Go wild in Oz 

Because I’ve always wanted to…

Issue 43 / May 2020

Greetings,

We trust our latest newsletter finds you and your families as well as can be expected in these challenging times.

We hope you enjoyed the lateral destinations around South Australia and Tasmania, showcased in our latest newsletter. This May Day we will take you on an adventure through remote parts of Western Australia and the Northern Territory showing you some hidden gems and off the beaten track destinations.

The precursor to the launch of laterallife in 2004 was my 2 year sabbatical around the world. I am often asked what parts of the journey were the most impressive and rewarding from an adventure point of view. It is an impossible question to answer but one of my top 5 experiences would be the 4WD trip I did in NW Australia. The highlight of this was the famous Gibb River Road journey, which we have executed for many families all of whom have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and rewards of driving on unsealed roads across the famous Kimberley. This journey works particularly well for sabbatical trips as the UK summer months are the ideal time to visit.

I hope you enjoy our findings and we hope our devastated industry can start to get back on its feet again sooner rather than later.

Laterally yours

Western Australia / Abrolhos Islands

The Abrolhos Islands are a chain of 122 islands and associated coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, approximately 65 kilometres off the west coast of Australia. It is the southernmost true coral reef in the Indian Ocean, one of the highest latitude reef systems in the world and one of the most important seabird breeding sites. The Abrolhos boast an incredible range of marine life and spectacular coral that are excellent for diving and snorkelling while sea lions, dolphins and migratory whales are often spotted in the area.

On the flight to or from The Abrolhos fly over the site of the historical Batavia shipwreck and the unique Hutt Lagoon Pink Lake. Hutt Lagoon is a salt lake located just north of the mouth of the Hutt River, that due to a large concentration of algae has a pink hue – a strange spectacle best seen from the air!

Monkey Mia

Monkey Mia is located in the Shark Bay World Heritage Site and is famous for its wild dolphin encounters. More than 2,000 dolphins inhabit Shark Bay and approximately 200 live in the waters around Monkey Mia. However, dolphins are not the only appeal to visit Monkey Mia. In general the area is beautiful with rusty red sand dunes, white sand beaches and water teeming with wildlife. Dirk Hartog Island, the location of the first European landing on Australian soil in 1616, and Francois Peron National Park are also great day trips.

Today Dirk Hartog Island is a popular ecotourism destination to view the annual whale migration and the nesting loggerhead turtles that return to Turtle Bay to lay up to 150 eggs each between November and February each year. Francois Peron National Park sits on the tip of the Peron Peninsula and is an excellent four wheel driving area, with red sand dunes covered by acacia and surrounded by beautiful blue waters full of elusive marine wonders. The Park is home to many rare and endangered species, including euros, thorny devils, emus, and fairy-wrens, as well as marine life in Skipjack Point, where turtles, dolphins, dugongs, sharks and rays forage in the shallow waters.

Ningaloo Reef

The Ningaloo Reef stretches for 300 kms along the East Indian Ocean and is located north of Perth in the state of Western Australia. Diving, snorkelling and swimming are all popular pastimes with the area boasting 500 types of tropical fish and 6 species of sea turtle, the manta ray and 250 species of coral. It is also a major breeding ground for hawksbill, loggerhead and green turtles, which come ashore to lay their eggs in the dunes at night between September and December. It is a marine paradise and it is also possible to swim with whale sharks and humpback whales. The whale shark season is from March to August and the humpback whales are seen from July to October during their yearly migration. Relax on pristine secluded beaches with crystal clear water surrounded by breath-taking natural beauty.

Undoubtably the place to stay is Sal Salis, an exclusive beach safari camp located on the edge of the Indian Ocean and backing on to sand dunes and bush of the Cape Range National Park. As well as the abundant marine life it is also possible to see kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and more than 100 bird species. Due to its remote location Sal Salis is also an ideal place for star gazing.

Kooljaman at Cape Leveque

Located on the northernmost tip of the Dampier Peninsula, Kooljaman is about 200 km north of Broome and easily reached by air or with a 4WD vehicle. A must do day trip from either Broome or Kooljaman are the horizontal waterfalls, tidal waterfalls created by narrow channels in the McLarty Ranges. The effect is like water falling in a waterfall but it is actually rushing water produced by the ebb and flow of some of the planet’s largest tides. Kooljaman at Cape Leveque is an aboriginal owned wilderness camp with safari tents, log cabins, camping palm frond beach shelters, a restaurant, cultural experiences and boat tours, and beautiful beaches.

Kooljaman is an off-the-grid wilderness camp sustained by solar power and local bore water and the low-impact accommodation reflects the Aboriginal values of caring for land and country. The double or family-sized safari tents feature uninterrupted views of the ocean and Kooljaman’s emblematic red cliffs, which light up a fiery red every evening at sunset, as well as a private BBQ to really get into the Aussie spirit. In addition, Kooljamans is the perfect stop to enjoy snorkelling with a beautiful array of tropical fish life, swimming in crystal clear blue waters, fishing, whale watching, and bird spotting.

The Gibb River Road

On the opposite side of the southern Dampier peninsula and about 300 km from Kooljamans is the small town of Derby, the starting point of the Gibb River Road. The Gibb River Road is a truly unique Aussie outback adventure through the Kimberley’s vast untouched wilderness, ancient gorge country and epic cattle stations the size of small countries. This 660 km 4WD track is the epitome of the wild Australian spirit and you will immerse yourself in the adventure at Windjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek, Lennard Gorge, Bell Gorge, Galvans Gorge, Manning Gorge, Drysdale River Station, Home Valley Station and El Questro Wilderness Park.

The Gibb River Road is generally open from May to November but is best visited early in the season to see the gorges, waterfalls and swimming holes in their full glory. If visited later in the year the pools at the bottom of the falls remain even if the falls dry up to just a dribble.  The Pentecost River crossing (pictured under the Gibb River Road headline) is probably the most famous of all Gibb River Road views and one of the few big rivers that you have to cross on your trip but at the very beginning of the season that can be a bit of a challenge.

There’s a surprising range of accommodation for travellers along the Gibb River Road, from campsites to station stays and glamping. After Derby, it is recommended to stop overnight in the Bell Gorge area where a lot of the main waterfalls are, before continuing to Mornington Wilderness Camp. Like most of the options on the Gibb River Road, Mornington Wilderness Camp has a campground but it also offers 11 safari-style tents each with ensuite and a private balcony overlooking picturesque Annie Creek. In the evenings, dine under the stars at the bush bar and restaurant and relive that day’s adventure with your fellow guests. Another stop is required on your way to El Questro and the campsite besides Manning Gorge is a good choice as the gorge is one of the most beautiful and best swimming spots in the Kimberley. From here, drive the last 350 km to El Questro Station or head all the way to Kununurra.

Kununurra is also the gateway to the beautiful Bungle Range, located within Purnululu National Park and pictured at the very beginning of the newsletter. Rising 300 metres above the grass-covered plains that surround them, the orange and black sandstone domes of the Bungle are one of the world’s most fascinating geological landmarks. These dramatically sculptured natural formations are at their most picturesque when seen from above and many companies operate daily scenic flights from Kununurra. Another activity worth doing from Kununurra is a wildlife cruise of Lake Argyle’s shoreline and islands which will give you close encounters with an incredible variety of native fauna, from fresh water crocodiles, fish and wallabies, to more than 240 species of birds.

El Questro

Located in the heart of the Kimberley region in Western Australia is El Questro with over 700,000 acres to explore. Experience deep gorges, majestic mountains, thermal springs, mud and salt flats, rainforests and cascading waterfalls.

Everything the Kimberley region has to offer can be found on the property’s vast acreage. El Questro consists of 3 properties; El Questro Station, Emma Gorge and El Questro Homestead. If you haven’t already, it is highly recommended to hire a 4WD and self-drive this section as then you have the freedom to explore – and there is so much to see and do! The absolute must dos are a boat trip along the Chamberlain Gorge and a visit to Zebedee Springs to immerse yourself in the thermal pools.

Northern Territories /Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park is an enormous, biodiverse nature reserve in Australia’s Northern Territory. With terrain encompassing wetlands, rivers and escarpments sandstone, it’s home to Aboriginal rock paintings, dating to prehistoric times, as well as some 2,000 plant species and wildlife from saltwater crocodiles and flatback turtles to birds. The rugged and remote beauty of Kakadu has stories to share and is home to the oldest living culture on earth: with more than 5,000 Aboriginal rock art sites in the park, the Bininj/Mungguy people have called Kakadu home for some 65,000 years and the area is still considered sacred to this day.

 

The Arnhem land area, in particular, is home to the traditional landowners, and very few visitor permits are issued in order to maintain its spirituality. Lords Safaris is one of the Northern Territory’s most respected tour operators and guides Sab Lord and Dean Hoath are privileged to have special permission granted by the landowners to visit areas of the Northern Territory inaccessible to other tour companies. The Lord family were pioneers of the Kakadu region and are in a unique position to share deep cultural, ecological and historical knowledge of the region.

Located to the west of Kakadu National Park on the Mary River floodplains, Bamurru Plains is a unique bush camp that works extremely well after the wild adventures with Lords Safaris. It features rustic-chic bungalow tents set amongst native bushland and built on stilts overlooking the floodplains frequented by birds and wildlife. The private concession is so large that it encompasses four distinct habitats and can be explored via open top safari drive, walks and quad bikes – but the exhilarating airboat safari is definitely a must-do to truly experience these floodplain wetlands.

Up Periscope: Lord Howe Island

A ‘paradise island’ of extraordinary contrasts, with rugged volcanic peaks, lush forests and serene lagoons, Lord Howe Island is surrounded by the world’s southern-most coral reef and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1982. Long recognised for its pristine natural heritage, around 75% of the island is now protected and visitor numbers are restricted to 400 at any one time to preserve its precious environment. This multi award winning paradise is less than a 2 hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane. A wonderful way to see the reef, colourful fish and turtles is on a glass-bottom boat and snorkelling tour. You can also hand-feed fish at Ned’s Beach, in a sanctuary zone where fishing is not allowed.

Overlooking Lagoon Beach, Pinetrees Lodge offers elegant accommodation in suites or cottages, featuring either hardwood decks with day beds, or gardens. The laid back feel doesn’t compromise the excellent service making Pinetrees the perfect base to explore what Howe Island has to offer. Alternatively, the upscale Capella Lodge, set between volcanic peaks and the beach, is a more intimate choice as it only features 9 spacious and ocean-view suites.

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