Monday, 1 August 2011

Halls Creek to Broome

At the remote caravan park at Halls Creek, we were surprised to find old acquaintances from home (well, Somerville). Jenny and David had been off-roading for a few days and had come into a park for the necessary washing and cleaning up. It was lovely to see them and we enjoyed their visit in the evening for a nice natter.

Next stop along the way was at Fitzroy Crossing and we stopped at a nice shady park near the old Crossing Inn which had been the original stopping place for travellers for over a hundred years. Even better, the Inn had a very nice buffet meal available in the evening and we sat out under the stars enjoying the good food and a nice glass of wine. Had a walk by the river with Jessie next morning before setting forth again towards Broome.
We took a side road beforehand and drove up to Derby (pronounced DERby in Australia). This remote town with its extremely long jetty jutting out into King Sound seemed to me to be the very top of Australia but, of course, its not.  Sunset at the jetty is a favourite attraction for visitors and the setting sun really is spectacular. There is a restaurant/take-away cafĂ© right by the jetty and most people seemed to stop here on their return for the famous fish of the north – Barramundi and chips. Not a bad way to end the day. Just 7kms outside Derby is the Boab Prison Tree – used in the old days as a temporary stop on the way to Derby.

Broome was a place I had always wanted to visit and unfortunately so did everyone else escaping the southern winter. No parks in Broome had vacancies and so we ended up staying at a new park – only 2 weeks old – at Broome Gateway (about 20 minutes out of Broome). The amenities block was beautifully architect designed and had lovely hot showers, however the layout of the park was not finished, nor were power and water connected to the sites. Nevertheless we survived the red dust and used our auxiliary power for light in the evenings. During the day we drove into Broome to stock up on supplies and see the sights. The town has grown enormously since its famous Cable Beach Resort was established in the 1970s. The architecture of the newer buildings throughout the town is almost exclusively corrugated iron and is surprisingly very distinctive and appropriate in the hot, tropical setting. Cable Beach itself is beautiful – great stretches of smooth white sand with some rocky outcrops. Three companies were doing a roaring trade giving rides on camel trains up and down the beach. The main attractions and indeed many of the stores were selling pearl jewellery. The pearling industry had long been a major industry here and the Broome Museum had a wonderful display of early equipment that the divers had used. It was a perilous way to earn a living though, as the separate cemeteries to Japanese and Chinese pearl divers who had perished, testifies. These are beautifully maintained, however I thought it sad that the Broome European cemetery was not in a very good state at all.
At the weekends, a lovely outdoor art and craft market operates from the tropical garden surrounding the Court House. The variety of stalls and the entertaining magicians were a lovely way to spend a few hours.

In the afternoons we headed for the beach – not crowded Cable Beach, but nearby Riddell Beach which was similar but not so nearly crowded. A swim in the azure blue Indian Ocean was just brilliant and Jessie, too, enjoyed a paddle although she loves taking a bite at the white wave tops, resulting an hour or two later, with one rather ‘green’ looking dog.

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