Friday, 29 August 2014


"It is what it is." I hate this saying but when I think of Broome and what it's like, this statement just rolls off the tongue. I should point out at this stage that I quite liked Broome, a town situated on a pretty beach making the most of the Winter Nomads and dirty, malnourished travellers coming down off their Gibb River Road highs.

Cable Beach- Broome's main natural attraction.

We arrived at the Broome Caravan Park (perhaps the least desirable of all the places to stay, being 5kms out of town) at 5pm and got the last (unpowered) site in this large camp. We had been warned that during school holidays Broome would be full to the brim and it was. I thought they were joking when the receptionist said a tree needed to be moved for us to fit, but we followed the caretaker on his bike down to our site, Corona on one handlebar and chainsaw on the other. Tree gone, we set about trying to beat some of the Kimberley dust off our camper  before the threatening clouds opened and it rained. Great lumps of blood red dirt fell on the ground around us, and when I finally stepped into the hottest, longest shower in the world, I dropped my filthy t-shirt into the bin on the way out, another victim of our GRR Odyssey.

Anyway, it did rain. Not enough to send us all indoors and curse theweather gods, but enough to realise that we hadn't felt the touch of it on our skin for months. During the night though it bucketed and we thanked our lucky travel stars we'd avoided driving out of the Kimberley in the mud.

Caesar's best Hasselhoff impersonation.

So Broome. It's full of backpackers, grey nomads escaping the winter chill and backpackers waiting on the Grey Nomads and everyone else. We used our few nights at the Broome Caravan Park mainly to go to Bunnings and fix the multitude of bits and pieces broken on our car and camper before heading up to Quandong Point and Cape Leveque. Luckily we were camped next to an electrician on one side and Antony, an electro-mechanical engineer on the other. Making the most of his redundancy, Antony had bought a brand new Jayco Swan, a brand new Prado and was into the first week of 12 months travelling around Australia with his young family. They had been looking at us quite nervously,  taking in the dirt and our wild eyed GRR expressions, looking back at their very white, very new rig- a baptism of fire awaited them with the Gibb being their  very next destination. So with the expertise and wonderful help of these two, Fiela managed to solve the Waeco fridge draining our batteries problem, the driver's light being held in with spit and the camper's fridge which had been churning out inordinate amounts of heat, melting the plastic vent on the outside... And those were just the electrical issues.

Our position for the 'Staircase to the Moon' before it all got a bit crazy.

We spent one evening attempting to experience an 'amazing natural phenomenon', occurring only a few nights a month, the "Staircase to the  Moon". Fiela loved it- the rising full moon reflecting over mudflats to form a 'staircase' of light. I too might have been blown away, but lost motivation somehwere between the crowds and idiots trying to take photos of the moon with their flash on. We had chosen the most popular spot to view it, and had we moved 300 metres to the south would have had an unimpeded and significantly more majestic viewing. We had also been duly warned by our Broome Insiders, Charlotta and Paul, that the best place to view the staircase thing was from the pub, but you had to book your table in advance. We'll be doing that next time. Our month in the Kimberley had clearly given us a distaste for crowds: a complete turnaround from our first months on the road, where we bemoaned the long awaited start to the tourist season.

Testing... a boat with its lights on.
The moon has not yet risen but the flashes were going off as was my temper.
Dodgy 'Staircase' picture.
We went up the Cape Leveque Road for a week(that's a whole other story) and then came back to Broome and stayed at the Cable Beach Caravan Park, again getting the last spot. This park differed to the first, in that it was within walking distance to beautiful Cable Beach and the Winter Nomads were the clear majority. We had a great big site, hemmed in by Nomads spending the cold months in warmer climes on either side. In typical fashion, they ignored us until the last day, when on packing up and on a tight timeframe, they decided that right now was a fantastic time to find out where we'd come from, where we were going, what we thought of the Glasgow Games (what games???), our political leanings and whether Collingwood was going to turn it around this year etc etc. This has happened to us time and again. Are people stupid or just socially inept? Or are they safe in the knowledge that we are leaving so there's no harm in letting us into their Nomad World? Either way, the Nomads had made this place Theirs in a way I had not witnessed before, but I would again and again on our way further down the Western Australian Coast.

Stunning Cable Beach.

What was I saying? Oh yes, Cable Beach. We had met some locals who had panned Zanders, a restaurant right on the top of the dune looking out over the bay. Great views but terrible food apparently. We ate there three times and despite the hit and miss service from a swarm of backpacking waiters, it was great. We had lovely food, great drinks and watched the water glisten and tourists burn under the WA sun.

Thanks Uncle Tony- you've saved the Zanders day yet again with your cartoon downloading expertise!

We also checked out Matso's a brewery with mango beer as its signature drink. Sorry to say, beer and fruit have never really got along, this being a further example proving that point. The lime and apple cider was nice but at $20 a six pack not nice enough, the food overpriced and the service haphazard but it was lovely to be tourists and have our wallets cheerfully pillaged.

Tasting the brews at Matso's.

Probably the best outing was a sundowner expedition to Gantheaume Point at the southern tip of Cable Beach. We watched the sun go down and marvelled at nature's flourescent light show, glad this particular spectacle had not been given a natty name and been outrageously commercialised.

Broome has a very chequered past involving a cut throat pearling industry, brothels, opium dens and countless destructive  cyclones. Government housing in the town itself lends a dilapidated and even squalid air alongside slick resorts and shamelessly touristy shops selling Indonesian sarongs. Out in the suburbs there are neat rows of houses (not one rain gutter among the corrugated roofing- in the wet season it is WET!), an indicator that life goes on when the weather gets into the unrelenting 40s and all the tourists head for home or the next Nomad/backpacker wonder spot.  Broome is a big lady wearing a bright dress, giving an amazing smile which she charges you exorbitantly for. It is what it is- a tourist town on a pretty beach, and we loved it!

Loving the beach and winter weather in Broome.

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