80 Mile Beach

A return to this iconic beach which lies along the north-west coast of Western Australia about half-way between the towns of Broome and Port Hedland. It is a beach some 220 Kms (140 mi) in length, forming the coastline where the Great Sandy Desert approaches the Indian Ocean. It is one of the most important sites for migratory shorebirds, or waders, in Australia.

We found a new pastime here – it is called rod holding – the idea is to cast a line in the ocean and see who can hold the rod the longest without having a fish go anywhere near your bait. Most people were excellent at this – my record was 3 hours 42 minutes.

Barn Hill Station

Barn Hill Station is a Kimberley Cattle Station overlooking the Indian Ocean. It is 450,000 acres with 8,00 head of cattle which they live export out of Broome. 128 Kms south of Broome and just a 50 metre walk to the ocean, it is a great place to relax and have a fish on the beach. So we chill out for a couple of days. No fish to speak of but still good fun. Joined 200 other campers for a Sunday Roast and entertainment on Sunday evening.

Interesting loos and showers at Barn Hill. Open air loos and shower water heated by big loops of black pipes circled on the ground – cold showers first thing in the morning.

More Broome

Last few days for Mairead in Broome before she heads back home to Ireland. Great having you with us for the last 2,609 Kilometres . Safe trip home and Bebo (local aboriginal word for ‘until the next time’). Sampled the golf club in Broome – lovely course next to the ocean, very green despite the heat.

Broome

Broome is a pearling and tourist town 2,200 km (1,400 mi) north of Perth. The permanent population is estimated at 14,436, growing to over 45,000 per month during the tourist season.

The town has an interesting history based around the exploits of the men and women who developed the pearling industry, starting with the harvesting of oysters for mother of pearl in the 1880’s to the current major cultured pearl farming enterprises. The riches from the pearl beds did not come cheaply, and the town’s Japanese cemetery is the resting place of 919 Japanese divers who lost their lives working in the industry. Many more were lost at sea, and the exact number of deaths is unknown.

Broome was attacked at least four times by Japanese aircraft during the Second World War, and the worst attack was the 3 March 1942 air raid in which at least 88 people (mostly civilians) were killed.

In 1889 a telegraph undersea cable was laid from Broome to Singapore, connecting to England. Hence the name Cable Beach was given to the landfall site. It is situated 7 km (4.3 mi) from town along a bitumen road. The beach itself is 22.5 km (14.0 mi) long with white sand, washed by tides that can reach over 9 m (30 ft). Four wheel drive vehicles may be driven onto the beach from the car park. This allows people to explore the beach at low tide to a much greater extent than would be possible on foot. Sunset camel rides operate daily along the beach.

Mairead takes a day trip out to the Horizontal Waterfalls and to Cape Leveque.

Fitzroy Crossing And Geike Gorge

2 nights at Fitzroy Crossing gives us the chance to take a boat trip along the stunning Geikie Gorge, in its own National Park. The gorge was named in honour of Sir Archibald Geikie, the Director General of Geological Survey for Great Britain and Ireland when it was given its European name in 1883. Sir Archibald never visited the gorge and in due course the traditional owners, the Bunuba people, hope that it will be more generally known by its Aboriginal name, Darngku.

The gorge has been formed by the Fitzroy River and the level of the river in the wet season can rise by up to 16.5 metres (54 ft). The flood level can be clearly seen on the walls where the abrasive action of the floodwaters on the limestone has scoured the surface white. The limestone was originally a reef formed not by corals but by algae and lime secreting organisms that are now extinct. The river water sustains an abundance of life including barramundi, sawfish and freshwater crocodiles all of which can be found in the gorge.