Writing "100 things to see in the Kimberley"

Balanggarra Country

Balanggarra Country

 

Well, the cat’s out of the bag. I’ve just released my first book “100 Things To See In The Kimberley” and wow, I’m so stoked to finally see this dream become a reality!

 
 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of publishing a book on the Kimberley. Over the years my ideas on the theme have varied. Being such a massive region, I felt it was important that people gained an understanding of the sheer scale of the land before I shared stories and local characters in a print publication. The “100 Things To See In The Kimberley” book is a gem and I can’t begin to explain how thrilled I am to finally have a copy of it in my hands. 

Now, I won’t take full credit for this project. Back in 2013 I had a discussion with my sister, Liss, about what kind of a travel guidebook would benefit the region. We wanted something different to the typically text-heavy guidebook, allowing for people to get a ‘taste’ of the Kimberley via photos, a few facts and lots of local advice.

The idea for presenting ‘100 Things’ was Liss’s doing. Liss is a freelance travel writer and I am a tour guide who, over my years of running Kimberley Spirit Tours and also running @thekimberleyaustralia Instagram and Facebook, has come to know the region intimately. We both went to school in Broome and we both began working in tourism from our teenage years. Tourism is our family’s trade - my folks run the Kimberley Cruise Centre. With our combined experience, Liss and I were able to morph our ideas into one and get on with the enormous task of turning this book dream into a reality. 

the early years

Broome Hovercraft, mid teens.

Broome Hovercraft, mid teens.

Of course, it’s rare for an idea to just spring from nowhere, and my love for the Kimberley began early on. Cable Beach, Malcolm Douglas’ Crocodile Park, Broome Jetty and Gantheaume Point all played significant roles in my childhood, as I spent every day exploring Broome by pushbike and ‘foot falcon’. In my later teenage years (and within two weeks of obtaining my drivers license) I’d begun driving a daily mini bus to Derby with 12 passengers who were flying to the Horizontal Falls with the original floatplane operator, Seair. It was the owner, Kevin’s dream to make the Kimberley coast’s leading attraction accessible to the public for day tours. We’d fly to the falls but also nearby Freshwater Cove to deliver stores in between. I loved this gig! Seeing the Kimberley daily from above was definitely what inspired some big dreams within me.

In my early 20’s, having worked on various Kimberley coastal vessels and at Faraway Bay, I moved to Kununurra after falling in love with waterskiing on the Ord River. I loved the freshwater lifestyle amongst the mountains. Now, thanks to my safari business, I’m able to enjoy the best of both worlds. It was after my move to Kununurra that my love for adventure went next level. Regularly exploring the Gibb River Road, Purnululu National Park, Lake Argyle and all the hidden gems in-between fuelled my passion to see and do more. 

All of these areas have one thing in common … water. The saltwater is my soul medicine and the freshwater invigorates me in a way that nothing else can. You’ll notice a lot of the spots in the book involve swimming. It’s a daily ritual for me, wherever I am. 

 

The first step

It began with me sitting down and writing a list of 100 places, back in 2015. This seemed like a simple task for me, however, after looking at the completed list I realised that I’d gone overboard and listed 200 things. As sisters do, Liss put her foot down and said that I needed to cull 100 places. I found it nearly impossible to have to cut out so many amazing places! Some really great spots didn’t make the list, and in the final stages of putting together the book, a few new spots were added.

Brendan Batty (left) Exploring Eden Media

Brendan Batty (left) Exploring Eden Media

a publishing house is born

Very little happened with the idea over the course of a couple of years. In 2016 a friend, Casey, came on board to help get the ball rolling, but we were all too busy and the book required a lot of work, so the idea stalled again. By this time, Liss had started writing articles for Australian Caravan + RV Magazine and she had become friends with the Editor, Brendan (Brendan now owns ROAM Magazine magazine). In late 2017, Liss mentioned the book idea to Brendan, who loved it. So, our original idea (from back in 2013) of self-publishing was abandoned as Brendan and Liss decided to set up their own publishing house - Exploring Eden Media.

a year past deadline

Our aim was to write the book, collate the photos from my many hard-drives (I’ve taken hundreds of thousands of photos over my years of guiding in the Kimberley) and have the book designed and ready to sell by March for the 2018 Dry Season.

 

I seriously underestimated the amount of hours that a book takes to come together!

By mid 2018, it was clear that we’d missed our 2018 deadline. So, we relaxed a little with the book and I threw myself 100% into tour guiding for the season (and kinda fell ‘off the radar’). By October 2018, the end of the Kimberley’s Dry Season, the project was full steam ahead again. Before long, we were sending all of the files via Dropbox to the amazing designer, Matt Ware, and then going through the stages of refining it until Brendan eventually said ‘enough!’ Ok, he didn’t say that. But, Brendan is amazing at working to deadlines and our deadline had arrived, so I had to let go and then excitedly sit back and wait while Exploring Eden Media took care of the rest.

a little help from my friends

Of course, being a tour guide means that you meet a lot of great people who come to the region. Many of these people become life-long friends. You tend to meet a lot of photographers in this line of work and so, when it came time to creating this book, many photographer friends stepped forward to help fill the blanks where photos were needed. As mentioned earlier, I have taken hundreds of thousands of photos over my years of guiding, but some of those photos just didn’t do the locations justice. On page 177 of the book I have provided a list of these photographers, but I’d also love to take this opportunity, once again, to thank the friends and family who’ve contributed to this dream.

elise-cook

the cover shot

Choosing the front cover was one of the hardest decisions that I had to make.

We were deciding between one of my shots; a couple of the shots by Jampal at Salty Wings or Elise Cook’s Lake Argyle shot. Having travelled the Kimberley as a guide for both Salty Wings and Elise Cook (and her hubby Dom), I felt really connected to their images. In the end I decided on Elise’s shot because:

1) The colours are so iconic of the Kimberley’s landscape - especially with the rocks glowing at sunset.

2) I loved how Elise was dreamily looking out at the Kimberley landscape, which went really well with the title ‘100 Things To See In The Kimberley’. The day Elise took the shot was like any typical Dry Season day in the Kimberley. The cover shot felt honest, raw and true of what the average person can expect to see when they visit.

the best place to see in the kimberley

With a list of 100 places to see, it’s natural that people will ask what the ‘best place’ is to see in the Kimberley. I can’t answer that without naming my top 5 then adding at least another 5. Long story short, I’m terrible at answering that question and, if I do ever give you an answer, you’ll find that I’ve probably changed my mind by the next time we speak! 

I’ve come to love the desert country more than ever, with its hidden oases and vast savannah plains. The Kimberley has it all! The region is my purpose, passion and future all rolled into one. I love nothing more than sharing it with like-minded visitors. I hope this book will heighten your senses and put places into perspective so that, even at the stage of planning your visit, you’ll already feel connected with the region and its people.

 
 

My wish for you and yours is that the Kimberley will fill your soul with adventure, passion and joy the same way it does for me.

Thanks for reading. I hope that you love the book. See you somewhere in the Kimberley!

Scotty

Scotty Connell

Author of ‘100 Things To See In The Kimberley’.

 
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