Cygnet Bay, Dampier Peninsula WA
Cape Leveque is up on the Dampier Peninsula north of Broome, and is known for its natural beauty where deep red sandstone cliffs meet a white sandy beach. The surrounding area is known for its untouched beaches, red sunsets and bush camping – no need to point out why we wanted in! But it was also a place we thought we wouldn’t get to, because Dusty our van just wouldn’t cope with the 200km of corrugated and sandy dirt road to get there…so we had to dig a bit deeper.
We were stoked to find out about Doug, the rural mailman. Three days a week Doug leaves Broome on a mail run for the indigenous communities Djarindjin, Lombadina, Beagle Bay, One Arm and others when needed. He also stops in at Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm and conveniently, Cape Leveque. Luckily for us, Doug lets low budget travelers like Dave and I join in for the ride.
So it’s Thursday afternoon and we find out that Doug leaves at sparrows the following morning. Boom – yes we’re in! The deal we worked out was that Doug would drop us off on Friday and pick up on his next round on Monday. Great – so where do we want him to drop us off?
After chatting with a local we find out the preferred local camp spot is at Cygnet Bay where the Pearl Farm runs a small accommodation operation including six private spread-out campsites, six safari tents, a shared kitchen and bathroom. They’re all set up in the bush 1km from the farm and 20 metres off the beach. So we booked what was available; a campsite on Fri night and a safari tent Sat/Sun.
So just one more thing to make this work…where to leave our van until Monday? A local guy we met did offer that we could leave it on his front lawn, so nice! But even better, Doug offered up his personal place of business where we could leave Dusty behind a locked fence. Boom! So we buy and plan our camping food, pack our fishing and camping gear into a hiking pack and we’re all set for an adventure weekend!
We had to admit that a huge part of our excitement was due to the last minute nature of the whole thing and just how well the plans seemed to fall into place for us! Especially since we had actually planned on driving out of town the next morning – but within the space of an hour had completely re-arranged plans for a different type of adventure.
At 5am the following morning we drop Dusty off, throw our bags in the back of Doug’s Troopy and before long we’re out bush and on the sandy red dirt road enjoying a colourful bush sunrise. And we’re in for a nice long “Kimberley massage” as Doug likes to put it. Corrugations = constantly shaking seat = a massage. Just like one of those massage chairs…or not.
Doug drops us off at the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm which is kind of in the middle of nowhere. Then the staff at the Pearl Farm tee us up with a lift to our camp site, which was 1km up the bush track from their base. Awesome! So we get dropped off with our camping gear in the middle of – the middle of nowhere. And it is paradise! Our bush camp is sheltered by trees, has a fresh water tap, a power box and a fire pit. With a 20 metre walk from the beach. We were in heaven!
Over the next few days we explored up and down the coast on foot, went a bit Bear Grylls survivor-ish and tried fresh oysters off the rocks (once was enough) and had a crack at catching crabs and fish.
Dave had only taken one hand reel with some basic fishing gear which needed supplementing, so we set off on a rock hopping mission to recover more fishing line, sinkers and hooks. We both already make a habit of picking up abandoned fishing line off beaches – but this time we were highly satisfied to find exactly what we needed for a weekend of fishing. Dave ended up using oyster meat, on a hook, with a sinker, a small float, on line, off a hand reel – and ALL items were found on beaches on this trip and in his recent travels. There was something satisfying about catching fish with a make-shift recycled fishing kit. Now – you all know we’re fans of curb burgling…well this brings a new spin on things…beach burgling…(basically just making use of what others throw away).
On day two we packed up camp and moved into our safari tent for the weekend, which was luxury to us!
The next two mornings we enjoyed an early walk along the fire trail to the Pearl Farm for breakfast at their little restaurant, and afterwards we would walk along the beach to return to the bush camp area.
Over all we barely ran into another person and it felt like we were on a deserted island. But some evenings we went to the shared camp kitchen and had awesome chats with the other campers.
We were so happy we were secretly hoping Doug wouldn’t show up on Monday. Alas, he did. But that was okay because the trip back was the exciting one – it was where we got to stop in at all communities and Cape Leveque along the way.
It was great to get a glimpse the famous Cape Leveque beach, which was a real plus to add onto this trip. Although, we had to admit there were so many tourists there, that we were very grateful to have experienced Cygnet Bay at it’s best.
Each stop had something unique to experience; we saw a beautiful church cleverly made out of wood and paperbark, another church ornately decorated with pearl shell shrines, we met funny characters and got a glimpse of life in these indigenous communities.
Check out our Cygnet Bay pics within the On the road again! album.