience that every one should have if the opportunity arises.

 

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Mercedes Cove – Find your piece of Kimberley seclusion.

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Pandanus delight. Kimberley vibrancy on show at Mercedes Cove

Pandanus delight. Kimberley vibrancy on show at Mercedes Cove.

Have you ever visited a location for a weekend away, perhaps on a return visit and upon leaving found yourself glancing back. In a sub – conscience, day dreamy kind of way. Pondering the next trip, saying to yourself “sooner not later” as you start to drive away.

As you've been leaving a location. Have you ever caught yourself pondering.

As you’ve been leaving a location. Have you ever caught yourself pondering.

This happened to me just recently after a long weekend  at Mercedes Cove http://mercedescove.com.au on the Dampier Peninsula, north of Broome.

With so many places to see. And so few weekends and even fewer long weekends, unless one creates a few. What is it that makes one return to a location they may have visited only a few weeks prior?

In our family it’s always a great discussion on where the next trip will be. The kids are in on the gig, they love being part of the process. When I brought up the topic, and suggested a return trip to Mercedes Cove it was unanimous yet a tad unprecedented.

Why go anywhere? We live in Broome, it’s all just five minutes in any direction. Why go three hours up a goat track to escape a place people travel four flying hours to get to?

 

My two intrepid travellers - explores doing what they love. Exploring a remote Kimberley beach.

My two intrepid travellers – explores doing what they love. Exploring a remote Kimberley beach.

“We travel – go camping, to get away, not to escape life, but so life does not escape us”.

The track up the Cape is rough in the good areas. And a sandy, corrugated, suspension killing, trailer axle snapping horrendous goat track in the bad areas. It never fails to disappoint.

The kids think it’s a great adventure, however after four trips up and back in the year my patience and enthusiasm is being tested. In the spirit of adventure  – another trip.

On this visit we stayed in a different mode of accommodation from our first visit. This was exciting for the adults, however had little bearing on things for the kids. The kids did get to participate in some ocean kayaking which really made their weekend. Adding something different to your earlier trip does add that element of unknown and variety.

The whales being so close, and in regular attendance was fantastic, it’s really beaut to be on the beach with the kids and have a humpback breech or tail slap at a distance you can clearly see and hear. Or to lay in your bed at night and float off to sleep to the sounds of lapping waves and slapping whale tails.

Extraordinary experiences for the kids.

However the biggest thing for us is, Mercedes Cove gives you a feeling of being removed, remote and alone. We can wander away and find our own little piece of seclusion even during the busiest month of August back in Broome.

Nature's spa, enjoying a swim, while we take in view. Of what we had all to ourselves.

Nature’s spa, enjoying a swim, while we take in view. Of what we had all to ourselves.

Returning to camp we know we will only see a handful of people, it’s a great example of less being more.

The friendliness of everyone concerned at Mercedes Cove makes for a wonderful experience.

Sometimes you get to the end of a really rugged, rough track and are rewarded with a special location or stunning view. Other times you get to the end of that track and you don’t see the beauty of the location no matter how good it is because all you see is the hordes people you have to share it with.

At Mercedes Cove you’ll get the stunning location, minimal people, great accommodation options, friendly vibes and a whole lot of Kimberley seclusion just waiting for you to discover.

All lines lead to crystal clear water. But you'll have to explore a little to find it.

All lines lead to crystal clear water. But you’ll have to explore a little to find it.

 

 

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To move, to breathe, to float, to roam the roads of lands remote – Hans Christian Anderson.

Mercedes Cove, go if only once.

 

 

 

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