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The dinosaur highway of Walmadany

Just 80km out of Broome, the coastline from Barred Creek all the way to the end of James Price Point is 'what I could only describe as a Gozo equivalent'

marc_casolani
Marc Casolani
15 September 2017, 7:47am
“The message for little Colin Barnett was pretty clear on Sunday when approximately 20,000 people turned up for the Wilderness Society’s Concert for the Kimberley. But was he listening? Does he ever listen? Do any politicians ever listen?” This is what was said of the situation that faced James Price Point, known by its aboriginal name Walmadany, back in 2013. Thousands of people protested against a proposed gas plant deal that would have destroyed hundreds of kilometres of untouched land, land that is not only sacred but also pristine in every sense. People like John Butler, a famous musician, were at the forefront of organising petitions and events to raise awareness and contest the proposed deal. Luckily, it paid off and the deal was off. Thus, leaving this land free to be experienced and cherished by those who explore it. 

Only 80km out of Broome, this pristine bit of coastline from Barred Creek all the way up to the end of James Price Point is what I could only describe as a Gozo equivalent. Not in its environment of course, but in the feeling of a getaway close to home. The bonus here, is that the environment is so unique and clean, with no man-made presence for a 50km radius, except for the corrugated track that gets you there. 

It’s a place where fossilised footprints on the beach are seen as those of Emu – man, which to the aborigines is their ancestor in the “dreamtime”.  To add on to this, James Price Point has been established as a dinosaur highway with footprints of the giant beasts running from Broome, along 200km of coast of the Dampier Peninsula. The area contains the world’s largest single print and there is evidence of 21 separate dinosaur species from the Cretaceous period that have been identified. So I guess it’s a huge thing that in August 2013 the Supreme Court of Western Australia overruled Western Australian Environment Minister and the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority and blocked Browse LNG plant at James Price Point, thanks to the successful lobbying by the Wilderness Society. 

When I turned off the Broome highway and got onto the Cape Leveque road, I knew I was straight back into 4WD territory. There’s something special about the pindan, the bright red soil of Western Australia. To me it just looks like the most precious mineral found on earth. The striking contrasts of the red sands, brought about by the iron oxide in the clay-like soil, and the ocean are mesmerizing even though it can be a nuisance and a test to one’s patience.

To get to James Price Point I had to turn off onto the Manari track, a track that takes you passed several amazing beaches and creeks that area a hideaway for all the locals here. The more frequented and touristic tracks would be the tours that go up to Cape Leveque; another area that is truly beautiful but unless you are granted access by the local communities you will be constricted to Kooljaman. 

It’s a great place to experience just before or after the wet season because there aren’t many people around, but in the peak dry season this place is infested with tour groups. Hence, it is only worth venturing up to the peninsula if you know the local community. This is also why many Broome locals go and explore the James Price Point coast, because it’s free for all and vast. 

As I navigated through the dirt tracks and sometimes-dense bush I came across so many hidden inlets and bays, so serene, with the only the sounds of the ocean and the birdlife buzzing around. In the five days I spent around this part of the coast I came across very few campers and spent most of the time on my own. After the first night, I just spent my days there exploring new creeks and beaches. Fishing helped me heaps to sustain my food supplies and there was plenty of hiking and snorkelling to do. I would say that this is a prime snorkelling area but whenever I came across rocks, I would survey the area and see what marine life was around. I found fresh oysters at a place called Barred Creek and at the end of James Price Point. This was a major bonus to sustaining myself and added to keeping supplies lasting. 

I’d wake up and stumble down my ladder from the roof tent, then in the most unelegant manner I’ll make my way down the beach and finally into the water for an awakening swim. This was somewhat more stressful that I envisaged as the low tide added an extra 50 metres of beach that I had to get through till I finally hit the water. But these are small problems and I can most definitely live with them. After that I’d have a healthy big breakfast and quite a bit of coffee, then head off for a few treks. 

Exploring and capturing the area’s feeling was my mission. If I wasn’t hiking I’d be off-roading to a new location and setting up camp and then enjoying a good sunset. Once I’m satisfied with what I’ve seen or captured I’d either go fishing or collect wood for the fire. When sunset comes I’ll be all set up with a bit of whiskey and my camera. Then I’ll cook up a good dinner and enjoy the stars. I’ll hit the sack early and do it all again the next day. This is always weather permitting however. If I get a day were the weather is volatile then I would spend the day bunking down in the camp site or finding a safer area. Whatever the situation however, it’s not only an adventure as I capture what I can to share it with you all so that you may one day experience it or something similar, but it’s a life I relish and it gives me a sense of living whilst appreciating. 

Until next time, let the world be your playground.

Marc Casolani is a freelance photographer and a chronic traveler. Bitten by the travel bug...
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