Broome, Western Australia


Monday, September 17, 2018

Noted along the drive outside Geraldton, this sign: Car Wash, Dog Wash, Car Detailing. Does the dog get the wax option too?

An expectedly tasty and healthy breakfast – a bowl of quinoa, turmeric hummus, spinach leaves, avocado, cherry tomatoes and poached egg. Geoff had smashed avocado, yellow peppers with chimichurri sauce on whole grain sourdough toast. The Quiet Café in Geraldton wins the Best Breakfast Award.

Water is a scarce commodity in Western Australia so toilets have two flush buttons, a full (4.5L) and a partial (3L) flush. A sign posted in the showers of the Carnarvon caravan park cautioned, “Please keep showers to 4 minutes and help us keep our environmental rating.”

We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn Friday morning and are officially in the tropics. We have, thankfully, left behind cool wet weather and embraced 35 degree sun. The landscape is flat with some vegetation and signs warning motorists to beware cattle and kangaroos on the road. For this reason car rental companies advise against driving at night in the outback.

Though the driving days are long, 850 kms and 610 kms, there are still the occasional pink, white, blue and purple wildflowers in this mainly flat landscape. The palette of colours holds my attention kilometer after long kilometer. Grey/blue plants proliferate, set off by green vegetation, straw gold/yellow grasses all set in the rich red Australian soil.

We were entertained by Outback Paddy, a transplanted Dubliner who has adopted this land as his own. We ate fish and chips under the stars at the Port Hedland Yacht Club with nothing between us and the Indian Ocean but Paddy and his 60’s and 70’s music, his own compositions and a few Irish tunes.

We’ve entered the land of red pyramid shaped termite mounds, home to an insect population that dwarfs the number of human beings in the world. Outside Port Hedland, an industrial town that supports the mining and natural gas industries (Canada’s Rio Tinto has mines here and TransAlta runs generating facilities), is a cluster of termite mounds with a miner’s hard hat atop each one. I wondered, was it a tradition to leave it there on your way home after your last shift?

In the 5 hours we travelled from Port Hedland we have seen only 4 cars travelling in our direction north. From the south cars pass by at the rate of 10 – 12 an hour.
As I was driving in the afternoon I saw a camel sitting under a tree. I looked again to be sure, and yes it was a camel. There are feral camels in the Australian outback but I didn’t expect to see them in this part of the country.

We met a man who lives near the ferry terminal in Melbourne. He sold a piece of land beside his house, bought a camper and is indefinitely travelling the country. We heard a similar story of a couple from Brisbane who left home 7 months ago and have no plans to end their Australian travels. Perhaps they are escaping winter but it sounds as if they are enjoying a nomadic life.

While we shared the driving on the long drive north, Geoff has been driving around Broome as if he lived here. Once he’s been somewhere it is imprinted in his internal map.

At church on Sunday, the same church I’d attended in 2015 a woman approached me after the service. “Are you visiting?” she asked. When I told her I was from Canada and had come to the church 3 years ago, she said, “I thought you looked familiar. You’re Catherine from Canada.” Utterly remarkable! How to make a person feel welcomed!

Broome is home to the world’s oldest operating garden movie theatre. The screen is in a garden with some canvas deck chairs outside and others under the roof. In the early days 1920’s and 1930’s everyone in Broome went to the silent movies and then the “talkies.” One resident remembers that the pearling families sat in the middle at the front with the Chinese, Filipino and Malaysians at the sides. The indigenous movies goers were relegated to the back.

We couldn’t believe our luck. In this iconic Australian movie house was showing Breath, an Aussie film based on the book of the same name by Tim Winton. The surfing scenes alone were worth the price of admission.

Tomorrow we are leaving to drive up the Dampier Peninsula on a rugged 4WD road to a camping resort with pristine beaches where we will stay for 3 nights.

3 thoughts on “Broome, Western Australia

  1. I am enjoying vicariously your tour of Australia. It was a delight to have your unexpected call from Pearson immediately before you left TO. ♥️♥️ May God be with you and be safe. Lois


  2. I just love reading about your adventures; a history lesson intertwined with old and new memories. I certainly can see a biographical novel in the process! Safe travels, Catherine and Geoff.


  3. Ahhhh!!! I’m Enjoying the people you meet …. imagine the lady. At the church remembering you ! Those things happen …!
    no bad weather so far !


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s