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8 Kimberley to the Pilbara

sunny 28 °C

25th June
A fairly quiet day as we had to get a routine car check-up done, so Mary & I delivered the car and then walked the 2-3 Km home in the growing heat. We went for a stroll around the foreshore, however, it was not especially wonderful to view.
Brian dropped us at the BP garage to collect the car, where we were pleasantly surprised that the service was reasonably priced and everything looked good. We headed across the road to get our grocery supplies for the next leg of the journey on the morrow.

26th June
We managed a record preparation in getting ready for the trip down to Broome so we headed off. The trip down was pretty uneventful with a good road with little variation in the roadside views. Plenty of loooong straights so clicked on the cruise control to ease the burden of driving.
Arriving at the Broome vacation Village CP we noted that they were fully booked, so were grateful that we had pre-booked. However, the ‘quiet’ site that we understood was acceptable turned out to have a basic wire netting type fence alongside the main access road to the Port of Broome and many industrial areas. While reasonably quiet, after hours, especially at weekends, from very early Monday morning we were awakened by many large trucks and other business traffic. Not very happy Jan!

However, the day finished very well as Mary & I dined outside the van to witness a spectacular Full Moon rise over the bush across the road (actually the local golf club) and then to see a partial lunar eclipse was a very special highlight.

Later we tried to receive local digital TV programs, however, we could only receive three analogue channels – ABC, SBS1 and a local Aboriginal channel. The ABC reception was abysmal and reminded us of the earliest days of TV with fade-outs, loss of picture etc. Having understood that the ABC is supposed to be the major provider of emergency information in the region we were very unimpressed. The SBS was generally good and the Aboriginal station gave the best reception!

Sunday 27th June
We all headed off to church for the 9.30am service, however, I managed to turn right instead of left out of the park and that confused Brian in his car and we ended up in separate directions! We all managed to arrive in time for the start and found a small group of locals with an equal number of Grey Nomads. The service was fairly laid back but the pastor’s message was spot on. We then enjoyed a cuppa with the flock after the service.
Mary & I headed off for a bit of local sightseeing and managed to locate the prime spot for witnessing that night’s Stairway to the Moon observance. We also managed some good photos from the golf club, which has an elevated position above the flat surrounds. We then went to the port and enjoyed the walk along to jetty observing the many folk fishing.

We headed off at 5pm to obtain a premium spot for witnessing the moonlight phenomena that occurs only about three nights per month when the full moon, rising from the east (a normal event!) shines across the sand flats of Roebuck Bay, resulting in the apparent stairs to the moon. A very popular tourist attraction.

Monday 28th June
Another sunny, warm, day that we enjoyed. Mary & I went in to Chinatown, site of the old Broome’s spectacular growth as a world-wide base for mother-of-pearl shells and natural pearls. Mary managed to lose my spare sunglasses, which now makes for two losses for the trip so far!

We then journeyed over to the famous Cable Beach to check out where we had to meet the camel ride folk for Tuesday evening. The view as we reached cliff top was truly spectacular with a turquoise sea, white sandy beach, and many colourful beach umbrellas. We considered an ice-cream to cool off, but were put off by the price.
Arriving back at camp we decided on the pool as a good place to cool off. We were not wrong as it was really cold and so we didn’t tarry long there! However, we did pick up useful travel intelligence from fellow pool avoiders.

Tuesday 29th
A sunny start to the day and so I headed off to the Port Jetty for some fishing. On arriving I noted that one angler already had a large kingfish in his bag. Very encouraging!

I spent about two hours there and got many bites but only managed to land a very modest coral trout that we enjoyed for lunch. I saw quite a lot of small sharks but wasn’t able to snag any of them. However, I did see a rather scary, quiet long, yellow-brown sea-snake with a black head swim past and then dive.
On returning to camp Mary & I headed off to Chinatown in a vain attempt to locate the missing sunglasses. While filling up with petrol I managed to snap off the fuel flap, so was not happy. A quick visit to the nearby Holden car parts dealer saw a replacement ordered in from somewhere (either Darwin or Pert I suspect), for delivery on Wednesday.

A quick trip over to Cable Beach to meet up with Brian and Maureen for our sunset ‘Blue’ camel ride along the beautiful beach. However, there was a cloud bank that diminished our hopes of something special for the evening.
It took quite a while for all the ride briefing and placement of everyone with the camel upon which to ride. Finally, all seated upon our swaying stead, we headed off up along the beach on our first camel ride. It took a few minutes to get used to the slow sawing motion, and then we got to watch a partial sunset as we streamed up the beach. The staff were really helpful as they took photos (on our own cameras) as we travelled. Finally we turned around and returned to our starting point to a spectacular red partial sunset. A most enjoyable experience for us all.
After all the excitement we all decided to go out for dinner, and ended up at the Som Thai Restaurant in Chinatown. The menu items were not cheap but were really tasty, so we headed home happily worn out from the day’s excursions.

30th June
We put the first lot of washing on very early to avoid the usual rush, and also to try and beat the weather change. The Holden parts chap called to advise he had the replacement part so I headed into town for the replacement – which took only a few minutes to fit (after crossing his palm with $50!). The job was done promptly and cheerfully, although the paint was not identical to the rest of the car.

The weather turned cool, blustery with some light rain, which didn’t help the washing to dry very fast, however, it was dry enough to hang inside the van to air.
We all headed off the Pearl Lugger presentation on the history of pearling in the Kimberley region, by Dominic, a recent arrival from the UK. His fascinating stories held us all spell-bound for nearly an hour as he explained, with many original diving equipment exhibits to illustrate how dangerous this occupation became. Many divers, and a few others, lost their lives to diving accidents (some carefully stage-managed to get rid of a rival diver!), and also from the regular cyclones that hit the North West coast in the wet summer season.

On the way back to camp we stopped at the Japanese Cemetery where over 700 Japanese divers, including some family members, are buried covering a period of several decades until the natural mother of pearl industry, and Australian political changes, succumbed to modern circumstances.
As it was quite windy we decided to bring down the awning on the van to stop the buffeting that the van was receiving, and to save clean-up time in the morning departure. Not a very good night as some clown decided to start his heavy machinery nearby before dawn!

1st July
We packed up all our gear and were ready in good time, for a change, however, Brian and Maureen had an extra burden with all their canvas awning stowage, however, we were on the road in good time.
The blustery wind was not as bad as at first appeared and so we headed off south towards our overnight camp spot. The road journey on this sector was hardly an exciting affair as kilometre after kilometre of sameness of scenery continued to unfold. The only item of interest along the highway was the presence of some parasitic vine that was killing off a particular type of tree. All I could compare it with was Green Depression, as the host tree gradually succumbed to the attack of this parasite and died.

However, we reached the Goldwire Free Campsite without incident or dying of boredom. We met a number of fascinating fellow-travellers who all had contributions to make about places to see or stop at. One couple from Mareeba were involved with the Christian radio station there and knew a few folk that we also had had contact with from that area.

We enjoyed a peaceful, and delicious dinner that Mary had pre-prepared, and then enjoyed a time sitting in the shelter nearby in the dark chatting with Brian and Maureen while admiring, again, the massive Milky Way above us. A sound sleep was had by all.

Posted by psstevo 01:06 Archived in Australia Tagged seniors

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