July 1-3

Fond farewells to Tasmania and Hello BROOME July 1-7.

If you want to view previous segments you can click on these links:
Sydney June 11-16.
Canberra June 16-20 and Melbourne June 20-23.
Tasmania June 23-July 1.
My ticket was going to take me twelve hours to get from Hobart in Tasmania to Broome in Western Australia as I had to travel Hobart-Melbourne-Perth-Broome. But when I got to Melbourne I noticed there was a direct flight to Broome leaving in 20 minutes. Wow! So I hustled myself to the service counter.

Sorry the guy said, no can do because of your discounted ticket. That's too bad I said because you have seats on this flight but I'm guessing my Perth to Broome leg is oversold because when I looked there was not a seat to be had.

Hmmm the guy said, still, no can do. Then, 2 minutes later I heard my name paged and voilá! a ticket on the direct flight Was available after all.

So not only did I save four hours of transit time I also got an Entire Row to myself. What JOY.
On top of which I was expecting to have to take the bus or a taxi but Lo! there was Bonnie of Beaches of Broome so I hitched a ride with her.
All this good luck was adding up so I started sneezing and my nose started running and I thought OH! NO! I was feeling pretty poorly for two days and then this morning, on the 4th (Happy Birthday America!) yay, I can breathe! So I booked some tours and I'm ready to rock 'n roll on Broome.

This is all my cold weather gear now packed away in a small little bundle not to be thought of again until my return to Sydney, except for the scarf that is part of my dress-up outfit. My amazing raincoat is under the scarf, then the hat, socks, gloves, and a vest. That was it and I was warm and comfy and dry.
Here come some walking-around pictures from my two and a half days of sneezing so I didn't do much.

The Boab trees knocked me out.
Here's another Boab and there and tons more.
A different tree and also fabulous.
I'm staying a few blocks from Cable Beach, the tony part of Broome. They call it Cable Beach, named after the telegraph cable laid between Broome and Java in 1889, its terminus being here.
That's a good part of it, a sweeping arc of sand and the Indian Ocean. This is top season and look at how much free space would be yours if you liked that sort of thing, sitting out soaking up the blazing sun that is.
The city bus operates like an excellent HoHo as it stops at all the tourist interests, costs $3US per ride, and comes every half hour.
I was on my way to the Visitor's Center but chatting with one of my bus mates I learned that the 'renowned' crafts market was on Saturdays and Sundays and since it was Sunday I thought to get off and have a look.

Looks like a crafts market, right.
The flower girl was telling the little ones to come by her stand because she was doing face painting and they were so happy.
Aw, sweet.
This is a Magpie Lark. I have pictures of him catching and feasting upon a cricket but this picture is sharper. He's feeling rather pleased with himself.
Pearl acquisition and now pearl farming is The Thing in Broome and it made this little Outback sliver of town rich.
It also brought Chinese businesses and especially valued were the Japanese for their experience and skill in diving deep.

It's of course a complicated and largely unpleasant story involving the enslaving of the indigenous populations and vast wealth shared among very few.
There's a History Trail, a museum, and tours. I'm taking a town tour tomorrow and trust the narration will be interesting.
A once bustling pier.
I was walking from some place to someplace else and heard Sunday singing.
Having a listen too.
All the ground is like this ground. Gorgeious red dust that must turn into thick red mud for a good part of the year.

There are two seasons up north and universally called The Wet and The Dry. From Australia.gov: "The tropical regions of Australia ... have high temperatures and high humidity and distinct wet and dry seasons.

"The wet season is usually between November and March. It is hotter than the dry season, with temperatures between 30 and 50 degrees Celsius.

"The dry season is usually between April and October. Temperatures are lower and the skies are generally clearer during the dry. The average temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius ((it's been 30-32 highs since I've been here)).

"The 'build up' is the humid time of year between the wet and dry seasons. It usually lasts for three or four months. Things become quite tense during the 'build up' as people sit and swelter in the humidity while waiting and hoping for the first rains to come. The humidity continues day and night with no respite, so when the rains finally do come everyone enjoys their cooling relief."

But the relief is short-lived considering the difficulty of living through The Wet. Here in Broome most of the town simply shuts down.
There are no signals in Broome as all the major intersections (major might be an exaggeration) are roundabouts. Roundabouts are nicely efficient, you just need to plan for the required land to make them happen.
What mostly happens in Broome is people get sun-burned all day and drink beer all night.

Vast clubs are everywhere like this one for example...
...and here's the inside but three times as big as you can see.

The majority of the tourists are Australians. I've heard some German spoken but not a single American, which can be a relief and if you've traveled abroad you know what I mean.
This is where the internet works. I pay $3US per hour and it is so worth it not to keep getting disconnected at the hostel. This place is good because I'm the only person using the whole feed.
The main road.
From the nicest hotel in Cable Beach that also has bad internet. I know because I tried it.
The view from the door of my room.
You know you're staying in a hostel when this looks really good.

I want to note how well I am feeling right now and how unwell I was feeling just 12 hours ago. FINGERS CROSSED it's gone. I'm going to go back to my room and do nothing until tomorrow, just to seal the deal!

And I'm all caught up with pictures and correspondence. That feels amazing.
July 4

The one thing I HAD to do in Broome was catch the sunset camel rides on Cable Beach. Not to ride the camels, just to take their picture.

These pictures are NOT MINE (NOT MINE all from the internet), I just wanted you to see the goal, the goal that was for me...

...no chance of achieving.

At low tide the camels can walk on the sea side of the (grrr) cars to get them out of the picture and get the reflections in the receding tide.

But not for me. We were at such high tide the camels walked between two rows of cars. I think you might not have much choice when putting together a long itinerary, but it's something to consider if you want to come to Broome.
Far above the action taking the setting sun.
I was hoping for a Lawrence of Arabia chance but sorry no, cars.
A very little photoshop effort looking for the effect.
And how did This happen?!
A cool granny.
Cars/trucks/bikes and camels all share the road.
It really did look like this.
My feeling about all the cars and trucks softened 90% when I saw how much fun the folks were having tailgating the sunset and that was sweet.
Finishing up, everyone gets a treat.
As the sky darkened...
...heading my way home.
July 5

I'm off for a bus tour today of the city (town...village...) of Broome, population 15,000 that grows to 45,000 at the height of the tourist season, which would be right now.

Our first stop...
...Sun Picture Garden, a moving pictures house which opened in 1916 and is "the oldest 'picture garden' still in operation."

Those sling seats are half under cover and half under the stars. From wiki: "Up until 1967, Europeans who were considered most worthy were seated in the middle of the cinema, with their children up front. Other whites and Asians sat on the left side while "coloured people" were forced to sit on hard wooden benches on the right and were forced to enter through a separate door. A boycott began just before anti-discrimination laws were brought in in 1967."
Some details from the walls.
Next stop, Cygnet Pearls. They told an interesting story with a pleasantly soft sell on the shopping opportunity.
Gantheaume Point...
...and another view from Gantheaume Point.

I talked to three tour guides at some length over my time here and they are all nuts for the newly discovered trove of dinosaur foot-prints that are causing a sensation. There have been foot-prints around for a while but now they have whole trails of them and are looking to become The Dinosaur Coast.
Looking into a splendid marina.
Beer tasting at Matso's Brewery where we sampled Ginger Beer, Mango Beer, and Lychee Beer.

I wouldn't order any of them but it was fun. Everyone was pouring various ones together trying to find a combination they liked.
Then down to Cable Beach for a nice layout of nibbles (their word for nuts, sausage, crackers, olives, and etc.) and sparkling wine that we all enjoyed.

They were a great group and all Aussies too.
Another sunset...
...of sunsets.
Backpackers. I think this place where I am staying is maybe half backpackers, several families with children since it's school break for this week and next, and plenty of mid-age to late-age singles and couples with actual suitcases. I am quite content.

There's coffee and tea, cereal, milk, bread, jam, butter, apples, and oranges available every morning. They also have a small café offering frozen food fried for your dining pleasure. Everything comes with French fries.

Everything comes with French fries at the internet place too, and there's the ever popular fish and chips, and fries as a quick snack when you're feeling a little peckish, and they're good fries too, but I now must take a break from French fries.

The best thing I ate was at the funky little internet place where I had delicious grilled barramundi and French fries. The second best meal was at 18 Degrees where I had poached eggs on beans - it was perfect and entirely satisfying. The third best meal was arancini at Cable Beach Resort - so flavorful and with great texture. And lastly the fourth best thing I ate was the nachos right here at the hostel. They make them with Cool Ranch Doritos, a spicy salsa, and lots of tangy cheese all melted together, crispy and gooey from under the broiler.
July 6

I'm off at dawn for a "1 Day Cape Leveque Adventure" with Kimberly Wild.

We will be exploring the Dampier Peninsula, and crossing mostly indigenous lands.
About half the journey was on these unsealed roads of blowing dust and washboard ruts so deep the truck could rattle your teeth right out of your head.

That's me, front seat!
This guy came roaring past us. The bus was sure we would find him splayed across the road but no, he beat us there.
"The Dampier Peninsula is a delight for travelers seeking a real Kimberley experience that is culturally rewarding in a beautiful environment.

"As we journey up the Cape Leveque Road, travelers will learn all about the areas fascinating place in Australia’s history."
"Enjoy morning tea in the Beagle Bay Aboriginal Community...
"...home to the Sacred Heart Church and its glimmering pearl shell altar."
Another closer view of the very cool shell altar.
Trees from Hawaii, no kidding - the yellow blooming wattle, a mango tree, and plumeria that they call frangipani here.

I was so excited that my tree-naming phase in Hawaii had some crossover.
"We then travel north to the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm. The only working pearl farm open to the public, Cygnet Bay offers an introduction to the history and cultivation of the world’s finest pearls during an in-depth Pearl Farm Tour."
This is the same company that has the showroom in town I visited yesterday. They again did an excellent job.

We are gathered around in anxious anticipation. Will we or won't we get a pearl out of this oyster?!
We got one OK, and it was a goodie, sold to one of our members for about $375USD.
They tell you about how to grade a pearl. I've heard this rap many times forgetting instantly, but it's interesting while it's happening.

Every once in a great while an oyster will spit out it's seed and grow a pearl anyway, called seedless pearls, and although very deformed they are the most valuable and here at Cygnet Bay Pearl they've been saving the big ones for many many years to make this one string, about to go on the market for $400,000.
"In the One Arm Point Aboriginal Community we tour a local aquaculture hatchery perched right on the tip of One Arm Point and enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the impressive Buccaneer Archipelago, witnessing the huge tidal flows of the Kimberley – the largest in the southern hemisphere!"
I used my underwater camera to catch a shot of this guy.
They used to have a big business that went bust during the financial crisis of the early 2000s but it was always just...
...this one fellow doing what he's doing now...
...polishing up the raw shells to make them shiny. Now he's selling them by ones to the tourists.

((I want to remember about the resort workers.))
"Returning south we discover Cape Leveque (locally known as Kooljaman). Enjoy time to relax on the pristine beaches and spectacular coastline the cape is renowned for."
It really was splendidly gorgeous.
You can't tell now so well but that shell had the exact colors of the sands.
Ahhh. And then the 3 hour ride back, 1 1/2 of those hours over the high-clearance four-wheel drive road that is often unpassable during the wet even for four-wheel drive.

They (according to the guide - I didn't ask who they are) are talking about paving that road but the guide doesn't want them to. He wants it to be hard to get there so when people come they are serious visitors.

But all the people on the other side of the road are living in Aboriginal communities and to me it seems pretty economically isolating when the only way to get in or out takes so much effort, or money if you can afford to fly. Probably the residents should decide.
July 7

The morning after the tour and time to go to the cutie little airport in Broome.

But WAIT! The flight is CANCELED!!
So the airline (Qantas did all the work for their local carrier Airnorth) put everyone up in a kind of rundown hotel that had space for 45 people when the rest of the town was packed.

But it turned out ok. The place really did well under the onslaught of a bus of disrupted tourists, and dinner at the nearby Irish Pub was delicious - a Guinness pie with a side of excellent vegetables and my favorite kind of mashed potatoes, the heavy buttery kind, not the light fluffy kind.

The next day they put on an earlier flight and I arrived in Darwin ready for what's next.

(google maps)
HomeAustralasia • Australia • '17 Jul: Broome

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