On that first evening on Cable Beach, Caro got a little bit overexcited jumping around in the waves and ended up soaked from the waist down and went for a shower with all of her clothes on.Our first port of call the next day was, of course, the Visitor Centre, with the specific aim of finding some free wifi for a Skype date with the Stones the following evening. The wifi around Broome isn’t great but we thought that the library internet would probably be able to handle a skype call if we couldn’t find anything else in the meantime. We stopped in at the courthouse markets, which only operate on the weekends, and bought some more olive oil soap. Caro absolutely swears by it and life is made so much easier because you can bring it on planes in your hand luggage, unlike shower gel or facewash. The market was a bit lacklustre as it was so hot and the stallholders were gratefully packing up as noon approached.
We finally caved and paid for internet at the caravan park in order to get our next post up and then spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool. Incidentally, Cable Beach Caravan Park is a great spot; it’s minutes from the beach, has a glorious pool, the internet is super-fast and the facilities are all in good nick. We waited for the heat of the day to cool and then it was back to Cable Beach for a proper play in the waves with appropriate attire. We both revert to childhood at the smallest provocation and an opportunity to body surf on Cable Beach was just too much to resist. We dragged ourselves out of the water half an hour later bedraggled, exhausted and extremely happy. We flopped down on the beach to dry off and read before admiring another Cable Beach sunset. We have absolutely no photos of this, we were having far too much fun.
Running is a far less fun beach activity but we dutifully set out the following morning before slipping back in to tourist mode and going to visit Gantheaume Point.The spot is famous for its dinosaur footprints which can only be seen at the lowest of low tides and, sadly, we weren’t there at the right time of the month. The spot is still beautiful with the distant view of Cable Beach and the red rocks contrasting vividly with the sea and sky.We would recommend that you stop and read the interpretative signs in the shelter next to the car park. You can learn a huge amount about the ecology and history of the point and Anastasia’s pool, which a former lighthouse keeper built on the edge of the rocks for his wife, as a place where she could soak and ease her arthritis. Once we’d taken our thousands of photographs we returned to town in search of the Irish Pub and a schooner.We’d decided to move caravan parks for the night, to one that offered free internet and was a bit cheaper, and landed at the Roebuck Bay Caravan Park. The park wasn’t as nice as our previous spot and a bit rough around the edges but did the job that we needed it to. Unfortunately, even though James set up shop on the pavement immediately outside the office, the wifi just wasn’t good enough to hold a skype call. We closed Heidi back up and returned to the, now closed, public library to leech off the free internet there and speak with the Stones from a bench outside. It did feel like a quintessential traveller moment and we were quite proud of our efforts. The evening concluded with a game of canasta (James pulled it back to 2-2).
We were back on the road the next morning and, having finished the Harry Potter audiobooks, our new entertainment was The Northern Lights, narrated by Philip Pullman himself. Stephen Fry is a tough act to follow and Pullman does not reach his dizzying heights of dramatic delivery, but we would still definitely recommend His Dark Materials, which has been our travelling companion for many miles now. It is a testament to the audiobook that we did not initially notice that Heidi’s kitchen was hanging open off the side of the camper as we drove at 110kmph, which isn’t ideal. We rectified the situation and when Heidi made an ominous banging noise a little while later, for which we could find no obvious cause, we decided that she was clearly having a bad day and turned the volume up.
We motored our way along 400km of mainly straight roads, powered largely by rice cakes and biscuits, before turning right and trundling down to 80 Mile Beach. Having watched the thermometer tick up to 45 degrees, we opted for a powered site and completed a perfunctory set up of the camp before hurrying to look at the beach.There’s 80 miles of it. It’s a really, really long expanse of sand and shells and, like so many other spots we have visited so far, quite overwhelming to see at first. Now, we do have to be honest; the flies had made a re-appearance and were being quite irritating but we were still able to sit outside, drink tea and read in the shade for the afternoon without too much to concern us. James disappeared for a glorious afternoon walk with the whole beach to himself and didn’t reappear until sunset whilst Caro had a swim and sat on the beach trying, unsuccessfully, not to seem worried about him when he finally showed up.
80 Mile Beach is a popular flatback turtle nesting spot and we were there at the right time of year to potentially see some. After dinner, we went back to the beach to try and find some with little luck until James spotted sand flicking up in the fading light. We could just make out the turtle’s shape and we heard more than saw her digging out her nest. We tried not to make a sound as we stood listening for 10 minutes before leaving her in peace. It was a truly special experience and well worth a 400km drive.
We were in for a 7-hour day of driving the next day so took advantage of the opportunity to stretch our legs on 80 Mile Beach before setting off. It was like being sandblasted through a wind tunnel. An observation that we have made is that the west coast of Australia can be really, really windy and so, from here on out, a large number of our photographs are of James and Cousin It.
Our journey that day took us through Port Headland; a mining town on such a huge scale that we were both left speechless. Vast trains, both rail and road, carry huge quantities of Iron Ore from the inland mines to the port. We had never seen trains like this. At one point, we pulled up to a railway crossing as a train was passing, we hadn’t seen the front of the train go past and it wasn’t even visible in the distance. We sat for over 2 minutes while carriage after carriage after carriage passed in front of us. It was absolutely astonishing what the earth can yield and what human endeavour can achieve. As we left the dull redness of Port Headland behind we turned inland towards Karijini National Park and for 3 hours were battered by cross winds from oncoming road trains. These can really throw the camper across the road and it takes complete concentration not to be pushed across in to the bush along the roadside.
We finally arrived at Karijini National Park at 5:15pm exhausted from the long day’s drive. We found a spot in the campsite, played a game of canasta to unwind (3-2 Caro) and gratefully crawled in to bed, ready for more adventures the next day.