My Day on the Cape Leveque Tour – Culture, Pearls, Beauty & More!

  • Posted by on 14 March 2017

The long, dusty road from Broome to Cape Leveque on the tip of the Dampier Peninsula is well travelled by locals, tour companies, freight transporters, mail contractors and visitors.  No matter how often the road is graded, the regular traffic creates ruts and corrugations in the 90kms unmade section which can be difficult to negotiate for those used to the black top. 

Travellers who are traversing Australia with their cars and caravans may decide to forgo the joy of bouncing their way along the ‘track’ and take a guided tour instead.

For visitors to the Kimberley a visit to Cape Leveque (Kooljaman) on the Dampier Peninsula (Ardi) is a must.  The rich red of the Cape Leveque cliffs, the intense blue sky and the inviting Indian Ocean are a photographer’s delight. 

Cape Leveque Road Indsutry Sourced

Cape Leveque Road (Industry Sourced)

A Cape Leveque Tour Experience

This traveller opted for a small group, guided 4WD Cape Leveque tour rather than self-driving the more than 400kms round journey.  

Leaving Broome at a respectable 7am in the tour company’s comfortable 4WD Sedan and with just another 2 passengers on board, we were soon out of the Broome town site and hitting the red dirt section of the Cape Leveque Road which starts just after the turn off to the Willie Creek Pearl Farm.   Our guide Kerry from InStyle Adventures is very familiar with this road as she drives it several times a week during the busy Kimberley tourist season.

Beagle Bay Community & Sacred Heart Church

Knowing the road so well, Kerry managed to minimise the impact of the worst of the corrugations at the same time as imparting her knowledge of some of the local flora, fauna and history of the area.  Soon enough we arrived at the Beagle Bay Community where we found the historic Catholic Sacred Heart Church with its renowned pearl shell altar.  Whilst Kerry set up morning tea under the shade of an old Mango tree, we browsed through the church, marvelling at the beauty of the altar and other artefacts.  

Pearl Shell Altar at the Sacred Heart Church Beach Bay R McGuigan

Pearl Shell Altar at the Sacred Heart Church, Beach Bay: R McGuigan

One Arm Point Community & Hatchery Tour

Refreshments taken, we were soon back onto the road and after a little over an hour’s travelling we arrived at the One Arm Point community where we visited the community’s aquaculture hatchery with a short, guided tour.  The hatchery sits on the very tip of the Dampier Peninsula where the high tides of King Sound rush and swirl past.  It is quite mesmerising to watch the eddies. At the hatchery there is a selection of beautiful polished trochus shells and shell jewellery pieces for sale that have been created by community members.

Clown fish at the One Arm Point Communitys aquaculture hatchery R McGuigan

Clown fish at the One Arm Point Community’s aquaculture hatchery: R McGuigan

Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm

Our next stop was the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm where we joined a 2-hour guided talk and tour of the pearl farm’s land-based operations.  We were joined on the tour by other visitors who arrived at the farm either by self-driving or scenic air tour from Broome.   We learned that Cygnet Bay is reputed to be the one of oldest operating pearl farms in Australia with a history going back to 1946.  We also viewed a short, black and white film produced by the ABC back in the 1970’s from which we learned the farm’s humble beginnings.

Part of the tour involves a demonstration of the removal of the pearl from a live pearl shell with the chance to buy the pearl afterwards.  I was not quick enough to put my hand up and our travelling companions promptly snapped up the pearl.  On site there is a pearl jewellery gallery where you can browse or buy!

The guide as Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm explains farming of pearl shells R. McGuigan

The guide as Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm explains farming of pearl shells: R. McGuigan


We were ready for lunch after this and our guide, Kerry, escorted us to the Farm’s restaurant where we enjoyed a freshly prepared lunch sitting on the decking overlooking the swimming pool and Cygnet Bay.  

Giant Tides Tour

We could have stayed there on the shady verandah all afternoon but the next part of our journey was to join a fast boat trip from Cygnet Bay to witness up close, the giant whirlpools of waters on the farm’s “Giant Tides” tour. This 2 hour boat trip took us around the beautiful coastline on sparkling waters, where to our amazement we arrived where the tide is changing so rapidly it creates gigantic whirlpools and walls of water.  It was an amazing sight.

The huge tidal movements create giant whirlpools R. McGuigan

The huge tidal movements create giant whirlpools: R. McGuigan

Kooljaman at Cape Leveque

Back on dry land it was time to board the 4WD again for a brief journey to Kooljaman at Cape Leveque which is on the western tip of the Dampier Peninsula.  One of our fellow travellers decided on a quick dip whilst Kerry brought out afternoon tea on the beach.   We were not really hungry but the freshly sliced melons were refreshing on a warm day. Western Beach at Kooljaman

Our final stop for the day was a visit to the beautiful Western Beach at Kooljaman.  Known for its brilliant red cliffs and white sand, we were not disappointed in the scenery.  The sun was lowering and the colours all the more brilliant for it. 

Late afternoon on Western Beach at Cape Leveque R. McGuigan

Late afternoon on Western Beach at Cape Leveque: R. McGuigan

Our day was coming to an end and we still had to travel the 220kms back to Broome.  Armed with a few lollies for the journey home we relaxed whilst Kerry took care in driving us back to Broome as the sun was setting to the west of us.  The glimpses of the setting sun through the bush of the peninsula was a delight.  The Kimberley does not have a long twilight so it was dark quickly and we kept our eyes peeled in case of roaming animals, which are a hazard in the Kimberley.

We arrived back at our accommodation in Broome around 7.30pm after an enjoyable day with delightful fellow tourists and a guide who was friendly, warm and obviously enjoys her work.

Visit remote and deserted beaches R McGuigan

Visit remote and deserted beaches: R McGuigan

There was plenty to eat all day and regular water bottle refills, juice or soft drink were available as required.   Our tour vehicle was very comfortable and with just 3 passengers and a guide, we were a bit spoiled with attention which is not always possible on a larger group tour.  The tour cost was a great investment! 

So what are you waiting for? Check out the full Day 4WD Cygnet Bay with Giant Tides Sea Safari and Cape Leveque tours  so you too can experience this beautiful part of The Kimberley, Western Australia!