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.

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.

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.

Nitmiluk National Park 2 – colours of Katherine Gorge

Nitmiluk National Park 2 – colours of Katherine Gorge

Katherine Gorge is the tourism centre piece of the Nitmiluk National Park.

The Gorge is over 16km long. In the dry season it is made up of 13 separate gorges each separated by natural rock rapids and waterfalls.

In the wet season, the monsoon, the water depth is, average 7 metres higher and the Gorge is one rushing torrent of water.

I was there in the dry season.

From a kayak there is a water eye view of the steep cliffs and the little barriers that separate the 13 sub gorges.

On an evening boat cruise at sunset the colours and the reflections take on a more reddish hew.

And after the sun has set

If your lucky the full moon rises

And of course there are the inhabitants of Katherine Gorge

The fresh water crocodiles

The colours of Katherine Gorge are indeed beautiful!

Nitmiluk National Park 1 – Edith Falls

Nitmiluk National Park 1 – Edith Falls

There are two major accomodation hubs in the Nitmiluk NP a small campground at Edith Falls and camping , cabins and 5 star lodges at Katherine Gorge.

Edith Falls campground sits beside a big lagoon at the bottom of a series of waterfalls where the Edith River cascades downward off the Arnham Land Plateau.

The Upper Falls swimming hole is at the top of the escarpment

But the Edith River has more treasures further up stream.

An appropriate 2km walk along the top of the Plateau is the Long Pool.

A perfect place for a natural spa

A further 2km along the trail is Sweet water

A lovely swimming hole it is also the final camping spot on the Jarbulla trail.

You can also walk up from Edith Falls campground and camp overnight at Sweetwater.

The swimming whole that will stick in my mind though is the Long Pool

There are no reservations at the Edith Falls campground so it’s best to get there early as the sites go quickly.

The kiosk is really friendly for checking in and healthy snacks

If you don’t want to hike to swim the main swimming hole.

Which at sunset turns an amazing shade of red at sunset.