After a short stop over in Broome to restock food and water we decided to head out of town, heading north up the Cape Leveque Rd towards the Dampier Peninsula. The road is one of the roughest roads we had been on, so our first 85km was a bone rattling slow process. However all good things must come to an end and eventually we made it back onto the bitumen, shaking off the dirt and rattling as we went. We arrived at an Indigenuos community called Beagle Bay at lunchtime, so cautiously we opened the van door to find only a little bit of damage, a few loose screws (which we are still not sure where they belong) and the box of 200 cotton buds spread all about the floor of the van…. Unfortunately the lady in the van next to us suffered an unfortunate spilling of soy sauce……ugly!!!! After lunch we explored the Beagle Bay Sacret Heart Church, which was built by French monks, using hand made bricks, way back in 1890. The church is the main attraction of the community and inside the altar is decorated with mother-of-pearl and other shells from the surrounding local waters.
From Beagle Bay we travelled another 50km to a place called Natures Hideaway at Middle Lagoon. Middle Lagoon is owned by a local family and have a great campground set up with some fantastic amenities. There are lots of sites with about 10 being on the ‘ridge’ just above the beach. Whilst we were meant to go into one of the ridge site initially we were glad that they were all full as they were lined up like sardines, so we got to choose a nice little semi private spot which still had views of the beach. We spent our time at Middle Lagoon pretty much just swimming, fishing and doing a spot of schoolwork, also meeting and hanging out with some great people.
Heading further north up the Cape Leveque Rd we arrived at the Indigenous owned Kooljamon Resort at Cape Leveque. After paying our $10 fee we headed in by foot to explore the Cape, first heading towards the appropriately named Western Beach. As it was low tide we were able to walk onto the beach and take some awesome photos of the blue water, white sand and amazing red rock cliffs. However as we were not allowed to swim at this beach we backtracked and walked over to the eastern side of the cape to the swimming beach. This is where you can hire some beach shacks to set your tent up underneath (for a pricely figure….) and waste away the days swimming and fishing. Cape Leveque was a stunning place and the colors were amazing, unfortunately we weren’t staying there as they don’t take caravans and Nik and I couldn’t justify paying over $100 to pitch a tent up in the campground.
From Kooljamon we travelled along the road to Cygnet Bay Pearl farm, where we had a booked a powered caravan site for a much more affordable price of $70 pn. We stayed here for 3 nights, choosing to do one the pearl tours with the kids. The tour was really informative and we all learnt a lot about the process of growing pearls and why they are so expensive. As part of the tour the guide also opens a shell and, fingers crossed, it has a pearl in it. Luckily ours did, we then went and got it assessed and priced, ours was about $80, unfortunately it is not a complimentary part of the tour so we had to leave it there when we left. We also learnt that the all the ‘affordable’ pearls that were being sold down at the Broome markets (and that I had my eye on to purchase) were all in fact freshwater pearls and came from Japan, what the………. After that, considering I wasn’t going to fork out the extra $$$ for a proper Broome pearl I decided owning a pearl wasn’t for me. It still made me shake my head in wonder as later on back in Broome, I noticed all the pearl showrooms in town sold freshwater pearls and sneakily didn’t bother to tell people they were not from Broome. One showroom in particular couldn’t even guarantee me that the very expensive pearl I was looking at in the cabinet was from Australian waters…….. talk about a farce.
We also took a drive out to Ardyaloon (One Arm Point) Aboriginal community, calling into their supermarket for some bread and milk, it was so well stocked it also sold washing machines and big screen TV’s…….. After only purchasing some milk and frozen bread we headed out to the Ardyloon Hatchery, just in time to pull in with 3 big 4WD tour buses, doh!!!! The hatchery was orginally set up to cultivate the shell, ‘Trochus Niloticus’, which only the local Bardi people are permitted to collect and sell. However it has gotten bigger and better over the years and is now full of display tanks filled with a giant barramundi, coral, anemone fish (Nemo), lionfish, cod and archer fish. After we paid our $15 per adult, the lady was kind enough to pull us aside and say ‘quick lets start before all those tourists start’, so thankfully we had a little guided walk and tour around the tanks. I got the fright of my life when I fed the huge barra, he is so quick and loud as he literally sucked the food out of my fingers, we all jumped so high!!! The girls favourite was of course the Nemo fish, the turtle and the Archer fish, which spit water up at the food your holding, hoping its an insect and will then fall into the water for them to eat…..pretty bloody clever those ones!!!!
Lastly we tried to visit Lombadina, another Aboriginal community that I had heard about many years ago and was very keen to visit, however as it was a Saturday the office was closed and therefore we weren’t allowed to go in any further. I was bitterly disappointed as I really wanted to go there, but as the sign on the office said, please respect our privacy when the office is closed…..another big DOH on my behalf!!!!!!
And so after spending an awesome week up on the Dampier Peninsula it was time again to tackle the long 85km stretch of dirt road and head back into Broome. In typical fashion, as we were expecting the worst we actually found the trip home soooo much better than the trip up…….perhaps the grader had been through….who knows, but we all voted and decided that we had had a ball, even though we found it very expensive we were glad to have made the effort to visit.