Home' Scoop : Scoop 53 Spring 2010 Contents 94 scoop SPRING 2010
t’s a long, rough and dusty road from
Kununurra out to Home Valley Station.
And that’s just the way they like it. It’s the
iconic Gibb River Road and it’s meant to
be rough; it’s supposed to be a driving
challenge. Hey, this is the Kimberley, the land of
4WD vehicles, sure-footed station horses and
people as nug getty and resilient as the kangaroos
and cattle that wander over its vast plains.
On our drive out to Home Valley Station, artist,
musician and Home Valley guide Alfie Campbell
shakes his head at the graders and trucks laying
bitumen along great stretches of this road – it’ll be
too easy to drive, take the fun out of it, he says.
An hour-and-a-half drive out of Kununurra,
Home Valley is a 250,000ha cattle station just
west of the Pentecost River. It is one of several
properties owned by the Indigenous Land
Corporation, and after an extensive program of
renovations is a frontrunner in the new style of
pastoral-based tourism on offer in the Kimberley.
Thanks to the movie Australia, its magnificent
landscape is immediately familiar. As well as
the wide Pentecost River, Bindoola creek winds
through the property: we swam at Bindoola Gorge
(and only noticed the small freshwater crocodile
lurking in the rocks after we’d g ot out), before
having a glass of champagne watching the setting
sun light up the ranges. It was the perfect end to a
perfect day that had included horse riding (with the
charming JR in charge) and a little bushwalking.
Accommodation ranges from the superb Grass
Castles, on the edge of the creek, to eco tents in
the bush, or camping on a wide grassed area or at
a bush camp by the river. Trail rides, sunset tours,
bird watching and guided fishing trips are all on
offer. Dinner is ser ved in an open-sided shed with a
campfire, often with live country music thrown in.
But Home Valley is so much more than a
tourism operation. It is an accredited training
facility (in conjunction with Kimberley TAFE and
Kimberley Group Training) and provides a vital
opportunity for Indigenous people of the area to
develop skills in tourism and hospitality as well as
a range of pastoral operations. The station also
provides employment, social and cultural benefits.
And, they, in turn, bring such benefits to
visitors. Alfie, whose family originally came from
Arnhem Land, is a Wyndham local and as we drive and
walk around this beautiful property, he points out the
paperbark trees from which he will strip bark to wrap
fish before it goes on the coals. Other trees, he says,
he’ll select to make didgeridoos. Others, spears.
He brings the countryside alive with his funny
stories about how to catch goannas (you have to get
a whole group of people and be prepared to r un
very fast, apparently) and fascinating tales about a
spirit place on a range behind the homestead.
Domenic Sampi, a trainee from Lombadina,
north of Broome, takes a little coaxing but soon
he, too, is showing us gubinge trees and other bush
tucker, the plants that can be substituted for soap
and those which can be used for string, all the
while impressing us with his animated tales of
catching dugong and turtles.
The Aboriginal people, their heritage, stories and
millions of years accumulated knowledge about the
land, its plants and animals, are an essential part of
the Home Valley experience. T he knowledge that
everyone here is also committed to using the station
to help further opportunites for local people, makes
the experience of being here even better.
It’s a really special place.
Danielle spent five days in the East Kimberley in May
and stayed at Home Valley for a night. hvstation.com .au
words Danielle Benda
Its stunning landscape featured in the movie
Australia, but Home Valley Station offers so
much more than a great tourism experience
The experienced and knowledgeable
guides are a huge part of making the
Home Valley experience so unforgettable.
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