A century has passed since early explorer Charles Price Conigrave ‘discovered’ and named the Berkeley River in Australia’s remote Kimberley region in 1912.
Ironically, another well-known local ‘pioneer’ of the region has been following unknowingly in his footsteps and is about ‘open up’ the area Conigrave predicted exactly 100 years ago would become a ‘haunt of tourists’.
Martin Peirson-Jones, along with his wife Kim, have left their comfortable Broome home and spent the past two years living and working in some extreme conditions whilst building a tourism development at the Berkeley River. They are attempting to create something special that will provide luxury accommodation and access to an area they both believe is some of the most isolated and beautiful on the Kimberley Coast.
In fact, Martin Peirson-Jones had unknowingly echoed Conigrave’s sentiments when he visited the area a few years ago and declared it wild and spectacular with great tourism potential. So much so that he embarked on a multi-million spend that, three years later, would ultimately bring a new level of luxury not yet seen on the Kimberley Coast.
Only recently he discovered that he wasn’t the first to see the promise of the area as a tourism destination. Researching the early history of the area he was surprised to read Conigrave’s comments from the 1930’s that: ‘The scenery thereabouts is, perhaps, as wild as any to be seen in Australia, and years ago I prophesied that some day, when the Far North becomes generally known to the world at large, this great gorge will be the haunt of tourists’.
Not so different though are the conditions that the Peirson-Jones’ are experiencing in comparison to Conigrave’s 1912 Kimberley Exploring Expedition, where he named the river after his brother. The area is isolated and essentially uninhabited. The nearest community is Wyndham, 170kms away. It doesn’t sound that far but there are no roads whatsoever and access is only via boat, or seaplane; admittedly a luxury Conigrave didn’t have but then he wasn’t attempting to build a resort.
Triple J Tours will be providing a vessel to explore the river system and Kimberley Air Tours will be transferring guests in and out of the location aboard their sea planes. The flight will set the scene for what is to come as it soars over the uninhabited coastline on the way to landing in the mouth of the river. (Oh, and if guests want to experience more of the aerial perspective there will be a seven seat helicopter based there from April to September).
Twenty ocean view chalets sit atop a coastal dune system. Chalets have their own private balconies with fantastic 180-degree ocean or river views. They come complete with king sized bed and en-suite with dual vanities and open-air freestanding bathtub. All units are fully air-conditioned and walking distance from main building.
The Berkeley River will open on April 2012 and will cater for both the leisure and corporate market. It will be open year round with a feature being the opportunity to experience the spectacular Kimberley wet season between December and April.For more information go to www.berkeleyriver.com.au or contact 08 9169 1330