Berkeley River Lodge, Western Australia
The Kimberley, in the far north-west of Australia, is one of the emptiest places on Earth. It is possible to drive for days without seeing any sign of human habitation. Yet here, on a sensational stretch of dramatic coastline, stands this unique wilderness lodge. It is so sequestered that the only way to get here is by helicopter or air taxi (or perhaps private yacht). People come for the isolation – in few places can the nights appear darker or starrier – but also for the deep, tranquil comfort of the 20 smart villas which seem to float like a lovely little armada on the coastal dunes. All the bathrooms are outdoors for long showers beneath a yellow tropical sun in the clear Australian sky. Some of the cabins look out on the snaking Berkeley River, others have views of the TimorSea.
And this sea is for looking at, not for swimming in, because the glittering water teems with bull sharks and saltwater crocodiles. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Go fishing off the two is lands called, mysteriously, Aunt and Uncle. Or take a guided boat tour down the river – the best way to see the wild Kimberley and all that lives here: ghost gums and bottle shaped boab trees, brahminy kites, jabiru birds with beaks like screwdrivers. The hotel chef can make up a fabulous lunch box filled with salads and focacciato take along and enjoy with a cold beer beneath the Casuarina Falls. And if you are desperate for a dip, there is a beautiful swimming hole (without crocs) at the far end of the first creek on the right.