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Travel Australia with Kids

Sunday 25th September 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Tuesday, September 27, 2011

After a wonderful night's sleep back in our very roomy Optimus we continued westward - we stopped briefly at Halls Creek for fuel and some information, had lunch at Mary Pool rest stop (we've earmarked that for a re-visit sometime in the future...) and arrived at Fitzroy Creek for the night.  This town had also suffered major flooding earlier in the year and work on the bridge was still continuing.

We've managed so far to keep up our "new" habit of early risings (around 6am), so the next day we were one of only 8 people on the first cruise (8am) along Geike Gorge.  Drifting along smoothly and quietly in the beautiful gorge, we spotted around a dozen freshwater crocodiles along the banks (everytime we think we've reached saturation point with crocs, we are proven wrong!).  The information kiosk at the gorge had placed flood level markers all around the building (signifying the height of various floods through the years) - the worst floods had reached a full 2 metres above the domed roof!  It's hard to imagine that much water coursing through a place!

On our way to Derby we stopped off at the Boab Prison Tree and Myall Bore - the stories of the mis-treatment of aborigines seems never-ending and these sites were often used as stop-overs in the transport of kidnapped aborigines to the west coast to work in the pearling industry.  Derby is a very quiet town with very wide streets, a very picturesque jetty which shows off the massive tides in the area perfectly and boab trees everwhere!  Having only just "recovered" from our camping foray, we decided on a day trip into Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek.  The Gibb River Road section from Derby to the national park is mostly sealed, but we got a little taste of the real thing a few times as well - very corrugated indeed!

Windjana Gorge was lovely - lots and lots and lots of freshwater crocodiles (we inched quite close to a pair sunning themselves on the bank of the river, one swooped into the water but the larger one stood his ground and bared his teeth at us!) and some wonderful fossilised invertebrates in the gorge walls. But the march flies were relentless, even with a good dosing of strong Bushmans on our skins.  Mike made us all fly swishers with eucalyptus branches which saved us on our walk back!  After a quick lunch in our air-conditioned car (very hot day), we changed into our swimwear, grabbed some torches and headed into Tunnel Creek. What an awesome experience!  We travelled through complete darkness (ok we had a torch!) and at times waist-deep cool water to the other side of the cave which opens out to a lovely part of the river.  There is a section in the middle with a collapsed roof and if you hunted around a bit you could see the elusive ghost bats that live there. It was the perfect place to be on a hot day!

Next came our wonderful week in Broome.  Believe ALL the hype about Broome - it's all true and then some!  Cable Beach is as gorgeous as all the pictures in the magazines and every sunset is magical.  The town is very widely spread and although it has everything you need, it has a very small town feel (maybe because it was at the end of tourist season?). We arrived just in time for the closing ceremony of the Shinju Matsuri Festival, which celebrates the town's pearling industry (upon which Broome was built) - there was hours of entertainment and music, a farewell dance by the Sammy the Chinese Dragon (the kids didn't know if they should be awed or scared - a bit of both I expect) and fabulous fireworks (have never been so close before - it makes a huge difference!!).

We had lovely swims in the warm Indian Ocean - both at Cable Beach which has waves big enough for boogey boarding and at Town Beach which is a very shallow inlet of Roebuck Bay (waist deep water for a good 50m), so perfect for Tiran the non-swimmer.  The contrasting blue of the ocean and red cliffs of Gantheaume Bay were beautiful, but the timing of our stay didn't coincide with the appropriate tide movements to go hunting for dinosaur footprints in the mud-flats (and truly we were dinosaured-out anyway) or to see the staircase to the moon phenomenon (not to worry, we still have one more chance in October to catch it). Had a walk along famous Johnny Chi Lane in Chinatown which has history plaques all along its length giving a wonderful and concise chronology of the founding and evolution of Broome.  And I have never seen so many pearl shops in the one place - not sure how they all stay viable!

One day was spent exploring the area around Quandong - absolutely gorgeous (sound like a broken record.....need to work on my imagery vocabulary!) and the colours of the ocean, sand and red cliffs were even more distinct here. Spent a couple of hours exploring the different beaches and looking in the multitude of rock pools which were brimming with huge sea cucumbers, little fish, even small rays. There were a couple of protestor camps along the road decrying the off-shore gas mining in the area - I think they mis-took our truck as belonging to the mining company because as we were leaving at the end of the day, one of them tailed us with his high beam on for about 5km.  Whatever your beliefs and agenda, that's just stupid and dangerous behaviour!

We had great intentions of spending a couple of days exploring Cape Leveque (a magnificent peninsula made up of small aboriginal communities which specialise in tourism), but we fell into the trap of total relaxation and laziness and just couldn't get ourselves organised or motivated enough to store the van (which would have cost a bit as well) and get the camping stuff organised - we couldn't even decide where to stay!  We heard several reports from fellow travellers about how beautiful it was up there, so yet another location put on the next-time list - we'll need at least another year to see the stuff we've missed!  The other attraction we missed (bad timing on our part again!) was the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Farm & Park (which is closed on Sundays when we planned our departure visit) - Kia was devastated (with real tears), Tiran was ambiguous about it and Mike and I were secretly relieved to be putting the crocs behind us at last!!  But he was cheered a little when the tooth fairy re-imbursed him generously for his 2nd lost tooth.

 

Enjoying the quietness of Gieke Gorge - Fitzroy Crossing, WA (16Sep11)Geike Gorge - Fitzroy Crossing, WA (16Sep11)Geike Gorge - Fitzroy Crossing, WA (16Sep11)Geike Gorge - Fitzroy Crossing, WA (16Sep11)
Freshwater crocodiles at Geike Gorge - Fitzroy Crossing, WA (16Sep11)Kia & Tiran on Geike Gorge Tour - Fitzroy Crossing, WA (16Sep11)Flood level markers at Geike Gorge rotunda - Fitzroy Crossing, WA (16Sep11)Myall Bore (over 100m long) used during cattle droving - Derby, WA (16Sep11)
Boab Prison Tree - Derby, WA (16Sep11)Sunset at Dinner Tree - Derby, WA (16Sep11)Sunset at Derby Jetty - Derby, WA (16Sep11)Invertebrate fossil - Windjana Gorge, NT (17Sep11)
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