5 Ways to Slow Down in Faraway Bay
A feeling washes over you at this wilderness retreat that at once makes you disconnect, and reconnect. You might expect it to come from the humbling Kimberley landscapes, ancient rock art or wild nature, but it’s just as likely to happen while taking a shower.
The name couldn’t be more appropriate – perched on a remote shoreline of the Kimberley, Faraway Bay offers the kind of luxurious seclusion that people dream of. Its isolation from the ‘real world’ is a big part of its appeal – located 280 kilometres north-west of the nearest hub Kununurra, it’s only accessible by light aircraft or helicopter, and the scenic flight there deftly triggers a sweet sense of release. The retreat’s time-slowing ability is just as linked to its simplicity: communal dinners, impromptu stargazing and hammock swinging act as reminders of the times we treasure most.
Original owner Bruce Ellison came across the site in 1986, while working for a mineral exploration company. He and wife Robyn built the getaway from the ground up; their eventual retirement made way for current owners Kevin and Kathie Reilly to up the luxe factor, while staying true to the retreat’s simple pleasures. Here’s what to expect.
Just eight bush cabins
With a maximum of just 16 guests, you’ll find seclusion but also the kind of intimacy borne from an incredible shared experience. Cabins charm with the simplicity of mozzie nets, yet evoke creature comforts with air conditioning and coffee machines. Outside, the raw Kimberley environment completes the wow factor with its 1.8-billion-year-old rock formations, curious rock art sites revealing both Gwion Gwion (Bradshaw) and Wandjina pieces and audible birdlife of 140 species and counting.
Standing naked under a slender, corrugated iron shower tank might sound challenging, but after the Kimberley sun plunges and the inky night sky becomes a glitterscape of stars, there’s nothing more freeing than a shower in the balmy open air. As solar-heated spring water tumbles down, you can sip a glass of sparkling and marvel at the vast Southern Hemisphere in luxurious privacy. Largely devoid of ambient light, it’s one of the most amazing sky shows you’ll ever see.
The petite pool
Proving that size doesn’t matter, Faraway Bay’s handmade rock pool is a small but memorable oasis of calm. Filled with fresh water, it grants dreamy views of the sandy bay below, which overlooks the cornflower-blue Timor Sea with a fan-shaped shore at its toes. Keep your eyes peeled while bathing; if you’re lucky, you might spot a crocodile or dugong in the waters below.
Our childhood memories often centre around the family dinner table, and it’s perhaps this relaxed familiarity that makes Faraway Bay’s communal dinners so memorable. Everyone in the retreat eats at a long table in the open-air lodge each night, sharing wine and stories, and forming fast friendships that are often enduring. Fresh red snapper or barramundi hooked on a successful fishing trip justifiably becomes the centrepiece of many an evening meal. The white flesh might be smoked in banana leaf over the pit fire, or teamed with other local produce such as mango salsa and chia.
Owner Kevin Reilly regularly doubles as the retreat’s chef, and what he can do from a kitchen that has to fly or ship in supplies is inspiring. Warning: his home-baked muffins may be addictive.
Many an accidental siesta has been had in the retreat’s white hammock. Lower yourself in with a book, but expect to be distracted by the 180-degree views of rust-hued rocks, barely explored virgin bush, and flat ocean with absolutely nothing on the horizon.
Banner photography by Ben Knapinski.