Friday, November 05, 2004


Broome to Darwin via the Kimberly

So as I was saying, Rachel, Steve, Marco and I decided to stay a few days in Broome before getting back on the road. In the end we stayed 3 longer days than planned, it's just that kind of place. I ended up having to find another travel partner because Marco had started to overrun on his budget took the cheaper option of jumping on a plane to Darwin. If you're reading this Marco, we miss you buddy, especially your exceptional navigation skills!

I put up some posters advertising a 4x4 trip on the Gibb River Road and onward to Darwin. Broom is not the busiest place and I was very lucky to find Rachel (not the same Rachel who is travelling with Steve) who is a total sweetheart. Before we met, Steve joked that she was probably 18 stone with bad breath which turned out not to be the case. The first time we met her, we were so struck by her charm and good looks that we staggered out of the pub and started walking in completely the wrong direction! I hit the road with Rachel a couple of days later. To see pictures of our trip and more, click here.

We got to know campsite Dave pretty well in Broome, he generally looked after us during our stay and we shared in some of his antics involving lots of beer and occasionally a machete. One day he got a job to bring a fishing boat in for the cyclone season and he invited us to come and lend a hand. Here's a picture of Dave on the boat, explaining something important:

That was a fun day in Broome, the kind of thing that makes it a hard place to leave. Another factor was that we could climb out of out tents, step onto the beach and into the sea. Not that I ever did but it was nice to know that I could if I wanted to. One day an aussie guy staying at the campsite (forget his name) caught a huge fish off the jetty and we helped him cook it up with some rice, onions, broccoli, carrots and sweetcorn, not exactly gourmet cuisine but it was definitely the best camp food I've had so far.

I did manage to get on the road eventually and Steve and Rachel left later the same day. After getting Bertha checked over, I went to pick up Rachel from her hostel and headed to Derby and the Gibb River Road, a dirt track the runs through the Kimberly, one of the most beautiful outback regions in Oz. The first night we camped in a gorge inhabited by flying foxes. At dusk they all decided to go out hunting and there were literally thousands of them flying over our heads. I guess some people might be freaked out by that but we got an even bigger fright when a massive bull came charging down the gorge at us. What it was doing there I have no idea, thankfully we managed to dodge out of the way.

The Gibb River Road is dusty and very hard at this time of year (just before the first rains). Bertha rattled and squeaked and we got very hot and exhausted sitting in her. After 4 days on the road all the ice in our coolbox had melted and we saw a sign promising cold drinks and ice creams. There are only a few road houses along the entire 700km stretch so this was quite a welcome relief but here's what was waiting for us when we got there:

The small sign on the right says "CLOSED until 2005". Oh well, there were other ways to cool off - like swimming in the rock pools and waterfalls. Rachel took this picture at Bell Gorge which I reckon is one of the best spots we found:

We reached tarmac by about 9am on the fith day after getting up at the crack of dawn as usual (the tent feels like an oven by 6). I found driving on the dirt road loads of fun and I was quite disappointed to get to the end of it. I doubt Bertha felt the same way although the only damage she incurred was a wrecked tyre and a hole in the exhaust pipe. That's all fixed up now and with an oil change, she feels as good as new. We spent the night in Wyndham which is a cool little town, although like most places in Oz, there's really nothing much there. The next morning we set off for the Turkey Creek roadhouse and continued our journey by chopper over the Bungle Bungles - a huge area of sandstone rock formations in Purnululu National Park. It was the first time in a helicopter for both of us, very exciting especially as they had taken the back doors off to give us a better view. I sat in the front with the pilot though and spent far to much time admiring all the dials and levers, resisting the temptation to start pulling them. I still managed to get a couple of reasonably good pictures:

After our regrettably short flight we got back on the road and headed for Darwin which is where I am now. I've met back up with Steve, Rachel and Paul who was also in Perth at the same as me. They have picked up a few more travel buddies so we now have a total of 7 people travelling in Big Bird and Bertha. Tomorrow we set off for Kakadu National Park.

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