The first time I visited Kooljaman a friend drove me up from Broome, and we stayed for sunset. I knew immediately I also wanted to experience waking up at Kooljaman (Cape Leveque) one day.
Kooljaman is the Aboriginal name. A remote wilderness camp it is run by Aboriginal people and tourism is seasonal here due to the weather. We checked in when it was already dark after a rough ride on dirt tracks with no lighting or directions. Silence kept us company for the best part of the drive and in retrospect, reflected our concern about getting bogged. Once at camp we soon realised the sliding door lock was broken in the cabin. We were expected to sleep in an unlocked room where there is no phone service. Reassured by management we were perfectly safe, it was an uneasy night. We put a broken broom in the door for some semblance of safety. We are city folks after all! My anxiety heightened every time I heard rustling outdoors, knowing it was something that slithered. I sat up in bed well before dawn and waited for light. My excitement to see the first rays over the northern most part of the Dampier Peninsular overcame all fears. Soon I dressed in semi darkness, ignored the rustling outdoors and headed out with camera in hand.
I was surprised to see how basic the camp was, but thrilled to be outdoors. The only human out at that hour as far as I could tell. But, I was not alone. I followed a wallaby’s prints into the bush but could not spot it. I then headed to the beach, the markings of bird and snake, unmistakable in the dirt. The land here is red. Against an azure sea, it is stunning. The cliffs have been stroked by the sea, leaving tell tale striation that is beautiful. The first light over Western Beach was breathtaking. Soon the air was alive with birdsong. Almost impossible to see in the canopy, they went about their business of dipping into flowers for nectar. The double barred finches were at my feet, finding breakfast in the scrub. A tiny honeyeater, and I mean tiny, sat and watched the world wake. A magnificent, huge wedge tail eagle glided above like an airliner. The warmth of the day brought out the Gilbert’s Dragon, the rocks providing a perfect backdrop. And, against the harsh beauty of the Kimberley, one of my favourite flowers found in this region, the boab flower, bloomed.
This is a place where whales come to calf in the pristine waters. It is rich in history. It is rich in spirit. It enriches one’s spirit. It is a place where one wants to see the footprints of Nature, but reluctant to leave anything else but one’s heart behind.
I will return. Next time, for longer.
a dawn bird