Five reasons to see Western Australia’s Cape Leveque

It’s secluded, untouched and ravishingly beautiful: Cape leveque, at the northernmost tip of the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia, has one of the most secluded beach sides around the world. And there’s more, from the bright orange road that leads to the Cape to the world famous red rocks on the sea shore, the whales that put on a show and the sunset over the Indian Ocean. Whatever cliche you can think of to describe a bit of heaven on earth, this is it.

Cape Leveque is an isolated area about 210 km north of Broome, only accessible by air or by 4WD. The Dampier Peninsula is still part of the Kimberley Region, so needless to say it is a gorgeous place. There’s just one accommodation at Cape Leveque and when we made reservations there was only one camping spot left. Good enough for a full day of adventure, surrounded by the most beautiful color palette nature has to offer: white sands, red earth, green bush, blue sky.

1. The bright orange road

A few kilometers after the turn to Cape Leveque, on a street that for the sake of convenience is called the ‘Cape Leveque Road’, the fun begins. An endless, attractive and bright orange line stretches out before us. We have the wide road (six large cars can easily fit next to each other) all to ourselves, and the bright colors put us in a dreamy state of mind. This is exactly how I imagined off-road driving would be like here in Western Australia.

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A bright orange line that cuts straight through a dark green field, with a close to perfect blue sky above. It’s like driving through a painting!

Apart from a few curious car wrecks and signs covered in a layer of orange dust, there’s nothing to see or visit along the Cape Leveque road so it’s all about focussing on the orange sand. You can’t drive too fast or you won’t have enough time to dodge the hundreds of treacherous holes in the road and you can’t drive too slow or the curves in the sand will make your tires slide to the left or right. The further we drive up north, the smaller the road gets and the higher the accumulations of sand in the roadside, like a bobsleigh track in the desert. Our sense of time is completely lost in this monotonous and desolate red-green-blue environment: we’ve listened to so many cd’s already that we’re now only changing after the first song starts for the third time. the only moments we realize that we’ve been driving for hours is when we’re changing the cd’s in the car. 

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2. The great blue ocean

For the final 100 kilometers to Cape Leveque we’re back on a tarmac road, which speeds things up tremendously. Our destination is Kooljaman Camp, the only accommodation available here at the tip of the Dampier Peninsula. Making a reservation only one day in advance, like us, isn’t a good idea but fortunately, of all safari tents, beach cabins and campground units, there’s one camping spot left. Kooljaman is partly owned by nearby aboriginal communities (mind you this doesn’t mean that you can get to know them or talk to them because there wasn’t a single aboriginal in sight. If you want to meet hem, you have to book an excursion). The whole wilderness-style site is very impressive, with the camp smartly placed on a hill and the beckoning sea on both sides. After hours and hours of dusty orange panorama’s, the pearly white sand and pristine Indian Ocean are a truly magnificent change of scenery. And even though the camp is fully booked, we’re practically alone on the shore.

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3. The baleen whales

In the afternoon, a boat leaves Kooljaman for some coastal exploring – and we’re on it. The brochure promises unique views of the rugged coastline and of what lies beneath the water. The boat sets off and immediately sails away from the shore (despite the fact that the tour is called ‘Coastal Exploration Tour’), so the view of the coastline isn’t all that and through the broken underwater windows there’s nothing to see but dead corals and a little starfish gone astray. But we get something else in return: humpback whales! (The best time for a ‘close encounter’ is July-October.) The captain uses a device that capture the ultrasonic sounds of the whales to locate them and we’re in luck: two humpback whales and a baby start putting on a show in the distance.

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Humpbacks sometimes slap the water’s surface with one fin or both fins as a form of communciation.
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A baby humpback whale. Apparently the younger the whales are, the less afraid and more curious.

4. The famous red rocks

Cape Leveque is famous for its reddish sand rocks. Despite what I thought beforehand, the red ironstone cliffs only cover the very tip of the entire peninsula, but it’s still good enough to be blown away by this beautiful natural creation. Ironstone normally is grey but apparently the surface turns red due to oxidation. The lower the sun, the brighter the colors get.

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The tip of Cape Leveque as seen from a boat

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5. The setting sun and rising moon

Around sunset, all the people that are spending the night at Kooljaman gradually appear from their cabins and tents like hermit crabs emerging from their hiding places. We all gather around on the beach to watch the sunset. And while everyone is still watching the sun glow, we turn our backs to the sea: the full moon is now lighting up right above the red rocks – just as impressive!

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Waiting for the sunset

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Sunset…
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… and moonrise!
www.kooljaman.com.au