Slip into Cape Leveque time
Drifting on this dazzling blue day in the chop of the ocean at Cape Leveque, life is blissful. The rugged beauty of the West Australian coast is quite unlike anything we’ve seen to date on this trip, bordering on desolate yet with an undeniable rugged charm…….One of the only places in Australia where the desert meets the sea. We’re out on the Northern Aboriginal lands of the Dampier Peninsula at Cape Leveque, in our little boat. If you endure the 200 odd kilometres along an unsealed, corrugated, bumpy old track, you’ll find this lovely spot.
You’re also lucky enough to pass by the Beagle Bay Church on the way- a sacred heart church built by German missionaries in 1917. It is a beautiful building with an exquisite altar decorated with mother of pearl.
We’re wallowing in it all- cooking fresh damper, swimming in cobalt blue water (no Crocs), rolling down sand dunes, catching fish from the beach, whilst eating juicy watermelon and pink lady apples. A relaxed tropical charm lingers in the air like the sweet perfume of jasmine on a summers night. Red-brick coloured, jagged rock formations dot the coastline, orange sand dunes, pure white beaches and more shades of blue water than you ever imagined possible. Cape Leveque is a true visual feast.
Nine rustic little shelters line the beachfront. Just a meagre wooden structure covered in palm leaves (real grass huts!), they provide shelter for campers from the sun and wind. The winds here are gusty- the sort that whips your hat off when you least expect it!
Geckos (cute little chirping lizards) skitter on the walls. Massive fish and humpback whales jump out to sea. Cloudless skies. Scorching sun. Hermit crabs scurry around your toes. If you like open spaces and relaxation, then the Cape is the place for you. Undeveloped. Just the shelters, a campground, and surrounding local Aboriginal Communities. The beaches are deserted and stretch on for miles- dunes galore. Great place for a family holiday. No 14-foot seafaring crocs, no man-eating sharks.
The first day had us fishing off the beach and generally relaxing and slipping into Cape Leveque time. We did, unfortunately, manage to get ourselves into a predicament. We left Josh swimming, with some new young friends, telling him “We’ll be back in half an hour”, and headed off towards a nearby Creek seven kilometres away, for a quick look.
On the way back we were forced off the very very sandy track by another car and managed to bog ourselves up to the axels. We’d already been 15 minutes longer than we’d said we would, and after another half hours digging, pushing, scratching and revving, we were still getting absolutely nowhere. Time for a conference!
We were worried about Josh being on his own and weren’t at all sure how long it would take us to get out of the hole. We made an executive decision. Eric would stay and keep trying to dig out the car from mounds of undiggable sand. Sarah would walk the 4 kilometres back over the dunes to camp to check on Josh (who we thought would be worrying about us by now) and send some help back. Fortunately, a couple swimming naked on the beach were more than happy to don their clothes, jump into their car and swiftly come help pull us out.
Three and a half hours later we finally managed to drag the car out and arrived back at camp sweaty, dehydrated, covered from head to toe in sand and black soot…. and feeling extremely exhausted.
Josh, however, was way too busy swimming in the ocean to give us a second thought, except for the fact that lunch hadn’t magically arrived under his nose yetÉhe hadn’t even noticed that we’d taken so long! Fortunately, our nicer than nice neighbours had kept a careful eye on him.
By the way… we have mastered the art of cooking damper in a frying pan. It’s much faster than the traditional Dutch oven method and tastes great, fluffy, and white. Perfect with Strawberry Monbulk Conserve and Olive Grove margarine. yum yum.
We’ve had some great bush tucker over our fire. We’ve found as a general rule of thumb that we vastly prefer our own bread to the bread we’ve found elsewhere, with a few exceptions, the bakery at Kununurra being the most profound.
It is a really nice feeling, to be self-sufficient.
There were other people in all the other shelters which made the Cape Leveque experience all the more pleasant and interesting. Our neighbours were a cheerful family from Broome who happened to have amongst their entourage of 4 children, an 8 yr old son for Josh to play with.
What a handfulÉand we thought one can be trouble sometimes. Their camp was a little patch of friendly disorder. At any given time of the day or night one of the kids has to be awake, or crying, or hurt, or in need of a change of nappies, or hungry.
Parents Jude and Stuart took it all in their extraordinarily cheerful stride. Every so often we would hear one or the other say “Stop being so objectionable” to their youngest one, a scant 3 years of age, and for about ten minutes there would be quietÉthen slowly it would all start up again. They were the best camping neighbours we’ve had so far, and make a great cup of coffee with panjacks!
There is an utter disregard for time in this place….probably why families flock here for the otherwise lengthy school holidays.
The drive back to Broome was neither memorable or eventful, with one notable exception-the Lombadina Mission; built in 1932, it boasts probably the quaintest and most unique church in the whole of Australia. Constructed by the local Aborigines using mangrove wood, melaleuca wood for the frames, and a paperbark roof, we were delighted by its ingenuity and its well-loved appearance.
In fact, the whole of Lombadina had a real sense of community. It really was a “village” in the true sense of the word. There was a town square with sweeping old figs. Well-kept gardens dotted the simple yet colourful homes. Unlike numerous other towns we’ve encountered on this trip, there were no fences, no imposing high tech security grills on shops, no underlying impression of unease.
Dry red soil and yellowy bush of thin gum trees everywhere. This is what we saw all day- this is Australian bush.
Broom Broom—back to Broome we go.