A Travellerspoint blog

Monkey Mia, Kalbarri, Geraldton

No monkeys but plenty of Pinnacles??

Mia is an Aboriginal word meaning "place." Despite what one might think, this is not "the place of monkeys." The Monkey was the name of a ship which brought surveyor Henry Ommanney to Shark's Bay to check out the fishing prospects. The spot where Ommanney's ship docked became known as "Monkey Mia."

The day we arrived the ocean looked like a lake! It was late afternoon and people were sitting on the beach 'cocktailing' and watching the sun set - as you do!
an ocean that looks like a lake!

an ocean that looks like a lake!

sunset at Monkey Mia

sunset at Monkey Mia

us at the resort!

us at the resort!


Exmouth to Monkey Mia

Exmouth to Monkey Mia


Monkey Mia is actually the name of the resort where you go to feed the dolphins - like Tangalooma is, in our neck of the world. The area is national park and the ocean around there is Shark's Bay. We stayed 3 nights there and went to view the dolphin feeding once. It is done a bit differently to Tangalooma. At a certain time in the morning you are asked to stay away from the water's edge until you get 'the call' from the rangers to move towards the sea. We are waiting for the arrival of the dolphins who have already been there earlier and people have seen them.
on dolphin watch!

on dolphin watch!


Once they have been spotted we can then move to the shallows of the ocean - ankle depth only because the dolphins don't like it if you go in too deep. They have a habit of nibbling/biting you.

up close with the dolphins

up close with the dolphins


Unfortunately only 5 people (out of the hundreds that are there) are selected to feed the dolphins and then they only get one fish to give them. Very controlled. What is nice though is that you can view them from the shallows of the ocean up close. The dolphins follow the ranger whilst she is giving her talk up and down the crowds. They also like to show off to people. There are only about 4-5 dolphins that can be fed and 2 babies. Not as many as Tangalooma has.
the dolphins - one of them is called Nicky

the dolphins - one of them is called Nicky

my namesake

my namesake


This happens 3 times a day in the mornings when the dolphins appear and if you are persistent enough and hang around you might get a chance to feed one sometime during the morning.

The next day I went on a boat cruise to see guaranteed sightings of dugong. There are huge areas of seagrasses here at Shark's Bay and I was not disappointed. They are rather difficult to photo and very shy so this is the best I can do on a photo.
dugong at Monkey Mia

dugong at Monkey Mia


We also had the dolphins follow us. Another thing was the floating farm - 'black pearl'. This was the workplace of 'farmer Jamie' from the show 'Farmer wants a wife'. There was a young, blonde girl helping out there in the shop which I think ended up being the farmer's choice. I guess if you have to live on a farm then a pearl farm is not a bad way to go!
black pearl farm

black pearl farm

Again the desert met the ocean and the colours are amazing.
the colours of Monkey Mia

the colours of Monkey Mia


swimming at Monkey Mia - is it a lake?

swimming at Monkey Mia - is it a lake?

Another unusual sighting on the beach.
emu at Monkey Mia beach

emu at Monkey Mia beach

Apart from the dolphins which attract the tourists, this place is another 'gem' on this coastline.
When you arrive and leave Monkey Mia there is a lot of beautiful National Park and coastline to see. The road is a mini version of the 'Great Ocean Road'. A small town of Denham has fantastic views of the ocean and there is a lot of new housing going up. Well worth an investment if you had spare cash. One unusual building was made of cockleshell bricks.
restaurant made of cockle shells brick

restaurant made of cockle shells brick

In fact on the way out we drove into 'shell beach' where there was a beach load of these cockle shells. It looks like a normal white sandy beach but it is not.
cockles and mussels...

cockles and mussels...

cockle shell bricks

cockle shell bricks

this sign explains it!

this sign explains it!


We also drove into a place called Hamelin Pool that had stromatolites. What are they? They look like rocks, you'd think they were rocks
but they are in fact living things, believed to be the oldest living organisms on earth.
stromatolites

stromatolites


I also visited an aquarium with a huge collection of live sea life caught by the guides themselves who were marine biologists or similar science degree.
baby shark in aquarium

baby shark in aquarium

box fish at aquarium

box fish at aquarium

Our next destination was Kalbarri.
Kalbarri to Perth

Kalbarri to Perth


We missed out on 'wildflower' season by a month due to the early summer weather they have been experiencing here. I went to a wildflower park and took some photos. Beautiful and also amongst the dunes. A unique scenery.
wild flower park

wild flower park

wildflowers

wildflowers

wild flower

wild flower

unusual name - I didn't taste it!

unusual name - I didn't taste it!

lambswool wild flowers

lambswool wild flowers

cauliflower wild flowers

cauliflower wild flowers

wild flowers

wild flowers


Kalbarri also enjoys stunning views and you can walk in the heathland along the cliffs. This was also the first beach on our whole trip that had surfable waves. We also had delicious fish and chips here. It is a small fishing village where the Murchison river meets the ocean. It is surrounded by National Park and heaths with all the wildflowers. We could see the ocean from our caravan park. Again a rugged coastline and beautiful lookouts to see all this.
Kalbarri cliffs - years of erosion and also a whale lookout

Kalbarri cliffs - years of erosion and also a whale lookout

my rock!

my rock!

the cliffs lookout at Kalbarri

the cliffs lookout at Kalbarri


I also went to a place called 'Parrotiso'. This place has the largest collection of parrots in Australia. Some can talk and my favourite was a 'Cocky' at the entrance. He could say so much and was a real character. He had all the tourists in stitches. If you weren't in the area he would call at the top of his voice 'Mum' and expect a reply. If you say 'what do you want' he would reply 'come here'! Hilarious. Another parrot says 'hello beautiful' when you aren't expecting it - I thought it was Geoff talking to me!
parrot

parrot

black cockatoo

black cockatoo

parrots

parrots

parrot

parrot


and then there were the unusual sculptures
another unusual creature at 'Parrotiso'

another unusual creature at 'Parrotiso'

unusual sculpture at 'Parrotiso'

unusual sculpture at 'Parrotiso'

After leaving Kalbarri we also have to mention the unusual 'Pink lake'. My photo doesn't do it justice but it is full of beta carotene and this gives it the colour. Hopefully our video will have captured it better.
Pink lake

Pink lake

pink lake of beta-carotene at Kalbarri

pink lake of beta-carotene at Kalbarri

Going down the coastline - Geraldton is a larger town which is being developed big time! It is also a port for iron ore. The memorial for the people who lost their lives on HMAS Sydney during WW2 was well done.
the seagulls on the memorial at Geraldton - commemorating loss of lives on HMAS Sydney

the seagulls on the memorial at Geraldton - commemorating loss of lives on HMAS Sydney

the mothers looking for HMAS Sydney to return

the mothers looking for HMAS Sydney to return

After leaving Geraldton we stopped in at Cervantes where the Pinnacles are. I thought it would be just another bunch of rocks. They were unique and once again unusual. They were in the middle of the heaths and wildflowers and there was this desert full of these rocks that look a bit like all the termite mounds we have been seeing in our travels. There were thousands of them in this area.
the Pinnacles desert park

the Pinnacles desert park

more Pinnacles!

more Pinnacles!


You can 'tiptoe' through the Pinnacles which come in all different shapes and sizes.
Pinnacle peekabo!

Pinnacle peekabo!

weirdo behind a pinnacle?

weirdo behind a pinnacle?


At this point we have to mention the flies which were driving everyone crazy. There was a lot of 'Aussie saluting' going on.
the show must go on!

the show must go on!


We could have sold our nets several times and made a fortune. If we had known we would have bought a box load! You can also drive through the Pinnacles which goes for 4 kms.
the Pinnacles desert drive - 4 kms.

the Pinnacles desert drive - 4 kms.

Posted by blondnomad 23:00 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches Comments (0)

Exmouth and Coral Bay

Ningaloo reef - here fishy, fishy!

We got to Exmouth not knowing what to expect. Our caravan park was below a lighthouse and when you drive up the hill you can see the ocean for miles. Another thing you can see are the whales returning to Antarctica with their babies. It was guaranteed sightings - FREE!
Ningaloo Lighthouse caravan park

Ningaloo Lighthouse caravan park

part of the 360 degree view of the ocean from the lighthouse

part of the 360 degree view of the ocean from the lighthouse

free whale watching - can you see them?

free whale watching - can you see them?


The lighthouse also became the place to view the sunsets and catch up with internet/phone to keep in touch. Below the lighthouse hill we were 'out of range'. Unusual for a place that has a government base with major communications networks - I think it was a spy place.
lighthouse at Exmouth aka internet/phone cafe!

lighthouse at Exmouth aka internet/phone cafe!

We'll give you 2 maps so we know what area of the WA coastline we are at.
Darwin to Perth simple map

Darwin to Perth simple map

Broome to Coral Bay map

Broome to Coral Bay map


Thanks to all those brochures we collect along the way, most of them have a simple map for our blogging!

Our caravan park and surrounds were powered by wind turbines but something happened to these ones. Maybe the winds were too strong for them and they fell over! We have seen a few along this coastline servicing small towns.
wind turbines powering Ningaloo reef area NOT

wind turbines powering Ningaloo reef area NOT


Another thing that popped up into the landscape was wildlife walking around the camp grounds looking for food.
looking for food!

looking for food!


We saw a lot of them from here on all the way to Perth. Some roadkill as well.

Geoff was looking forward to snorkelling off the beach. Again the waters were still turquoise and clear as can be. It was a bit intimidating to walk into the water and see fish all around your ankles looking for a feed. They are so tame. One could do very well with a fishing net! Of course being the conservationists that we are, it didn't even enter our heads then!

You could get into the water at one end and let the current drift you to the other side of the beach whilst snorkelling along the corals. It was hard work trying to not drift too far away anywhere out to sea. There is reef all around not too far from the beach and big waves breaking onto them.
Turquoise Bay at Ningaloo reef

Turquoise Bay at Ningaloo reef

swimming again at Turquoise Bay

swimming again at Turquoise Bay

Geoff thought that the corals and fish were not as good as the Barrier Reef but you don't have to pay a fortune to go on a boat to see something. We stayed for a day or 2 and then left for Coral Bay which is also part of Ningaloo reef. It was about 150 kms away.

This is where tourists come from all over the world to swim with the giant whale sharks from March to about May. There is an abundance of fish to see and also reef snorkelling. One could also snorkel straight off the beach - what a beautiful place. Had a prime spot at the caravan park called 'People's Park'. It overlooked the ocean and it was beautifully shaded. turquoise waters at Ningaloo reef

turquoise waters at Ningaloo reef


Coral Bay is only a small town with a few convenience shops there as well as the diving/snokelling/boat trips you can book. It is very popular with Western Australians who live in Perth and further south because they have cold winters. They book years in advance just to get a spot in the caravan park for at least a month and/or more. Of course it is also well known to the tourists.
Coral Bay

Coral Bay

Another popular thing to do was fish feeding daily. Mainly snapper and they were already swimming around early because they know what time it is!
the crowds that can't wait to feed the fish??

the crowds that can't wait to feed the fish??


Often they appeared on your dinner plate at night if you had fish and chips! They are so trusting that they swim right up to you and you can feel them slithering between your legs. Again a few people commented how good they would taste for dinner at night. Mostly they were snapper and very large. Yum!
here come the snapper! Yummy.

here come the snapper! Yummy.

friendly snapper coming in for food

friendly snapper coming in for food


In fact as soon as you go into the water to swim they come up to you!
the 'fish whisperer' returning from a big day of snorkelling at Ningaloo reef

the 'fish whisperer' returning from a big day of snorkelling at Ningaloo reef


We also did some walking along the beach and this was a nice photo I took.
Barra boy is not a bird whisperer!

Barra boy is not a bird whisperer!

Posted by blondnomad 05:48 Archived in Australia Tagged automotive Comments (3)

Port Hedland, Karratha and Dampier

The giants!

Finally we left Broome after such an adventurous time. Could it get any better than what we had already experienced? Surely the mining towns are nothing much to write home about. Well we certainly did see what BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Woodside Petroleum are up to and what is happening to all our resources such as iron ore.
Broome to Coral Bay map

Broome to Coral Bay map

To break our journey to Port Hedland we stayed at a place called Eighty Mile Beach where apparently all the migratory birds fly to and from Siberia depending on the weather. We saw none. What we did see was devastation from the cyclones last year. All the trees had to be cleared and chopped back. It was a nice caravan park and popular with families and fishermen. The poor people who run the caravan park were doing their best to tidy things up. Unfortunately for them cyclone season is about to come back again soon. The road on the way to the destinations along the WA coastline is long, rugged and very open. Of course there are always graziers trying to make a living from this land with cattle and sheep. It is semi-arid country and you can see that winds have decimated some parts of the coastline. Our large expanses of unused land is what attracts the European tourists and of course the differences in landscape from Europe.

With the winds we also saw quite a few willy willies (whirlwinds). All with the red dust. You can see them from the horizon a long way away.
pindan dirt whirlwinds

pindan dirt whirlwinds


Someone had decided to make arrival into Port Hedland a little bit interesting and did this to termite mounds. There were several of them dressed up in outfits and named.
arrival at Port Hedland - termite mounds have been dressed!

arrival at Port Hedland - termite mounds have been dressed!


Our caravan park at Cooke Point overlooked a huge flat and dry area that overlooks town. During the day it was a boring scene but at night we got these beautiful breezes and a lovely view of the sunset.
sunset at Port Hedland view from our caravan park at Cooke Point

sunset at Port Hedland view from our caravan park at Cooke Point

We also did a mining tour to see what BHP Billiton is all about. This tour was the part where the huge trains (2-3 kms long) come from the mines fully laden with iron ore and go to a processing plant to be sorted before it is loaded onto the ships for export to countries such as China, Korea and Japan mainly.
spaghetti junction at BHP iron ore plant

spaghetti junction at BHP iron ore plant

The spaghetti is all the conveyor belts going in all sorts of directions. Of course there are ones that go to the ships to load them up.
ships filling up with iron ore for export

ships filling up with iron ore for export


I know it is hard to see but there is one on the left fully laden with iron ore and ready to leave - that's why you can hardly see it and the blue one on the right is next in line.

Ships are lined up along the horizon ready to come into harbour. They never fill them up as they need to be able to get into and out of the port for the high tide. They are all booked in for a certain date and time so there is no room for error. BHP can't afford to have one ship outstaying it's welcome. There are ships to fill and money to make!

The trains are sometimes up to 2 to 3 kms long which meant they needed quite a few locomotives to pull them. BHP built the railway line and own everything including the carriages and locomotives. A huge operation. One of the trains they ran was the world's longest and heaviest. It stretched 7.4 kms, had 682 ore cars and eight locomotives. They also have mechanic workshops to maintain and upkeep their rail carriages and locos.
the train locomotive says it all

the train locomotive says it all

empty train carriages going back to Newman for the next load of iron ore

empty train carriages going back to Newman for the next load of iron ore


Unfortunately the open cut mine is about 600 kms away at Newman and we thought it a bit far to go there just to see iron ore pit.
The other thing they do on a smaller scale is make salt for pharmeucetical and health tablets and such. It is also exported. WA has a problem with water evaporation and therefore salt is easily farmed. The salt piles looked just like snow!
salt farms

salt farms

pile of salt at Port Hedland being tidied up for export

pile of salt at Port Hedland being tidied up for export

Next stop was Karratha which is also called 'cyclone alley'. This is apparently where most of the cyclones come in. It's easy to see why on the open and dry, windswept landscape. We didn't do the mining tour at Karratha but it is a town full of workers for Rio Tinto. Similar operations happening and a port to take the iron ore away at Dampier. Also at Dampier was Woodside Petroleum which we saw at an information centre. Gas and oil platforms are everywhere. They also have salt farms whereby they export the salt. There are also plans to build another one in the Kimberleys which most people up there don't want. We can understand that. It would change the landscape and turn the quirky place into a mining town. Housing to buy or rent is extremely expensive in the mining towns. Houses 3-4 bedroom are above $1 million and rentals attract around $1200 upwards per week. I think we would like to buy some demountables and collect a fortune but the land would cost a bucket load! We ended up staying at a lovely beachside fishing town at Point Samson where we had some delicious fish and chips. Yummm!

Have we mentioned the heat? Yes it is a dry heat which is more bearable than the heat with humidity. Only thing is with the dry heat comes something else. See if you can guess what?
must have coffee at all costs!

must have coffee at all costs!

Well that was the Pilbara coast as they call it here. Mostly populated by the giants and their staff. Our next main destination is Coral Bay and Monkey Mia. Yes, more water!

Posted by blondnomad 05:10 Archived in Australia Tagged automotive Comments (2)

West Kimberley Wilderness (part two)

Last frontiers - ask and you shall receive!

It has been windy all week in Broome and one windy morning Geoff and I were relaxing at our van when we got a very exciting phone call.

Just to back track. We had met a skipper of a Kimberley cruise earlier in our travels who told us all about cruising in the wilderness. We had seen something about it on TV on some very luxurious liner that cost a fortune - it is called True North. He was a skipper for another cruise boat and then he explained that there are several operators doing that sort of thing (at various prices) and you can get end of the season specials, if you have time and are hanging around Broome. He also added that it was a very unique experience and similar to going to the Antarctic on a cruise except different landscape. He recommended that everyone who travels should at least do this experience once in their lifetime. It's amazing.

This got me going and I thought it was worth a try. So during the first windy week I contacted some of these operators, however, there were not many more cruises going at this time of the year. That's when we got a call, the day before a cruise was leaving. We were to pack our bags and would be flying 2.5 hours over the wilderness to Mitchell Plateau where we are met by helicopter to take us to our boat! Wow. We are not lovers of light aircraft.

So with much trepidation about the flying part, we had to quickly pack some sort of bags because we didn't have suitcases. This is what we got! A plane the size of a flea and take-off on a windy day! Only 4 people can fly in it plus pilot.

the flea with (young) Columbian pilot

the flea with (young) Columbian pilot


I thought we had better let some family members know we were going for a week in case we fell out of the sky!!

We were told not to worry and that the scenery would be spectacular. See what you think.
spectacular scenery

spectacular scenery

so much wilderness

so much wilderness

inlets everywhere in the rugged north west

inlets everywhere in the rugged north west

river tributaries

river tributaries

beautiful waters way north of Broome

beautiful waters way north of Broome


where's the landing strip at Mitchell Plateau?

where's the landing strip at Mitchell Plateau?

Mitchell plateau

Mitchell plateau

We were then met by our friendly helicopter pilot who was showing us Mitchell Falls which look really nice in brochures but not much water in it at this time of year. Then onward for about 30 mins to our cruise boat.
our new fly!

our new fly!

the trickle from Mitchell Falls

the trickle from Mitchell Falls

Mitchell Plateau

Mitchell Plateau

there it is

there it is

helipad on our liner

helipad on our liner

landing on our cruiser

landing on our cruiser

farewell to our chopper

farewell to our chopper

Then the adventure began. Some would say the flights are also part of the adventure and they would be correct! After a welcome aboard we had a beautiful chef-prepared lunch on board before the afternoon activities began. The smaller boats at the back (tenders) took us up the Hunter River to sightsee. We then had sunset on a beach and took a short walk up to the rocks to see the Aboriginal rock art. Fantastic. Wandjina means various spirit paintings.
sandstone etc. boulders at Hunter River

sandstone etc. boulders at Hunter River

Geoff videoing Aboriginal rock art

Geoff videoing Aboriginal rock art

wandjina rock art

wandjina rock art

sunset somewhere in the wilderness

sunset somewhere in the wilderness

Then back to our home (boat) for cocktail hour with welcome champagne etc. Dinner and off to bed for the next adventure the following day.

The next day we had a list of activities on offer starting with an early morning fishing. I went and Geoff stayed in bed. I didn't even get a bite but the chef did and got us our first barramundi. Others caught some other fish which was to start us on our seafood meals.
early morning fishing catch

early morning fishing catch


After that we went to another rock art site of which there are several thousands all around this wilderness. There are different types of art and the peg figures, some with sashes around their waist were discovered by a guy called Bradshaw but painted by Aboriginals. We had to do some work (climbing) to get there but it was well worth it and all part of the adventure.
some fellow passengers

some fellow passengers

Bradshaw rock art (Aboriginal) which has peg people with sashes around the waist

Bradshaw rock art (Aboriginal) which has peg people with sashes around the waist

view from rock art cave

view from rock art cave


After lunch we were taken again by the tenders to some inlet off the river for a walk and swim in a rock hole.
tendering off to somewhere

tendering off to somewhere

not so friendly local in Hunter river

not so friendly local in Hunter river

a walk to our waterhole

a walk to our waterhole

refreshing water hole

refreshing water hole


Then it was time to go back to the 'mothership' for cocktails, dinner and sleep!
going back to our home

going back to our home

our home - we were on the middle deck

our home - we were on the middle deck

close of another day

close of another day

Day three was another really interesting day. Geoff decided that he would have a go at the early morning fishing for barra. Having had no experience the staff would show him how to do it. I wasn't there but he hooked someone's hat, got caught on the mud flats a lot and hooked onto rocks. Well you may laugh but he caught 3 barra. Nobody in that boat did or could believe it. I have nicknamed him 'barra boy'. Reminds me a bit of an Adam Sandler movie. I can just picture it. He had UV facecream all over his hands and touched the lure with it. The people on his tender were telling him that's not good and nor was his technique. He was reeling it in too fast. Well they had to eat humble pie and he was the star of the fishing after that. Everyday, with his lousy technique the fish would always find his lure. He also provided a good laugh for all those expert fishermen on board. What a hunter! Check out the action.
anticipation

anticipation

what is it?

what is it?

there it is

there it is

it's fighting

it's fighting

what a jumper

what a jumper

don't lose it

don't lose it

measuring the barra - 79cms!

measuring the barra - 79cms!

holding the catch - yuk!

holding the catch - yuk!

a happy barra boy - my hunter!

a happy barra boy - my hunter!

the size of barra boy's catch

the size of barra boy's catch

After breakfast we went to another inlet. Prince Regent River and we were going to some waterfalls for a climb and swim. This is what it looked like.
Cascade waterfalls

Cascade waterfalls

Barra boy and wife

Barra boy and wife

what a picture!

what a picture!

the climb to the waterholes

the climb to the waterholes

Geoff abseiling

Geoff abseiling

the main rock pool

the main rock pool

this was soooo refreshing and no crocs!

this was soooo refreshing and no crocs!

the cascading waters and us swimming

the cascading waters and us swimming

our boat

our boat

up a tributary somewhere

up a tributary somewhere

another waterfall

another waterfall

having another refreshing shower!

having another refreshing shower!

some fellow travellers

some fellow travellers


After lunch we went for a cruise by tender to see some more amazing wilderness.
afternoon excursion by tender

afternoon excursion by tender


And then it was time to go home to enjoy cocktails, tales for the day adventures, lots of laughs and dinner before a big sleep.

Each day we were given the days activities and you can choose to do it or not.
plans for the day

plans for the day

Well fishing was on the agenda most mornings so Geoff would do this seeing he was the expert! I went birdwatching one morning and this is what we saw.
prawns that we netted for prawn fritters!

prawns that we netted for prawn fritters!

croc with claw!

croc with claw!

a bird - forgotten the name of it

a bird - forgotten the name of it

more crocs

more crocs

Some people went crabbing but we went on the walk for the swim and rock art. It was hot and more difficult than most walks we had done to date but the swim and the rock pool was worthwhile. These are some of the photos.
tendering to our next waterhole

tendering to our next waterhole

the tricky sections of the walk

the tricky sections of the walk

frogs that blend with their environment

frogs that blend with their environment

us going into the 'pool'

us going into the 'pool'

view of the rock pool

view of the rock pool

the waterfalls and pool enjoyed by all who walked

the waterfalls and pool enjoyed by all who walked

coming back to the tender after the swim

coming back to the tender after the swim

looking at rock art

looking at rock art

back to the tender

back to the tender

sunset at Hanover Bay

sunset at Hanover Bay

cocktails and bonfire at Hanover bay

cocktails and bonfire at Hanover bay

sunset with boat at Hanover Bay

sunset with boat at Hanover Bay

I guess by now you are getting the gist of our trip. It was pure wilderness, beautiful and so much fun. We have some amazing footage and can't possibly put it all in the blog. The next day we went to see 'stone warriors' which had the most amazing rock formations. We also enjoyed a swim in the ocean with staff on croc/shark watch just in case. We saw whales migrating to warmer waters, I enjoyed the spa on the upper deck whilst watching the scenery and then we anchored at another very picturesque place with fishing always on offer early in the morning or at the end of the day.
a tender full for the swim and sightseeing

a tender full for the swim and sightseeing

some of us being tendered to stone warriors

some of us being tendered to stone warriors

the mothership!

the mothership!

some of the stone warriors - rock formations

some of the stone warriors - rock formations

tendering to the stone warriors and a swim

tendering to the stone warriors and a swim

lady drinking water

lady drinking water

hopping out for a swim

hopping out for a swim

me having lunch

me having lunch

chilli crabs!

chilli crabs!

the chefs food on offer every day

the chefs food on offer every day

me frolicking!

me frolicking!

what a lovely sight

what a lovely sight

unusual lizard eating grasshopper - I didn't take this photo!

unusual lizard eating grasshopper - I didn't take this photo!

more beautiful rockart under shelter of rock cave with view

more beautiful rockart under shelter of rock cave with view

look at the colours

look at the colours

barra boy earning a big rest in the spa

barra boy earning a big rest in the spa

more beautiful sunsets

more beautiful sunsets

dinner on deck

dinner on deck

another end of a beautiful day

another end of a beautiful day

On day 6 we went to a beautiful reef where the water cascades over the corals and the tide never gets a chance to run away from the corals. Changing of tides happens really quickly here and they have 4 tides a day. Spectacular sight and of course there was the usual swim after that.
menu for the day

menu for the day

start of Montgomery reef excursion

start of Montgomery reef excursion

Montgomery reef

Montgomery reef

tidal waterfalls

tidal waterfalls

a big clam

a big clam

tide trying to go down before next tide

tide trying to go down before next tide

tenders going around the reef

tenders going around the reef

sea turtle at reef

sea turtle at reef

crew were on croc/shark watch

crew were on croc/shark watch

swimming in ocean

swimming in ocean

end of another exciting day

end of another exciting day

On day 7 we did the famous horizontal falls ride. We anchored at Talbot Bay and the tides around this time were huge. 10 metres. The water is forced between gaps in the rocks. You go through one gap when it is safe to do so and swirl around in these whirlpools formed by this huge tide. The next gap is really narrow and unfortunately we weren't able to go through this due to the high tide. My photo doesn't quite show the drop is height from the high tide trying to push through this narrow gap. Hopefully our video footage will show it better. What a rush this was. It was really scary and gives you a real respect for the ocean.
the last day menu

the last day menu

scenic excursion at Talbot Bay

scenic excursion at Talbot Bay

some beautiful scenery at Talbot Bay

some beautiful scenery at Talbot Bay

can you see the change in levels?

can you see the change in levels?

swirling tides

swirling tides

whirlpools

whirlpools

the gap between the rocks

the gap between the rocks

Horizontal falls

Horizontal falls

Then it was last chance for a spa and some more viewings of the wilderness including seeing an iron ore mine on Koolan Island, a blight on all that wonderful wilderness. Also one final swim in the ocean at a silica beach. We then farewelled the Bucaneer Archipelago area with all those beautiful azure waters.
last day for a spa

last day for a spa

swim at silica beach

swim at silica beach


We had cocktails on the top deck overlooking Cape Leveque. Final viewings of all the lovely scenery and a lot of frivolity. What a fantastic adventure and how lucky we were to get that call on one windy day in Broome.
Cape Leveque

Cape Leveque

skipper Ben in foreground at cocktails

skipper Ben in foreground at cocktails

last dinner onboard

last dinner onboard

the last dinner

the last dinner

chef and helping hands

chef and helping hands

Geoff in our ensuite room

Geoff in our ensuite room

sunset from our room

sunset from our room

And so, in the blink of an eye, ended our incredible adventure into the wilderness of north west Australia - the Kimberleys.
the final sunset

the final sunset

Posted by blondnomad 22:10 Archived in Australia Tagged cruising Comments (6)

Broome, Broome (West Kimberley) part one

What a pearler!

What a beautiful place and so different to our beaches. This is the mecca we have heard about on the East coast and it is indeed a very unique part of Australia. The heading of this blog is something quirky that stuck in my head. It is the name of a rental car company.

This blog is only part one of our very exciting time in the West Kimberleys. Wait until you see what happened in week 2!

Broome started as a pearling port in the 1880s. It was populated by people of many nationalities - mainly Europeans, Malays, Chinese and Japanese, as well as the Aborigines - who came to the shores of Roebuck Bay hoping to make their fortune from the pearling industry. The influence of the pearling industry, and its various cultures, has helped to create the character and charm of Broome. The town was bombed by the Japanese in 1942 and people were killed, many injured and caused much damage to the town.

The contrasting colours of the sea, sand and red dirt dunes together is just an amazing sight.
such contrasting colours

such contrasting colours

The population of Broome is around 14,500 but triples that figure in tourist season. People (like us) come here having heard a lot about beautiful Broome but perhaps not knowing what to expect. For those of you thinking about coming here this author has summed it up well (if not then read on after the bold type):

"Tropical paradise and holiday hot spot with throbbing beach and night life, fun and adventure water sports, cafes, bars and nightclubs...

OR - Broome, Western Australia - a remote Outback post in an untouched wilderness, where nature and adventures beckon. The ancient Kimberley where the indigenous owners of the land still live their traditional lifestyle and have limited contact with white people.

Well, you actually can find all of the above in Broome. That's the problem. People usually prefer one or the other. If they are looking for a beach holiday destination they arrive with certain expectations. If they come to experience the vastness and solitude and "magic" of the Kimberley they arrive with certain expectations. In both cases chances are that they will be disappointed with Broome.

No aspect of Broome in Australia is as heavily marketed as the beaches. Actually, I should say as heavily marketed as Cable Beach. That's what all the brochures rave about.

The brochures also show flash resorts and fancy restaurants, lush tropical gardens, pubs and bars packed with people and so on. You know what to expect at the strip along the beach or the esplanade of any popular holiday destination...

Everything you expect from Broome is there. I mean, one or two of each... There is a resort at the beach. There is a bar at the beach. There is a cafe, and a pub. But there aren't dozens to choose from. (Mind you, there will be soon. They are building like crazy...)

Broome is a small place! You have to understand that there just isn't much there. "Where the red desert meets the sea" is one of the slogans used to market Broome. That's exactly it.

The desert on one side, the Indian ocean on the other.

Makes for great photos, but no brochure ever mentions that there is not much in between, and absolutely nothing above or below except more desert and ocean.

That's all there is to the coast of northern Western Australia, and to Broome.

And regarding the tropical flair: the temperatures are tropical, the vegetation isn't.

Sure, all the resorts, backpackers and many residents planted lots of palm trees around the place, but those gardens are like little islands.

Better think "Outback", not "tropical paradise".

Another complaint that comes up repeatedly is that it is so hard to find the things that are there. Not enough sign posts, not enough touristy infrastructure.

Probably true, and to some extent maybe even deliberate. At least wherever the locals have a say in things. Most of them aren't real happy about the way Western Australia tourism to Broome has exploded in the last few years. Not that anybody can do much about it. Basically, tourist numbers have increased a lot faster than Broome can or wants to grow.

Which creates another problem that upsets many people. To find affordable accommodation in Broome during the main season is near impossible, unless you book months ahead.

And this leads to the flip side of the coin. What about the people who aren't looking for your typical beach holiday? The visitors who come for the remoteness and Outback hospitality, the nature and the wilderness adventure?

Broome In The Western Australia Kimberley
The Last Frontier
Oh blessed be progress. It's not that long ago that it took the dedicated traveller many days on potholed or unsealed and corrugated roads to travel between Broome and other Western Australia destinations. Alas, today we can board a plane and be on the east coast or in Perth in a matter of hours. Great.

And people from the east coast can be in Broome in Western Australia in a matter of hours. Great?

It's good for business, and it's great for people who live far away and want to visit Broome in Western Australia. But the ease with which Broome can be reached now has not only increased the numbers of people visiting.

The type of people has changed, too. It's people who have money to spend and want to spend it, and who are looking for a lot more comfort, amenities, entertainment and service than the hardened Outback campers, who rocked up in Broome in their battered four wheel drives in the past.

And Broome has responded. Everybody wants a slice of the pie. "Commercial", "touristy", "rip off", those are the words used by people who dislike the change. It's just what you see happen in every place in the world that gets discovered by the tourism industry...

The town itself provides a stark contrast to what you find around Broome in Western Australia. Both the Kimberley to the east and the west coast below Broome are magnificent wilderness areas, nearly totally devoid of people. Anybody who has been four-wheel driving, camping, fishing and camp fire cooking their way to Broome from Western Australia will initially experience it as a bit of a shock to the system...

I have to admit myself that after a few weeks in the bush I find it a bit hard to adapt to Broome. On the other hand if I shoot over on the highway (I'm in Kununurra) or fly, then I feel instantly comfortable there. Unless it is July (school holidays and peak season)....

Broome In Western Australia - Should You Go?
If you like places like the Gold Coast and are looking for something comparable then save yourself the time and money.

Everybody else should definitely go. But don't travel all the way to Broome for a beach holiday only. Do some research first. Explore the fascinating history of Broome. Find out what there is to see and do in Broome and around Broome in Western Australia, and be aware that most of the good stuff requires a (hired) four wheel drive or you have to join a tour or cruise.

Book early and avoid the time from mid June to mid August. And just accept the fact that this is a small town in the middle of nowhere, and in its heart it would rather remain a quiet, small town...

To people who absolutely can't handle the touristy aspects I can only say, don't bypass Broome!! Broome itself in the main season might be a bit busy, but as I already said, Broome is small. It doesn't take much at all to get away from people."

Okay, so back to our trip. We totally agree with the above author. We started our first day by doing a tour of the museum and how the pearling industry took off here. We even got to taste some pearl meat which was rather nice. They also showed us a huge pearl which was passed around and very expensive. We were surprised they didn't have the security guys around. Those guys in the big suits that look like astronauts were heroes. When you see what they had to put on and the weight of it all. You couldn't bend over to pick up the mother of pearl shells otherwise you couldn't get up again. Geoff thought he would have a go at it and find some pearls for his lovely wife.
pearl diver Geoff

pearl diver Geoff

pearl divers outfit

pearl divers outfit

pearl divers

pearl divers


Broome is indeed a very small town and at first we couldn't work out the shops. They are in tin buildings except for Coles which is in a small shopping centre. It also gets very hot here in the summer months, up to 45 degrees.
Broome shopping

Broome shopping

Johnny Chi lane shops

Johnny Chi lane shops

I had a day off from my 'pearl diver' and went to town and then I found all those little shops really interesting for 'girl shopping.' I also went to the markets one day and found some pearls for a very reasonable price. Guess what, they were freshwater pearls made in China!
entrance to markets

entrance to markets

what a pearl?

what a pearl?


I had to put in a bigger photo so you can see the pearls!!

Actually the town has sections one of which is called Chinatown. Not like you would expect at home and I wondered why Chinatown when the Japanese really started it all here. Well, when the Japs bombed Broome & Darwin they quickly changed the name to Chinatown. They now have a cemetery to honour all the pearl divers who mostly died from shark attacks and the bends.
Japanese cemetery - pearl divers

Japanese cemetery - pearl divers

We were sort of lucky to have the first week of windy days. Not really nice for the beach and swimming but good for checking out the place. Fortunately most of the tourists had left and we could get into the popular (and very shady) caravan park of Cable Beach. There was a beautiful resort style swimming pool as well for the hot days. It is one block back from the beach with resorts in front of it so you can't short cut to the beach. It is about 5 kms out of town. Every evening we would walk to the beach to watch the sun go down. Spectacular.
sunset 4

sunset 4

sunset 3 with ultralight

sunset 3 with ultralight

sunset 3

sunset 3

Cable beach sunset

Cable beach sunset


There were many more enjoying the same as us.
photographers of sunset worship

photographers of sunset worship

sunset worshipping

sunset worshipping


Kerry Stokes holiday home!

Kerry Stokes holiday home!


One day we went to the town jetty to see a P&O ship come into port for the day. They would have been in for a treat seeing the azure coloured waters of the Indian ocean.
P&O cruise visiting Broome

P&O cruise visiting Broome


Swimming at Cable Beach felt safe because they have life savers watching out for you but other beaches are not without danger of sharks or crocs lurking around the place!
my hero

my hero

bite my bum!

bite my bum!


In town they also have the airport with only one runway which they call an International airport, however there are no international flights yet. There are also lots of light aircraft taking off from the same runway. They also have the world's oldest, operating picture garden theatre. It has the usual deck chairs which looked rather uncomfortable and the planes take off and land right above the theatre. It was either too windy or too hot to go to the movies when we were there so I took the photos instead.
history Sun pictures

history Sun pictures

the picture gardens with toilets at back of screen

the picture gardens with toilets at back of screen

One day I took a trip out to a pearl farm which Geoff was not so interested in. It was dirt road which has the red dirt Aboriginals call pindan.
pindan dirt ahead en route to Willie Creek pearl farm

pindan dirt ahead en route to Willie Creek pearl farm

Pindan dirt road

Pindan dirt road


When we arrived it was explained to us about the huge tides they have around the place. Up to 11 metres high and about a week before they had one which went over the dunes and flooded the open plains leaving the pearl farm like an island.
tidal flood over the dunes and across the plains

tidal flood over the dunes and across the plains


I learnt all about the different pearls and how they make them and get them out. Very interesting. We also got damper, a cuppa and a boat ride to show us the clams in cages in the water.
Willie Creek pearl farm

Willie Creek pearl farm



On our final night here we had to do the iconic sunset camel ride. There are 3 operators here so it was hard to decide who would give us 'bang for our buck'. One backpacker Geoff was talking to at the caravan park had suggested that the 'blue camel ride' was the best. They were kind to their camels, all the women got pearl earrings and we got to feed the camel a carrot each. That was the winner!
making friends with Aslan!

making friends with Aslan!

blond nomads on beach!

blond nomads on beach!

our entourage

our entourage

beach sunset ride

beach sunset ride

mmm carrots!

mmm carrots!

The next day we bid a sad but not unhappy farewell to Broome. The temperatures are getting up to a very uncomfortable 41 degrees.
camel riders

camel riders

Posted by blondnomad 19:34 Archived in Australia Tagged automotive Comments (3)

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