Kalumburu - Honeymoon bay or Mcgowans

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 22, 2009 at 21:09
ThreadID: 66205 Views:4634 Replies:6 FollowUps:7
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Could anyone that has been please provide advice on which is the better place to stay in kalumburu. We are going to Kalumburu for 3-4 days in May this year and also intend on doing some fishing.

Thanks in advance
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Reply By: Kev - Member - Wynnum - Sunday, Feb 22, 2009 at 21:25

Sunday, Feb 22, 2009 at 21:25
We were there July 2008. Stayed at Honeymoon Bay, there are very limited facilities there but we enjoyed it because it was back to nature. We stayed right on the beach in our own trailers. Les, the proprietor, is always willing to go fishing and will get you some very impressive fish.
McGowans is fairly commercial with beautiful facilities and camp grounds. Don't know about the fishing.
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Follow Up By: marrakai - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 07:12

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 07:12
thanks a lot Kev. appreciate you taking the time.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Feb 22, 2009 at 21:48

Sunday, Feb 22, 2009 at 21:48
Well, Marrakai............
We spent 5 weeks at McGowan Island Beach in 2005.
Spent 7 weeks at Honeymoon Bay in 2006.
Spent 6 weeks at Honeymoon Bay in 2007.
Spent 8 weeks at Honeymoon Bay in 2008.

Which is best? Can't answer that for you. The answer is about people and preferences and what's important to you.

There have been some 'local issues' at McGowans recently, but they may or may not have an influence on the tourist experience this year.
We know Les and Ruth French and their families well and enjoy their (entertaining) company.

The shore based fishing is not good at either spot.
From a tinny, I would prefer Honeymoon as there are more choices closer, but you must know some marks.

Les take people fishing at Honymoon, you must take your own gear and it will be an expeience that you remember.
Won't be up there this year, or I would take you out myself. There are some VERY big fish out there!
Are you taking a boat?

Lots of pics in the slideshows in the link below.

OKA196 Motorhome

AnswerID: 350499

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Feb 22, 2009 at 21:54

Sunday, Feb 22, 2009 at 21:54
Irrespective of what any locals might say, DO NOT SWIM at either place.
There ARE big crocks.....

Also, possibly the best shore based fishsing is in the King Edward River gorge, a few km north of Kalumburu. It is still tidal there.

OKA196 Motorhome
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Follow Up By: marrakai - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 07:18

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 07:18
Thanks Peter_n_Margaret. I will head up there and check it out before deciding i reckon. Definitely will not be swimming. I am from the NT so appreciate the dangers. many thanks.
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Reply By: wendys - Sunday, Feb 22, 2009 at 22:48

Sunday, Feb 22, 2009 at 22:48
We first stayed at Honeymoon in 2000. Really loved it, despite some hiccups with their plumbing/water supply pipes regularly breaking. Spent 3 weeks there. Went back in 2007 for a week. Cyclones had taken out what little shade there was previously. The water supply was polluted and muddy. There had been no improvement or addition to the unisex and rather primitive amenities - despite Les having, in 2000, a sizeable grant for same. It was still a case of white campers who want amenities cleaned must do it themselves. Ditto rubbish collection - the crows were still having a big party. Les and the family seemed much less interested in the camping operation, but Les was still taking out fishing trips - I think He Who Drives' catch was probably the most expensive fish dinner we will ever eat! We found the camp dogs intrusive. They charged a heap for power (which we did not want) and this consisted of a heap of long leads plugged into one pole. Then the family went off to Kalumburu for a few days, the genset ran out of fuel (we heard there was an issue of unpaid fuel bills) and those who had paid for power were very annoyed. We then went to Mc Gowans for a week. There were a couple of white guys managing it and one did fishing trips. The water was very clean and drinkable. There was an Atco amenities unit, still cold water only, but cleaned daily. BYO toilet paper in both places, though. There was shade, an attempt to make a central green area and an air of being cared for and well run. We regretted the week we'd spent at Honeymoon, once we were at Mc Gowans. A really big issue for us was that, at Honeymoon, there were several large groups who were there for an extended period, with boats, freezers etc, to catch as many fish as they could, to take away. Bag limits meant nothing, especially of limited species like red emperor. We saw people with large piles of such fish, cleaning them, ready to freeze, every day. Les and family were given fish and fish heads - we presumed, to turn a blind eye to the rules. At McGowans, the guys in charge made it very clear that they expected the fisheries rules to be obeyed. There were none of the big camp/freezer setups there. Obviously in such an area, the "local" conditions can change radically, from year to year, and the power balance can change quickly, but we felt that there was a development plan in place at McGowans, whereas at Honeymoon the focus was extracting maximum dollars for minimum input or concern for "country".
AnswerID: 350506

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Feb 22, 2009 at 23:29

Sunday, Feb 22, 2009 at 23:29
All pretty accurate Wendy.
Swings and roundabouts on the local politics. They are currently trying to remove the 'white guys'. Not sure what that will mean this year.
Last year (2008) the rate at McGowans was $12pp and at Honeymoon it was $10pp. Les will negotiate for longer stays.

There is beach camping at Honeymoon (that is where we go). Much more constrained at McGowans.

You need to see for yourself, that is the best plan. wait 'till you get there an spend a few hours checking both places out.

There is a third aternative at Pago, but there are NO facilities there (close to the water, but no beach) and you would probably be on your own. Negotiate directly with the Waina family in town.

OKA106 Motorhome
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Follow Up By: marrakai - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 07:16

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 07:16
thanks Wendy. Cant agree more on sticking to the fisheries rules. i think i will do as suggested and have a look around before deciding. On your recent experiences though it sounds like Mcgowans is the safer option. much appreciated.
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Reply By: Member - reggy 2 (VIC) - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 11:57

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 11:57
WE were up there last year we stayed at mcgowans cost $30 per night for 2 no power no water at site and along walk to ammenities cold water but hot water at house we also had to pay $40 for entry into Kalumburu there is a caretaker out at pago and as stated nothing else but it is worth a look at the old remains check at the museum at kalum and say giday to Tim Fischers sister if she is still there they should have the old bake house ready for the tourists now
ps the milk shakes are tasty at the store
cheers reggy2
AnswerID: 350557

Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 14:07

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 14:07
Hi Marrakai

We chose McGowans, after someone's trip report told of a few anxious moments in the sand getting a Bushtracker into Honeymoon.

$30 per night is pretty standard across the Kimberley, regardless of facilities. I found the water in the showers pleasantly warm during the day, but park operators said we could use the hot shower at the house.

We parked on the beach just past the main campground and enjoyed the beach side setting and glorious sunsets.

Anywhere in Kalumburu, the rules are, take only as much fish as you can eat while there. We paid $150 each to be taken out in a boat and had a wonderful half day of fun. Our skipper provided all the tackle (although my husband insisted on trying out his new rod), and assisted with landing the fish, and taking them off etc. We aren't big fish eaters, but they fish we caught was just beautiful. The fun was in the catching, so throwing back a HUGE dhufish which i had to get my husband to pull in for me was just part of a fun day. They assisted with the filleting when we got to shore.

The people next door to us went fishing from the rocks, and came home with a catch - they later admitted, given to them by people with a boat who had caught over quota.

Picture won't load - I'll try again later.



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Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 14:16

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 14:16
H Motherhen,

A great place hey! Should take a boat next time. And I'm looking forward to taking my BT there as well in a couple of years.

This is our blog,

Site Link

We would go back there tomorrow if we could.

Kind regards
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Follow Up By: wendys - Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 17:10

Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 17:10
Hello Motherhen,
you are right to point out that those prices are pretty "normal" Kimberley. In 2007, we paid (for 2) $24 a night at Honeymoon and $20 at McGowans. Sounds like its gone up at McGowans. Even in the Bungles NP it was $20 a night for us.
I can't think of anywhere, offhand, along the Gibb or further north, that provides water or sullage ( or often power) to individual sites - in fact, there is no such thing as conventional individual sites! (Possible exception the main camp area at ElQ? Don't know about there because we stay in the riverside bush bays.) People travelling up there have to put aside conventional expectations and take places as they find them. That is part of the magic of the Kimberley. Most such places have one central amenities "facility" - how far you have to walk depends on where you decide to camp.
The $40 charge to drive through, or visit, Kalumburu, is totally separate from the tourist operations at Honeymoon and McGowans.
MH - I know the area where you parked at McGowans. We fetched up on the edge of the central grassy area, not far from amenities - for the sake of shade. It was August by then and we'd just had a very hot and dusty week out in the open at Honeymoon - shade was nice!
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Reply By: Oldsquizzy (Kununurra) - Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009 at 20:25

Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009 at 20:25
Let Les have a read of this today when he wandered into work. He didn't know the site existed untill then so will see what his view is in a couple of days.
AnswerID: 350851

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