If wilderness is the new luxury, then Kuri Bay in Australia’s Kimberley will be its epitome when it opens in April, 2012. Located on the remotest shore of one of the most isolated regions on Earth, the new Wild Bush Luxury experience offers a new take on ‘luxury’, designed to be an immersion in the lore, legends and landscape of Australia’s last wilderness frontier.
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 five 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 in line with Wild Bush Luxury’s other properties (which include Bamurru Plains, NT; Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, WA; Blue Mountains Private Safaris, NSW and Arkaba Station, SA).
Menus will highlight local delicacies, including fresh fish and pearl meat with wines sourced from the Paspaley family’s own vineyards in New South Wales.
Kuri Bay’s five-star exclusivity lies in the uniqueness of the experience and the opportunity to discover the secret stories of the Kimberley.
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 they 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.
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.
The Kimberley is also one of the oldest landscapes on the planet, little changed since Gondwana, and steeped in 40,000 years of Aboriginal legends and culture.
Along with some of the world’s most ancient Aboriginal cave art, there is also the story of the pearling heritage of the Kimberley, in which Kuri Bay and the Paspaley family play a key role. Founded in 1956, Kuri Bay was Australia’s first South Sea pearl farm and is named after Tokuichi Kuribayashi (1896–1982) of Nippo Pearls, the company that provided the technical expertise to the early farming joint venture. Paspaley’s improved techniques enabled farming of the delicate Pinctada maxima oysters to be perfected, helping the industry to grow and prosper. In its heyday, Kuri Bay was one of the most successful and productive pearl farms in the world.
Kuri Bay will be managed and marketed by Wild Bush Luxury in a joint venture with Paspaley Pearls.
“Our new Kuri Bay venture exemplifies the Wild Bush Luxury philosophy of reconnecting guests to the landscape through inspirational experiences,” explained Charles Carlow, CEO of Wild Bush Luxury.
“We combine the best field guides in Australia and our own unique brand of professional, down-to-earth hospitality to immerse guests in the story of the land, and to deliver an experience unlike any other.”
Each of the five Verandah rooms are fan-cooled and housed in a traditional Broome-style building opening on to a deep verandah, with sweeping views over Kuri Bay, with three shared bathrooms. With no telephone, television or the typical features of a hotel room to distract attention, guests’ focus turns to the environment.
“Kuri Bay’s remote location only serves to enhance the mystique of the Kimberley and lures guests who want to escape the mainstream tourism destinations and experience a unique wilderness location,” said Charles Carlow.
“Few visitors to the Kimberley leave without having been seduced by the purity of the environment, the breathtaking beauty of the rugged landscape set against the emerald sea, and the spirit of one of the most ancient lands on Earth.”
Kuri Bay will open for leisure business in April, 2012. Four-night packages include one night pre-trip at Pinctada Cable Beach Resort, Broome (owned by Marilynne Paspaley), airport transfer and return seaplane flight to Kuri Bay; three nights accommodation; all meals, beverages and guided excursions. They will start in Broome each Friday between April 1 and October 31 and cost 3,585.62€ per person.
Five-night packages, which extend the Kuri Bay stay to four nights, cost 4,183.35€ per person and begin in Broome on Monday each week.