Perth to Broome
Places: Dynamite Bay-Nanga Bay-Hamelin-Coral Bay-Exmouth-Karratha-Unknown Rest Area-Broome
Heading north out of Perth, we took the Indian Ocean drive. Our first stop was Lancelin, whose main attraction was the sand dunes that sit just outside the town. After hiring a sand board, we tried our skills on the slops (note: we did opt for the sit down board rather than the stand up ones….). Climbing sand dunes seriously tested our fitness but the ride down was so much fun! As you can imagine, we were finding sand everywhere for days afterwards.
Slightly further north is Nambung National Park, famous for the ‘Pinnacles’. The Pinnacles are strange limestone pillars that randomly jut from the ground to various heights. While they are strikingly weird we have to confess to being slightly disappointed. The free beachside camp for the night proved a little more appealing.
At our next destination of Shark Bay (no sharks spotted thank goodness!); we stayed in a fabulous resort style campsite! Well…maybe it would have been in the 1960s. The spa pool was certainly less crystal blue and more luminescent green. The place was deserted and there was a howling wind being swept off the sea. We felt as if we’d entered a horror movie set and admitted to each other that we thought we were going to be murdered in the showers!
Relieved to awake at dawn, we checked out and raced to Monkey Mia. Luckily for Charlotte, who dislikes monkeys, Monkey Mia is famous for Dolphins. We made sure we were at the shoreline for 7.30am to witness wild dolphins come into the shore to say hello and to get some fish for breakfast. It was incredible to be so close to such amazing mammals in the wild. We stayed at Monkey Mia all day watching the dolphins play in the sea from the beach.
Whilst in this area we also visited shell beach which was a beach entirely made up of crashes shells. It was so windy though we could hardly stand!! We also visited Hamelin Pool which contained a colony of stromatolites. Although they just looked like lumpy brown masses, these living fossils are thousands of years old, and their evolutionary history spans 3.5 billion years (we went there for you Joe).
Six hours north we stopped at the beautiful Coral Bay which was a tiny resort village and absolute paradise! This place felt like the first real holiday destination since leaving Sydney, with mostly Aussie’s getting away for the weekend. We were there for low season so it was lovely and quiet. Here we snorkelled the beautiful Ningaloo Reef and did very little for a couple of days. The temperature had cranked up to the late 30s and has stayed there ever since.
Our next stop was an hour further up the coast at a ‘town’ called Exmouth. We were this town was far better than Coral Bay with better reef and more to do. How wrong were they! The town was pretty empty and had little to offer. Exmouth had it uses nonetheless as it was an access point to Turquoise Bay in Cape Range National Park. After being convinced by Jamie that the Reef Shark spotted ten minutes earlier was ‘a harmless one’ (!) and that more people are killed each year by cows than sharks, we both went snorkelling. We had a great few hours exploring the coral but all of a sudden a dark cloud came over us and it went quite dark in the water so Charlotte signalled Jamie to start swimming back to shore. A few minutes later Jamie started yanking Charlotte’s leg with a sense of urgency (he says excitement). Paralysed with fear it took Charlotte a long few seconds to realise he was pointing out a Turtle swimming!! It was unreal!!
We has planned to spend the next few days in Karijini National Park renowned for stunning scenery and waterfalls but unfortunately the whole park was on fire, started by lightening a couple of days earlier. Instead, we did the two day drive up to Broome. This drive was long, straight and pretty bleak at times with fellow drivers taking a dramatic decline. We parked up in overnight rest stops (basically a large lay-by just off the main road) each night most of which we were the only ones there. We witnessed the most dramatic overnight storms with constant flashes in the nights sky from lightening. It was amazing to witness, until we realised that lightening can cause devastating fires and we were in the bush, on our own, with no-one knowing of our whereabouts.. As you can imagine, we slept rather well..
We made it to Broome in one piece albeit being very tired. And what a treat Broome was! Civilisation! We stayed in a campsite on Cable Beach with a heavenly pool (a necessity in 40 degree heat and 80% humidity). Broome is famous for camel trails on the beach. Although camels aren’t native to Australia, they were bought over to help build roads to the red centre, and then let loose when they were no longer needed. So when in Rome.. we decided to go on a sunset ride. Our camel (Mustapher) was of course the naughty one! He would not stay in line and was more interested in the camels bottoms up ahead. After everyone else dismounted their camel with grace, we were told to ‘brace ourselves’ and Mustapher, without warning, collapsed down sending us flying!! The ride was absolutely beautiful at sunset and (yet another) highlight of our trip. We watched the end of the sunset until it was dark a few feet from the shoreline with a bottle of bubbly. Just as we were leaving the beach we noticed a sign saying ‘Saltwater Crocodiles spotted today, DO NOT go near the shoreline’. Agh! Whoops!
Positive lessons: always read the warning signs BEFORE going on the beach.
Next stop Cairns (via Darwin)..!
Love Charlotte & Jamie x x
Sand dunes – boarding
Hamelin Pool Stromatolites – Shark Bay (Just for you Joe!)
Coral Bay sunset
Broome Camel Ride