Hidden deep within the rusty-red gorges of Millstream Chichester Range National Park, The Bachelorette star Brooke Blurton looks up as the sun ignites the ancient landscape in a blaze of amber.
The Noongar-Yamatji woman has risen before dawn and travelled 120km inland from Karratha to catch this magical light, illuminating a cliff rimmed waterhole known as Python Pool. Wearing all-Australian designers – including a “cork” hat strung with $39,000 worth of Allure South Sea Pearls – and sporting a natural, pared-back look, the show’s first Aboriginal and bisexual Bachelorette revels in this powerful place.
It speaks to the 26-year old’s inner strength. While looking for love, the Carnarvon-raised youth worker has thrown a spotlight on her culture, bringing its beauty and the prejudices it faces – a topic she tackled on a 2019 TedX talk – into the mainstream.
Brooke’s busy schedule rarely allows for holidays, but an escape this week to WA’s Pilbara sparked memories of carefree, bather-clad days gone by.
Photographer: Jarrad Seng
How much did the water matter during your childhood in Carnarvon?
I was a tomboy growing up and I spent most of my time in bathers or just board shorts until I got to the age where I had to wear a shirt. Back then, we didn’t have iPhones or iPads; for Christmas we got a snorkelling kit and it was the best day ever.
What’s your most beloved coastal escape?
Quobba Station, about an hour’s drive northwest of Carnarvon. I did a lot of snorkelling there and I used to boogie board. It’s very laid-back. The beaches are amazing and the water is warm. The WA coastline has the best snorkelling in all of Australia – but I’m biased. The area holds a lot of memories for me and it has special significance for my mum, Seanna, who passed away when I was 11 and was very connected to the ocean.
Is Karratha also a treasured place for you?
It’s where two of my brothers live; they have been my biggest supporters in life. A couple of years ago, we couldn’t spend Christmas together, so I drove 1500km to deliver my nephew’s present. When I’m there I love going to Honeymoon Cove at Point Samson, 57km northeast of Karratha. At low tide, you can walk out for ages and see little crabs and creatures in the rockpools.
What made you pick Python Pool for our photoshoot?
It’s a hidden gem. I love road-tripping and discovering beautiful water spots like this. It’s so special to see the red ochre clifftops when the warm Pilbara sun hits them. After the shoot, I went for a dip to cool off and my family and I headed there early the next morning for breakfast and a swim. We also shot at Hearson Cove, a beautiful beach 27km out of Karratha.
As a Noongar-Yamatji woman, how strong is your connection to the land and water?
When my mum was pregnant with me at the Quobba Blowholes, turtles were popping up around her, so my totem is a turtle. According to traditional Aboriginal culture, you’re responsible for the protection of your totem and can’t eat it. I usually wear a turtle pendant on my necklace.
Photographer: Jarrad Seng
What made you pick Python Pool for our photo shoot?
It’s a hidden gem. I love road-tripping and discovering beautiful water spots like this. It’s so special to see the red ochre clifftops when the warm Pilbara sun hits them. After the shoot I went for a dip to cool off and my family and I headed there early the next morning for breakfast and a swim. We also shot at Hearson Cove, a beautiful beach 27km out of Karratha.
Tell us about your favourite holiday spots
I love Shark Bay, which is Yamaji country, especially out at Cape Peron, where we shot a promo for The Bachelorette. You can’t beat Cape Peron when the sun hits the red cliffs – it’s well worth the two-hour, 4WD journey. Nearby, Big Lagoon and Little Lagoon, where I swam as a kid, are also really special. Darren “Capes” Capewell of Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Adventures is the best tour guide you can have.
He knows the land and country and teaches you all about it. I also love Coral Bay and Exmouth, where you can swim with whale sharks; My family used to travel up there in the school holidays – six of us in a five-seater!
Photographer: Jarrad Seng
Best underrated destination?
Kalbarri, and its rock formations. I can’t believe how stunning Nature’s Window is. Just south of Kalbarri is Pink Lake; they’re such beautiful spots to take your children. People think we don’t have a lot going on over here, but I think we do. WA is a hidden gem.
Any new discoveries?
Broome! I hadn’t been until last year, and I travelled there five times. It feels like you’re in a different country because you slide right into holiday mode. I especially loved the red cliffs and blue water at Gantheaume Point and I really rate Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa.
You’re based in Perth. What are your top beachy spots in the WA capital?
I live on the coast so I can walk to North Fremantle and Leighton beaches. I love living close to the ocean – it makes me feel more at home, and my dog is an ocean baby.
What do you pack for a beach holiday?
Very little. Mostly bathers, loose clothing, skirts and dresses, bandeaux, activewear, thongs and sandals. Also skincare, hat and lots of sunglasses. I like to match my sunnies to my bathers.
What’s your swimsuit go-to?
I like a two-piece, but as I’m getting older, I’m more comfortable in a one-piece. I like surf brands, generally, such as Billabong or Roxy, but I don’t really focus on a brand. I have more bathers than footy shorts or shoes. I buy them from a local shop whenever I’m away.
Which overseas swim destinations do you dream about?
I love Australia so much, but if I’m pushed it’s Positano in Italy or the Greek Islands. You see photos and you just want to get over there.
How has the response been to a First Nations bisexual Bachelorette?
Overwhelmingly good. It felt like the right timing for me, but also like it was a time in general. The network organised a First Nations and inclusivity consultant. The welcome to country was very important to me and the uncles smoked both mansions and my house out to create a culturally safe place.
The Bachelorette Australia. Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm on 10.
This article originally appeared on Escape