Broome: pearls and tears

We have been in Broome for a few days now - our van pitched with absolute waterfront views over Roebuck Bay adjacent to  old town Broome. Roebuck Bay is the country of the Jukun and Yawuru people and was, before the pearling industry realised that vast profits were to be made by an abject disregard for human life if it was not clothed in a white skin, an important place for seasonal meetings, corroborees and exchanging of gifts. Rich with mangrove and shellfish there are many middens watched over by deep red cliffs and white sand beach washed over by bright turquoise waters. 

Named after HMS Roebuck the ship that carried Dampier up and down the coast here, it  is the graveyard of 15 Catalina Flying boats sunk in 1942 during a WW2 air raid. They can still be seen at very low tides, as can the dinosaur prints at nearby Gantheame Point. We think that we saw bits of metal and saw someone who found the dinosaur prints - actually finding them involved climbing down over slippery rocks and searching among them - luckily for us the dinosaur had made a concrete cast and placed it at the top of to the cliff. Keeping guard form the lighthouse was an Osprey, feeding her young when we passed with sushi. The rocks here were stark red, glowing in the heat of the midafternoon sun.

 We left Gantheame point to head onto the southern end of Cable Beach and join the dozen or so other 4WDs playing on the sand, their occupants swimming and fishing - we went off for a drive along the beach and wondered why everyone was together up at one end. We found out as the  steering became heavy and Nellie started to struggle - the   deepening tracks in the wet sand told the story and being in 2WD, required swift action to gain traction and get  us moving onto a harder surface! Later that afternoon, we headed to the traditional sunset viewing part of Cable Beach complete with Sunset Restaurant and three sets of camels. Having prophylactically put Nellie into 4WD mode, we drove onto the beach and through the rocks to position ourselves for nibbles and drinkies while the sunset sliding down into the Indian Ocean - fabulous and splendiferous. 

Our trip to Horizontal Falls - described by Sir David Attenborough as ‘One of the greatest wonders of the natural world’ (Attenborough 2013) - was simply stunning, amazing, humbling. We flew in a teeny weeny seaplane north along the spectacular coast of the Dampier Peninsula dazzling with swathes of deep green mangrove providing a backdrop for the bright red and dazzling white sands once again brushed by the turquoise clear ocean. Approaching the 800-1,000 island Buchaneer Archipelago, we dropped to 500 feet searching for giant sea turtles and crocodiles - we saw none but were awed by the rocky outcrops some bare and some sparsely covered by rainforest and mangrove. The tides here can vary as much as 12 meters and this is what creates the Horizontal Falls. In Talbot Bay there are two smallish gaps in the McLarty Ranges and as the  sea tries to shift the tides by 10-12 meters every 6 hours through these gaps it creates vast whirlpools and turbulent washing machine style water; as the water is forced between the narrow gaps the level on the side sending water through the gap builds up to a higher level creating a waterfall. Six hours later the same thing happens in the reverse direction. The waters here are still for about one minute every six hours at the point of tide change - we were told. The inlets, bays and coast is untouched and sparsely inhabited and cared for by the Bardi people. 

Today we swam - when the tide was in otherwise it would have been a 1km hike and swim! - We are off to Cape Leveque tomorrow but not before dropping the van into a repair shop for a fridge fix- apparently the vent  in the van wall for the fridge to breathe does not match the position of the motor for the compressor - no wonder the poor old girl has been struggling to keep the ice frozen for P’s Margaritas - enough - time to get that sorted!! 


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