Broome was a pleasant place to spend 3 days, based in the Last Resort backpacker hostel. The hostel itself was a fun place where the staff all remembered you name after asking once, providing free buses to the beach and nightspots. Basically I spent 1 day exploring Broome, 1 day on the beach and the final day writing up the previous journal entry with a slight hangover. Most evenings I caught up with Hettie and Zoe for a chat or a night out.
Fri 11th June
There are only 3 of us continuing from the first bus: Ian, Kat and myself. On the first night in Broome we meet Karen who will be joining us but it is not until the bus turns up that we meet Manuel and Maura. With us all on board it’s basically a long day of driving down to Indee Station, passing via Port Headland where most of WA’s iron ore and salt is exported.
The owners of Indee station are a friendly old couple that put on some bar snacks for us on arrival giving us an opportunity to chat to them. It appears that gold has been found on the station and before long it could be worth a lot more. It’s quite quiet when we are there as the exploration miners have the week off.
Our guide, Jodie, knows how to cook so it looks like I’ll have more free time in the evenings. Shame really as it was entertaining giving Blair cooking lessons in the knowledge that he would be quoting the notes he took verbatim to the next few tour groups he has.
A major disappointment is that we can’t build a campfire and find out there will only be one night where it’s possible. This is a blow, as the campfire tends to act as the centre of the evenings socialising. Still at least my head will be safer.
Sat 12 June
Its up with first light and a reasonable drive into Karijini National Park. A quick stop at the tourist centre and then we make several hikes though Fern Pool, Circular Pool, Dales Gorge and Fortesque Falls. At one of these most of us have a swim but the weather is cooling off and most of the pools are quite cold.
Sun 13th June
In the morning I can’t immediately find one of my socks. When I do its about 20m away from my swag and not in the direction I’d headed to toilet in the night. Jodie thinks it must be dingos. Its also been a cold night this high up, so tonight I will borrow one of the companies sleeping bags to put around mine in addition to the swag.
It’s a second day in Karijini and the one where we would have done the Miracle Mile walk if tour groups hadn’t been banned from it. Unfortunately a few people had fallen recently and one rescuer was killed by a flash flood. We did hike down to several stages of it and it did look fairly intimidating. To even access the bits we did involved edging around on narrow rock ledges, wedging ourselves across narrow gullies and lowering ourselves on ropes down steep rock faces. It was good fun and very different to any of the other hikes I’d done on my trip so far.
Mon 14th June
During the night I hear dog like snufling round my swag. I’m only just awake and don’t want to wake more by opening my eyes. I make a bark like sound and am please to hear several sets of paws running into the distance. I sink immediately back to sleep. In the morning Jodie reports she also heard dingos all round her. Maura had heard my bark which provided amusement for much of the day.
We left Karijini and spend most of the driving to Exmouth. We stop at the mining town of Tom Price to pick up supplies and find a shop with Internet access to read the story of England’s first game. Ian and I aren’t please by the last minute loss to France.
Eventually get to Exmouth in the evening where we are staying in a hostel dorm. That night we’re having a BBQ and as the tour company won’t provide any “Aussie” food I bought a couple of packs of roo (“Skippy”) fillets in Tom Price. The food is good and the roo goes down a treat with everyone who tries it.
Tue 15th June
The only reason for Exmouth being on the itinerary is to drop off and pick up passengers. We don’t have any changes so we don’t gain any benefit from the town. It means we are up really early to get down to Coral Bay before 8am so that people who wish to dive on the reef can do so. I’ve booked myself on a glass-bottomed boat with some snorkelling later in the day along with Ian and Karen. The views from the boat are great and the snorkelling is good fun.
As the sun is setting I grab a cold beer and head for the beach to have a drink in honour of travellers past who’ve had their wings clipped. The colours are good and there are a few clouds to add some drama. Its then off to the only pub in town for happy hour.
I’d met Hettie earlier in the day and whilst waiting for the rest of my tour group she and a friend joined me for a drink. When our group did turn up it was quite late so they all grabbed 3 drinks each. We were all having a good time so we persuaded Jodie to be the Psychologist for a game. It was OK but my briefing may need some work, as she was too concerned about working out the link between us instead of extracting our murky past.
Wed 16th June
We have a quick stop at Shell Beach on the way to Monkey Mia. The camp area tonight is connected with a hotel so the facilities are fairly good. This is also the one night with a fire in a specially prepared area next to the camp kitchen. The Adventure Tours bus coming the other way also arrives and is full with 21 people so our nice quiet campsite is suddenly quite congested.
In collecting the wood for the fire the soles of our shoes become covered in two types of thorny seed. We only realise on returning to the bus but it would have been agony if anyone had gone out in bare feet.
Thurs 17th June
It’s up early to catch the dolphin feeding at 7 am. This is where female dolphins are fed a limited amount of fish (after a study into infant survival rates feeding of immature dolphins and males was stopped). The mothers bring along their calves that then remember when older and the feeding is now on its 4th generation. We had around 9 dolphins turn up including a couple of calves and a few adolescents.
As the volume of fish fed was limited only a few people get to toss them a fish. Ian was the only lucky member of our group but we all got some good photos. At the same time they were feeding a few pelicans whose comedy fighting over the fish was very entertaining.
It was then south to the Stromatolites, one of the oldest forms of life on earth at around 2 billion years old and responsible for enriching earth’s atmosphere with oxygen.
Its then on to the Kalbarri National Park for lunch before hiking to Natures Window and the Z Bends. Z Bends was fun as it has the steepest entrance and exit of any hike so far, basically scrambling over rocks wedges in cracks in the gorges side. Hard work but satisfying.
Fri 18th June
Another big driving day with a stop at the Pinnacles the only real relief. These are stones that formed around the roots of plants long dead. When these exposed stones were first found they were thought to be the remains of a lost city.
We get into Perth at around 6pm and meet up for some food and a drink later. Only Maura is up for a big night as the rest of us fancy catching up on our sleep deficit.
All in all the trip wasn’t as outward bound / adventurous as I hoped. It was good fun though and that counts for a lot. I’ll look to update this entry and the previous one shortly when I have a little more time, accurate information and inspiration.