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Blog 25: Western Australia - Broome to Fitzroy Crossing

Hi Everyone! This post is a little early because we are about to drive the Gibb River Road and the availability of internet to keep you updated is going to be questionable. Read on...

From the sparse desolate landscape of the Pilbara we crossed a line somewhere and entered the tropical paradise of the Kimberley. Lush greenery, colour saturation everywhere, a million different bird calls and GREEN.

Dawn over Roebuck Bay. This place is made out of all kinds of technicolour. The sky the bluest blue, the bay the turquoisest turquoise, the mangroves the greenest green, the mud flats the brownest reddishest reddish brown. Go with me here. Broome is a magical infusion for the eyes.

On Tuesday we wandered from our camping place, just off town beach, through the pioneer cemetery up to the iconic Matsos Brewery. Ginger beer (which is actually made from wine), check. Mango IPA, check. Hot chips, because vegan, check. After a responsibly meager five beverages between us we wandered back to camp and then spent the afternoon on a picnic blanket, under a tree watching the tide slowly depart from Roebuck Bay. Adam finally finished the last little bit of the book he picked up in Huskisson, read most of in a day then didn't touch again until now. Huzzah.

That evening happened to be the full moon. We actually happened to be sitting in the optimal spot to see the staircase to the moon phenomenon. Ruth got snap happy with her picture taker. A great and relaxing day.

Wednesday we did all the things.

In the morning we drove down to the port and went for a wander along the wharf as the tide started to roll out.

We went searching for dinosaur footprints out at Gantheaume Point, but ended up just enjoying the unique geology of the area. And the sunshine.

One of our wedding registry gifts was a massage in Broome. Ruth found a little Japanese massage place in a shopping centre and we each got a half our of wonderful relaxation before lunch. It was great. Plus they had cool little origami lotus flowers everywhere.

From there we moseyed on over to Cable Beach for a picnic lunch. The sand is white and endless and there is room for everybody to find their own little patch. A quick trip back to town to pick up Ruth's repaired handbag and we decided a Cable Beach sunset dinner was in order. Antipasto supplies into Engelbert (our fridge).

We went for a late afternoon drive up and down the beach, past all sorts of fellow Broome adventurers. The sand is packed super hard by the action of the tide. Gary had fun.

Another wedding gift we got to enjoy in Broome was a Cable Beach camel ride. You can see the camel we rode, Wongai, here (on the left). What a handsome camel. We had a great time plodding along the sand. The camels were super friendly and the guides very knowledgeable.

Sunset was freakin' amazing! We drank lime and soda water from reused Mayvers peanut butter (smooth dark roast) jars and enjoyed a spectacular sky show. We are pretty lucky to be enjoying this adventure!

Our impressions of Broome: This is the place Byron Bay wishes it was. Laid back effortlessly. While the pearl jewellers shops and boutique whatever stores are about, most of the vibe of the place is laid back and accessible. There isn't anyone trying too hard to be cool. Broome just kind of is. You should visit.

Thursday we said goodbye to Broome and drove a little way up the Dampier Peninsula to check our James Price Point, a touchstone for modern environmental activism and a taste of the journey to Cape Levique.

More special kinds of technicolour. Sky, sand, ocean, thunderstorm, red mud and sandstone cliffs slowly being torn away and reclaimed by the ocean. We dipped our toes in the Indian Ocean for probably the last time for a while and drove the corrugations back to the blacktop.

The thunderstorm touched us a little and turned the last few kilometres of driving into a sludgy mess, but we got back to the sealed road okay. We realised this is the first time it has rained on us since out near Bourke in New South Wales. Wow!

We turned east and made our way to Derby (pronounced Derr-bee, the West Coast way, not Dah-bee).

We met Barbara, a nice middle aged German lady, at the check in to the place we were staying. She had just finished driving the Gibb River road (with a lot of detours, including up to Mitchell Falls) on her own in a late 90's petrol Toyota Prado she got for cheap from a backpacker (that had more than a few mechanical issues). She had never been off road before. Lesson: you don't need a $100 000 four wheel drive to go and have an adventure - just GO!

We spent that evening trading songs with Adam's guitar. Barbara would play a folk tune in German or French or Italian, Adam would offer an English song. It was a fun time, and a good reminder that people are as important as places when travelling.

Friday we wandered out to the Wharf at low tide. Past the mud flats. Along the old cattle run walkway. Past the public exercise equipment in the middle of nowhere. Government funding is weird sometimes. We made it to the jetty. Apart from Nova Scotia, King Sound has the largest tides in the world, a change from low to high of nine metres on the day we visited.

Brenda puts her wine glass down and reaches for her ringing iPhone. "Hi Shirley." "We are in darbey or derbey or however you are supposed to say it here." "Yes leaving Western Australia soon. It is surprising that for such a big state there is not much to see. Ningaloo was nice, and Cable Beach was okay I guess." Brenda finishes her red wine as the dusk fades from the Kimberley sky. Millions of stars glitter between the tree branches. She steps up into her caravan and settles in to watch the AFL on the TV in their caravan with her husband. The four wheel drive vehicle that tows their 'van is a pristine white, unblemished. It has never left the bitumen. Brenda is thankful that she has the comforts of home with her. That way she can travel but never really visit anywhere.

Today we started to drive the Gibb River Road.

We began with a visit to the Boab Prison Tree just outside Derby. Boabs are curious trees, sharing a distant relative with the African and Madagascan Baobabs. Their bark skin shines iridescently. Some look like hearts, or vessels in a pair of lungs. Each has it's own height, squatness, random branch arrangement, beauty or ugliness. They are kind of like people. We like them.

We made our way to Windjana Gorge. Wow. Adam has been saying wow a lot today. The denovian reef sandstone thrusts up from the surrounding landscape like the formidable walls of some ancient fortress. The rock is full of colour and texture and scale. We wandered into the gorge and met some of the locals. Ruth visited this gorge 8 years ago on a day trip from Broome, it seemed much the same, maybe this time it had flushing toilets.

A detour down to Fitzroy Crossing means we get to see Giekie Gorge tomorrow before returning to the Gibb.

Not sure when our next post will be, internet access is unlikely in the more remote parts of the Kimberley.

Be safe.

All our Love,

Adam and Ruth,


Statistics Update:

Days on the Road = 170

Distance Driven = 23 132 km

Mean Distance per Day = 134 km

Mean Fuel Economy = 13.72 L / 100 km

Best Fuel Economy = 12.17 L / 100 km (Port Lincoln to Port Augusta)

Nights Free Camping = 36

Nights in Roof Tent = 147/169

Coffees Purchased = 50

Instagram Posts = 371

Instagram Followers = 174

Geocaches Logged = 32

Gary Breakdowns = 0.25

Drone Flights = 2

Videos Made = 0

French Land Rover Drivers Scared = 1

State or Territory Borders Crossed = 14

Bucks Parties Accidentally Crashed = 1

Vegan Vanilla Slices Eaten = (Adam 2, Ruth 1)

Times Set Up Camp after Dusk = 3

Chairlifts Not Used = 1

Waves Returned by Tasmanian Land Rover Drivers = 2

Cups of Tea Made for Strangers = 1

Rounds of Lost Cities Played = 68

Longest Continuous Sleep in Roof Tent = 11 hours

Gary Oil Changes = 2

Blood Donation Dates = 1

Sick Days = 4 (Adam 4, Ruth 0)

Australian Deserts Visited = (5/10) (Strzelecki, Perdika, Great Sandy, Gibson, Great Victoria)

Cattle Stations Camped On = 1

Iconic South Australian Track Completion = Oodnadatta 100% (617 km), Strzelecki 26% (122/475 km), Birdsville 0% (0/517 km)

Uluru Climbs = 0

Tyre Punctures = 1

Tasmanian Job Applications = 4 (Adam 2, Ruth 2)

Babies Met = 5

Boat Rides = 8

Songs Swap Sessions with Strangers = 1

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