Set in the far northwest, the Kimberley is one of the most rugged and remote regions of Australia. Closer to Jakarta than to Sydney, its 135,600 square miles are home to just 35,000 people. Cattle stations take up some of that space, but for the most part, the landscape comprises craggy sienna-hued ranges, emerald forests and wetlands, and forbidding cliffs that plunge into the ocean.
I have long sought a place in the Kimberley that provides an acceptable level of comfort along with a genuine Outback experience. I finally found it in The Berkeley River Lodge. Located on towering sand dunes at the mouth of the Berkeley River, the lodge, which opened in 2012, is the realization of an ambitious dream. Owners Martin and Kim Pierson-Jones had been offered land on which to develop a resort by an Aboriginal family. The challenge proved enormous, but “that was the appeal,” says Martin, who is a well-known entrepreneur in Western Australia.
The main lodge and the 20 villas had to be specially designed and the steel contracted for in China. Then everything, including the 65-foot pool, had to be brought in by barge. Each of the 20 loads required a trip of 14 hours; there are no roads into this part of the Kimberley.