The road to Cape Leveque has always been one of red dirt and adventure. But with works on a completely sealed road due for completion in 2020, the days of off-road adventuring may become a thing of the past.
As off-road adventurers ourselves, we’d personally prefer the red stuff. But we can certainly understand why people are getting excited about the black top – it’s going to open up the Dampier Peninsula to a whole new group of people who would otherwise either miss out, or need to take expensive tours to access it.
Once the road becomes sealed we foresee the Dampier Peninsula becoming a firm fixture on most people’s ‘big laps’ and northern adventures, and for very good reason. It’s an absolutely beautiful part of the world with plenty to do to keep you entertained well beyond a day trip.
The Dampier Peninsula or Cape Leveque?
The Dampier Peninsula is the outcrop of land found directly above Broome on the map. It includes the stretch of coast directly north of Broome past the Willie Creek Pearl Farm and James Price Point, as well as the rest of the peninsula up through Beagle Bay, on to Cape Leveque, and out to One Arm Point.
Many people often refer to the whole area as Cape Leveque, but indeed the Cape is simply the most northern point of the peninsula, and while it’s beautiful and well worth a visit, there is so much more to the Dampier Peninsula than just Cape Leveque.
Red cliffs, white beaches, blue waters
Perhaps the biggest drawcard of the Dampier Peninsula is that breathtaking combination of red cliffs, white sands, and crystal clear blue waters that just screams “you’re in the Kimberley now!” The scenery is simply stunning, the waters are warm, and the fish are plentiful. And it’s all the way up the coast – not just at Cape Leveque. Stop in at places like Quandong Point, Middle Lagoon, or Pender Bay as well as Cape Leveque (all of which have camping options) to see this beautiful combination of nature’s colours.
Broome is well known for its pearling past, and the pearling industry is still very much alive on the Dampier Peninsula. You can visit pearl farms, take a tour, and check out their beautiful display cabinets at both the Willie Creek Pearl Farm just north of Broome, and at the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm at the top of the peninsula.
Both have cafes onsite – Willie Creek is known for its famous beer damper, and Cygnet Bay has a beautiful infinity pool you can use if you’re dining or taking their tour, so be sure to pack your bathers. And of course, if a pearl takes your fancy you can purchase a little slice of the Peninsula to take home with you.
If you’ve never seen wild hermit crabs before, then the Dampier Peninsula is your place! I will never forget camping out at Quandong Point years ago, and hearing a strange scurrying sound after dark outside the tent. Out we went with the torch only to discover literally dozens of hermit crabs of varying shapes and sizes going over our campsite!
Plus if you camp out at Pender Bay Escape you may be lucky enough to spot the elusive ‘Hercules’, the famed giant hermit crab who resides there. There’s also plenty of goannas, a few snakes, and if you keep your eyes peeled you may be lucky enough to spot Australia’s most unique reptile – the Thorny Devil.
This area is of course also well known for being croc country, but while they are certainly present, it’s a rare occasion when they are spotted up here. You may however be lucky enough to spot some other marine wildlife – dolphins, humpback whales, sea turtles and sharks to name a few.
While we were camping at Pender Bay a fellow camper managed to accidentally hook both a sea turtle and a large shark on his fishing line, both of which were safely released back into the ocean of course! (And we ourselves managed to hook a seagull – not a pleasant experience! He too, was safely released after much hullaballoo.)
Camping opportunities abound on the Dampier Peninsula. You’ll find everything from bare bones beachside free camps, to the full facilities of the Kooljaman Resort, and everything in between. By all accounts the camping options up here are excellent. So just pick a few, and check them out for yourself!
Be aware however that although the main road up the Peninsula is close to being fully sealed, the side roads off it most definitely are not, so it’s safer to tackle them in a 4×4. If you’re not keen to take your caravan up, then there are plenty of great caravan parks in Broome to leave your caravan while you day trip up the Peninsula.
Aside from camping and pearls, the other things that draw people to the Peninsula are the fishing and the culture. The fish are certainly plentiful – even we managed to catch something for the dinner plate, which is certainly not a common event for us. And the Peninsula is a great place to learn more about the indigenous culture.
The communities up here are well used to visitors, and are very welcoming, although in most cases you’ll need to call in and purchase a permit first. There are plenty of tours on offer showcasing everything from local culture, to bush tucker, to mud crabbing. Plus you can visit the famed Beagle Bay Church (the pearl shells have been put to very good use here!) and the hatchery at One Arm Point.
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- Consider a scenic flight if you have the money, or visit the horizontal falls from Broome, which includes a flight over the Peninsula on the way out.
- Fuel up in Broome to save some $$$.
- Same with food – stock up on groceries in Broome.
- Consider lunch or morning/afternoon tea at Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm and make the most of their beautiful pool. It’s 100% croc free!
- When it comes to swimming, weigh up the croc risk. Plenty of people choose to swim on the Dampier Peninsula – after all the water is so clear, warm and inviting. And certainly we have (nervously) swum there. But it IS croc country, so you need to be well aware of the risk you are taking.
- Currently we still recommend a 4×4 until the road sealing is complete. And even then if you want to venture off the main road it’s generally red sand and corrugations.
- Don’t miss this area if you’re passing through. Even a day trip is better than nothing, but if you’ve got a few weeks then consider taking the time to relax, fish, explore and enjoy. You won’t regret it!
Where to stay on the way
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Check out our parks in Australia, browse stories from our community of travelling contributors, and start planning your next epic Australian road trip or camping adventure. And remember, download the CamperMate app before you go, to find everything you need when you’re on the road.