Finally, we reach surf & sea!

Trip Start Jul 06, 2009
Trip End Dec 23, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Friday, September 18, 2009

G'day mates as we bring you up to date on some of what there is to see and experience across northern Australia between Darwin and Broome. We have been getting extremely desperate to reach the west coast and the sea.    Roelof strangely has contracted a cold despite the heat, general remoteness of our travels and an absence of people.  It must have come from a dirty shopping trolley at Coles on our last stock up.

So, we are in Broome where the water temperature is 28c, high tide is over 9m with perfect waves and the sun sets over the ocean (in Sydney, we have sunrise over the ocean). Oh, and we moved from hobo (with multi-coloured tarps hanging around the tent in the fly infested bush) to luxury as we ditched the tents and are staying at the very luxurious Cable Beach Resort to rejuvenate. 

We are now half way through our Oz Adventure. Being on a tight budget, everything is recorded and already we are drawing some interesting conclusions:

We’ve been away for 79 days, and travelled 11,200 kms in total.  We have 2.5 months still to go.

Total cost of fuel is $2,300 or 21% of total expenditure so far and closely equals that of the grocery bill (which is marginally higher)!   Our greatest cost is car/ general expenses at 27% of our total.

Average accommodation cost per night is $12.70, spot on with our $12 target.  This is a mixture of free bush camping (no facilities, self sufficient camping, dig a hole for the toilet) and up to $30 for unpowered camp spots in caravan parks in towns where they like to rip you off.

Some nights ago bush camping 30kms north of Broome I was attacked in my sleep, and bitten all over by unidentified creatures that were lurking in the bed sheets.   Insect repellent did not aid my itchy desperation and I seriously considered sleeping on the camp chair for the remaining hours of darkness.  Upon sunrise and inspection within the tent, we had been (un)ceremoniously invaded by tiny brown ants (called Singapore Ants) that had eaten through the tent's canvass groundsheet and had raided our food boxes (the Deb instant potato mix in particular  - and yes, unbelievably still on the shelves, tastes good too!).  Some ant ramblers became caught amongst the bed sheets, which was extraordinarily BAD.  Then the next day..... things got worse.  We’d placed a small, ant infested rubbish bag In the back of the car (inside a plastic tub) to dispose of as we got closer to Broome (no bins where we were).  Busy with swimming on Cable Beach, we forgot about its disposal requirements until ice cream time mid-afternoon.  Unfortunately, by then the ants had evacuated the garbage bag and infiltrated the entire car instead.  The saga continued into a 3rd day when we came across their location of their new nest - hello Amanda's floppy (and new) beach hat.  The folds of material constituting my beach hat (when squashed in a corner behind the front seat) were laden with ant eggs that looked like desiccated coconut.  We must've had the Queen Ant in the bloody garbage the day before.  Mortein All Purpose Insect Spray and a fumigated car later.  A few small cockroaches also died in the fumes which posed the question: are we dirty travellers? 

Kununurra, located 35kms from the Northern Territory border in Western Australia.  I had always thought this was a dusty, small country town populated by a clan of Aboriginals and best characterised by two occupations: drinking too much or sniffing too much.  Having checked out the joint, I can only ponder at how I had drawn such a 'big smoke’ perception  (which isn’t to say these things don’t happen!).  Draw a 100km radius around Kununurra and you have a week’s worth of awesome natural wonders to investigate.  Lake Argyle, the largest man-made lake (strange cause it’s really a dam!) in the southern hemisphere.  The Rio Tinto Argyle Diamond Mine, home of the famous and very rare pink diamond (I did manage to get Roelof into the main diamond store in town, no news girls, when I double checked what had caught his eye it was only a written document within the glass counter outlining the history of diamonds).  Wyndham, a town on the coast where 5 major rivers converge.   The Marlgu Billabong (protected bird sanctuary) is  like a mini Kakadu wetland filled with many species of birds, and lurking fresh water crocodiles.  But for us the absolute highlight is contained in the next paragraph.

I have specially re-worded a song in my sheer glory of this adventure , it’s to the tune of the 80s movie "Ghostbusters"…..take it away now.

When there’s something wrong in your neighbourhood,

Who you gonna call? TOAD BUSTERS!

There’s an ugly frog lurking in your hood,

Who you gonna call? TOAD BUSTERS!

I ain’t afraid of no toad.

It was Saturday morning and we accidentally discovered the Kununurra markets, a good discovery mind you.  We were heavily occupied with the scoffing of our second breakfast of the day (at 9am, goodness!) comprised of a freshly made crepe swimming in lemon juice and cinnamon sugar made by a German lady, and a cup of thick mango icey made on a machine that required immense patience by her son.  We were cordially sitting at the publically offered white, circular plastic tables with matching chairs under a very shady tree.   Our attention was caught by an obtrusive 1m high concertina board display nearby on all things cane toad, even including a gruesome dissection.  Upon a further avid perusal of this very educational display, the bearded and hippy looking Toad Man appeared.  His sharp, beady eyes  must have spotted us from all the way across at the crepe stall!  We were quickly recruited as Kimberley Cane Toad Buster volunteers, were cordially collected at 4.30pm from the front of our caravan park by complete strangers in a car similar to ours and driven for 70kms back across the border into the Northern Territory to the Cane Toad Front Line.  As precaution we’d packed the Leatherman knife, phones (entirely useless in hind site as no service) and lots of water.    After some quick conversation we realised that these were not Ivan Milat’s, but good natured volunteers who went toad busting every night they could.  We reached a particular cattle station, and drove a long way into the very dark depths of this parched property as the sun sunk red and low.  With new recruit enthusiasm, we set about with gloves and very thick garbage bags plucking these horrible creatures from the cattle water holes, usually hidden amongst reeds.  Snakey terrain it was.  We’d had a 5 minute lecture on how to collect cane toads in the car, and to take maximum care about the projectile squirting of muddy urine (quite a distance too) upon grabbing one – always ensure the belly faces away from you.  So, what happened when Roelof snaffled his first stash for the night…..?!  Our night’s catch was small at 140 cane toads, a good sign as a month previously they had captured 2,000 from the same location.  Cane toads are poisonous and whether egg/ tadpole/ juvenile/ adult will poison any animal that is unlucky enough to ingest one.  One female can lay 70,000 eggs per year.  Ahh, yes we made a small difference to the world this night.  Enjoy the video of the gasing of the cane toads – their fate is either CO2 or freezing and these are the humane methods of eradication (many locals prefer to use golf clubs and base ball bats).

What’s in a name?  We’ve come across different names of people or places that have made us laugh.  The family with two sons called Bronson and Tyson (named after Pierce and Mike?), or the twins named Bundy and Cola after their father’s favourite drink.  Strange names such as Mistake Creek, Attack Creek, Terrible Creek, Dismal Creek and Accident Inlet.  In Darwin, a street was called Bomb Street.  And a presence of animals wherever we went with Horse Creek, Goose Creek, Fish Creek, Fox Creek, Swan Hole, Big Mosquito Water Hole and Little Mosquito Waterhole, Pelican Creek, Snake Creek, Cattle Creek, Sheep Creek, Finch Creek, Silverfish Creek, Crocodile Waterhole, Goat Waterhole, Pigeon Waterhole, Buffalo Waterhole, Duck Creek and finally Emu Creek.  I want to know, who decides the names? 

More on gorges, you may recall that the last blog was all about gorging – we’ve still been at it!  Accessed from the Gibb River Road (runs through The Kimberley, 4wd only) we enjoyed Manning Gorge near Mt Barnett Roadhouse (40min walk one way through non-shady bush to a gorge with swimming hole).  Windjana Gorge (350million years old, ancient limestone seabed, tall pinnacle black spire gorge filled with a very apparent oversupply of fresh water crocodiles). Bell Gorge (15min walk one way skirting a dried creek with a short rock clamber to a deep gorge with swimming hole).   Tunnel Creek (limestone cave system filled with stalactites and cave bats, you could wade through with a strong torch). We now have a list of our top 5 gorges, with Windjana and Tunnel Creek taking two places.

A quick mention for Derby, a not so riveting town 225kms north of Broome, although it does get some street credit as it did have a Woolworths!  We were there on a Thursday (aka Center Link pay day) and heard rumour of a 50 Ingidenous persons brawl out the front of the supermarket - pure action in Derby.  Shame we missed it.  Derby is famous for its 12m+ tides, the biggest in the southern hemisphere.  We watched the tide turn at low and how the water inundated the sandbars and dumped tires like a spreading disease.

Over and out for Dusty Downloads.  We don’t know which way we’ll go next.  I secretly hope we stay near the coast as inland is so bloody hot and dry as we move into Spring.  So here’s hoping we mysteriously appear in your inbox sometime in the "not too far away" future!

Amanda & Roelof xx
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