Broome, Bro and a Bucket List

Broome is such an interesting city. It has one road in and out, about 30 kms, from where we are camped at Roebuck Roadhouse (“Roey” to the locals). This township has one overarching history and theme. PEARLS. Yes this is the capital of cultured pearls in Australia. Starting from the mid 1800’s, this has been a hive of activity, and still is today, for Pearl farming. Broome has door to door retail shops selling pearls for the ladies (nothing for us fellas). Thankfully Julz is not a material girl, so we explore other things after she visits one store to see how much – wtf? $12,000!! Whew, now if I mention diamonds, then Julz will be all over them, thanks heavens no one has them here (OK, a material girl over diamonds, as she believes that they are her best friend). 
Julz has had some issues regarding her right knee, since her falling on them in the mud while fishing at Pardoo Station. We try and get an Osteopath, no luck. Her and Bet (her Mum) decide to have a day relaxing and they give Ron (her Dad) and I a green light to go on an ocean fishing charter. With such a bad run of fish, it is time to bring home a freezer full of fresh fish. Ron and I set out really early and meet up with ten other “visitors to Broome” with a crew of three on a large fishing boat (an old crayfish boat). We go out about 40kms into the Indian Ocean and when we all drop in our lines, within minutes we are all reeling in a range of fish. It is a bit windy and rocky, however, Ron is an old sea dog fisherman (60 years being a fishing enthusiast) and I through his advice, we both take a sea sickness tablet prior to boarding. We pulled in about twenty large, medium and small sized fish, throw nine back, (as they are not edible) we kept eleven. Ron had the catch of the day, last cast of the day, with two fish on his two hooks coming over onto the deck.

Most on the trip caught a nice selection, however, we had the largest bag when we left the boat in the afternoon. Such a great day, weather got better and sea got calmer, the girls were excited about the large quantity of Snappers, Giant Trevally, Grassy Emperors and more. Needless to say we had few good nights of eating bbq’d fresh fish.

Our son, Chale, and his wife, Angela, living in Sydney, and found it hard to send a Mothers Day gift to Julz in early May, due to us travelling. They decided that when we arrived in Broome, they would cover the cost for Julz and her Mum, Bet, to dine at a local restaurant for dinner. Zander’s restaurant based at Cable Beach was organised for Wednesday eve, so we arrived to witness the most amazing sunset of the entire journey. We wondered why the walkways looking over the beach were crowded with onlookers and the beach was busy with people around 5.30pm. Then as the sun came down, this amazing red glow filled the horizon over the calm Indian Ocean. It lasted for about 45 minutes, and it was great to see 100’s of people all facing towards the sun and admiring the amazing view – Mother Nature at it’s finest! This was quite a special, sacred experience for all present. Our camera could not capture, or do any justice, the beauty of “being here” and seeing a beautiful sunset unfold in front of us – being in the moment. Needless to say, the meal was excellent, with the backdrop of constant changing colour, a perfect way to spend the evening. To see Broome at night and experience this bought memories of my brother, Clint, as Broome was on his ‘bucket list’, which he unfortunately never got to see. 

Back in 2010, Clint was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer, he passed in November 2013. He came to live with us, (he was living in Capella at the time) to be closer to the hospital and receive his fortnightly treatment. Our trip to Broome this week, we dedicate to my Bro, Clint, who would have absolutely loved it, as we have. 

We left Broome and drove north to Derby, which has the Boab tree as its symbol. The scenery on the way is covered in Boab trees and large termite/ant mounds. The Boab’s are a fabulous looking artistic tree, which has a large circular base trunk (sometimes with a hollow ground centre graduating into narrower branches in the top of the tree. Julz loves them and says that they are one of mother natures marvels, however, is not happy when we find out about the ‘prison tree’. This was one of the huge old Boab’s that was used to hold indigenous slaves captives inside – Mother Nature would definitely NOT have created such beauty with this purpose.

In some areas the termite mounds are small, which reminds us of grave headstones, literally thousands of little mounds pointing to the sky.

We heard about a concert on Saturday night at the local racecourse. We scurry down to hear some local indigenous bands belting out some country music. It is great to see them perform on a large, professional stage using great sound equipment and lighting. 

All the local indigenous people we have chatted with have been informative and gracious with their knowledge. Being here in the Kimberley’s gives you a real understanding of the injustices and struggles that have occurred to get Native Title rights. Even though this is an ongoing battle, at present, it looks like the towns are flourishing and so are the people too.

We leave Derby and head back in the road to stay overnight at a free camp site at Mary River. We turn off the highway and drive over a narrow bridge and creek, and to our surprise there is another forty other campers, caravans all setting up for a night in the bush. We are rewarded by a full moon overhead and the Milky Way. We get up early and make our way to Kununurra. The land is becoming more mountainous..and we start to get quite excited by the scenery. 

More to come……


Barn hill station to Broome ‘advencha’

(Written by Julz)

Barn hill station is reached by a 9km red dirt road, mostly sand, thank goodness Dad is driving – he wouldn’t have it any other way!It is really hot, 35 degrees, in the sun. We find a site in the shade, setting up is fairly exhausting and we are ready to look around. 

The beach is reached by a small red dirt path with old timber decking stairs. The view from the top of the staircase is absolutely magnificent! We are at the end of 80 Mile Beach, all you can see is the sea, sand and cliffs of earthy coloured rock – breath taking!!
The beach has so many shells and an amazing amount of pieces of Mookaite, which is washed smooth from the action of the sea and sand – I am in seventh heaven, as this is one of my most favourite crystals!! The colours are pink and purple to the earthy Browns, beige and burgundy – WOW!!! 

Gypsy, the dog, is allowed off the leash on the beach and she is in an excited frenzy and has re-found her puppy enthusiasm. 

The ‘facilities’ here are ‘interesting’. A corrugated tin roof with walls that do not reach above hand height, and do not reach the floor. I am the first to admit, I do not like crawling things of any sort, and am reluctant to take the risk of my clothes encountering any of these ‘unwilling to travel’ with me creatures. I take a pair of undies and a towel to the shower, I also lower my intake of water and chai, so minimal toilet visits.

We have a bit of a ‘fish feeding’ session late afternoon, with an inability to throw out far enough, because the line quickly comes back in with the incoming tide. We decide that we will only stay one night, due to the ‘facilities’. In the morning we decide we will again come to the beach with Gypsy and her ball.

Just a bit of a background on Gypsy – Mum had a heart attack 6 1/2 years ago and had bi-pass surgery. She was told to take regular walks and exercise, hence, Gypsy. Gypsy is Dad’s dog and they carry on with a mutual admiration and love for each other. In Dad’s life, it is Mum, Gypsy and the rest of us after that!

The morning dawns and is absolutely stunning. The beach is beautiful, with a cool lovely breeze. Dad is throwing Gypsy the ball, which unfortunately lands in the water, oh well, have to dry her before we go. The ball went into the water, again, and of course, Gypsy went after it. There was a small rip and of course, the ball went into it followed be Gypsy. I was luckily at the waters edge half watching her and half fossicking for my finds, and realised that Gypsy was going to get into trouble. So, of course I waded out and retrieved her in my clothes up to under my arms! The rip was quite strong, so it was very fortunate that I didn’t have to go any farther, as it was dangerous. All I could think about was how Dad would be if something happened to her. The ball and her lead (which was in my back pocket) went floating off into the sea, as they were replaceable. Must admit, I had a very shaky trip back up the stairs to reuse the dreaded shower again. An adrenaline rush I hope I never suffer again.

The countryside on the way to Broome is ever changing, dry and dusty scrub land to green farming properties with mainly cattle, also spotted some white/grey emus! 

We are stopping at Roebuck Roadhouse caravan park, 30 kms outside Broome, a nice tree covered little spot with great facilities😍! (Yes, it has a pool!!)

Mum is a diabetic and last night, she had another ‘hypo’, which was different to the others. Earlier in the night, about 12.15am, compared to 2am. She was a lot more co-operative with Dad and the glass of milk and cheese biscuit. As she was coming around, it touched my heart to see her stroke Dad’s cheek and place a kiss on it. My Mum loves to be in control, and she has genetically passed this on to me, so I understand this notion. This disease is in control of her, not her in control of it, which is extremely frustrating for her. Hoping there’s no more for the rest of the holiday.

We decide to stay five days (four nights) in Broome and have some more relaxation and rest.  

Cararvon to Karratha then Port Hedland to Pardoo Station

We left Carnarvon, after staying two nights, and traveled over 600kms directly to Karratha. The landscape and scenery starts to change dramatically, the first red dirt appears and it all becomes flat, vast open space, with low green bushes once again, however, with the complete absence of mountains until we are 50 kms outside of Karratha. Some of these hills have a spooky resemblance to Uluru (a sacred indigenous mountain in the desert of Middle Australia) – or maybe it is just the late afternoon sun. This area is called the Pilbara area. As we have Gypsy, the outlaw’s dog, we are limited in seeing the National parks, so we drove past Exmouth and Coral Bay, on the way to Karratha.We arrive at Karratha, passing a few natural gas processing plants and lots of mining vehicles with large flags. We are well and truly in the heartland of oil, gas and mIning, where everything seems to be owned by Rio Tinto or BHP. Karratha is next to a major exporting port, Dampier, and this city seems to be all grit and industrial business. The large infrastructure within the townships is the glue that holds it all together for Australian exports. You can see why the fossil fuel and mining industry (Copper, Iron Ore, Gold, Salt, etc) would be so against the emerging new “free energy” industries making a slow headway into their futures (wind farms, solar etc).

The highlight at Karratha was a roadside memorial for the Red Dog (book, movie etc) which took place around this area. 

We drove up to view a little town north of Karratha, called Roebourne, which turned out to be a small community for local miners and local indigenous people. 

The outlaws (Julz folks) did not want to explore any further the towns of point Samson or Cossack, so we headed back to camp for the afternoon – and some rest and R & R.

We left Karratha to a striking sunrise morning and headed further north to view Port Hedland, about 180 kms north of Karratha. The huge four carriage long road vehicles and the “as far as the eye can see” iron ore trains were prolific as we headed into Port Hedland. BHP and Rio Tinto certainly have a large presence and the port was full of large cargo ships loading Iron Ore and other minerals being shipped, mainly, to China and the broader Asia.

We were disappointed with these mining towns, possibly because we have been spoilt by the wonderful array of beaches and coastal towns, now absent in these places.

We stopped at the local information office at Port Hedland yo ask about our next leg of our journey. We took their advice and spent two nights at Pardoo Station, a working cattle station that has access to the Marine Park along the coastline of Eighty Mile Beach. We had heard it is a great fishing spot and so after chatting with some experts, we get the tips on the spots to go and fish. Because we are very north of WA the tides are either very high or very low. We find a beaut little creek, Pardoo Creek, which is low ride when we arrive with an incoming high tide. Julz and Ron put a line in and Julz catches a Bream and a Salmon. Very exciting stuff. The funniest part of the day was when Julz slid in the mud, on the river bank, however, we laughed so hard and just covered her more in the slush. 

There are two local indigenous ladies fishing alongside us, with hand lines, and they are reeling in a feast of Bream and Salmon. I reckon they caught ten within an hour.

This area of the coast, between Port Hedland and Broome, at this time of year, is perfect weather too. We are at 33° in the day and 24° at night. The ability to witness the amazing array of planet and stars in this area is “to die for”. 

Needless to say, we are feeling quite relaxed and with no digital coverage, forces us to not think about social media or phone contact. Digital detox is healthy (especially for me, I am reminded 😜).

Julz reflections on Shark Bay to Carnarvon

A greeting or showing kindness, or a smile to a stranger brings a wonderful reward to my heart. There are so many people we have had a short acquaintance with, who, like so many people in the city are lonely and disconnected.Denham/Shark Bay is a sleepy little lovely seaside town, which has a Fishing Competition currently running this week. We have found that most of these towns have regular marketing promotions/festivals/competition to gain the almighty tourist dollar. 

We visited a couple of little fishing areas, however, decided not to drop a line in, we have found that rather that ‘fishing’, we have been ‘fish feeding’! 

Monkey Mia dolphin feeding starts at 7.45am, and is 28kms from our caravan park. It is really wonderful that they are vigilant at protecting the dolphins in their natural habitat. 

We also looked at Eagle Rock, professed to be able to view sharks, stingrays etc below – the water was so clear, however, we did not anticipate the tide would be so low, so no fish. Dad has been noticing that there is no or limited barnicles/oysters/algae etc on peers and pillons on the water. A gentleman told us today that there has been a dramatic increase in water temperature, which may account for the barnacles etc. Offshore here there are a multitude of gas and oil rig extractions in the sea – might be an issue to increase the heat of the water???

The landscape on the road north is now typically Australian – red dirt, not a lot of water. 

Carnarvon was an interesting little town, with surprisingly an area of large mansions on canals on the waterfront. There was an exceptionally large amount of fruit and vege growing on the highway on the way out of town. 

In my queensland arrogance, I believed that Qld beaches were the best in Aust. I now think that WA beaches are up there – in a different capacity of unspoiled and naturally raw – they are really exceptionally peaceful and serene – love them!!💗💗👍👍

From Carnarvon we move onto Karratha.  Greg will tell that part of the journey next….

Perth to Port Denison …

Our last night in Perth saw us ditch the idea of our host, Jamie, cooking for all of us, so we decided to dine out at a local restaurant, Embers, just outside of Kalamunda, in the hills of Perth. Joined by Jamie’s two daughters, Amber and Blayz, along with Leonie, Jamie, Bet, Ron, Julz and I, we had a great farewell dinner. Seven days was our longest stop over on our adventure.
The next morning, early as always, we packed up, said our goodbyes, departed and headed north to our next stop over, Port Denison/Dongara, on the Indian Ocean Drive.

Stunning, huge white sand dunes present to our left. The rain following us up from Perth, all the way. To our right side, clear skies, to the left (west out to sea) rain and black skies.
The townships of Port Denison/Dongara are beside each other and they have some large beachside homes and many beaches to visit and explore. It is so unspoilt, except for the wind and rain (and chilly temp for us Q’lders 😜) it is a beautiful place to spend some quality time. However, that was not going to be, as we want sunshine again (which we had lost back at Bremer Bay) and we are all keen to get back into our shorts once again.

A quick, one night stay in Port Denison, and we are up in the wind and rain to head further north, driving quickly through Geraldton city to a little beach side place, Kalbarri, on the coast, with Indian Ocean views.

This small, beachside town is about 100kms off the main highway, past the most amazing pink salt lakes at Port Gregory, and apparently was not developed until the early 1950’s.

Fisherman enjoyed the population fishing spot, so we decided two nights should do us to try the local fishing.

We went to Red Bluff Beach so Julz and Ron could throw out a line. Within ten minutes she caught her very first fish. Hoorah, a Salmon, however, too small, so she threw it back in. Nothing else was caught after a few hours, so we took in the surrounds and enjoyed the beaches.

The interesting thing we have observed is the lack of “road kill” on the highways or side roads. In fact, very little wildlife has been observed on the roads, unlike South Australia. The roads have been excellent to drive on and no roadworks going on, except for one spot down in the south west of WA.

We took time out to enjoy Kalbarri, it was Mothers Day, so Bet and Julz relaxed and we took them out for dinner at a local cafe (overpriced, under quality – Black Rock Cafe, no recommendation from any of us).

On Monday we packed up camp and headed 400 kms towards a world heritage marine park – Shark Bay. We clicked over 10,000 kms today, since starting back on 29th Of March, and headed north to a beautiful beach side town of Denham.  

Apparently the dolphins are prolific and so are the fish, we will have another go.

Maybe we can catch some fresh fish one day soon, I’m starving ……

To Rotto to see Quokka’s, Stricko just out from Freo 

Our current camp site in Perth is based on the 11 hectares in the beautiful rural setting of Carmel, owned by Jamie, Julz cousin. Jamie came home yesterday morning from his work (FIFO), Woodside, which is based in Karratha, 1500 kms north of Perth, with his new partner, Leonie.  We had some good quality time chatting and just chilling out. Jamie cooked us up a fabulous pasta dish and we planned out our next day adventure to Rottnest Island (Rotto), Wadjemup (Aboriginal name) about 18kms off the coast from Fremantle (Freo). 

So the next day, up bright and early, we drive to Freo to meet the Rottnest Ferry at 10am. The six of us, Ron, Bet, Jamie, Leonie, Julz and I, set off on a fairly cloud covered day towards Rotto. No rain, still a bit brisk, sun shines through on our boat trip – yay!

Leonie proceeds to inform us that the name of the island, Rotte Nest, (Rat’s nest) was given to it by the Dutch in 1693, as they thought the rare marsupials on the island, now known as ‘quokka’s’, were actually large rats.

More like mini wallabies. Very friendly, as are the local seagulls and crows.

The island is now a popular holiday destination for local Perthians and school leavers, however, it has quite a darker past, as we uncovered once we entered the small museum. 

Back in the early 1800’s they (the colonial Brits) had set up a prison for local Indigenous males. From what we now know, it was a place that incarcerated many of the leaders and elders of the local tribes. The museum featured a detailed background of the prison and the ongoing problem still faced today across Australia. I have some pics from museum below. Madjemup had first nation people here some 70,000 years ago.

Rotto island now has a small population of 100 people now and is about 11 kms long, 3kms wide (see pic at top). Most visitors bicycle around the islands, cars are not permitted, however, they do have a bus that does a loop for “excursionists” to hop on and off at stops all around the coastline. We did that option.  

The beaches and cliffs are, as one would imagine, varied and spectacular. Facing the open Indian Ocean, harsh winds batter the coastline regularly. We passed the popular surf beach, Strickland Beach, or as the locals call it, STRICKO!. 😜I have a small chuckle with our Aussie custom to shorten all our names with an “o”. (freo, rotto, etc)

We stop and get off at the West End of the island and take in the views of the coastline. Stunning. We see sea lions and fur seals on a rock, however, too far out on coast to get a good pic.
We finally return back to wait for our ferry to carry us back to Freo. Late lunch at the local “Dome Restaurant” (a Perth owned reasonable quality and multi locational food outlet) and drive back to Carmel in the Perth Hills.

This has been our longest stay on our adventure (7 days as of tomorrow) a and we prepare for our northern trip up south of Geraldton.

Tonight Jamie is planning another home cooked dinner, so we are off to the movies today (thanks Anaya for Julz/Mum’s gift voucher) and continue to “chill”.