Breathtakingly beautiful, stunning red cliffs, white sand & the bluest water, we have been looking forward to Cape Leveque for a long time, but were sadly disappointed by some of it. If you have been reading the blog you might remember in our Broome the first time post, that we actually came some of the way up towards Cape Leveque to check out James Price Point & Quandong Beach last time we were in town, it was just amazing, the most beautiful scenery & great free camping right on the beaches. We assumed the rest of Cape Leveque would be the same?? Sadly no!
We had done some research into where to camp further north, but couldn't find any free options, but did find a place called Gnylmarung that sounded great & was a bit off the tourist map, so we decided to go their first. We left Broome & headed up the Cape Leveque road, the bitumen soon ended & we were on the infamous dirt road stretch towards the Cape. It was everything everyone says, just a really bad dirt road, full of sand, corrugations & very narrow in places. But take some air out of your tyres & take it steady & you will be fine. We hit the bitumen again for about 25km & then came to the turn off to Gnylmarung. The road in was the same, pretty average, but not to bad & the signage was good. We arrived at the community to find a very neat & tidy campground overlooking a beautiful pristine bay. The caretakers were extremely friendly & gave us all the information we needed & let us pick a site. There were a few other campers, but it wasn't packed. We ended up taking a site that overlooked the water, just magic. After setting up, the rest of afternoon was spent checking out the beach & enjoying the view.
The next day we got up early for a walk on the beach, just lovely, we then went for a fish, but had no luck. It was really quiet & all of the other campers were great, it had a really great vibe about the place. The cost is $20 per person per night (which is comparable to all of the other options for camping at Cape Leveque). Firewood is supplied & you go & collect it from a trailer, there are new toilets & showers & even a Satellite phone that you can use for free calls to any landline number in Australia. There is good drinking water, but no phone reception.
The next day we decided to go for a drive to the top of the Cape, to see if there was anywhere else worth camping for a few days, we expected to move at least once & may be up here for up to 2 weeks. The whole day was pretty disappointing. Almost everywhere you go you have to pay to get in. They all have day use or visitor fees that you have to pay if you want to see anything & a lot of the roads are no entry or local access only. We went up to One Arm Point right at the top, we had to pay $10 each to go to the community. They then give you a map showing you where you can go, which isn't much. It does include access to the Trochus Hatchery that operates in the community which is worth a visit, there are big tanks of Trochus, fish, coral, turtles, all sorts of things, it's a really cool place.
Then there are a couple of beaches you can go to. These are very beautiful & you also get to see the huge tides rushing into the King Sound Inlet, they have to be seen to be believed. The $10 each you pay for access to One Arm Point is actually probably worth it.
We left there & headed into the Cygnet Bay pearl farm for lunch, refreshingly you didn't have to pay to get in! We had a really nice lunch, checked out their gallery & they also have a lookout over the water that is worth a look.
We then went to Kooliman, one of the famous accommodation & camping options. They also wanted to charge a $5 each access fee, so instead we just bought an ice cream from their shop & snuck around the front for a look at their amazing water view, it is beautiful, & we did see whales frolicking just off shore.
On the way home we were going to have a look at Middle Lagoon, but they also wanted $10 to access the place & we were sick of paying the tourist tax so decided not too. We headed back to camp & got talking to some guys that had been staying at Gnylmarung also & doing a fishing charter for a week, they were lovely guys & had been catching some quality fish & they even gave us some lovely reef fish & mackerel fillets. Our faith in humanity has been really restored at Gnylmarung it has a really great atmosphere.
We decided to stay one more day here & then head back to Broome. Our day was spent swimming & fishing & late in the afternoon just as we were packing up what we could, a large bushfire came towards the campground. One guys camp was right in the path of the fire & the guys quickly back burned to save his campsite. Everyone worked together to help, as we were all a bit anxious as to what the fire would do. The back burning helped & things calmed down. We had a great chat with a family that were travelling similar to us. All of the campers were like minded people & it was a great atmosphere. This was perpetuated by the owners Alfons & Delma who are wonderful family people & they should be very proud of what they have achieved at Gnylmarung.
We had a wonderful time at Gnylmarung & wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others, if you are after something quiet & relaxed it is the place for you. As for the rest of Cape Leveque, it was disappointing, the scenery is amazing, just be prepared to pay for the pleasure. We ended up staying 4 nights from the 23-26th of August, a far cry from the 2 weeks we expected. Our advice would be to free camp at either James Price Point or Quandong beach & do a day trip to Cape Leveque or if you do want to camp further up, check out Gnylmarung, you won't be disappointed. It took us just under 3 hours to drive from Gnylmarung back to Broome, we did a quick shop & then headed south to Port a Smith, more on that camp in our next post.
Gorgeous blue water at Gnylmarung, great for a dip
The bay at Gnylmarung with the tide way out, the photo was taken late in the afternoon when the bushfire was around, so it's pretty hazy.