Frauke Bolten-Boshammer unlocks the jewellery display cabinet and presents me a tray of polished Argyle diamonds. The price tags are impressive; nothing under $7000. I am visiting Kimberley Fine Diamonds, Australia’s most remote diamond house.
It’s a Saturday morning and the showroom is abuzz with buyers looking to bag a souvenir. Here, you can spend anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands.
Just the day before someone bought a pink diamond from Bolten-Boshammer for $100,000. It was one of their smaller pink diamonds; a one carat pink diamond will set you back a cool one million dollars.
It’s not bad for a housewife who arrived in Kununurra from Germany 28 years ago. Not long after the family moved to the Kimberley, Bolten-Boshammer’s husband died. And everyone expected her to return to Germany. But instead, she decided to pursue the seemingly impossible dream of opening a diamond business in the heart of the outback.
Today Kimberley Fine Diamonds is a leading supplier of the Argyle pink diamond, the world’s rarest, and is at the top of the list of places in Western Australia for travellers looking to splash some cash.
There is a full jewellery workshop on site with master jewellers, designers and gemmologists. And the company’s designs hit the international stage in 2006 when their jewellery was worn by Australian contestant Sabrina Houssami in the final of the Miss World competition in Poland.
“I’m just a simple housewife,” says Bolten-Boshammer who began her jewellery career in 1991 selling five rings and chain on her front veranda. Her showroom now sells at least one piece of jewellery a day.
Another woman blazing a trail in the outback is artist Nadeen Lovell. Brisbane-born Lovell first came to the Kimberley in 1989 on a three-week art tour.
“I took one look and decided I needed much more than three weeks,” Lovell says. While camping in Bungle Bungles she was blown away by the colours. Two years later the dynamic artist was back for good, initially as the first female tour guide in the Kimberley then as a full time artist and gallery curator.
“You need at least 20 years to appreciate everything the Kimberley has to offer,” she says. Lovell opened her gallery in 1998 which, in the beginning, relied on sales to tourists. But she soon devised a plan to help the local population develop an interest in art through art appreciation classes and gallery functions.
Lovell Gallery now represents seven local artists. 30% of the gallery’s sales are to local customers.
Lovell’s masterpiece, an eight-panel wall-length mural called The Bungle Bungle Beehives dominates the gallery. The painting draws on Lovell’s 20 years of visits to the Kimberley and interprets 45 kilometres of nature into 16 metres of canvas.
Only an artist who knows the area as well as Lovell could create such a painting.
Another couple drawn to Kununurra are Thomas and Dominique Breig. It was the spectacular sunsets that enticed Thomas came from Germany and Dominique from France to settle here.
After 11 years of bureaucratic wrangling, their dream of opening a restaurant in an old pump house came true in 2008. Located on the edge of Lake Kununurra, the pump house once played a vital role in the Ord Irrigation Scheme in 1963. It closed down in 1971 when the water level of the lake became high enough to gravity feed the M1 irrigation channel.
The Breigs have converted the derelict pump house into the vibrant Pump House Restaurant & Bar. It offers a quirky ambiance of dining among three 150-cusec capacity Johnson single stage axial flow vertical pumps capable of pumping 63,000 gallons of water per minute.
Or you can dine on the veranda with tranquil views of Lake Kununurra. The treat is not just visual; my locally caught Wyndham barramundi is the best I’ve tasted.
Kununurra Country Club Resort is a recently refurbished four-star resort in Kununurra. Phone (08) 9168 1024.
Where to go
Kimberley Fine Diamonds, 93 Konkerberry Drive, Kununurra.
Lovell Gallery, 144 Konkerberry Drive, Kununurra.
Where to eat
The Pump House Restaurant & Bar, Lot 3005, Lakeview Drive, Kununurra.
See Western Australia Tourism
Find out more about Western Australia here: