Broome is a place that will forever bring back great memories. It's got brilliant beaches, an incredible atmosphere and a huge range of things to do. However, I can't help but feel it is a little touristy. In the dry season, the population of Broome nearly triples, as people from all over the world come to enjoy the flawless weather and magnificent coast.
The thing is though, the whole Kimberley coastline is amazing, and if you are prepared to head north a little further than Broome in a 4WD, you can explore some truly epic places. Cape Leveque is the next point north of Broome, which is accessible only by 4WD (or by chopper/plane!). It's much less busy, but the natural attractions are just as special (if not better!) than Broome.
You've got a range of places where you can stay, but Kooljaman rates very high on the list for us. Perched right at the tip of Cape Leveque, it offers a range of accommodation, with spectacular views, swimming, fishing and 4WDing.
Kooljaman is the aboriginal word for Cape Leveque, and has heavy involvement from the local aboriginal communities. Not only does it have a fascinating history, but it stimulates the economy in this remote part of the world. It really is an incredible place to stay at.
What are the accommodation options?
Kooljaman has a huge range of accommodation options, starting with unpowered campsites, and working their way through to beach camping shelters, log cabins and Delux safari tents. There is a form of accommodation for everyone here.
How much does it cost?
Unpowered sites start at $38 per night (for 2 people) and powered are $43 per night (for 2 people). Shelters start at $75 per night and work their way up to $330 per night, depending on what you want to book. These prices might seem dear, but they are actually pretty reasonable, when you compare them to other places in the Kimberley.
How long does it take to get to Kooljaman?
From Broome to Cape Leveque Road is only about 12km of sealed road. Not far along Cape Leveque road though, and it turns to dirt/sand/gravel. This is where you will have to slow down. Adjust your tyre pressures accordingly, drive safely and take it easy. When the road is in good condition, it might take 2 - 2.5 hours to get to Kooljaman. If its in bad condition though, it could easily take 4 hours. Obviously, this depends on your setup, tyre pressures and how much dirt driving you've done.
The large majority of the northern section is actually sealed bitumen, so you can sit on the speed limit comfortably for the last part of your trip. In total, its 220km from Broome, with about 90km of the road being unsealed.
What else can I see there?
If you are Kooljaman, you can head into One arm point and look at the hatchery (entry to one arm point costs money, and comes with the pass to the hatchery), or you can head to Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm. There are also a number of tours that you can do, including the highly recommended Brian Lee 4WD tag along tour.
The snorkeling, fishing, photography, shell collection and marine watching is second to none. It is truly a remote, stunning and magical part of the Kimberley.
What facilities are at Kooljaman?
Kooljaman is actually extremely well set up, given its remote location. They have a small shop that sells basic food. They've got a Telstra pay phone, laundry facilities, beach hire equipment and they accept mastercard/visa. There is also a fantastic restaurant open all day, every day, serving delicious food, with the occasional pizza night.
What are the camp sites like?
We really enjoyed our camp site at Kooljaman. I suppose its almost like a Caravan park, except you've got a much, much better view over the red cliffs and beautiful water. The camp grounds are grassy, with just a short walk to the toilets and showers.
4WDing at Kooljaman
One of the things I loved about Kooljaman was that you can drive your 4WD on the eastern beach. We could drive our 80 series down with the fridge, fishing gear and snorkeling gear, and spend hours sitting on the beach right next to our 4WD. You will be given maps which explain where you are allowed to drive, which excludes a large area towards Hunter Creek.
You are required to let your tyres down to at least 18 PSI, and if you get stuck, you will have to pay to be recovered. They provide an air compressor for when you are done on the beach, which was something I was pleased to see.
Where can I get fuel, or a bigger range of groceries?
If you need fuel, or a bigger range of groceries, head into One arm point, which has a decent sized grocery store, and sells fuel. It is expensive, but that's what you get in such a remote area!
Kooljaman or Middle Lagoon?
I really enjoyed both locations, but I'd probably take Kooljaman over Middle Lagoon. Kooljaman is busier, with more 'tourism' but at the same time, there is more to do, you can drive on the beach and its a bigger property to explore. That said, Middle Lagoon is a magic spot too; don't let me put you off it! If you want a more comprehensive review, check this out - Middle Lagoon vs Kooljaman at Cape Leveque.
Would I recommend it?
We spent 3 nights at Kooljaman, and had a great time. It’s big enough that you can explore the place with your 4WD, but not ridiculously busy or over priced.
The cape itself is a truly magnificent place, and you won’t get a better view than what you have from some of the unpowered sites, as the sun goes down.
The beaches are stunning, and you can drive your 4WD down to one of them and sit there, fishing and swimming as you like.
I'd go back in a heartbeat to Kooljaman; it really is a beautiful place, with amazing people.
Have you been there? What did you think of it?