PEARL IN THE ROUGH

TAKE YOUR TRIBE ON AN AUSSIE TREA­SURE HUNT, EX­PLOR­ING SUNBURNT SANDS STOMPED BY DI­NOSAURS

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - ESCAPE - WORDS AND PHO­TOS: NARELLE BOUVENG

Aus­tralia’s most re­mote town — a speck on the map in the up­per north west cor­ner of Western Aus­tralia. Broome is the gate­way to the Kim­ber­ley and more than one mil­lion miles of arid Aus­tralian out­back. It is also a rich hunt­ing ground for cu­ri­ous kids with swash­buck­ling sto­ries of buc­ca­neers, foot­prints left by di­nosaurs, a res­i­dent pop­u­la­tion of pre­his­toric man eaters and lots of mer­maid trea­sure to un­cover.

WHAT THE CROC?

Be­fore your kids step foot near a wa­ter source up north, con­sider a visit to the Mal­colm Dou­glas Crocodile Park manda­tory.

Salt­wa­ter crocs are a big part of life in the Kim­ber­ley and be­ing croc aware is es­sen­tial.

We learned the char­ac­ter­is­tics that make croc­o­diles one of the most feared, but also awe­somely im­pres­sive preda­tors known to man, in­clud­ing how they hunt, what to look out for be­fore we went for a dip, plus how chang­ing our camp­site rou­tine could avoid us be­ing stalked (great­est preda­tor alive re­spect, but eep …). There were crocs big­ger than small cars here and said to be the largest on dis­play in Aus­tralia. Some were found out in the wild munch­ing on cat­tle as a snack be­fore they were coaxed into new digs and served a menu of chicken at Mal­colm’s.

The 3pm feed­ing is a jaw lock­ing, loud, snap­ping ex­pe­ri­ence my kids loved — but I did hold their hands just that tiny bit tighter for the rest of our stay in Broome.

We also checked out some cute baby crocs, learnt im­por­tant mes­sages about con­ser­va­tion and en­joyed hear­ing about the late Mal­colm Dou­glas’s vi­sion for re­spect­ing and pro­tect­ing Aus­tralian wildlife. A menagerie of na­tive birds and wildlife is also on dis­play and we were im­pressed that the park acts as an an­i­mal refuge, not a zoo. En­try is $90 for a fam­ily of two adults and two kids.

LIFE’S A BEACH

Cable Beach is ar­guably the most fa­mous of all Broome’s at­trac­tions. It’s where we gath­ered with other fam­i­lies ev­ery af­ter­noon to share sun­set and some­times a pic­nic with a few frosties. Named af­ter the un­der­wa­ter tele­graph cable that was in­stalled in 1889 link­ing Broome with Asia, Cable Beach is big­ger than you imag­ine with more than 22km of shim­mer­ing white sands framed by jagged ochre cliffs and vivid turquoise wa­ters.

If you are lucky enough to have a 4WD, there is noth­ing more ex­hil­a­rat­ing than cruis­ing the sands, away from the crowds, to find your own spe­cial spot to en­joy a spec­tac­u­lar sun­set in soli­tude.

Be warned though, some of the north­ern parts of the beach are nud­ist ap­proved, so come armed with some an­swers in case cu­ri­ous kids (like mine) no­tice.

An­other fa­mous at­trac­tion is the Cable Beach camels. While we pre­ferred to watch from afar rather than ride, for many, es­pe­cially kids, it’s a real high­light of a trip to this iconic beach. Sun­set rides can be booked with Red Sun Camels (red­sun­camels.com.au) at $95 for an hour, $70 for kids or un­der fives can lap ride with par­ents for $10. Broome Camel Sa­faris (broome­camel­sa­faris.com.au) — the ones with pretty blue coats — also

of­fer sun­set rides for $90 for adults and $70 for kids with un­der fives able to ride with Mum or Dad for $10.

GET OFF THE GRID

Sav­ing the very best for last, Kool­ja­mon is a re­mote wilder­ness camp sit­u­ated on na­tive ti­tle on the Dampier Penin­su­lar run by the Bardi Jawi com­mu­nity. This is an off-grid sanc­tu­ary, where you can come for a day, a week or a month and en­joy the pris­tine wilder­ness, breathe in the spec­tac­u­lar tex­tures and colours of Cape Leveque, join a cul­tural tour and just en­joy the beau­ti­ful hos­pi­tal­ity of the joint own­ers — the Djarind­jin and Ardyaloon peo­ple.

We chose to re­lax on the beach, one of the most re­mote we have been to, but also the most beau­ti­ful with red ochre cliffs spilling on to white sands be­fore merg­ing into turquoise seas. There is a croc safe beach for swim­ming, a cafe/restau­rant for din­ing and a shop to stock up on sup­plies.

There are also a num­ber of op­tions for ac­com­mo­da­tion here and it is very pop­u­lar with off-grid campers. There’s a fee of $20 to visit for the day per ve­hi­cle.

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