We jumped on a plane and flew just over 1,000 miles north from Perth to the town of Broome. There we met up with Pam’s Aunt Melinda, and her two grandchildren, Riley and Tasman, who flew in from Canberra, the capital city of Australia. Canberra is in the southeastern part of Australia. Unfortunately, Pam’s Uncle Barney did not make the trip.
Broome is a small town of just 14,000 folks. It’s a tourist area that swells to about 45,000 folks during their winter months. The town is located at about the same latitude as Puerto Rico, but in the southern hemisphere. It was a little foggy downtown one of the days we were in Broome, but this gives you an idea of what it looks like.
Broome’s major industry used to be pearling, but that has been replaced by tourism. There are still a lot of pearl shops in town, where the pearls today are farmed rather than gathered from the ocean bottom using divers. This has made the weighted diving equipment and pearl boats obsolete additions to the local museums.
Initially, the Broome pearl industry was focused on the pearl shells more than the pearls when it started back in the 1880s. The shells were made into various works of art as well as buttons and combs. The pearls were either the standard white or a unique gold luster.
There was a bird sanctuary outside of town that we drove out to visit. When the dirt road ran alongside the beach the vegetation was mostly mangroves with warning signs for saltwater crocodiles, a place for only serious birders – lol.
We hiked out past the mangroves (and the crocs) to see some shore birds. Unfortunately, the tide was out and therefore no shore birds.
We did catch this whistling kite on the beach, probably looking for shore birds to snack on.
Broome sits on a little peninsula into the Indian Ocean. The town of Cable Beach is on the other side of the peninsula. It got its name from the telegraph cable that was installed in 1889 from there to Java, connecting Australia with England. Gantheaume Point is at the end of the small peninsula. The lighthouse and its keeper’s house sit among the colorful rocks at Gantheaume Point. Osprey built a huge nest on the lighthouse structure.
The point was a colorful rocky outcrop. You can see the beautiful white sand of Cable Beach off in the distance.
The place looked like Arizona and Utah with an ocean pasted in the background.
I spotted this new way to mount a boat in the parking lot. We would see several of these boat mounts over the next week while in the Kimberly region. The roof rack had a winch that pulled the boat and mounting track up from the back. The spare tire swing bar had an engine mount for the outboard. I guess in some places, like this parking lot, it’s much easier to navigate without a boat trailer. It’s also a few less tires to worry about, because most folks carried two spares, or four if they also had a trailer with different tires.
We then headed over to Cable Beach for some beach time. I saw this metal sculpture of a sea turtle that I thought was nice.
We lounged on the beach and went for a swim in the afternoon. The water was refreshing and the waves just big enough to do some body surfing.
Here was our travel group: Riley, sporting his new Arizona flag tee-shirt, Tasman, Pam, myself and Melinda. We decided to do one of the beach camel rides.
I guess there are a lot of camels in the outback. Our group was just one of three different camel trains that were present on the beach. Our guide told us that the camel groups are tight herds and can get a little testy if they get too close to the others. One of the camels in our group was the reigning champ of the yearly camel races held at the Broome racetrack.
Tasman and I were on Nasty Ned, a wayward camel that didn’t really like following the herd in a straight line. I could relate.
We enjoyed the Matso’s brewery right across the street from where we were staying. They had a good selection of beers and food that we sampled several times during our stay in Broome. One night our waiter was a lady from San Diego who was in Australia on a temporary working visa. She worked in Perth for a year, but to extend her visa for another year she needed to work in a remote location for 3 months, in her case Broome. Most of the waiters were non-Australians there on work visas, which seems like a good way to see the place and earn a little cash along the way.
One night, Riley and I caught the 3rd and deciding rugby game for the State of Origin cup between New South Wales and Queensland. Riley gave me the color commentary on the players and the cup’s history during the exciting and close game that NSW won in a last second score.
It was now time to load up on our tour and explore the region of Australia known as the Kimberley.