Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Week in Broome

Last Thursday I headed off with my intrepid travelling companion, Ilka, for an excellent adventure to Broome to celebrate our friend Sal’s 50th birthday. For many Australians, including myself, Broome is one of those enticing destinations you dream of visiting at least once in your lifetime. Established as a port for the pearling industry in 1883, Broome is 2,200km north of Perth in Western Australia.

Our QantasLink plane touched down just after 6pm Broome time (9pm Barham time), walking down the steps of the plane we were enveloped by the hot, humid air of tropical northern Australia; it felt as though I was breathing in warm bath water… I don’t think tropical climates would have suited me prior to the invention of refrigerated air-conditioning.

Dave Shannon’s relly, Marita met us at the airport and delivered us to the Blue Seas Resort near Cable Beach where we would stay for the next week. Barham’s well-known international jetsetter, Jen Cox and her friend Sharna from Perth, joined us the next day.

Our week in Broome was at the tail end of the wet season and cyclone season, which luckily for us meant very affordable accommodation and no crowds. However, on the down side it was still in “stinger season” and this meant no swimming at the iconic Cable Beach. From November to May people are warned to avoid swimming anywhere near Broome because of the deadly box jellyfish and the tiny Irukandji jellyfish. Tempting though the crystal clear turquoise waters were, the paragraph I read amongst some Broome information (see below), kept us out of the water:

“Because of the potential for life threatening complications it is a good idea to take the patient to a hospital as quickly as possible. (The victim will probably be screaming for morphine anyway...)”

Thanks to the three-hour time difference between Barham and Broome, we had no trouble bouncing out of our beds at 5.30am each morning for a sunrise walk along Cable Beach.
The beach was named in 1889 after the undersea telegraph cable that stretched from there to Java, effectively linking communication between Australia and the rest of the world.

We celebrated Sal’s big day with an hour long camel ride along Cable Beach as the sun disappeared behind the Indian Ocean.
Marita and her family and their friends Nick (Broome Visitor Centre Manager) and his family joined us that night for an entertaining evening beside the pool. Ilka cooked up a feast on the barbeque of the freshest and most delicious threadfin salmon and barramundi (thanks to Garry the fisherman from Kimberley Seafoods) and Marita’s husband Scott, their daughters Meg and Nellie baked two sensational chocolate birthday cakes (because what is a birthday without chocolate cake?).

On Sunday we drove ourselves out to the Willie Creek Pearl Farm and spent a fascinating few hours learning about the pearling industry (and melting our credit cards in their showroom). Thanks to my raucous travelling buddies, I was “volunteered” from the audience to extract a pearl from underneath the gonad of a live oyster (every girl’s dream really). That night Ilka and I watched “Silver Linings Playbook” from our deckchairs under the stars at the Sun Picture Theatre in Broome.

Monday morning Sal, Jen and I boarded a seaplane and flew to Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago north of Derby to see the Horizontal Falls. Described by David Attenborough as "one of the greatest natural wonders of the world" the Horizontal Falls are caused by massive tidal flows being drawn through two narrow gaps in the McLarty Ranges that surround the bay.

At Talbot Bay we all enjoyed a swim in the shark/crocodile cages on the pontoon and got up close and personal with some of the large local sharks. From there we hopped aboard the very fast jetstream boat (powered by two 300hp outboard motors). The highly experienced, knowledgeable and very modest “I’m the best boat operator in the world” Captain Adrian piloted us around the bay, including several adrenalin-producing passes through the falls, before it was time to load onto the seaplane once more. The scenic flight home took us over the top of Cape Leveque, Willie Creek and down the length of Cable Beach.

All the good food and adventuring finally took its toll so our final day was spent getting massages at the Bali Hai Resort… wish you were here.

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