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.

In Queensland it’s coal vs nature on the FrontLine Action on Coal (FLAC)

In Queensland it’s coal vs nature on the FrontLine Action on Coal (FLAC)

In North Queensland only a few hundred kilometres inland from the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef is some of the most intensive coal mining in the world.

The Stop Adani Campaign has been the headline battle to try and stop the coal behemoth swallow up the fragile land water and wildlife churn it and just spit it out as tailing and pollution

Bob Brown Stop Adani convoy 2019

And the fight still goes on at FLAC https://frontlineaction.org/

The west of Queensland is dry and outside the wet season the riverbeds are dry sand

And farmers, animals, birdlife and native flora rely on water stored underground.

It bubbles up in springs across inland Australia. The springs I swam in on the Oodnadatta Track, thousands of kilometres away are linked and fed water by the Queensland springs.

Springs like Doongmabulla Spings https://www.defendourwater.org/springs#:~:text=The%20Doongmabulla%20Springs%20complex%20is,very%20dry%20landscape%5B1%5D.&text=These%20springs%20are%20like%20oases,They%20also%20support%20remarkable%20ecosystems.

Source https://news.flinders.edu.au/blog/2019/06/12/groundwater-plan-flawed-experts-warn/

An oasis in the harsh outback of Queensland which could likely be drained to wash the coal extracted from The Adani Mine.

Water is essential to preserving the beautiful things of nature.

Beautiful birds

None of the birds above are threatened but at the Adani site, there are endangered species of birds that could be wiped out.

In outback Australia, water is life. For people, for food production, for Australia’s unique fauna and flora.

We don’t need to use it to waste it on a new coal mine when the future is in renewable energy not coal or gas.

If you can support FLAC. Visit https://frontlineaction.org/

Camped at Camp Binbee Under the Milky Way at Night

Time to make miles as I hear wedding bells

Time to make miles as I hear wedding bells

Did I mention that this wild adventure is taking a 10,000km detour to the wedding of a very close friends daughters!

No missed that point

The nearly 1200 km of rough dirt roads had destroyed the bikes rear tyre and drive chain.

So new tyre and chain and time to make miles to the east coast of Australia

Past the Devils Marbles

Over the Queensland border.

And along hot straight outback roads

To Longreach

Some call Longreach the capital of the Outback

The home of QANTAS now Australia’s national airline.

It’s also the centre of the Chanel Country that funnels the water of the tropical monsoons into Lake Eyre in the centre of Australia.

Which I has passed only a few weeks past

So I took a friend for a ride

To see the water lillies on the flooded Thompson River as the precious water makes its way to the desert

I was going to take a swim but the river was full of mud from recent floods and not inviting.

Tomorrow I will start to make miles again. Four days of riding in temperatures of 37c ( nearly 100F) had zapped my energy.

An air-conditioned hotel a respite. My blogs up to date, I’m refreshed and tomorrow offers cooler weather as I head south east toward the Pacific Ocean.

Central Australia Adventure 12 – Uluru and Kata Tjuta

Central Australia Adventure 12 – Uluru and Kata Tjuta

The Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park in many ways the centre of Australia

Uluru the largest monolith in the world.

Constantly changing colour and tone as the light hits it.

To see it shine red during sunset it amazing

To see it at sunset with the March full moon rising on the equinox truly spiritual.

The walk around the base of Uluru is approximately 10.5 km.

Uluru is a sacred place for Aboriginal Australians and being close to it one feels the sacred power of the rock that is ever changing in colour and mood.

Each crevice, crack, cave and stain tell part of an Aboriginal dreamtime story.

Stories often told in drawing in the rock caves.

Kata Tjuta is approximately 40 km from Uluru. A series of sandstone rocks through which valleys wind.

The Valley of the Winds walk is an approximately 7km walk through the rock outcrops

As I sit in a hotel room in Longreach, Queensland, reflecting on the two weeks spent immersed in the Red Centre a shiver still goes down my spine.

It took me almost a lifetime to get here but I may yet be back.

Central Australia Adventure 10 – West MacDonnell Ranges/Tjoritja

Central Australia Adventure 10 – West MacDonnell Ranges/Tjoritja

To ride through the West MacDonnell Ranges is to travel in a landscape created before time began

Mountains and rivers formed over 300 million years ago.

What an experience to camp beside and swim in the oldest river in the world.

The Finke or Larapinta River.

Ormiston Gorge at sunrise is a spectacular site from the Ghost Gum Lookout

The colours changing on the red rocks as the sun rose

The recent rains had filled the gorge with flowing water

So much water that on the Ormiston Gorge Pound Walk at one crossing it was strip off and carry packs high across the creek

But from this small inconvenience was worth it as the views from the walk were just beautiful

Ocre is prized by Aboriginal Australians for a range of purposes but primarily rock and body painting.

The Ocre pits here have provided this precious colouring for millennia

Gaps and chasms fill the length of the ranges.

Some of the creeks that run through then provide big swimming holes.

Like the Ellery Creek Big Hole

Or are a trickle that over the millennia have carved a chasm.

Tjoritja is vast and I visited only half of its amazing gorges. Maybe another visit is required