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Kooljaman

historyKooljaman is the Bardi Aboriginal name for Cape Leveque, 220km north of Broome at the tip of the Dampier Peninsula. The Federal Department of Transport previously controlled the land for the purposes of operating a lighthouse. In 1986 the lighthouse was automated and demanned, the land was purchased by the Aboriginal Development Commission for the benefit of Aboriginal people. As a result the A.D.C., along with other Government Departments and the Bardi people chose to develop the area into a tourist complex, linking up traditional ways with the fast encroaching 21st century and all that it represents.

 

The emphasis from the beginning has been to develop a low key, low impact project of a type and structure that can be controlled by local people and of a size and extent that minimises the impact of the environment. A place where Aboriginal people can link in with the operation of a tourism venture, where visitors are able to experience the beauty of the local area and participate in unique experiences and activities available through this business enterprise.

 

The communities of Djarindjin and One Arm Point proudly own Kooljaman. The view for the future is for the complex to be wholly Aboriginal run and provide employment opportunities for community members. Currently the complex is managed by non-Aboriginal staff, under the guidance of a board of directors.

 

Early History

 

It is thought the Aboriginal people may have come to this part of the continent somewhere between 50,000 to 70,000 years ago after the last Ice Age. The sea level rose and formed King Sound and the many hills and mountains became islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago. The local inhabitants, the Bardi Aboriginal people are people of the sea. Turtle, dugong and fish make up a large part of their diet. Aboriginal people of the Cape Leveque area would have had contact with visitors such as Indonesian and Macassan fishermen and they might have sighted European explorers such as William Dampier when he sailed into what is now King Sound. Names like Cygnet Bay, Swan Point and Buccaneer Archipelago all belong to this time.

 

Dampier's visit was the earliest known white contact that foreshadowed an industry two centuries on that was to play a large part in the region's development. He too discovered the lustre of the pearl.

 

One visitor however was the French ship Geographe in 1803 captained by Nicholas Baudin. Aboard was the hydrographer Pierre Leveque whose name the Cape now bears.