The wild flowers of Western Australia on the road to Kalbarri

The wild flowers of Western Australia on the road to Kalbarri

Western Australia is famous for its colourful wildflowers. It’s spring in Australia and they are in full bloom.

Travelling along the highway the road sides were full of colour.

I have arrived in Kalbarri a beautiful little coastal town where the Murchison River meets the sea.

Kalbarri National Park encompasses a coastal section and the area of the Murchison Gorge cut by the river.

I look forward to sharing some adventures in these areas with you but now it is back to the wildflowers of which Kalbarri National Park has many.

All this vibrant colour adds to the pleasure of hiking in the bush.

Then there is the gorge and river but that is for the next post.

Wildlife interaction on Australia’s North West Coast – 2 Shark Bay

Wildlife interaction on Australia’s North West Coast – 2 Shark Bay

It was the May eclipse of the moon that I was on the eastern most point point of Australia and Shark Bay is at the western extreme.

And Denham is the most westerly township in Australia. Steep Point is the the western most point but very difficult to access.

The east and west extremities of Australia are like chalk and cheese. While Cape Byron in the east sits amongst moist rain forest covered mountains but in the west at Shark Bay its where the desert meets the sea.

So desert means lack of water and sparse population.

I wonder if fewer people means more wildlife.

The pelicans,

The turtles,

The old man Emu caring for his chicks.

And the beautiful wild dolphins at Monkey Mia that interact with such trust with visitors to their world.

The beaches in this special place are stunning and unique.

To create this national park now world heritage area. The Western Australian Government bought back a number of farming leases.

Sheep had been grazed on the fragile lands.

At the old Peron Station the remains of the old shearing shed still remain.

It was a bit of a trek to get to the old station along a sandy trail

But made all worthwhile by the the thermal spring hot tub at the old station.

So what else could I do.

Wildlife interaction on Australia’s North West Coast -1 Coral Bay

Wildlife interaction on Australia’s North West Coast -1 Coral Bay

My last day in Coral Bay was spent in and on the Indian Ocean and the Ningaloo Reef.

This was close interaction in the marine environment.

With:

Eels,

Stingrays;

Turtles;

Reef sharks sleeping in coral caves; and

Myriads of little reef fish.

The coral with its colours and shapes is just beautiful.

But the big interaction with whales.

Interaction with whales is carefully prescribed to protect the whale and the humans.

We were lucky enough to get to swim with these beautiful creatures.

The skill of the skipper was excellent. We motored along side the whales as they swam. Then we told to get ready as the boat sped forward.

Suddenly the boat slowed and we slipped off the back of the boat as this gentle giant of the sea swam past below us.

We also swam with Manta Rays.

Sorry friends no photos of these encounters as the piecemeal adventurer turned part time frogman was too busy manoeuvring himself and remembering to breath while in a state of high excitement to work a camera.

So sorry you will just have to go to Ningaloo Reef and do it.

Coral Bay is like swimming in an aquarium

Coral Bay is like swimming in an aquarium

Going to the beach at Coral Bay is like no other beach experience I’ve encountered. It’s a short shallow wade across the sand which then cuts away sharply.

Goggles on and dive into a wonderland of coral

And fish

For an alternative to swimming there is even a glass bottom kayak to view the reef.

Tomorrow its a day in the water on the outer reef swimming and snorkelling off a boat.

The camera is on charge and I’m hoping I can capture some great images.

Running south across the Wide open spaces of Western Australia

Running south across the Wide open spaces of Western Australia

Departing Broome my next major destination was Coral Bay and the beautiful Ningaloo Reef. A distance of nearly 1,400km

Western Australia is a vast State covering around 1/3 of the Australian Continent.

In the north towns and settlements are few and far between and the roads long and straight.

Mining is prevalent in this part of Australia and relics of mining are many.

This part of Australia has had significant land returned to aboriginal control under Native Title which commenced in Australia in 1993.

Native Title aims to give back to Australian Aborigines land where there has been continuous connection since colonisation.

When I rode through Roebourne 43 years ago it was a town one didn’t stop in. It was the wild west rough and dangerous.

The Victoria Hotel was a bloodhouse that you entered at great risk. Now it’s a beautiful art gallery.

That I would recommend any and everyone to stop at.

The importance and connection to country that aboriginal people have can not be underestimated or understood by us from a colonial heritage.

At the Welcome Lookout overlooking there are silhouettes of aboriginal men from the local tribes looking out on country. Emblematic of the connection.

The indiginous culture has reclaimed and so has the name Leramugadu.

From Leramugadu I headed to the coast to Point Samson and the Indian Ocean.

The coastal land offering some wonderful views and a taste of the wildflowers to come now spring is emerging.

And the lovely coastal birds

But my aim was Coral Bay and the amazing Ningaloo Reef and Marine Sanctuary.

Have had a first little swim on the edge of the reef and look forward to exploring more.

I’m here for a few days and will explore and share some more of this remote and beautiful place.

Final reflections on Broome.

Final reflections on Broome.

It’s my last evening in Broome and I finish the way I started with a swim at Cable Beach.

It’s been 43 years since I first came to Broome much has changed but something remain.

Like Sun Pictures, the outdoor cinema that has been in operation since 1916.

But the cultural aspects have expanded.

Art and Street Art abounds

Reflecting the history and character of the town.

Old building have been repurposed.

The old sail makers shed now part of the museum. Housing a collection of then and now photos.

Mmm 1978, yes that’s when I was last here!

And it’s the Kimberley so big Boad trees in the streets.

But its not perfect.

Somedays a Crocodile decides to put a stop to swims at the beach.

But at festival time there is music in the streets

Tomorrow the Steinbock will be loaded and I start the trip south.

Western Australia, is a huge state, about 1/3 of the Australian Continent.

It’s nearly 3000km to Perth, the states capital, and a further 3500km across the country to my home town of Melboure.

So Broome I’m sad to leave but there is more country to see.

Broome – the wildlife

Broome – the wildlife

A mother Osprey guards her chicks in the nest built on the Pont Grantheaume

Broome on the shores of Roebuck Bay is a haven for birds and sea animals. In particular its home to the rare and threatened Snubfin Dolphin

Netting in the Bay had led to these dolphins coming under threat. Many of the dolphins I saw had scars on their skin or pieces out of their fins due to being caught in nets.

Since native title has been established netting has been banned and the area is now a Marine National Park. With all marine animals re establishing in the Bay.

The National Park is also home to various turtles this Flat Back Turtle an example.

Manta Rays and an amazing diversity of local and migratory birds.

Such as terns

And my favourite the majestic White Bellied Sea Eagle.

I did the cruise with Broome Whale Watching. Additional to these beautiful animals we say Dugong, other species of turtle and a Humpback Whale breaching.

Recreational fishing still part in the Bay and the local aborigines fish traditionally with spears.

Such a beautiful place.

Broome’s Festival of the Pearl – Shinju Matsuri

Broome’s Festival of the Pearl – Shinju Matsuri

The lustre of pearl drove the colonial development of Broome in the 1870s and remains a major industry to this day.

Prior to this for millennia the aborigines used and traded mother of pearl shell and used it for decoration and ceremony.

This Riji is the carving of pearl shell shell unique to the North East Kimberley.

These pieces of Riji are part of an exhibition called Lustre the history of pearling in Australia.

The Shinju Matsuri celebrates the role of the pearl in Broome.

The festival integrates culture of Japanese and Chinese pearl divers who came here over a century ago and made Broome home with indigenous and colonial history.

The lantern festival at Cable Beach captures a Japanese Tradition.

The street parade is led in a burst of colour and energy by the Chinese Dragon.

The Shinju festival also offers lots of exhibitions street music and art.

There is a beautiful projection down at the Town Beach

But it was the Riji that totally captivated me.

So I took a long ride, over 200km each way to the top of the Dampier Peninsula.

Over made roads and some thick sand roads

To meet Bruce Wiggan, a local elder and master pearl shell carver at his studio.

Aboriginal art tells a story. This piece tells the story of the making the laws of hunting between local tribes. These laws, this agreement bought harmony.

I’m now the keeper of this beautiful piece of Riji and it’s story.

On to Broome and completing the Savannah Way

On to Broome and completing the Savannah Way

Leaving Halls Creek there were sights to see but I had my heart set on Broome.

A stop at the big Boab on the side of the road.

It 43 years since, as a young man, since I was last riding a motorcycle up in north Western Australia, the Kimberley.

The road was unsealed and rough then.

Remnants of the old road still exist. Including the old corrugated iron shed that was the garage.

When I had some bike problems all those years ago. The owners let me use a corner of the workshop to replace the head gasket on my Norton Commando!

Finally Broome and the end of the Savannah Way crossing the north of Australia from the Pacific to the Indian Oceans.

And swim at Cable Beach. My first swim in the ocean since late June in Queensland.

With its Camel Rides,

Sunsets,

Coastal birds

And the Stairway to the Moon.

Given Western Australia’s covid free status and Broome’s beautiful weather it’s crowded and I had to camp 25km out of town for a couple of nights.

It was a good place to give the Steinbock a wash.

In company with the bush birds like this little Sparrowhawk

Now I have a room in a hostel in the town of Broome which is in the throws of its annual festival, the Shinju Matsuri.

But more on that next post.

Water springs eternal on the road to Wave Hill

Water springs eternal on the road to Wave Hill

Wave Hill is the town where fight for aboriginal land rights took a first decisive step with the Wave Hill Walkoff

I have been reminded that 23 August 2021 is the 55th Anniversary of the Wave Hill Walkoff.

I didn’t go all the way out to Wave Hill

After the hot dusty Bungle Bungles I was after a cold spring to soak in and such places existed on the road from Halls Creek to Wave Hill.

The first spring was Palm Spring just off the Wave Hill road.

The swimming hole was deep and cold just perfect to refresh the body.

I was going to set up camp there but a couple of locals, who had come out for a swim suggested Sawpit Gorge a few kms north offered better camping further off the road.

As I say -local knowledge is the best knowledge.

So I set up camp on a flat area above the gorge and the spring fed stream.

It was near a full moon that night.

Which shone a silver light on the Ghost Gum I was camped under.

Making it a ghostly silver in moons beam.

I have spent a long time in the outback and at this point I was only around 600km from the west coast and the Indian Ocean.

My next swim will be in salt water having crossed the northern part of Australia from Innisfail on the Pacific Ocean to Broome on the Indian Ocean.

I will finish this with Paul Kelly’s musical tribute to the Wave Hill Walkoff.