In the Kimberley, the accommodation is as varied as the ancient landscape. Whether you fancy a luxurious wilderness retreat, a night aboard a houseboat, or deluxe camping experience under the stars, you’re guaranteed to find somewhere perfect for your next trip.
By Lorna Hendry
Head to Broome and the colourful Kimberley region and witness the true Australian outback. Where the dirt is so red it stains your shoes, Aboriginal rock art sits adjacent to thunderous waterfalls, and dramatic gorges cut through a breathtaking landscape. The best part? There's a range of accommodation options as individual as you, so you'll feel at home the second you arrive.
Cape Leveque’s award-winning Kooljaman wilderness camp, a three hours drive north of Broome, is proudly owned by the local Aboriginal communities. The accommodation options here are varied. If you want complete privacy and comfort, the deluxe safari tent has a king-size bed, fully fitted out kitchen and uninterrupted views of the ocean. The log cabins and units are perfect for families and the campground has dome tents set up with futons, all ready for you to move into. If the scenery itself is luxurious enough for you, opt for one of the simple private beach shelters. Made from local materials, these shelters are the perfect place to light a fire and watch the sun set.
PMB 8 Cape Leveque, Broome
Just 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) south of Kooljaman, Lombadina is one of the Kimberley’s hidden gems. Here you have the unique opportunity to stay in a welcoming and friendly Aboriginal community. The two-bedroom apartments and cabins have fully-equipped kitchens and private bathrooms, which are perfect for families or groups. There are also budget options: a five-bed room in Iidool Lodge or a single room in the Roundhouse. The accommodation is self-catering, but the open-air bush kitchen is a great place to meet other travellers and Lombadina locals. And if you visit the community’s bakery after a mud-crabbing tour, the food is guaranteed to be awesome.
Dampier Peninsula, Broome
Just 110 kilometres (68 miles) west of Kununurra lies El Questro. Described by seasoned travellers as the Disneyland of the Kimberley, it features all the classic drawcards of the region. Today you can expect to enjoy hot springs, freshwater pools fed by pounding waterfalls, and soaring escarpments. Not too bad for a former million-acre former cattle station. Accommodation options are also abound, from the exclusive luxury of the Homestead to private campsites on the banks of the Pentecost River. If your tastes and budget lie somewhere in between, choose from deluxe camping in the safari tents at Emma Gorge or resort-style rooms that cater for couples and groups at the Station.
75 Coolibah Drive, Kununurra
60 kilometres (37 miles) north-west of El Questro is Home Valley Station. If you feel like indulging yourself, the Grass Castles are perfect. These beautiful cabins sit high among the eucalypts that line Bindoola Creek. Forgo the air conditioning – just open the floor-to-ceiling doors to let in the fresh air and the sound of the birds that share your treetops. Right next to the pool and the Dusty Bar & Grill is the modern guesthouse, with rooms that evoke the history of the original stockman’s quarters. For a truly relaxing experience, try the Eco Tents: no TV, no phones, just sleeping under a blanket of stars in the comfort of a king-size bed.
Gibb River Road, Kununurra
Spending the night aboard a houseboat moored in glorious Talbot Bay is one of the most unique ways to experience the beauty and serenity of the Kimberley. Arrive by seaplane and get a bird’s-eye view of the thousands of islands that dot the pristine turquoise waters of King Sound and the Buccaneer Archipelago, before you fly over the falls themselves. From your floating home-for-a-night, board a jet boat for an exhilarating ride beside the world’s only horizontal waterfalls. After all that excitement, relax and enjoy the cruise, or jump in and swim safely in the warm and tranquil water of the bay. In the evening, after sunset drinks and a gourmet meal of freshly caught fish, lie back on the deck and take in the galaxy of stars in the night sky above you.
Talbot Bay, Buccaneer Archipelago
One hour drive south of Broome, Eco Beach Resort has been carefully designed and built to preserve the fragile beauty of the Kimberley coast. The light-filled, spacious beach houses and villas are fully-equipped for a relaxed stay in beautiful surroundings. Each one has a private patio or terrace with views of the ocean or gardens. If you want to be closer to nature, the Eco Tents offer a classic ‘glamping’ experience. Your stay can be completely self-catering, cooking and eating with other guests in a communal meeting area – or dining privately on your deck. The restaurant serves fresh fruit and vegetables grown at the resort as well as seafood and other locally produced ingredients.
Lot 323 Great Northern Highway, Broome
Decadent doesn’t really do the Berkeley justice. So exclusive and remote that it’s only accessible by air or sea, it is the ultimate place to unplug and unwind. But, unlike the landscape that surrounds it, there is nothing rugged about this resort. The Berkeley River Lodge has just 20 luxurious private villas perched high on a dune, giving you panoramic views across the Timor Sea. Laze on the daybed on your deck and gaze up on red gorges, or the blue sweep of the ocean. Wander up to the lodge to swim in the pool, book one of the many tours, or sip a cocktail at sunset. Then, after your five-course degustation dinner, relax under a Kimberley moon in an open-air bathtub before retiring to your king-size bed. You won’t want to leave.
Kimberley Coast, Berkeley River