1st – 25th May 2015
After a night anchored up in the deep sea marina we awoke to a view of paradise. The still turquoise waters of the sheltered bay seemed enhanced by the rust stained soils of the shoreline. A plethora of marine life inhabit the warm waters of the west coast and it’s not every day you can spend breakfast spotting rays, barramundi, turtles and a shark from the safety of a yacht.
|The nights sky shrouded our view of land on our arrival but it was a welcome sight at breakfast|
No sooner had we mopped up the last of the super noodle supply our sturdy craft was boarded by a gaggle of immigration officials. We guessed from the fly overs the day before that the Broome office would go all out and follow the procedures to the letter but even a small amount of anticipation didn’t prepare seasoned border crossers like us. The 8 member team interrogated Storm severely, lined the rest of us on deck and requested our passports, visa documents and mobile phones (which was a new one for us) as a rather friendly sniffer dog set about the ship. The cabins were searched from head to toe and any remaining food stuffs were bagged up for incineration. The food issue and ship search made total sense as there have been quite a few high profile incidents with drug smuggling between Australia and Indonesia. Foreign species are also a massive fear here as Australia contains many species unique to the country that due to their isolation are vulnerable to invasive plants and creatures but the detainment of mobile phones seemed pretty odd. After a few hours of blatant vandalism of the ship we were reunited with our passports and phones. It turned out that they were checking for stuff like child pornography and ISIS beheading videos. Josh was pretty sure that they just do it to look at pictures of his misses but regardless of that we were finally allowed to take our first steps on land for four and a half days.
|The sleepy, quiet streets of Broome had an eerie "The Walking Dead" feel.|
Storm, Ben and Josh couldn’t hang around in town for long as they made plans to catch the first flight to Perth but were kid enough to treat us to a farewell pie and coffee brunch in a café opposite the Broome YHA. Hopefully we’ll meet them in Perth in a few weeks.
|The Kimberley Klub: Amazing pool but lacking in friendly backpacker spirit.|
Our first impressions of hostel life in Broome weren’t the greatest. The Kimberley Klub YHA is a huge complex with an amazing looking pool, volley ball court and kitchen area but all the facilities in the world fall into insignificance if the social atmosphere is non-existent. In the three nights we stayed in this overpriced YHA we met a total of two people willing to divulge in conversation (both Australian I might add) which is rubbish when you consider the place must house 150 visitors. Meeting open minded people who are happy sharing stories is part of what makes backpacking a life changing experience and unfortunately for Jono and I when you have spent pretty much your whole life doing the same things (as most triplets and twins can relate too) it ultimately results in neither of you having anything new to say to each other as you sit across from each other with the look of a married couple celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary. This can grow to boredom, resentment and falling out (I’m sure some of my mates have suffered a similar scenario when they end up trapped in a relationship where they are not allowed to meet their best friends for a pint anymore) and the stupid thing is that it can all be cured by having the decency to respond to someone when they have had the guts to walk across a room and attempt to spark a conversation with a total stranger. The best thing about our stay at the Kimberley Klub was that we stupidly decided to watch a local band one night thinking that a social vibe might prevail, but it had all the upbeat energy and enjoyment of a state funeral.
|The Last Resort common area. Rough|
around the edges but a great find.
Thankfully there are other options for accommodation in town and two minutes down the road you can find the smaller, cheaper and friendlier “Last Resort Hostel”. Unlike the YHA this place offers discount for long term visitors and for every 5 nights you book direct from the reception the house staff are kind enough to give 2 nights extra free. The manager/owner Pete is a wealth of knowledge on Broome and the surrounding area and is always happy to answer any questions or even help find casual work to build up your travel funds. The buildings not as “commercial” as the YHA but still retains the same facilities as you would expect. If anything the social side is better with a weekly killer pool tournament for the chance to win free beer (helps if you work as a team with a few mates to hustle the locals).
With the difficult days behind us and a few new friends we set about enjoying the sleepy, sun-kissed, sub-tropical outpost and to help you get the most here is a summary of the main sights we saw.
|That was a hiccup. Not rib-bit|
To those that know me it probably comes as no surprise that a brewery would be listed amongst my favourite places to visit in Broome but this small, quaint establishment remains popular to all that visit because they believe in the products they create. Both Jono and I love real ales and its fair to say that after many months of having to drink the watered down, tasteless fizz known as lager it was a real treat to finally have the opportunity to sample a plethora of craft ales. At AUS$8 (£4) a pint (that’s an Aussie pint not the proper thing) it actually remains reasonably priced by Western Australia standards and with nice food, a garden terrace and yearlong sunshine to accompany the beautiful beverages you are guaranteed a good time. Definitely try the ginger ale and for those that dare try the chilli beer. Book inside for brewery tours.
Stairway to the Moon
|Sunset at Town Beach|
|Apparently you can reach the moon if you run fast enough|
Town beach offers the best spot to witness this natural phenomenon where the reflection of the moon rise on the placid coastline looks like a staircase constructed of moonlight. Locals and tourists descend on the beach not only for the “stairway” but also for the market stalls, food stands and entertainers that set up shop to make this a great local social event for all. Check out the tourist information centre for accurate dates and times.
|Cable Beach: An icon of Australia|
Widely known as one of the best beaches in Australia and quite possibly the world on a good day (which happens more often than not) the perfect talc like beach that runs all the way up to Gantheaume Point offers a great spot to enjoy the turquoise waters for those who don’t mind the thought of being eaten by sharks. It is possible to ride camels on the beach although we decided to give this activity a miss. The beach is easy to get too even for those without vehicles thanks to great bus links.
|A local fishing for mangrove monsters|
This small unassuming sight in the heart of Chinatown is the sight of the original jetty used by pearling companies and traders to ship their precious cargo. It’s still possible to walk along the dilapidated planks which offer a nice photo spot of the surrounding mangroves.
Deep Water Port
South of the town is the very port where we made landfall. A popular spot for boat enthusiasts the port offers a great vantage point to spot a range of marine life.
It’s fair to say that we spent far too long stuck in the centre of Broome but with no car and Medicare cards and tax stuff to sort out we had little choice. Thankfully by late May and after nearly a month of staying in one place (the first time since we left home) the Bruvs were ready to hit the open road. This gave us an opportunity to use an online tool we had yet to utilise “Gumtree”. This website which I though was just used for advertising jobs, cars, laser pens and knock off DVD’s is a great platform to meet like-minded travellers and arrange ride shares and within a week we had found a small group to start an epic road trip. The multinational group was made up of Dustin (German) who had a space in his car for us, Bastiaan (Dutch) and Dave (English). They had just driven from Darwin along the highway missing most of the Kimberley’s along with an Italian friend Francesco (who was going to look for work in Broome) and were hoping to hire an off road vehicle to do the Kimberley’s properly before heading south to Perth. This plan was short lived once we approached the hire companies and discovered there were no off road hire vehicles left and even if there was it would cost around AUS$4000 for a week. Talk about distortion. This was a shame as I have wanted to tick off the Kimberley’s for a while but you have to adapt and accept that it just wasn’t meant to be and besides the Brightside was that we could spend longer road tripping to Perth.