Edward and Ted Hall at a waterhole near Glen Hill comunity, on the south-west side of Lake Argyle. Picture: Stephen Scourfield

The idea is simply for travellers to be able to pull off the road, stay on a campground on Aboriginal land, and know that they have contributed to that local community.

And sometimes simple things are best.

Camping with Custodians is an idea for the Kimberley from Tourism Western Australia’s product development team.

The background plan is to have a dozen Camping with Custodians sites, with the ability to add to them.

The two most under the spotlight, and most quickly achievable, are Imintji on the Gibb River Road and Mimbi on the Great Northern Highway near Fitzroy Crossing.

Both have a lot of passing traffic, and a campground at Mimbi would be a good extension of the cave tours offered by Girlooroo Indigenous Tours.

I understand the plan for Camping with Custodians is to keep it simple — a camping area with ablution blocks.

It is designed for “low-impact interaction” with communities but with the prospect of activities such as guided walks being another possibility.

It would be a good thing if Imintji and Mimbi were open for the dry season next year.

Camping with Custodians sits well under the Western Australian Caravan and Camping Action Plan 2013-2018, which has 11 recommendations for improving the State’s caravan and camping sector.

The State Government has committed $40.7 million of Royalties for Regions funding over four years to implement the Action Plan and Parks for People initiative.

The Action Plan includes creating up to 450 camping and caravan sites in national parks, and specifically setting up new commercial caravan parks and camping grounds in high priority locations, including on Aboriginal lands in the Kimberley region.

The community at Glen Hill is using royalty payments from Argyle Diamond Mine to start a tourism business.

Ted Hall wades into water, son Edward alongside. And there they stand, with the swimming hole that their family has used for generations set in a red-rock gorge behind them.

It's an idyllic spot, and Ted hopes to share it with visitors to the Kimberley.

For here on the south-west corner of Lake Argyle at Glen Hill community, a short helicopter flight from Kununurra or down a two-hour track from Great Northern Highway, Ted is developing his version of Camping with Custodians.

Just away from the remote Aboriginal community of about 40 people, by this waterhole, he has developed a picnic ground and is moving towards overnight camping.

Ted says: "This used to be the old camping area." His plan is to have a big area and few guests, so that each "can have their own pocket" of space.

A 25m bore is bringing up sweet water and there is solar power.

"The community is basically a family group but some people are trying to break away and set up their own businesses.

"We will tell visitors about the Miriuwung tribal clan. We can tell people stories about how we used to be around here and living here. A lot of my stories are from the area."

They will take them through country and Ted says they can take them to the cave where people hid when police scouts came to move them off the land after European settlement.

The community, with its school and health clinic, is on the Argyle lease, adjacent to Argyle Diamond Mine. "We'll talk about our connection with Argyle - the barramundi dreaming, where the barramundi laid its eggs." We call them diamonds.

Ted, who ran fly-in tours of Argyle Diamond Mine for three years with aviation company Slingair, says: "We can't rely on royalty payments - we have to generate our own income. The mine has a limited life. We want to be out here longer than that. The main focus is to build something here.

"The community supports my idea of going out and doing something on my own and using my royalty payments to invest in this.

"We don't want to change it too much. It has its own beauty."

Guests could fly in from Kununurra, drive down the track that is currently "rough as Billy" but would be improved, or drive one way and fly the other.

I ask Ted about the visitors he hopes will come. Who would he like to be sitting here talking to?

"People who really want to know the history coming from us, the indigenous people," he says.

The West Australian

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