The Dampier Peninsula

Australia, Western Australia Add comments

The Tank on the road into Quondong PointOur camp spot at Quondong PointAfter a fantastic week back in civilization in the relaxing surrounds of Broome (we’re spending some more time in Broome next week so a post on Broome is on its way…) we again removed ourselves from the beaten path and headed up the Dampier Peninsula, the spit of land extending north from Broome and Derby to its tip at Cape Leveque. 

Lisa harvesting oysters at Quondong PointThe seemingly endless rock oysters at Quondong PointWe ran into a knowledgeable old fellow in Gregory National Park that clued us in on one of Sunset from our camp spot at Quondong Pointhis favorite beach camping spots in Australia at an area called Quondong Point (S17°34.974′ E122°09.791′).  Quondong is located only around 70 kilometers north of Broome on the road to Willie Creek Pearl Farm.  It’s amazing that a place like Quondong still exists so close to the Gibb River Road and Broome: the area is an unspoiled coastal Our camp spot atop the dunes at Quondong Pointwilderness without a sign of civilization or development whatsoever.  Our camp for the night was atop the dunes, overlooking the majestic Check out the size of that abalone Jezzy and Paul!turquoise of the Indian Ocean, an amazing spot with a beautiful white sand swimming beach only a few hundred meters away.  We spent the afternoon exploring the tide pools at the tip of Quondong Point, filling our stomachs with the plethora of fresh oysters off the rocks and I also nabbed a sizeable octopus, which we had for dinner that night.  To cap it off as we sat there watching the sun set we had some whales breaching a few hundred meters offshore, slapping the water with their tails and blowing huge spurts of water into the air. 

Sand crabs working the sand into tiny balls on the beach at Quondong PointSam holding dinner (an octopus) at Quondong PointDriving between Quondong Point and James Price Point 

Western AustraliaSam fishing off the rocks at James Price PointJames Price PointThe next day we explored a little further north along the same road, making our way to the next point along the peninsula: James Price Point (S17°29.017′ E122°08.943′).  We thought that Quondong Point was amazing, but James Price Point was really something else.  The turquoise water bordered by white sand and brilliant red cliffs stretching north up the peninsula was so picturesque.  Amazing colors and so much sea life in the tide pools, we saw a couple of sizeable sharks trolling the shallows at high tide as well as sting rays and more octopus (we stayed out of the water after seeing the sharks!).  We camped for the night on the edge of the rocky promontory with a fantastic view of the ocean and cliffs to the north.  One of our favorite camp spots of the trip so far.  It’s a little sad that the Western Australian government has just approved the construction of a natural gas plant at James Price Point, we’re lucky to be able to experience it whilst still a beautiful unspoiled wilderness.

On the rocks at James Price PointOysters on the rocks at James Price PointAn octopus on the beach at James Price Point Camping on the rocks at James Price PointAn octopus on the beach at James Price PointJames Price Point James Price PointAn angry mud crab at James Price PointJames Price Point A sand crab on the beach at James Price PointWalking down the beach at James Price PointCamping on the rocks at James Price Point 

View of Middle Lagoon from our campsiteThe church at Beagle BayAfter a couple of brilliant days on the Willie Creek Pearl Farm road we made our way back to the main Cape Leveque Road and north up the Dampier Peninsula.  The road up to Beagle Bay was quite a challenge, a mix of sand and hard clay that sloped inwards instead of the humped roads typical to the Kimberley that are formed to channel water off the road instead of into its centre.  There were points along the trek where Lisa was bracing herself against the roof and window, getting ready for us to tip into the centre of the track!  We stopped off at the Aboriginal community of Beagle Bay to admire the beautifully maintained church at the community’s mission and then pushed onto our next stop at Middle Lagoon.  Middle Lagoon (S16°46.505′ E122°34.622′) is a well provisioned campsite run by the local Aboriginal community with surely some of the best bush showers in the country, we’re not used to such awesome pressure!  Upon our arrival we weren’t sure where the ‘lagoon’ in Middle Lagoon was located but as the tide receded the bay in which we were camped transformed into a huge lagoon hemmed in by the tidal reef forming a small opening to the ocean in the distance.  The tidal movements in this area of the country really are astounding…  It was another beautiful sunset from our camping spot in the dunes, we’re going to take the sunsets for granted before too long!

The church at Beagle BayThe church at Beagle BayThe church at Beagle BaySam enjoying an afternoon beer by the fire at Middle Lagoon View of Middle Lagoon from our campsiteLisa and The Tank at our campsite at Middle LagoonThe road from Middle Lagoon

The hatchery at One Arm PointThe hatchery at One Arm PointThe main road traversing the top portion of the Dampier Peninsula is paved from just south of Beagle Bay to the peninsula’s tip, a nice change from the sand and awkward camber of the sandy road on the way up.  We drove to the very tip of the peninsula, an Aboriginal community at One Arm Point (S16°25.266′ E123°01.967′), taking a look-see at the community’s hatchery while in town.  The color of the water at the tip of the Dampier was amazing, sparkling turquoise as far as the eye could see dotted with thousands of islands and tidal reefs to the north.  The community at One Arm Point A rescued turtle at the hatchery at One Arm Pointharvests a certain type of shell from the outer reefs, operating the hatchery to ensure that shell supplies are maintained for future generations.  The Bardi Aboriginal people boil the shells, remove the meat for food and then export the empty shells to Italy where the Sam scores a mud crab at GambananLisa with her spear at Gambananpearl-like compound in the shell is used to make metallic paints.  We enjoyed quite an educational walk through the community’s hatchery, where as well as shells and fish there were a couple of very inquisitive turtles, rescued from the gulls by some of the local boys.  We spent the night just outside the One Arm Point Octopus for dinner at Gambanancommunity on an Aboriginal property called Gambanan, fishing for the afternoon without pulling in much more than a few Parrot Fish.  We did have a fantastic time tagging along with some of the local Aboriginal boys as they went mud crabbing at low tide in the tidal flats next to nearby mangroves.  Armed with a spear each, the five of us (three of them as well as Lisa and me) waded through the Our dinner of mud crabs after a successful afternoon of spearingshin-deep water watching for dark patches in front of us.  Dark patch = mud crab.  It was a lot of fun learning how the Bardi people have hunted for thousands of years.  Lisa and I returned home with four good-sized mud crabs as well as about six extra claws, while the Aboriginal boys took home a large octopus (the Aboriginals usually tear off the claws from female crabs as they grow back in around six months, this leaves the females in the water to breed).  It was some of the most exquisite crustacean meat I’ve ever tasted!  One of the boys speared a large Black Tip Reef Shark in the shallows but the shark spun around and chomped the spear in half, dodging the fry pan for the night.  We gorged ourselves on crab and later that night drove back into the community at One Arm Point to see a local Broome band, the Pigram Brothers, play a concert at the school.  A day full of culture for us!

 Polishing shells at the hatchery at One Arm PointView of the ocean into King Sound from One Arm PointOur fishing spot for the afternoon at Gambanan Lisa with two of the Aboriginal fellows from Gambanan on the way through the mangrovesLisa with two of the Aboriginal fellows from Gambanan wading the mudflats in search of crabsTwo of the Aboriginals from Gambanan hunting for crabs 

The white sandy beach at Cape Leveque with Leveque Island on the rightOur last morning on the Dampier Peninsula was spent at the famous Cape Leveque (S16°23.787′ E122°55.627′).  Cape Leveque is a majestic archipelago of white sandy beaches and brilliant red cliffs The boggy sand track back from the beach at Chile Creekdropping into the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.  There is a very well provisioned campsite as well as five star bush villas at the cape operated by APT in conjunction with the local Aboriginal people.  We hiked around the tip of the cape at low tide and had a quick snorkel at the northern beach before spending a few hours swimming and relaxing on the pristine white sand.  Cape Leveque seemed to be quite a popular spot for campers Enjoying a beer by the campfire at Chile Creekmaking their way up the Dampier Peninsula, the campsite was booked out a for a week in advance when we arrived!  We spent our final night on the Dampier Peninsula at Chile Creek (S16°32.121′ E122°52.401′), another campsite run by one of the Bardi Aboriginal communities.  There were some fun sand 4WD tracks leading out to the coast from the community, The Tank performed exceptionally as always, making its way through the soft sand better than we could walk it.

A fantastic week exploring the Dampier Peninsula, the beaches and color of the ocean was just amazing.  So glad we ran into that fellow in Gregory National Park, Quondong Point and James Price Point were two of the best bush camping spots we’ve found so far.

The eastern beach at Cape LevequeThe tip of Cape LevequeThe western beach at Cape Leveque The western beach at Cape LevequeOn the sand at Chile CreekThe beach at Chile Creek Lisa exploring the Mars-like rock formations at Chile CreekOn the sand at Chile CreekFor the ladies...Enjoying a beer by the campfire at Chile Creek

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This entry was posted on Friday, August 21st, 2009 at 3:00 PM and is filed under Australia, Western Australia. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

8 Responses to “The Dampier Peninsula”

  1. Diana K says:

    looks beautiful!

  2. Con Papadoplos says:

    Great posts, guys!!! Looks awesome!!! Very jealous as I sit here in my kebap shop. Cheers, Con

  3. bodessi's says:

    looks like you guys got crabs!!

  4. the ladies says:

    ….. no thanks

  5. Sam says:

    You guys are just jealous that your men don’t have my naturally athletic physique…

  6. Camping With Your 4WD | Our Walkabout says:

    […] hit the shelves today, in it is the second article of our two part piece on Western Australia’s Kimberley region.  Also are a couple of short articles I did for the editor on a selection of ‘Escape […]

  7. Monique Huyskens says:

    Hi folks, lovely stories and pictures particularly for James Prices Point and Quondong. You are probably aware that Woodside is planning to build a gas hub three times the size of the processing plant at Karratha right at James Price Point, causing utter destruction of such a pristine area. Please help the campaign in any way shape or form. Websites such as http://www.savethekimberley.com/ provide more information.

    If we don’t all fight this sort of inappropriate development in wilderness and areas of great marine and indigenous significance they will be lost for future generations.

    Regards,
    Monique

  8. Peter Hosie says:

    Fantastic article has given us some great ideas as we head towards Cape Leveque in June – just love the fact that you have included GPS co-ordinates as well very helpful

    Cheers

    Peter

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