Is this Australia’s most remote hotel?
More than 150km from the nearest town and inaccessible by car, one of Australia’s most unique hotels is up for sale.
Where the Timor Sea meets the Berkeley River in Western Australia’s Kimberley region lies the Berkeley River Lodge, which you can find on a map of mainland Australia easily enough, but what you won’t find is any discernible way to get there.
There’s no address, because it doesn’t have one. Just a vague “Kimberley Coast” listing on the lodge’s own website.
And that’s exactly how the family who dreamed up the resort intended it to be.
“The closest track, if you could call it that, is probably about 60km from the lodge itself, and that’s not a gazetted road, that’s a four-wheel-drive track with private access only through pastoral land,” owner and operator Martin Peirson-Jones says.
“For the foreseeable future it’s most likely going to stay that way.”
But that’s what attracted Peirson-Jones to the site – which is 432km west of Darwin and accessed only by air or boat through Darwin or Kununurra – when the land’s traditional owners approached his family in 2007 about the opportunity to create a secluded tourist destination at one of Australia’s most remote outposts.
“We know the Kimberley pretty well but there’s so much of it out there that most of us haven’t stepped over,” Peirson-Jones says.
Born out of those talks was a resort with 20 villas, each with either ocean or river views, as well as a restaurant, pool and its own airstrip.
The biggest challenge is probably just getting the Berkeley on the map, figuratively speaking
It’s housed guests including a Middle Eastern prince and his wife, who stopped by on their way home from a tour of Australia’s east coast.
“They spent four or five days out there with us and ended up spending most of their time chartering the helicopter because his wife was halfway through gaining her private helicopter licence back home.”
But less than four years after the hotel welcomed its first guests, Peirson-Jones is selling, in the hope that a larger hotel operator can help Berkeley River Lodge realise its full potential, as well as allowing him to devote more time to his family’s successful boutique beer company, Matso’s Broome Brewery.
“The biggest challenge is probably just getting the Berkeley on the map, figuratively speaking,” Peirson-Jones says.
“The profile of the Kimberley region as a tourism destination has always been known and identified, but establishing a unique property and hospitality operation in a region that’s not a well-marketed destination in its own right, when you compare it to the Northern Territory and Arnhem Land or the Queensland island circuit or Margaret River … the challenge was very much about establishing the property in a niche tourism demographic and market.”
“The business is going from strength to strength, year on year. The first four seasons we’ve managed to establish ourselves in the market from a consumer and a traveller perspective but also, importantly, from agents and the tourism and travel industry. It has been a big effort but we’ve succeeded in that.”
While the hotel’s main trade is in tourists seeking fishing, river cruises, hikes, helicopter flights and four-wheel-drive tours, Peirson Jones says the site has immeasurable possibilities.
“The potential out there with 4000 hectares is fairly unlimited,” he says.
Savills’ Nic Simarro is selling the award-winning property via an expressions of interest campaign.