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Jawdropping... flying over
the Buccaneer Archipelago.
TRAVEL TIP? WING IT
1. OVER SEA
One of the most popular tours is to the Buccaneer Archipelago, with two
flights (7am-12.30pm and 12.30pm–5 .30pm). It includes 2.5 hours of
flight time and costs $480 per person, with stops for beverages along the
way. The tour will take you up to the Horizontal Waterfalls, before heading
south again and landing at Cape Leveque where you spend 1.5 hours having
morning or afternoon tea and a swim. Then, you fly back to Broome over
the western Kimberley (keep an eye out for Cockatoo and Koolan islands
– they are a spectacular sight). Book in advance as far as possible as most of
the flights require four people a flight before they can confirm take off.
After 27 years trekking, living and
working in the North West, Alison Bird
is one of Broome’s iconic faces – here,
we meet one of the characters of the
Kimberley and the wider North West.
Take a camel ride up Cable Beach
with Broome Camel Safaris and
owner Alison Bird will teach you
some of what she’s learned.
Her love of adventure brought
her to the North West in the 1980s,
then a chance encounter with a
wild camel turned her life into an
Outback safari partnership of which
most of us could only dream.
After spending several years
riding her bicycle across Australia
on a quest for self-discovery, Alison,
from Far North Queensland, found
herself in Kununurra and decided
it was time to get some animals to
share the load. After failing to find
any mules to help her, she stopped
to work at a cattle station.
In 1983, she was introduced to the
perfect Outback travelling partner,
a two-year-old camel that just
wandered in one day with another
station’s cattle muster.
“He looked at me and nibbled
my finger, and I just instantly fell in
love,” Alison says. “He thought he
owned me, following me around
everywhere.” She bought the little
fella for $200 and began to train him.
“I named him Seabush because
we’d go ‘see the bush’ together.”
Alison ingeniously handmade
her first camel saddle from “a
combination of whittled down
desert oak [a strong acacia] and
canvas, stuffed with whatever I
could find from the bush”.
They walked to Marble Bar and
spent a year exploring the area.
Then she bought two more camels,
and for the next seven years,
trekked through the outback, at
one point with a friend and his
camels. “I wasn’t really going
anywhere in particular, I was
just looking at the bush and
experiencing the bush. For me, it
was a survival thing... it was me
doing it for myself.” They spent
time experiencing the Outback’s
beauty, painting with oils, digging
for fresh water (yes, they mastered
this art) and living off the land.
While out in the bush,
Alison experienced a spiritual
reawakening, and realised she
needed to “start doing things for
other people and not just for
myself”. So she gave up the
camels to work with Aboriginal
communities. After a year,
frustrated by government policies,
she decided to return to her
beloved camels. “I’ll never forget
the day I returned and Seabush
came straight up to me,” she says.
“It was amazing – even after a year
he didn’t forget me.”
In 1996, her love of camels led
her to set up Broome Camel Safaris.
Visit www.broomecamelsafaris.com .
WIlD ABOUT CAMelS
Established in 1983, Broome Aviation is the longest-serving and biggest
scenic (fixed-wing) flight operator here. These are its top scenic tours.
The Gorgeous Gorges
experience is exclusive
to Broome Aviation and
takes you to Windjana
Gorge (right) where
you can learn about
the wildlife in the area
and see the freshwater
crocodiles. From there,
travel to a remote airstrip
and alight, ready to take
a 14km 4WD journey to
Bell Gorge. Enjoy the beautiful waterfalls and take a swim, then travel
to Mount Hart station for lunch. From there, you are flown to Buccaneer
Archipelago and Cape Leveque for afternoon tea, then back to Broome. The
Windjana gorge, numerous waterfalls, King Leopold Range and Dampier
Peninsular are favourite sections of the tour, as is the safe swimming. A
minimum of two people a flight, the tour runs from 7am-5pm, which
includes 4 hours of flight time and costs $860 per person. Good walking
shoes and stable legs are a requirement.
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