How We Never Got to Cape Leveque

A few years ago we did a run across the top end of WA.  It was early June. It is supposed to be dry right? We left Broome and headed up the Cape Leveque Road.  Driving the trusty 60 series and towing the go anywhere Aussie Swag camper trailer (the original, much lighter weight version).

We stopped in at Beagle Bay and admired the beautiful little community church which features in the film “Bran Nue Day.” The altar, window surrounds and decorations are constructed of hundreds, if not thousands of wonderful pearl shells.

We liked the area and decided to turn left and look at Gnylmarung Retreat. This is an indigenous outstation being developed as a tourist/fishing  base.  It’s basic bush camping and mainly set up for those who bring their own boats and want to fish. Lots of camping spots where you can hide away a bit into scrub. Good hot water and internet access. You need to bring all your own food. We were welcomed and left to ourselves.

Came sunset, the tide went out and the reef lit up with thousands of rockpools reflecting in the sunset. Utter magic.  Miles of reef walking and rockpool exploration called. At least  two nights, we thought.


On the third day the  rain came and came and came. For the next  three days we had some of the heaviest rain I have ever experienced. Inside our Aussie Swag we were dry so we just bunkered down with our Kindles. Outside looked like a lake. We weren’t going anywhere.

The owners came to visit. They told us the roads would be impassable for some days, at least. They also said that they knew we had only intended a brief stay so as of now we were their  guests and would not be charged camping fees. Further, if our fridges were giving out, we could transfer all our stuff to their generator driven fridges and let them know if we needed anything. Wonderful, wonderful people. We got together with other guests and pooled (pooled is a very good word here) resources. Those who had been fishing had freezers full . Evening meal times were a delight.

A week later and now well behind schedule, but very well fed indeed , Grant (from the Retreat staff) reckoned he could get  us through back to the Broome/ Cape Leveque road. A convoy was formed and we slithered though water and mud. The auto locker on the front of the 60 series yet again paid for itself. The drive back down to Broome was full of interesting moments. That road  really carves up after some rain and we had had enough rain for it to have made the national news.


We still haven’t made it to Cape Leveque but we have the fondest  of memories of Gnylmarung and its little community.

The photo below is of the reef at sundown and you can see the necklace we made interpreting the rockpools at sunset here. We called it Gnylmarung Reef, for obvious reasons.


Then we have shots of life in the rockpools and a shot of me eating the very freshest of oysters. The clams were off the menu for us as they were the preserve of the local aboriginal people, but we were encouraged to take anything else we liked from the sea and reef.

This of course was before the rain arrived. 


Feeling proud of our find of Gnylmarung, we emailed friends  in Melbourne to tell them of it. Got a message back. “Our daughter says, “Damn", it’s one of her favourite spots and she has been going up there fishing for years. Now everyone is discovering it.”

Oh well.