Pearl of the North

Trip Start Jul 08, 2008
Trip End Sep 11, 2008

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Gateway Bed and Breakfast

Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Friday, July 18, 2008

After two nights at Eighty Mile Beach it was time to head to Broome. We drove out on the dirt road at a very sedate speed with the intention of keeping the dust down to a minimum so that the rig would not get covered in dust again. This worked well for nine and a half kilometres but then with the tarred road just 600 metres ahead two "cowboys" in their Toyota Landcruisers overtook us at about 100 kilometres an hour and showered us with red dust. Why they were in such a hurry I don't know but that is life in the Australian outback.

The ride up to Broome was uneventful and we made our way to the information office to try and find a space in one of the eight caravan parks in town. The notice board outside the office indicated that all 8 parks were full and they had opened 3 overflow parks but there was only one space available. As the queue was long we knew that it was pointless waiting and made our way outside where we ran into Freda and Neil Harrison who live close by us in Parkwood. While chatting to them David, a local, came up and asked us if we were looking for somewhere to stay. He has a small holding just 20 minutes out of town and could offer us a shady van site, shower, toilet but no power. As we had a generator in the back of the Pajero we took up his offer and made our way to his place. It turned out very well and we found ourselves with a few other vans camping with chooks running freely between the vans. We had arranged to meet our friend Jenny Evans in town at 4.30 in the afternoon so after setting up we headed back into town. Jenny invited us for a delicious  roast dinner and vegetables and at 8.30 we headed back to the van.

Next morning we were up at 6 am so that we would be first in the shower, washed the dust deposited by the cowboys in their Landcruisers off our vehicles and headed into town again to have a look around. We visited the Saturday morning market where we enjoyed a fresh fruit drink and then went to check out Cable Beach where we sat and ate lunch consisting of Fish and Chips.

Broome is renowned for the "Stairway to the Moon" when at certain times of the year the rising moon reflects into the water and sandflats at low tide which gives the impression that there is a stairway from the ground all the way up to the moon. People come to Broome just to see this phenomenum. The weather was perfect with no wind or clouds in the sky and was quite spectacular. Despite my efforts to take a picture I'm afraid it did not give the event justice. Jenny told us that she had to go to Fitzroy Crossing for a week on business for the Education Department and we were welcome to stay in her house while she was away. This was amazing for us and like an answered prayer because, although the place we were was ok for a couple of days it wasn't really a place to spend a week.

So... next morning we hitched up the van and arrived at Jenny's house just in time to park next to her carport and join her for a cup of tea before she left us in charge of her house. The rest of the day was spent charging batteries for the computer, mobile phone, torches etc as well as downloading our photo's onto the laptop.

Monday morning arrived and the task for the day was to do our washing, visit the local shops to buy some more food and do a bit more siteseeing around the area. A short way out of town is Gantheaume Point where a metal lighthouse sits on some very attractive rocks. It is also the site of  ancient dinosaur footprints that are more than 120 million years old. You can see the footprints in the rocky reef area when the tide it low. A plaster cast of the tracks has been embedded at the top of the cliff for anyone who visits at high tide, or if you don't want to walk on the reef. As well as harbouring these unique dinosaur footprints, Gantheaume Point offers stunning coastal scenery. As nightfall was approaching we then made our way back to Cable Beach to look at the sunset over the ocean with the silhouettes of the camel trains slowly plodding along the beach front with their loads of tourists. We then returned to the house and enjoyed our second night in a large queen size bed, sheer luxury after our smallish single caravan beds.

After breakfast on Tuesday we spent time visiting the Old Gaol where the Didgeridoo and Aboriginal Picture Gallery is located. Here we met up with Paul, whom we had met at the Mangrove hotel the other night, the owner of the shop who tried unsuccessfully to teach me how to play a didgeridoo. We then wandered around town taking pictures of the various buildings and visited China Town and the many tourist type shops. A visit to the Old Pearl Lugger was a must as well as looking around the shop where some magnificent examples of the famous Broome pearls are on sale. Our budget however does not allow for this kind of spending and we left empty handed. Dinner that night was Peri Peri chicken together with potatoes and vegetables.

We spent Wednesday once more in town and decided that as we would not be in a place where we could go out for a meal for sometime we would visit Matsos the local brewery that also put on a decent meal. Our choice was a platter for two containing prawns,fish, Kangaroo, lamb and salads washed down with an alcoholic ginger beer which we enjoyed on their shady cool verandah overlooking the aqua coloured water. After our meal we just felt like relaxing so headed home, relaxed for a while, then we packed our gear into the caravan again and washed the sheets from our bed. We decided to sleep in the van and leave early in the morning as we wanted to reach Fitzroy Crossing before it got too busy and the caravan park filled up with the many tourists wandering around.

Our first impression of Broome has changed over the last few days, however, if you intend to visit we recommend you do it out of school holidays. This time of the year gives you great weather but it's for this reason that people flock here to get away from the cold rainy days they experience in places like Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

Left Jenny's house at 6.30 am with the temperature hovering around 9 degrees centigrade and made our way further east. The countryside changed progressively into savannah with long grass just as we remembered Rhodesian bush when we lived there. Pockets of Boabs came into view every so often as well as more and more anthills. After crossing the Cockatoo river and the Erskine Ranges we rolled into Fitzroy just on lunchtime. No problem getting a site here as we had arrived early enough to be able to wander around and pick the spot we wanted. We planned to be here just 2 night which would give us a full day to look around and see what the place had to offer.
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