In the 10,000 years since the last ice age, rising sea levels flooded the river valleys of north-western Australia to create an outback fjordland and the most magnificent and rugged stretch of coastline anywhere in Australia, if not the world.
In partnership with Paspaley Pearls, Wild Bush Luxury has – with minimal intervention – transformed Australia’s oldest pearl farm into an exclusive wilderness lodge. With just three rooms - which were previously reserved for special guests of the Paspaley family - Kuri Bay is not luxurious in the traditional sense: while the accommodation is simple, guests are assured of supremely comfortable beds, fine food and wine. Menus highlight local delicacies, including fresh fish (perhaps even caught that day whilst out on the boat) with wines sourced from the Paspaley family’s own vineyard, "Bunnamagoo" in New South Wales.
The property is only accessible by helicopter or sea plane – a spectacular, one hour and 45-minute air safari from Broome over the pristine, jewel-like islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago; the red rock cliffs of the Kimberley coast and the famous horizontal waterfalls, created by the massive tides. Before you even arrive at Kuri Bay, guests have a sense of the vastness of the Kimberley wilderness: an area the size of California with just 30,000 inhabitants. The nearest town to Kuri Bay lies 220 km away.
Days are filled with exploring the coastline with Wild Bush Luxury’s experienced guides, learning both the natural and human stories of the region: the whispered tale of two-metre tall Aboriginal people; the heroics and tragedy of the 1864 settlement where a number of European would-be farmers perished; and the zeal and fortitude of the early missionaries. A visit to the lone grave of Mary Jane Pascoe, under an ancient Boab tree on Sheep Island, serves to highlight the real human history of the area.
There is the story of Camden Sound, one of the world’s greatest Humpback whale calving grounds, which was recently designated a Marine Park under the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy, and which lies on Kuri Bay’s doorstep: between June and October, whales are often seen in the bay. There are guided whale watching trips and boat trips to Montgomery Reef, Australia’s largest in-shore reef, where the huge tide recedes so fast it creates cascading waterfalls.
One of the most biologically significant regions of the world, the area’s wildlife is prolific, including birds, turtles and enormous crocodiles, and the fishing is world-class, from Barramundi in the creeks to reef and open water pelagics. See if you can spot Delilah, the resident salt water crocodile, basking in her favourite spot on the pontoon out in the bay.
Kuri Bay’s five-star exclusivity lies in the uniqueness of the experience and the opportunity to discover the secret stories of the Kimberley - get in touch with real Australia and feel completely alive in this magical corner of the world.
With just 3 guest rooms, Kuri Bay, is the most exclusive lodge on the Kimberley coast. Guest accommodation is in the traditional Broome-style building, used by Paspaley to host their most important visitors.
Each of the three Verandah Rooms are fan cooled with a private bathroom and open on to a deep verandah with sweeping views over Kuri Bay. With no telephone, television or the typical features of a hotel room to distract, the focus turns to the environment and the experiences that Kuri Bay's passionate and expert guides deliver while exploring the coastline. The accommodation formula is simple - focussing on key creature comforts, a supremely comfortable bed, great food and good wine, all the while staying on Australia's first south-sea pearl farm.
Meals are taken in the canteen, a classic working building where for decades pearling staff have enjoyed a hearty breakfast before heading out to work on the lines of shell in the surrounding bays. Late in the day, it has been the setting for an evening drink and early dinner as the sun sets over the bay. The trestle dining tables and benches remain inside while on the verandah overlooking the jetty, shade cloth protects you from the strength of the midday sun or a wet season downpour. The canteen and surrounding buildings exude a character and working history of a place that has been at the heart of one of Australia's most fascinating and secretive industries and is only open now to a few fortunate individuals. In this sense the dinner table is the perfect setting to immerse oneself in the stories that emanate from the pearl farm and have shaped the lives of the people who have lived and worked here.
You will enjoy meals that include the freshest of local seafood, pearl meat canapés and fine Australian wines, including those from the Paspaley family's own vineyards, Bunnamagoo.
When to travel
Kuri Bay has a tropical savannah climate, typically a tropical wet and dry climate. Average temperatures range between lows of 19 C to highs of up to 34 C. Rainfall averages around 350 mm in the wet season. You will see different wildlife at different times of the year. Between June to October each year, Camden Sound is home to over 1,000 Humpback Whales, the greatest Humpback nursery in the world.
Best time to visit
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Location and directions
Kimberley Coast, Western Australia, Australia
Kuri Bay is situated in the heart of one of the most remote coastlines in the world, 220 kms north-east of the nearest main settlement, Derby. The journey is an essential and spectacular part of the Kuri Bay experience with an air safari over Australia's 'outback fjordland'.
How to get there
1-hour 45-minute flight by seaplane from Broome, 2-hour 30-minute flight from Darwin, 1-hour 30-minutes' from Kununurra and helicopter options are also available from Broome, Derby, Kununurra and Mitchell Plateau.