27th May 2017–Broome to Derby

Distance: 243 km

Shock… Horror… I was awoken this morning by what sounded like raindrops on the roof… except instead of a continuous pitter patter it was about 4 or 5 drops then perhaps 30 seconds pause then 4 or 5 more drops! when I finally got up sure enough the ground was damp but the surprise was that it was foggy! Thank goodness this didn’t happen yesterday.

170527 002 Broome Fog

Performed my usual ablutions and set about dismantling my camp, making breakfast and topping up the Esky with ice (I am multi-tasking).

By 8.30am I was ready to leave but I had still not decided where I was going; was it Derby or Fitzroy Crossing? A quick look at the map – Derby was only 40km from the highway – so it would be a visit to Derby first; if it looked OK then I would stay, if not I would carry on toward Kununurra.

Derby looked OK, the caravan park had vacancies so I checked in until Monday, set up camp and took off for the local visitors’ centre. Just outside town I had noticed a sign for the Boab Prison Tree so asked about that and the lady also gave me a self guided walking tour brochure. Unfortunately the local National Parks are not yet open so the day bus tour I was hoping for was not available (the problem of travelling early in the season – remember Kakadu last year? a lot of the crossings and parks were not open there either).

Anyway after the visitors’ centre I drove down to the wharf area for a look. The tide was on its way in so was flowing very fast under the wharf. The wharf was not a hive of activity except for a fishing boat being refuelled and the odd fisherman along the pier (not entirely sure that fishing can be classed as an activity).

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170527 015 Derby Wharf

At the entrance to the wharf was a restaurant/takeaway called “The Wharf” which reminded me that I was hungry. Went in to look at the menu and discovered they had a selection of Indian dishes. I selected one called Prawn and Scallop Curry, I was tempted by Rogan Josh or even Vindaloo but this won the day. It was excellent – fairly spicy (but could have been more) and plenty for a lunch.

I took a photo of the Mangroves just before I went for lunch and when I had finished took another from just about the same place. Gives you some idea of how quickly the water rises when the tide comes in. Actually it was going out again by the time the second picture was taken.

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After eating decided that there was plenty of time for a visit to the Boab Prison Tree.

170527 019 Derby Boab Prison170527 018 Derby Boab Prison170527 022 Derby Boab Prison

At the same location was a couple of other historic objects.There was Myall’s Bore and Cattle Trough. The trough is 120 metres long, was built in 1917 and could handle 500 cattle at one time. Unfortunately the bore pressure failed so now the water has to be pumped to the surface with a windmill.

170527 025 Derby Myall’s Bore and Cattle Trough170527 027 Derby Myall’s Bore and Cattle Trough

Finally there was Frosty’s Pool built in 1944 for troops stationed in the area during WWII. It was constructed by the 3rd General Transport Co and nicknamed after a platoon member. BTW I hesitate to call this ‘historical’ as it was built only three years before I was born.

170527 029 Derby Frostys Pool170527 030 Derby Frostys Pool170527 031 Derby Frostys Pool

26th May 2017–Horizontal Falls Trip

This is a highlight – perhaps the highlight of this journey.

Woken by my alarms at 4.20am, had a shower and was outside the caravan park at just after 5am – as I got there so did the bus. I was the second pick up so some time was spent driving to all the resorts picking up passengers.

We were at the airport before 6am, sorted into our groups (day and half day), told which was our aircraft before being issued with a life jacket and finally allotted a seat on the plane. They are quite tiny, I didn’t count the seats but there was probably only 12 or 15 and you cannot stand up in them.

170526 001 Horizontal Falls Trip Sea Plane

Flew straight to Talbot Bay where they have quite a set up – there were four seaplanes tied up (including ours) together with a house boat and various pontoons..

170526 012 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to Talbot Bay170526 022 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to Talbot Bay170526 038 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to Talbot Bay170526 042 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to Talbot Bay170526 052 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to Talbot Bay170526 063 Horizontal Falls Trip Talbot Bay

First up they told us a bit about the place then led us down to see the local sharks being fed (Tawny Sharks from memory but there was a Bull Shark skulking among them). Some keen people had a swim in the shark cage – the water was 27’C (like swimming in soup I would imagine)

170526 075 Horizontal Falls Trip Talbot Bay Shark Feeding

Next it was bacon and eggs for breakfast; we helped ourselves and there was seconds if you wanted it.

These trips are all about the tide, so while we ate some people went on 10 minute helicopter rides for $100 p/p. I would have liked to have gone but there was limited time On reflection I doubt they saw more than we saw from the plane later.

It was time to get on the speed boat to see the Horizontal Falls in action. There are two gaps that create the effect – wider outer gap and a narrower inner one, It is only safe for boats to go through when the difference in height is 1 metre (the highest tidal difference is 10 metres and the water depth is 40 metres).

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Going through the gaps when the tide is running is like riding over rocks; very bumpy.

After going through the gaps several times and driving through the turbulence the boat then went back past the pontoons/houseboat to Cyclone Creek. The creek is so named because it provides safe harbour for boats during cyclones. It is very beautiful and full of signs of geologic contortion.170526 149 Horizontal Falls Trip Boat Trip170526 152 Horizontal Falls Trip Boat Trip170526 154 Horizontal Falls Trip Boat Trip170526 157 Horizontal Falls Trip Boat Trip170526 167 Horizontal Falls Trip Boat Trip

Back onto our plane for a half hour flight to One Arm Bay for lunch – this landing was not on water but on a dirt airstrip. On the way flew low over the Horizontal Falls.

170526 185 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to One Armed Bay170526 201 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to One Armed Bay170526 223 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to One Armed Bay

170526 233 Horizontal Falls Trip Flight to One Armed Bay

There was a short visit to a fish hatchery which was entertaining. It was originally a place for breeding Trochus shells for buttons until plastic put them out of business.

170526 240 Horizontal Falls Trip One Armed Bay Fish Breeding170526 248 Horizontal Falls Trip One Armed Bay Fish Breeding170526 255 Horizontal Falls Trip One Armed Bay Fish Breeding170526 256 Horizontal Falls Trip One Armed Bay Fish Breeding

Lunch was Barramundi at Cape Leveque which was pleasant enough. Afterwards the truck drove down to the beach for people to swim, The scenery is interesting with low, red rocky cliffs on a golden beach (I didn’t go swimming – remember I don’t even like sand).

170526 258 Horizontal Falls Trip Cape Leveque170526 273 Horizontal Falls Trip Cape Leveque170526 274 Horizontal Falls Trip Cape Leveque170526 276 Horizontal Falls Trip Cape Leveque

Then heading home along the dirt road to Broome we called in to Bingle Bay community for afternoon tea and a visit to the pearl church built by interned German missionaries during the war.

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I was dropped off at my caravan park just before 5pm so I had time to dismantle my gazebo for tomorrow’s move, have a cup of tea, a shower and finally a beer just as the sun went down. It was a very good day.

25th May 2017–Broome Day Four

Distance: 22 km
Fuel: 45 L

Wash Day! After my shower I straight away got all my laundry washed and on the line. There will be no chance tomorrow and I leave on Saturday so it had to be done.

Once it was on the line I took a drive to the  northern end of Cable Beach. There are a number of top class resorts in the area. There is no doubt that the beach is very nice as are the facilities at the back of the beach. It seems to cater mainly for people that fly in on a package holiday though there is one caravan park relatively near by.

170525 006 Cable Beach170525 008 Cable Beach

An interesting bronze on the Cable Beach seafront commemorated Lord McAlpine the British builder being made a Freeman of Broome.

170525 001 Cable Beach170525 002 Cable Beach

Drove to Chinatown for a late lunch where I ended up at Bluey’s Fish and Chips – Oh well… it was nice fish.

Had a final drive round Broome before filling up with fuel. It is a town I am getting to know by now, afterwards I returned to the caravan park to get my washing in and for a swim in the pool. BTW it is a very nice pool but about 1.4m in depth all over, certainly not suitable for non swimming children. It has a lap section and a large general area, there are only steps in two places. I have splashed about in it most afternoons since I arrived as it is rarely used and I have it all to myself most of the time.

24th May 2017–Broome Day Three

Distance: 30 km

My temperature estimates yesterday were a bit off – Day 32’C Night 19’C.is more like it.

This morning I was shocked to see clouds so I took a picture of them.


170524 002 Broome Cloud

Went to the Visitors Centre this morning to book a cruise if one was available for today. I was lucky and booked a sunset cruise on Roebuck Bay. They would pick me up at 1.40pm at the Visitors Centre.

As it was only 9.30am I had plenty of time to do other things. I returned to Chinatown for a coffee and time to plan the rest of the day.

170524 007 Broome170524 009 Broome Star Cinema

The Sun Picture Gardens is an open air cinema, the oldest in the world, built in 1913. It is still in almost original condition.

Next up was a visit to Broome Museum because it had a display about the pearling industry and the attack on Broome in WWII. Normally I avoid small town museums because they tend to be just like visiting my Grandmother’s or Great Aunts’ houses but as country museums go this one was quite interesting.

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After the museum I had a look at the Pioneer Cemetery and Town Beach complete with mangroves.

170524 023 BroomeTown Beach & Cemetery170524 024 BroomeTown Beach & Cemetery170524 028 BroomeTown Beach & Cemetery

In a day when one cemetery is never enough I also visited the Japanese and Chinese cemeteries. One thing I learned at the Broome museum was why there are so many Japanese and their descendants in Broome – it is all to do with pearling – the White Australia Policy and the notorious English test was not applied to Japanese pearl divers however they and their Australian born descendants were all interned during WWII.

170524 030 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries170524 033 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries170524 034 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries170524 036 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries

Zoomed back to Chinatown for lunch I thought there was a Thai restaurant there but I must have seen it somewhere else (I’ll find it tomorrow). I could only find one Chinese restaurant among all the cafes and bars so I had lunch there – to be fair after I had eaten and was leaving the area I saw at least two others.

170524 041 Broome

Went back to the caravan park for a shower before the cruise. At the back of my camper was a lizard – he scuttled up a tree.

170524 045 Broome Lizard

I was only waiting at the Visitors Centre for five minutes before the cruise bus arrived. We picked up the rest of the passengers before driving onto the beach next to the wharf. A launch came from the boat to pick us up.

170524 048 Broome Sunset Cruise

…and drove right up the beach.

170524 049 Broome Sunset Cruise

I’d never seen anything like it but the bloke reckoned he bought it ten years ago.

The cruise was quite interesting (in my opinion all cruises I have ever been on go on far too long. Water can only hold my interest for so long). We did see plenty of Snubfin Dolphins, some Flatback Turtles, a Hammerhead shark, a Dugong and some fish – the first photo is Batwing Fish (or something like that). I have lots of photos of empty water but these are a few with something visible.

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170524 098 Broome Sunset Cruise

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The turtles, shark and dugong got away.

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It was a sunset cruise…

22nd May 2017–Broome Day One

Distance : 53 km

Went into Broome first thing to check out the Visitor Information Centre – arrived just after 8 am but it didn’t open until 8.30. As luck(?) would have it I had run out of breakfast cereal yesterday so while I waited I visited the McDonalds’ opposite for breakfast. First Macca’s I have had since gawd knows when, they haven’t improved in my absence but I had my free seniors coffee with a bacon and egg McMuffin.

Returning to the Visitor’s Centre I asked about visiting the Horizontal Falls something I have wanted to do since I heard about it on  Senior’s Holiday a few years ago. I knew it was expensive but what I hadn’t counted on was a cruise ship visiting Broome! The only chance was Friday so I booked – they pick me up at 5.15am

Went for a look around Chinatown and was surprised at the number of people there considering how empty the caravan park is but of course it was the cruise liner passengers but just in case I rushed back to the caravan park to make sure I had a site until Saturday morning, all was well, the park still only has less than a dozen visitors.

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Returned to the town centre to look at Cable Beach and the port where a P&O Cruise liner was berthed.

170522 004 Broome170522 005 Broome170522 018 Broome Port and Town Beach

There can’t be a slipway in Broome because people were launching their tinnies from the beach.

It was late lunchtime by now and I found myself at the Wharf Restaurant which is supposedly famous for its seafood. I decided to try a medium grilled barramundi. It was OK but frankly no better than one I have had at Dapto Leagues Club and it was probably only half the size. However it was pleasant enough eating while looking over Town Beach and watching the coaches ferrying the cruise passengers back and forth.170522 021 Broome Port and Town Beach

170522 022 Broome Port and Town Beach

Did a bit of shopping to replenish supplies especially breakfast cereal and bought a $5 towel from Target. I wouldn’t have thought it but a spare towel is actually a good idea.

Late afternoon returned to caravan park where I had a swim in the pool and a shower. Good relaxing day, ended up watching the local wildlife eating the park’s new grass.

170522 028 Broome Caravan Park

21st May 2017–Sandfire to Broome

Distance: 319 km

The worst day of driving of the trip. I kept falling asleep. In the end I virtually had to stop at every parking bay, get out and walk around. Can’t understand it, I had a really good sleep last night yet I seemed to be constantly fighting to stay awake.

Stopped at the Roebuck Roadhouse just over 30km from Broome for something to eat (two sausages and two kebabs) and a coffee before continuing on to the Broome Caravan Park. The lady in charge looked at my camper asked what power I used when I told here just a kettle and TV she booked me in as a camping powered site for $22 a night (I like Broome already). Not many people in the park.

170521 001 Broome Caravan Park

Set up my camp, discovered I was dying of thirst so had two cups of tea, then went for a swim in the pool.

It is a calendar month since I set out – just noticed that fuel and accommodation costs are running neck and neck at around $1000 each and that I have driven nearly 9500km since leaving home.