The Lane family’s love affair with Coolcalalya station, WA, has turned it into a magnet for four-wheel-drive adventurers and other lovers of the bush.

Story By Samille Mitchell

Bev and Mal Lane first saw the station at its worst. November’s heat had desiccated the land, drying the river to all but the deepest pools. The homestead had no power or running water, and a century-and-a-half’s worth of junk had accumulated. But for this suburban couple, Coolcalalya Station, about 600 kilometres north of Perth, was love at first sight.
The Lanes were fed up with the rat race in Perth and looking for a change. Their favourite four-wheel-drive and camping spots had become overrun with more and more wild areas succumbing to urban sprawl. So one day just over seven years ago they came up with an idea over smoko at their family-run power-tool business. Why not sell their city-based business, buy a station and start an off-road driving tourism venture? “All our friends and relatives thought we were nuts,” Bev says. “But we love it.”
The Lanes found what they were looking for in Coolcalalya Station on the banks of the Murchison River, 100km from the Western Australian coast. This 120,000-hectare sheep station, established in 1852, was run-down and low on stock. But the Lanes envisaged it becoming “a poor man’s El Questro” in reference to the upmarket tourist resort in the Kimberley.
Smitten at first sight, they put in an offer to buy the property. A month later, they had left the city asphalt for the outback red dirt and moved north with their two teenage children to open Murchison Offroad Adventures. The family embarked on a love affair that has transformed this ailing station into a tourist getaway renowned for its four-wheel-drive tracks, bush camping and rollicking events.

This Story is from Issue #98

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2015