Cable Beach

No prizes for guessing which one is the camel. Jenny and her German backpacker starting the Cable Beach camel ride.

We did a Town Tour this morning which was very informative and gave us the opportunity to visit a few sites we may not have visited otherwise. After lunch we just got things ready for take off tomorrow – filling the water tanks, stowing gear, before heading out to buy some supplies and then heading up to Cable Beach. Ah the joys of watching the wonder of nature as the sun goes down, glistening on the 500 4wd parked on the beach. Jenny enjoyed her camel ride then we sat and waited for the sun to go  down before heading back to camp.

Off to Cape Leveque tomorrow and Jenny has just heard from Melva that the Coopers will also be heading down there and heading down the coast on Sunday the same as we had planned…

Bustling Broome

Broome Jetty. A cruise ship was due in today and the locals were meant to be putting a special market on in Chinatown. Either the cruise ship didn’t arrive (we never spotted it) or they didn’t bother with the market.

Spent the better part of the day in the town centre today, checking out the shops and meeting up with the Coopers for coffee. Did over the pearl shops (bought nothing, stunning jewelry and equally stunning prices), art galleries and kitchenware (its so special in Broome). Later we checked out a camping store and still couldn’t buy anything. The Town Beach market is on tonight but, according to our bus driver from yesterday, the food stalls are the only good thing.

The town was certainly busy with tourists. According to one source the population of Broome is around 12 to 17 thousand but it swells to 60 thousand in the peak period. Cafe and bar prices reflect central city locations and all the caravan parks are full with a constant turnover of recreational vehicles entering and leaving the town area. Personally I don’t see the attraction other than the tourist brochure shots and must sees. I’d rather somewhere like Derby where you get to meet the locals.

How Time flies etcetera

Sunset at the Keep River National Park
Sunset at the Keep River National Park

We’ve been languishing in Broome since Tuesday, enjoying pleasant temperatures but its a bit windy. We joined a tour out to the Willies Creek Pearl farm yesterday for an informative look at the cultured pearl industry. We were given a well formed introduction to the methods of seeding oysters and the techniques of farming cultured pearls, after which we enjoyed a nice lunch in their cafe. Following lunch was a brief boat trip out into the lagoon to view the oyster racks on the long lines. We were also shown how the workers descale, debarnacle the oysters while aboard the shell cleaning boat doing 10 hour shifts. Good money but hard work. After that display it was back to the showroom in an attempt to sell us some pearls. Jenny succumbed and bought some cheap fresh water pearls from Asia. Today we went into the town centre to hit the shops. We met up with the Coopers for an iced coffee.

The view from our caravan park
The view from our caravan park

Melva is still struggling with her arthritis, her hands and wrists are extremely swollen and she appears to be in a great deal of pain. We suggested she increase her pain medication but it looks like they may just visit the pearl farm and then head off toward home. If she is really bad, I think Laurie will take her straight back down the Stuart Highway to home. It would be quicker that going down the coast. We have another tour tomorrow around the town and Jenny is doing the camel ride at Cable Beach (because that’s what you ave to do in Broome) tomorrow evening. We will depart Broome on Saturday and head out to Cape Leveque. How long we stay depends on how long it takes for us to get out there and what we find when we get there. A fellow traveller has suggested an alternative route to head down to Marble Bar so we may check that out after the weekend. The adventure continues.

Willies Creek Pearls

A pearl extracted from the oyster during the demonstration at Willies Creek Pearl Farm

Made our contribution to the Broome tourist industry by going on a tour of the Willies Creek Pearl Farm. The tour included lunch and a complimentary drink (but no complimentary pearl) Interesting presentation with plenty of tactile experiences made for a worthwhile tour. Even got to see one of Nigel’s girlfriends (Nigel being the 4 metre crocodile that frequents Willies Creek and Cable Beach area)

Naturally Jenny succumbed to the charm of the Pearl Shop even though she explictly told me you don’t buy pearls there.

Arrived in Broome

From our caravan park looking back toward the Port of Broome

Short run of 110 kilometres today. We pulled into a roadside stop and Jenny was able to get onto the Roebuck Bay Caravan Park and get a booking for 4 nights. We called into the Visitors’ Information Centre and got all the pamphlets that we could carry before heading to the Caravan Park to set up and start the ring round of making bookings. Jenny got a text from the Coopers to say that they had a puncture in their caravan tyre and had to stop at Halls Creek today to get it repaired. Its quite windy here but warm. Facilities are old but clean.

We reach Nillibubbica Rest Area

Turning left at the intersection!! The first time we have been on this portion of road. Nillibubbica Rest Area is another 74 kms south.

Made relatively good time today. We left Marys Pool Rest Area at about 9.00 am after a sleep in. By the time we departed probably 80% of the overnighters had already left so we just ambled south. We reached Fitzroy Crossing in time for lunch – still no iced coffee so we only bought bread and fuel before continuing on to Nillibubbica Rest Area which is about 109 kms north of Broome. Another popular free camp but with us on our lonesome it was easy to find a spot and set up for the night. a big variety of vehicles and travellers made an interesting night. Had our usual couple of wines and a port. Laurie rang to say they were north of Halls Creek.

Onto Halls Creek

Our camp at the Mary’s Pool Free Camp – trying to cool the freezer off – its a balmy 28 degrees

We left Keep River National Park around 8.30. Got checked out at the Kunnunurra Quarantine Checkpoint (there goes our one and only potato) so went into Kunnunnurra to do some fresh fruit and vegie shopping. Everything was shut up tight because it was Sunday. Refuelled and headed to Halls Creek in the hope of getting an iced coffee for afternoon tea. Sadly same rules apply at Halls Creek nothing available except fuel so we kept on going to the free camp at Mary’s Pool. We’re thinking we will have a late start tomorrow as I want to go over the vehicle to make sure everything is working properly.

Keep River National Park

Keep River National Park, the Northern Territory’s version of the Bungles – not even close to a cigar

We travelled into the Keep River National Park and set up in the furtherest campground which had adequate basic facilities. Sadly they built the campground at least 1.5 kilometres from where they should have, which meant an extended trek in the heat. We went to the Rock Art site in the morning that contained maybe four or five low quality paintings that had almost faded to extinction. Against my better judgement, Jenny talked me into doing the Lookout walk in the evenig instead of waiting till morning. Needless to say a 5.5 kilometre walk in 37 degree heat is a recipe for trouble – Jenny survived, just, but I struggled in the heat. We made it back to camp well after the daylight had gone, all hot and bothered. The views would have been better in the morning but the park must bear some responsibility for blatant self promotion. The walks were not within cooee of the quality of the Bungles. Still we enjoyed our night there.

Arrived at Katherine NT

Jenny and the hordes enjoying the warm waters of Mataranka Thermal Springs

Spent the last two nights at Mataranka enjoying the thermal pool. The place was packed, heaps of school kids and old farts! Had dinner at the Bistro and listened to the same old singer and his band as were there two years ago – I swear even his jokes were the same. We’re off to Gregory National Park NT today. We may camp in there for a night to check out a couple of gorges then onto Keep River National Park next to the West Australian border for two nights to view rock art and spectacular landscapes – photos to follow.

We caught up with the Coopers at Mataranka. They are travelling a lot slower than us and we will probably overtake them today even  though they left yesterday. They anticipated taking at least two nights to reach where we will reach today.

Telephone service has been intermittent so I can’t say when I’ll be able to update this next.

Meanwhile we’re having a ball with daytime temperatures now around 30 degrees with cool nights, perfect travelling weather

We’re at Katherine

Just arrived at Katherine after spending two days at Mataranka. We made excellent time to Mataranka a full two days ahead of when we were travelling with our normal companions. Enjoyed the hot pool at Mataranka even though there were heaps of noisy school kids there because of the school holidays. Weather has warmed up now to a pleasant 30 degrees during the day and cool nights. Caught up with the Coopers yesterday and they are slowly travelling in front of us. They left yesterday but we anticipate that we may overtake them today. We’re heading to Gregory National Park to check that out and then onto Keep River National Park which will fill in the next two nights before we head into Western Australia.

The vehicle is going well, with only one minor alteration (my fault I meant to do it before we left but forgot). We cruised at 100 kph on the way up but decided we will drop back to around the 85 kph now we are in holiday mode.

Don’t know when we will have service again, until then keep well.