We left the Bungles filled with anticipation for the next stage of the journey … even though we’ve got only vague plans. That’s been the beauty of this trip, those last minute decisions and choices that dictate the direction of our journey. A bit like life isn’t it.
We stop for the night at the Ngumban Cliffs, a 24 hour free stop between Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing. It’s perched up high and offers spectacular sunset views from the van. There we meet fellow Melbournian Beau in his combi van who’s also travelling out west.
Our stop at the Visitors Centre at Fitzroy Crossing the next morning gives us new ideas and direction. We visit Geike Gorge for a walk and a swim and travel on to Windjana Gorge National Park for the night. It’s a bumpy corrugated 4WD track for 90 plus kilometres to reach a stunning campsite with great facilities and incredible walks.
Meeting the Locals at Windjana
We don’t have enough time in the day to do any major treks but we’re content with a 40 minute walk into the gorge. We walk underneath sandstone cliffs that are millions of years old (West Australia knows how to impress) and many freshwater crocodiles in the river. Obviously we don’t swim here.
I say to Doug to stay away from the water’s edge as it feels like there’s lots of beady eyes watching from the river. Then out of nowhere he says, “Hey Miri, watch out in front of you” and I nearly jump a mile high. There on the shore, barely metres from me, is a crocodile. I’d been so busy watching the water I nearly walked right into him. I’m sure the croc had a smirk on its face!
Windjana was a short but spectacular stopover and lead us out onto the last sealed kilometres of the Gibb River Road. Derby and the Prison Boab Tree was our next stop and we had a visit to the Mowanjum Aboriginal Art and Culture gallery planned but unfortunately it was closed. Instead we enjoyed morning tea at a great art gallery cafe in town and explore a bit before continuing onto Broome.
The Pearl of Broome
Beautiful, warm, quirky Broome … we’re finally here. The pearling capital of the world with a pulse of its own sits on a 15km peninsula that juts out into the Indian Ocean with water on three sides. It’s tropical, laid back and after checking into Broome Caravan Park and catching up on chores we’re keen to explore.
Chinatown is the name of the main shopping strip. Contrary to its name it’s not filled with Chinese restaurants but instead full of food, fashion, pearl jewellery and other colourful retail shops. In the early 1900s it was a shanty town, full of pearling ships, shops, opium dens, noodle houses, boarding houses and laneways where all the Asiatics lived while the Europeans lived in Old Broome area.
Today you can walk through the worlds oldest outdoor picture garden and catch a flick, stroll through laneways filled with colourful cafes. And enjoy vibrant art at galleries such as Black Stump Gallery and Broome Gallery with paintings by artist James Down.
We spoke to James whose whimsical paintings reflect his love for Broome’s history and the vibrant Kimberley. He also does personalised paintings by adding people and vehicles into the scene. It’s colourful and fun.
We hit the town markets with the stalls set up around grand old Boab trees and we buy fresh oysters for our beach dinner that night.
Finally we hit the beach and that beautiful shade of turquoise blue that Broome is synonymous for. And wow it doesn’t disappoint. From a takeaway Thai lunch overlooking Town Beach to a sunset barbecue on Cable Beach that night (with that famous camel train passing through of course) Broome is picture perfect.
We drive out to Guntheame Point and walk along the rocks, we don’t find the dinasour print as the tide’s too high but we explore Reddell Beach, enjoy two amazing dinners on the beach with our table and chairs parked on the sand. We meet some great people and enjoy the laid back ambience and slow vibe that immerses you into life here. After just three nights I feel this earthy place seep into my heart.
A Few Fun facts about Broome
There are crab races held here.
More than 10 cars is a traffic jam.
It’s normal to have a camel train on a nudist beach.
People give way to cars at pedestrian crossings.
The Bureau of Meteorology is the most visited website. But ants are much better forecasters than the weather bureau.
And tide times are more sacred than the TV Guide.
The tides in Broome are amongst the biggest in the world. Their rise and fall creates a beautiful rhythm to the day and is an integral part of life here. Being on a peninsula surrounded by water the tides affects life constantly.
Maybe that’s why life flows so easy here and everyone seems so chilled. For now we’re leaving Broome, but our West Australian coastal adventure is just beginning. Our next destination 200Kms north of Broome is going to blow you away. Remember I mentioned those tides, I’ll take you there next.
Till then, stay well, love where you are and don’t forget to look up at the big picture and beauty, which is everywhere. But, as I discovered, it’s also a good idea to look and see what’s right in front of you too.
In love and light