This part of the trip I was really looking forward to as I had previously not been further north east of Broome so all new territory for me.
What was originally a planned 3 week stay in Broome turned into a 7 week stop. A few days after I arrived in Broome my mother, sister and niece arrived for a week or so. We were staying out at 12 Mile at my brother’s place and it was a special time as it coincided with Mum’s birthday and Mothers Day. Been many years since mum had her 3 offspring all together at this time of year.
I was able to help my brother out by attending to the farm chores at the 12 Mile Bird Park and I fell in love with the farmyard animals. My brother has had the Bird Park open for the past 6 years but started a farmyard area in January this year to add to the experience. Seeing children interact with the animals is a delight to experience as a lot of city and town children no not get to have this experience. I also volunteered with my brother in the Pit Area at the Broome Speedway over 3 weekends, including the State Modified Sedan Titles, which was won by a local, Jeff Steele.
Whilst I had done most of the touristy things on previous trips to Broome, it has been 15 years since I visited the Broome Museum and so went back there for a visit. It has changed for the better and looks very professional now and is well laid out without the clutter I experienced on my last visit. Also had a wander through the Japanese Cemetery. Nothing changed there. I still couldn’t read the inscriptions!
I also caught up with a couple of friends from Perth who were up in Broome and also had a coffee with a member of a forum site I belong to (Grey Nomads), Cuppa and Mrs T. Cuppa writes an fantastic blog of their travels, which is mainly in remote areas. It is good to meet someone in person to put a face to a name. I am learning that the travelling fraternity are some of the most lovely and generous people one could meet.
While in Broome I also had the opportunity to visit Kilto Station and to have a look around the Cattle Yards where cattle are housed and fed in an elaborate system prior to export. They even have a “pet” Brahman who is nothing short of enormous but still loves a pat. The owners of the station also own several other stations, including Mabel Downs and the Bungle Bungle Caravan Park. They are passionate pastoralists and if animal activists could see first hand their operations and passion and love and care they have for their animals they might just support this important part of our nations economy.
Prior to leaving Broome a friend joined me on the Broome-Darwin leg of my journey. Great to have some company and share some laughs along the way.
First stop after fuelling up from The Roebuck Plains Roadhouse was Derby. Here I caught up with friend from Perth Days. Jess left Perth some 10 years ago to travel around Australia. She made it as far as Broome before settling there for 5 years before meeting her Prince Charming and now she lives in Derby.
When my sister was still up in Broome she wanted to see Derby so we made a day trip during her stay and so I did the tourist bits at that time. The Prison Boab Tree and Longest Water Trough and also had a look at the Jetty and a very nice lunch at the Wharf Café. Visited the Old Derby Goal which is chilling and sad to think it wasn’t that many years ago that we treated our fellow human beings with such a lack of understanding and respect. We cant change the past but reminders of places like these must ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes of our ancestors.
After a roadside stop overnight at the Derby Turnoff, it was a pleasant drive into Fitzroy Crossing and out to Geikie Gorge and the Danggu Gorge National Park. Here we had a one hour boat cruise which was a pleasant place to be. Being a weekend the Visitors Centre in town wasn’t opened so after a fuel stop it was on towards Halls Creek. Stopped halfway between towns before fuelling up at Halls Creek and visiting their Visitors Centre. Stopped at Mary Pool which is a 24 hour stop and it was “packed” with caravans. A popular stop for travellers heading east or west. Then it was another overnight stop before stopping at Mabel Downs and the Bungle Bungles Caravan Park for 2 nights. This was $35 a night (unpowered) but handy as tours operated from here. See Bucket List #5 for report on Bungle Bungles. There is also about 3 no cost camp sites within 10km of this park and many people utilise these as a base to see the Bungle Bungles.
The next couple of days took in Warmun (Turkey Creek) and Doon Doon before arriving in Wyndham. I absolutely loved this area and although the town of Wydham itself is looking a little sad, it has a great character and charm about it. Struggled up to the Five Rivers Lookout. When I say struggled I mean it literally. It is very steep, not suitable for caravans with its many switchbacks and at one stage I thought I would have to stop and get back into first gear. Rhonda did me proud though and managed it in second gear. The view from the top is staggering. With 5 different rivers flowing into the Cambridge Gulf it is a spectacular sight. The 5 are the King, Ord, Durack, Forrest and Pentecost Rivers. Situated 330 metres above sea level, the Bastion Range gives stunning views over the surrounding mudflats and ranges. They tell me it is a spectacular place to watch the Kimberley sunset but I didn’t fancy coming down that road in the dark.
Had a walk out on the jetty and a look through the Wyndham Museum which is situated in the Port area, the original site of the township. There are 4 cemeteries in this old town and I had a wander through two of them, The Gully and the original Pioneer Museum. I would have liked to have visited the Afgan Cemetery but it was starting to get dark and by this time I was looking for somewhere to stop for the night. Found a nice gravel pit just off the road about 20km out of Wyndham.
While in Wynham also called into Pixies Tin Shed which is situated opposite the Museum and is a bric-a-brac type of place. Pixie told me she wasn’t a local but had lived there a long long time and was an interesting lady to chat to. She was constantly rolling roll-your-own cigarettes, right below the “No Smoking” sign at the entry to her premises. After accepting a mud map of the old town had a wander along what was the main street and some of the old buildings still stand including the Wyndham Hotel (surely the Government could find some money to convert this into single persons accommodation), the old hospital and nurses and doctors quarters, Post Office and Lee Fong stores buildings among others.
Wyndham sells itself as “The top town in WA” and I really enjoyed this place.
Kununurra was busy and most of the caravan parks were near capacity. Checked into the Ivanhoe Caravan Park which was comfortable and clean. $40 per night for a powered sight which I thought wasn’t too bad. Was able to do the Lake Argyle Tour direct from the park so that was a bonus. See Bucket List #6 Lake Argyle for details of the tour. Had a drive out to Ivanhoe Crossing past the agricultural area which was a pleasant drive and also went up to the local lookout which gives a good panoramic view of Kununurra and the surrounding area. The Kununurra Museum is also well worth a visit. The man that was in charge came to Kununurra as a 23 year old in 1983 and was very passionate about the local history. He was a wealth of information as was the Museum itself and it was easy to spend well over an hour there. While there I was reading some of the stories in some files they had. A fascinating one was a Police Report written following the disappearance of 33 “boat people” that were lost for several days. Eventually all were found and accounted for. It was great reading!
Kununurra is a very clean and tidy town and appears to be well laid out. It is an inviting oasis and as far from Perth as you can get without leaving the state. Definitely a place and area that I could and will return to.