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.

The World Heritage Purnalulu National Park aka the Bungle Bungles.

The World Heritage Purnalulu National Park aka the Bungle Bungles.

The Purnalulu National Park contains a number of unique rock formations one of which is the Bungle Bungle Ranges.

It’s 53 km from the Northern Highway into the Park and I have to say possibly the most challenging 53 km I have ridden this trip.

The road was extremely rough with 4 water crossings 2 quite deep.

As this 4wd came through the first water crossing (above) my heart started thumping as I thought this is a challenge.

At the third, and deepest crossing I thought I was beaten. I let a 4wd go through. The next thing it was stopped at the top of the embankment and the driver is down into the water.

“You can do it. I’m.a biker too. Keep to the left side there are less rocks”

“This is the deepest part” he said, standing thigh deep in water. “You can do it”

And I did as he talked me through the crossing.

I set up camp at the Kurrajong campground and the view of the Bungle Bungles at sunset told me the ride in was worth it. I was looking forward to riding out to the walking areas the next day.

The Bungle Bungles are unique rock formations formed around 300 million years ago.

The colours and contours of the landscape just breathtaking.

At the northern end there are huge gorges of red firey rock

The Northern walk (above) are is named Piccaninni after the creek that cuts through the land scape and is noted for its dome shaped rock formations and steep gorges. Cathedral and Whip Snake were the ones I visited.

The southern walks are characterised by amazing chasms. Echidna chasm is a thin passage through the 200 metre high cliffs.

The southern chasm entrances provide the perfect environment for the Livinstona Palm

Especially in the Palm Valley.

Purnalulu was a special way point on this trip and what an overwhelming beautiful place to visit.

I was even lucky enough to have a fellow biker for company.

Back heading west on the Savannah Way and a stop at Keep River National Park

Back heading west on the Savannah Way and a stop at Keep River National Park

The savannah woodlands stretched out to the horizon.

Crossing the big rivers I didn’t need a sign to say I was back on the Savannah Way.

Just before the Northern Territory/ Western Australia border there is the Keep River National Park.

About 18 km in from the Rangers station is the main camping ground.

A special part of North Western Australia is the amazing rock formations.

There are a number of walks through the rock canyons at Keep River. I will give you a taste of these beautiful rock formations.

From the lookout the rocky range stretches out through the savannah

The stunning colours of the rock and landscape.

And there is the beautiful Rainbow Bee Eater, flitting around the forest.

As the sun sets the rocks turn red reflecting the setting sun’s fire.

When the light is gone the Milky Way fills the sky.

There is nothing like the stars in the outback.

So I’m now sitting in Kununurra, in the State of Western Australia. Supplies have been purchased ready for the next outback leg of my journey.

A few days in Darwin before heading west

A few days in Darwin before heading west

Darwin is the Capital of the Nortern Territory and was nice to be back beside the sea.

It was Darwin Festival time and an opportunity for the piecemeal adventurer to turn into the piecemeal culture vulture.

And even catch a performance of the Opera Carmen at the Darwin Entertainment Centre. Thanks to a friend.

Followed by dinner with sunset over Darwin Harbour.

Of course a priority was having the Steinbock serviced for the next leg of the journey of around 6,000km across to the west coast and south to Perth.

All serviced and nice new shoes for the trip into Western Australia.

Nitmiluk National Park 4 -some final observations

Nitmiluk National Park 4 -some final observations

The Cutta Cutta caves limestone caves may not the most colourful but are an amazing insight to the forming of the artesian springs in the Northern Territory.

In the wet season this cave and others like it act as funnels collecting the monsoonal rains to flow through the limestone and into the artesian basin.

The water heats up and flows out at thermal springs at Mataranka and Katherine.

The sunset over the Katherine with the bats taking off into the night ( look closely at the photo just above)

The birdlife is abundant but at Edith Falls there was something special.

This Great Bower Bird singing his full repertoire of songs. (The Great Bower Birds are amazing at mimicking sounds which they include in the songs. Other birds calls, engines starting, towels fluttering are all included.)

His singing was successful as he seduced this female into his carefully constructed Bower.

How wondrous is nature.

Nitmiluk NP 3 – the Arnhem Land Plateau and Aboriginal Rock Art

Nitmiluk NP 3 – the Arnhem Land Plateau and Aboriginal Rock Art

There are significant sites of rock art all around the Nitmiluk NP.

There are sites in the public access areas of the Gorge

There are remote areas accessible only by helicopter

And special areas only accessible with aboriginal guides, in remote communities. Unfortunately due to Covid 19 access to remote aboriginal communities is not available.

The Arnhem Land Plateau is amongst the oldest exposed rock in the world.

Being formed 1,600 million years ago.

In the wet season the sandstone acts as a giant sponge soaking up the flooding waters that flow as springs and waterfalls in Nitmiluk and Kakadu in the dry season.

We landed at a spring atop the Arnhem Land Plateau

Around the spring were six galleries of aboriginal art

This was a place for dreaming hence the yellow Mimi spirit, catching fish, and giving birth.

I can’t capture the galleries painted thousands of years back are.

In the main Gorge the rock art is more accessible

For us, non aboriginal people this art are interesting images.

For aborigines they tell a story of how the land was formed and changed over tens of thousands of years

How to find food and water in the wilderness.

How to live as one with the land.