Hi from Broome and the great North West
This is just a quick update on my travels around the North West of WA. I arrived in Broome this morning about 6:30 am after an overnight (13 hour) bus trip from Kununurra. The main highway up here is a national disgrace, given that it is the main route from Perth to Darwin. Even in a big Greyhound Bus it was rough and bumpy. In the 4WD,when I went out to the Bungle Bungles last Wednesday, it was a nightmare – and that was before we got off the “highway” and on to the ungraded, unsealed roads into the National Park!
The trip into the Bungle Bungles by 4WD took about 8 hours each way – and half of that on roads that left you feeling like you had spent the time in an old Hoover Twin Tub washing machine – but not feeling as clean! No water for washing from the time we left Kununurra until we got back.
A strong pain killer every 6-8 hours turned out to be my survival routine – but I still had a great time. Up at 4:45am – learned to pitch and pack my own tent; slept under the stars until it got a bit chilly outside and had a self-inflating mattress that blew up to at least half an inch thick. I joined a tour that came from Broome and was going to Darwin – and I have to confess it was a good thing that my own five day 4WD safari was cancelled at the last minute and I booked the two day one in Kununurra. I would never have lasted five days on the track! Believe me!
But I successfully trekked for four to five hours through the chasms, gorges and up to the lookouts – although they started me off first and I was last to arrive back. But I am happy that I managed to do the full tour – even though I was very, very stiff in the shoulders and neck. Especially in the mornings. We all pitched in to help with cooking, washing up – no alcohol unless you had brought your own – and this tour had already done the Gibb River Road – so, for them, the Bungle Bungles was not so bad. Everyone thought that it was hilarious that I hadn’t been camping since my very early teens and now here I was, in the middle of nowhere, digging a hip hole and not a bathroom in sight. When a 4WD turned up after dark at the Camp site and they wondered who it might be, I knew! “That’s my Dad” I said. “He never would stop to pitch camp before it got dark.” Lots of laughter all round. We had a great tour guide, Fiona and I expect to catch up with her here in Broome before I leave on Friday.
Took lots of great photos – from the ground and the air. This Nana could not resist a helicopter flight over the Bungle Bungles and it was awesome. The small aircraft flight the day before from Kununurra was not so good, because we had to go early – 6:00am – because of the heat and there was a lot of haze and glare off Lake Argyle – so, not so good for photos.
Kununurra Tip No 1 – when trekking in the gorges in the Bungle Bungles, do not disturb the eight foot brown snake, lying by the last remaining pool of water, while it waits for the wet to come.
Kununurra Tip No 2 – when camping out in the Bungle Bungles, sleep under the stars outside your tent BEFORE you see any eight foot brown snakes, if you want to sleep well.
Managed to find Cheribun Station on the map – outside of Fitzroy Station. My son Colin came up here when he was fifteen, to be a windmill fixer and cattle drover. Now, he is a surveyor in Canada. Always was one for the great outdoors.
Shame about St Kilda yesterday – I really wanted them to win, but their kicking let them down in the first quarter, in particular. Grand Final nerves, I guess. The beer and the fantastic steak burger at Gulliver’s Tavern almost made up for it. Drinking endless quantities of water- more than I thought possible!
I can also recommend the Kimberley Croc Backpackers as somewhere to rest your bones during your travels. Lovely people; every possible facility in the kitchen (DIY of course) and a good swimming pool. Close walking distance to all the main shops etc in Kununurra and they pick you up and drop you off when you arrive and leave. One of the ladies I met there who had just come in from Toad Busting used to work at the Swan Vet Clinic – so, she knew George and she remembered my dally, Pepper II. It’s a small world, for sure.
It’s a rest day today in Broome – tomorrow I am catching up with some friends from Kununurra and we are going whale watching together tomorrow. Apparently there are hundreds of whales up here at present with their babies. It will be fabulous. In the afternoon, I will be taking in a sunset cruise on an old pearling lugger. My Tuesday 4WD tour up to Cape Leveque was cancelled this morning – vehicle broken down – so I will have to find something else to do. Might see about a pearl farm tour or a mud crab tour! Now that would be fun – going to catch my own dinner. Tonight – just baked beans and a beer at the Backpackers – after A SWIM in their beautiful swimming pool. Cable Beach is about 300 metres away but not sure about the jellyfish yet. Last time I was here, it was recommended that you don’t go in the water.
Yesterday, I was swimming in Lake Argyle – just a few hundred yards from Crocodile Cove and we saw three small freshwater crocs. But no sign of them where we were – in the water, resting on noodles and drinking champagne! What a life!
Quite a difference in accommodation between backpackers. Kununurra: en suite and air conditioning 24 hrs a day. No shared room. Broome: No shared room but toilet and bathroom down the hall and air conditioning comes on at 4:30pm. Maybe next time I’ll stay a bit upmarket in Broome! But staying in a backpackers is always fun!
My camera died on the way up here in the plane and I bought a new one at Retravision in Kununurra. Excellent service. Everyone in Kununurra (except the ladies in the photo shop at the Chemists) was very friendly, helpful and welcoming. I think those two ladies were just “touristed” out at the end of the season. Bought a lovely little Panasonic – have taken loads of photos and will upload some to the bog when I work out how to do it on this new netbook computer that I have been lugging around with me! The Telstra network is a bit on and off, up here.
Kununurra Tip No 3 – always, always carry a spare, charged battery for the camera. Mine takes about 200 on one battery charge – nowhere near enough for a two day camping tour in the Bungle Bungles with a helicopter flight thrown in! Once the red light flashes, you have about 12-15 shots left – without zoom.
Kununurra Tip No 4 – wear long trousers and boots before you go trekking off in the spinnifex taking photos of termite mounds. The leaves are very sharp and the tips break off at skin level if you are unlucky.
Also had to buy a camping pillow and blanket and some warm sleeping gear (got that at the Salvation army op shop) – was very useful on the bus trip too. That was only a two painkiller trip – and it amazing where you can sleep when you have too.
I am planning to come back next year for the Great Toad Muster and the Kununurra Rodeo – I’ll spend a week out in the bush helping to catch cane toads and then come into Kununurra for the AFL grand final and the Rodeo which is on the same night. I might then bus up to Darwin and tour down to Kakadu and Katherine and maybe come home via Alice Springs and the Ghan. Sounds like a plan!
Anyhow, that’s a year way and in the meantime I have lots of other things to keep me busy.
BTW – the taxi driver that brought me in from the bus says that most of the locals are opposed to the site of the new gas hub because of the whaling nursery here and asked that we continue to lobby The Premier Mr Barnett for an alternative site which is more environmentally friendly.
The gas project will go ahead – but the site for the gas hub urgently needs to be revised. When I told her that 12,000 people visited my blog to view the story on the Dolphin slaughter at Taiji and the sister city relationship with Broome, she thanked me for helping get the story told, even though it had a big impact on their festival. She said that the locals are prepared for eco-action in the same way as they were against the damming of the Franklin River in Tasmania –so, maybe this time next year you will find me chained to a bulldozer instead of hunting toads. The whale nursery up here needs all the protection it can get and if the State Government doesn’t do it, then the Feds must.
Ciao for now. Off for a swim!