As published in The Q Review Spring 2020 Magazine. Follow the link to Subscribe and receive your FREE copy each quarter!
WA’s Kimberley region is epic – a vast expanse of ancient wilderness, home to an abundance of natural wonders but barely a smattering of human beings.
The flight to Berkeley River Lodge emphasises this remoteness.
Our tiny Cessna takes to the skies from Kununurra and loops over the verdant oasis of this irrigated town, but within minutes civilisation is left far behind. The burnt orange landscape extends in undulations to the horizon, pickpocked by scrubby trees.
There are rocky cliffs and granite hills worn smooth by the eons. Here and there a green-fringed river meanders in oxbows, languid in the dry season.
…this is a special place indeed.
But there is not a sign of human habitation. Not a road. Not a fence. Not a town or a farm or a shed. Nothing but nature.
We fly for nearly an hour, awed that such a place still exists in this day and age. It sets the scene for Berkeley River Lodge – this is a special place indeed.
Berkeley River Lodge was built in 2012 with a determination to be a true luxury lodge – a herculean undertaking given the remote location and the capricious weather in the far north of Australia.
The result is a resort that is unequivocally functional, with corrugated iron walls and expansive tin roofs, yet eminently stylish and sophisticated.
This is paired with service and an ethos that is relaxed and understated, but impeccable, and an abundance of activities to ensure that your stay is one of true luxury adventure.
Berkeley River Lodge is comprised of 20 identical villas, arcing in a V-shape across the ridges of two coastal sand dunes, some facing east with views across the Berkeley River, whilst others point westward towards the ocean.
At the apex of the V is the lodge’s main building – a vast open plan chamber with a lofty ceiling and a titanic glass frontage, which functions as the lodge restaurant “Dunes”, its bar, reception, library and gift shop.
Outside, an elevated terrace wraps 180 degrees, perfect for outdoor dining and sunset drinks. And from each end of the terrace, stairs descend to the resort’s signature lap pool, its sparkling turquoise waters juxtaposed against the iridescent silver-white of the resort.
Each of the lodge’s 20 villas have glistening corrugated iron walls and soaring tin roofs, fronted by a large triangular deck that extends over the dunes on stilts.
Inside, the spacious interior is brightly lit by windows on three sides, providing expansive views of the spectacular surroundings.
There is an immensely comfortable king size bed and lounge chairs for reposing, as well as a coffee machine, filtered water, reading materials and a hanging rack for clothes.
There is an overhead fan and powerful air-conditioning, surprisingly unnecessary, as despite the 39 degree heat, the ocean breezes through the louvered windows are sufficient to keep the villa pleasantly cool.
Behind the main room of the villa, there is the open-air bathroom, framed with bamboo walls but open to the sunshine and stars above, with a dual vanity, piping hot shower and a free-standing marble bath big enough for two.
…the outdoor bathroom is completely open on one side, providing serene views of the surrounding wilderness from the shower, the bath, and the loo!
The toilet is an eco-friendly composting toilet and there are environmentally friendly bathroom products provided.
We are in villa 20, by request. At the highest point of the seaside ridge, villa 20 is the most far-flung of Berkeley’s villas.
Pointing away from the resort, there is nothing obscuring its expansive ocean vista, stretching to the horizon. And whilst otherwise identical to the other nineteen villas, the secluded orientation of villa 20 allows a secret special touch – the outdoor bathroom is completely open on one side, providing serene views of the surrounding wilderness from the shower, the bath, and the loo! The longer walk to the lodge may deter some, however the unique bathroom view will ensure we will be requesting this villa on our future visits.
Watch out for Part 2 in coming weeks…
The Lodge’s Main Building at dusk.