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Saturday, 15 July 2017

Broome - beachy time!

04 - 09/06/2017
Broome [Cable Beach] (Western Australia)
Distance Travelled:

Dinosaur tracks spotted

Waking up in Derby, we had a pretty slow start to the day. We were all still a little tuckered out from our week on the Gibb. But, after a lazy breakfast and a quick restock of a few essentials, we were soon back on the road. There’s not really much else to add about Derby – it was a place that served a purpose. And that’s about that. ‘nuff said…

We did, however, make one last stop as we were heading out of the township; at a spot known as the Boab Prison Tree. Boab trees are very cool plants (Adansonia gregorii - an awesome name, for a truly awesome plant). They have thick trunks and spindly limbs, which look like they really should have been roots; giving the impression that the tree is growing upside down (this is particularly true if they have lost their leaves). As they grow, their bodies swell to create a water reservoir that assists the tree to survive during the dry months of the year.

The Boab Prison Tree - Derby

This place was both fascinating and eerie at the same time. Standing no more than 200 meters from the highway was a magnificent Boab tree that would take at least a dozen of me standing hand-in-hand to encircle it. It turns out that the tree is over 1500 years old, and compared to the smaller specimens we have encountered along the way, this 'old fella' is a true giant amongst its brethren.

Entering into a spacious unattended clearing, we found ourselves shaded from the heat of the beating sun by the most magnificent canopy. Towering overhead, the limbs (green with leaves and new shoots) nearly covered the full expanse of the clearing. Casting one’s eye up the trunk, it was clear that this tree had endured the presence of human beings for quite some time. Names were carved into its soft bark – with many of these letters having expanded over the centuries into strange and convoluted shapes only reminiscent of what they had once been.

Tracking one’s eyes further down the scared trunk of this fantastically ancient tree, a hole could be spied towards its base. Although we were prevented from traipsing closer to the base of the tree (and trampling its roots in the process) by a wooden barrier, it was clear that there was a hidey hole of some size in the bowels of this magnificent plant. It was here, in this very nook (many decades ago), that aborigines had been held captive en route to Derby. After they were cast inside, an armed guard stood sentry to keep the men within the walls of this arboreal prison.

Although I’m not overly claustrophobic, I wouldn’t fancy spending a night in this dank and rotten place. Especially when we noticed a stream of bees buzzing to and fro from a smaller hole in the trunk to the right…
Feeling a little dejected after learning about woeful history associated with this magnificent Boab tree, we turned our wheels westwards along National Highway One; and made our way further into the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Our destination was the small (but ever growing) town of Broome (Cable Beach); nested on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

I’d wanted to visit Broome for years, as I had heard from so many people how much they love it. Warm sun, white sand, tropical beaches and relaxed atmosphere. Since we’d put in a few hard yards recently, we’d planned to stop here and chill out for the best part of a week. If nothing else, we were all in need of a good clean up, and the car was due for a service.

Driving into town, we were greeted by the usual sights of most coastal mini-metropolises. Resorts on the foreshore, shopping centres, restaurants, coastal drives and beaches. But most of all, there were people. Oh, so many people. Having been out of the rat race for a little while, it was surprising how quickly our bubble of personal space had grown. In fact, we felt like it had expanded to encompass as much space as possible; along with a growing dislike for being too close to neighbouring tents or caravans. Even while we had been at Manning Gorge, I remember feeling we were encroaching on our nearest neighbours when we set up our tent 50 meters away from them. As such, pulling into the Cable Beach Caravan Park, we were all a little taken aback when we were plonked smack-bang in the middle of a veritable caravan city, with other trailers only spitting distance away. To be fair, it wasn’t as bad as all that. The sites were fairly spacious and we had enough room to spread out. But the mere fact that our view on all sides was filled by people was enough to make our toes curl (oh, where are the grand vistas of trees, grasses and nature…. Oh my).

Cable Beach Caravan Park

Our time in Broome was both a purposeful stop (in that it allowed us to get ready for the next leg of our trip), as well as providing us with a few days of fun and frolics. I’ll save you the details of the more functional aspects and get straight into the frolicking portion.

Of the six days we stayed in Broome, at least three of those were spent at the beach. After all, beach time is really what draws people to this neck of the woods. And, as they say, when in Rome…

Actually, the folks of Broome have got ‘going to the beach’ down to a fine art. Not only is the silky white silica sand a delight to behold (set off spectacularly against the brilliant blue of the surf and the sky), but there was also a booming trade being done in the hiring of beach paraphernalia.

Having rented a beach umbrella for ourselves (which was in turn drilled into the sand by a stall attendant), we were able to merrily hang out at the beach until the sun went down the late afternoon.

Hanging out at Cable Beach

The beach at Cable Beach was fairly flat, with the sand sloping down at a slow gradient to the frothing water. In the north of Australia, tides are well known for rising and falling anywhere up to 10 or 11 meters. As such, during low tide on Cable Beach, the water recedes well over 100 meters. So, throughout the day, the water crept further and further away from our little umbrella, as the kids ran back and forth along the newly exposed sand.

Still Hanging out at Cable Beach...

When we weren’t lazing, playing, swimming or fishing at the beach, we did manage to drag ourselves off to explore the surrounding areas of Broome. One afternoon was spent wandering the cliffs of Gantheaume Point and driving down a sandy 4x4 track along the coast. Huge cliffs of red rock plunged down into churning ocean below; all very dramatic, picturesque and exciting. Gantheaume Point overlooked the bay back towards Broome. The rocks here had the appearance of rock candy that had been dumped on a plate; striped and smooth, but all jumbled together.

Rocks at Gantheaume Point

Below the low tide mark at Gantheaume Point, there were dinosaur footprints embedded in the sea floor beneath these rocky cliffs. Unfortunately, we were in Broome at the wrong time to see these fossilised claw marks. However, as luck would have it, in recent years other dino prints had been found just down from our camp site at Cable Beach. As such, we spent an evening wandering over the rockpools in order to spot these ancient impressions. Nat happened to start chatting to a local women who had discovered several of these last year. As such, she was a mine of information about their location and the types of prehistoric beasts represented in this clutch of footprints.

Dinosaur Footprints Around Cable Beach

Amongst the rocks were other hidden gems, including all manner of colourful crabs scuttling about, and a lone flatworm dancing its way around a shallow pool in the evening light.

Flatworm Dancing In The Rock Pools

As well as being a great place for a swim, digging in the sand and spotting the tracks of long dead animals, the beach at Broom was also a lot of fun to drive along. Just off to the right, as you head down an access road to the beach, there was well worn path through a patch of rocks. Following the other cars in a snaking trail through these tyre shredding rocks, we found ourselves on a flat, solid stretch of sand where we could cruise along the water’s edge. Heading up the beach, we set up our camp chairs and thought this was a perfect spot for a quick skype to my folks back in New Zealand (who were battling through the heart of winter). It’s not that we wanted to rub in how awesomely warm it was where we were (ok, perhaps just a little bit), but with today’s technology and ubiquitous internet access, what better way to share an experience with your nearest and dearest than being able to actually show them.

Skyping My Folks From Cable Beach As A Train Of Camels Strolled By.

Other events on our Broome agenda included a round of mini-golf at the nearby cafĂ©/corner shop/mini-golf range, and also heading to a local tavern to watch the local favourite of ‘crab racing’. We didn’t know what to expect from the crab racing – but in our minds, we all had great fantasies of giant crabs battling it out in a winner takes all competition for supreme crabby glory. Needless to say, the actual race didn’t fully live up to the images that we had conjured up in our wild imaginations. At one end of the bar was a wide circular table with a bucket in the middle. The master of ceremonies, sporting a crab shaped hat (of course), drummed up the crowd and urged as much money out of their pockets as possible before the race began. Then, lifting the bucket, he dumped a dozen or so small hermit crabs in the middle of the ring. Startled by the light of bar, the crabs made a swift scramble towards the edges of the arena; with the winner being the first crab to reach the outer rim. It was kinda fun, but the boys soon got bored of the long wait between races (I think we only saw three in the couple of hours we were there). So we wandered home again, talking about how giant crabs would have been much cooler! I didn’t even get a photo of the races, as the crabs just looked like colourful dots against a white background…

A Round of Mini-Golf: Cable Beach

Amongst all of the chillaxing, we also had time to pick up and install a spare part that had been sent from Jayco to fix our door lock. We spruced up the car and trailer, did loads and loads of washing. In the end, we were all packed up ready for our next tenting adventure in Cape Leveque. I think we might have many more bumpy roads in our near future!

Home Cooked Barramundi

Bye ‘d bye,


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