Trip Start Mar 16, 2009
Trip End May 24, 2009

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Where I stayed
Palm Grove Caravan Park

Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day 39 - 41. Broome, Western Australia. 160km from Port Smith Lagoon.
We arrived in Broome around 11.30am and spent the early afternoon 'skyping' the family for a visual fix. The weather was hot (around 34 but really muggy). We took a stroll down to Cable Beach around 3.00pm and called into one of the bars/restaurants on the beachfront for a couple of drinks before heading to THE CAMELS!
We had booked a sunset camel safari and I was really nervous that we would be too big to ride together (insert McArthur comment here). Thankfully we were put on Aslan, a monstrous 1200kg camel who can quite comfortably lift half his body we were fine! There were 16 camels in our group and they simply followed the leader 30 minutes up the beach and 30 minutes back. It was great fun and the sunset was stunning, but I was glad to get off as the old glutes were starting to ache.
When they got back to camp all of the camels, in unison, took a pee. It was hilarious! They stand together, sit together, munch carrots together and pee! The camels have all been taken from the wild and rehabilitated by Allison (the camel lady). Apparently Aslan was skin and bones when he arrived. We watched as they made their way back down the street for the hour long walk home.
We stopped back in the bar we'd been earlier for dinner and to be honest were quite disappointed. The setting was amazing, the menu amazing, but the food very average. Nevertheless it was a good day and we headed back to the park to watch another episode of Charley and hit the hay.
On Friday morning we got up and went to the Crocodile Park which just so happened to be next door to us! We had a guide show us through the park. The park belongs to Malcolm Douglas (although he wasn't there). There were small pools everywhere which didn't appear to have any crocs in them...until the guide threw a float and a 5m croc launched itself at it! The tour was great and I actually learned some things about crocs that I never knew. The biggest croc there was a 6m long male called Bluey. He once took down a stock horse and dragged it back to the creek, but didn't eat it! He obviously just wanted to kill it! We also got to hold a couple of baby crocs...very cute! They are farmed for their leather and meat which means no black market and therefore no illegal poachers. They are killed when they reach 2m (about 3-4 years of age).
We then headed into town on the local bus (a great little family run service, who tell you what all the stops are along the way). We had a wander through the shops, Aaron got a haircut and BEARD TRIM (thank the Lord). We stopped passed several monuments to the early settlers of Broome. Broome was home to a bustling pearl industry in the late 1800s to mid 1900s. Many Japanese came over as they were experienced divers (and the only ones willing to don the full underwater gear). The cultivated pearl industry then took off but the rosy relationship between the Japanese and Australians was tested during World War 2 when the Japanese bombed Broome several times. Today the town is still renowned for its pearls (I have some pearl earrings now - courtesy of the camel lady - a special gift for all female riders).
We went for lunch at Matso's Micro Brewery, a short walk from the town centre which passes such sights as the police station, courthouse, prison and sobering up centre (which had a coating of empty VB bottles outside), I'm not sure they've got the order right there, but I get the idea. The brewery itself was very good, I had mussels cooked in chilli beer sauce, Aaron opted for a foccacia. Obviously it would be rude not to try each of their offerings, with the mango, chocolate and porter beers being standouts whereas the chilli beer is more of an acquired taste effectively tasting like extreme ginger beer (might just go a pot next time).
We got back on the bus and headed back to the caravan park where we sat outside listening to the footy and chatting to the couple next door. Aaron defrosted the last of our sea bream fillets and cooked it 3 DIFFERENT WAYS! a) curried b) beer battered c) pan fried in prosciutto...we really are roughing it!
We got up early on Saturday morning and took the bus into town to have a mooch through the local market. It was full of your general market tat so we were only there an hour or so before heading to Mitre 10 and Tackle World to stock up on supplies. We headed back for a siesta (well I did, Aaron read) and listened to the Anzac Day footy match before heading to the Diver's Tavern, a pub about 5 minutes from the park. We watched the Storm v Warriors match before heading down to Cable Beach for dinner.
What a monumental disaster that was. For the sake of keeping the details brief, please see below bullet points!
* stood waiting for a seat for 5 minutes, I had to approach someone and ask to be seated* sat waiting 20 minutes for a waitress, I had to request a waitress* after ordering drinks was told 15 minutes later that Aaron's beer was unavailable* delivered a glass of wine when I'd ordered a bottle* delivered the wrong bottle of wine, opened and poured (it tasted OK so I said it was fine)* food was terrible, my fish was dry and the spuds tasted as though they were 2 days old* sat for 40 MINUTES after our meal with no waitress even making eye contact with us, so I asked for the manager* spoke to the manager who apologised and promptly berated the poor waitress within sight of us (Aaron ended up running after her to apologise, it wasn't her who took the wrong drinks order, or her who cooked the meal, and she was the only one serving in the "private room" where we were, so she was run off her feet)* ended up having entire meal and drinks complimentary, as well as a couple of cocktails thrown in for good measure
To say it was disappointing was an understatement, but the chap did his best to make amends for us. I was going to recommend this place to Mum & Dad (the restaurant is part of a beautiful resort) but given their staff are simply backpackers trying to make ends meet (with no obvious experience), and the fact that management clearly have NO people skills, I don't think I will.
We headed back to the caravan park to be greeted with the wonderful news that the Tigers finally have a win on the board! We had an early night as we were back on the road on Sunday. We thoroughly enjoyed Broome and will definitely come back in the future!
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