The remote beauty and stunning environment of the Kimberley’s Faraway Bay can be shared thanks to the vision of Bruce and Robyn Ellison.
Story By Mark Muller
The Kimberley has a justifiable reputation as one of the most spectacular parts of Australia. Rugged beauty, awesome scenery and enough space and freedom to do what you want are all part of its mystique. Certainly, it the sort of place that leaves its mark on all who live their, and those who visit. There are some, however, who give back just as much: the pioneering Duracks, the visionaries behind the Ord River scheme or internationally renowned artists like Rover Thomas and Queenie McKenzie.
Perched atop the Kimberley’s Diamond Coast 280 kilometres north west of Kununurra, with views sweeping out over the azure hues of the Timor Sea, is the fruit of the labour of two who give back in spades – Bruce and Robyn Ellison. They have taken tourism in the Kimberley to a new level and have in turn been uplifted by the people who visit them. Bruce and Robyn opened the Bush Camp at Faraway Bay back in 1996, having discovered the remote site a decade earlier, and were visited by OUTBACK for our launch issue in 1998. In the intervening nine years they have won a swag of awards for their work and have overcome massive adversity to be, today, among the most highly-regarded and lauded operators in the country, not that they’ll skite about it. Indeed, part of their charm and success is the low-key modesty and sharp humour that infuses Faraway Bay. “It’s not easy, but we enjoy it and it’s certainly not killing us!” laughs Bruce.
Things have certainly been pretty hairy at times, all the same. No time more so than when the camp was virtually destroyed by Cyclone Ingrid back in March of 2005. All of the camp’s eight guest cabins were trashed, and the verandah torn from the main lodge. Bruce had built Eagle Lodge using massive timbers that were once part of the Wyndham wharf and the fact they were still standing after Ingrid’s 265kph onslaught is testimony to both their strength and his skills as a builder. Fortunately the wet season caretakers, the only people there at the time, took shelter in a purpose-anchored shipping container and no one was hurt, but the camp was a fair mess. “It was very distressing,” says Robyn. “There wasn’t a leaf left on anything and we weren’t sure how long it would take to get things back in shape.” The answer? Far less time than anyone could have foreseen. The support from former guests and Kimberley locals was “overwhelming” and Faraway Bay was once more open for business a month after Ingrid passed through.
This story excerpt is from Issue #53
Outback Magazine: June/July 2007