Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Half-lap Day 64: Fitzroy Crossing -> Broome

I am still waking up around 5am most days, which is about 6.30 Northern Territory time, and about an hour and a half before sunrise. I felt like I was the first person awake in the whole caravan park when I went over to the camp kitchen to charge the computer and have a cup of tea. There was no kettle in the kitchen, so I found the cleanest frypan (3 frypans were the only items in the kitchen) and boiled some water – it wasn’t too bad but the 2nd half of my cuppa did have a bit of a meaty taste…

Our soup sharing neighbour offered me hot water when I got back to camp – he’d boiled more than he needed, so there was enough for a fresh cup of tea, and some for my porridge, and for washing up water. We had a good chat about different ways of travelling and each of our plans for the next part of our trips.

I started packing up and the others emerged from the tent as they woke. We did a pretty quick packup, and the kids played with our neighbours again. They made a banana smoothie and shared it with our kids. Caitlin spent most of the morning talking to a lady they’d met the day before, with a King Charles Spaniel puppy (very cute). In between packing, and then while I was finishing off, I chatted to the mum of the family next door, she gave us lots of tips for things down the west coast, and we discussed the logistics of travelling with kids. Once we were all packed up we kept talking while the kids were happily playing, and probably left almost an hour after we were ready. The kids didn’t want to leave, they really liked these boys.

We stopped in town to get petrol and essential groceries (finally getting some eggs for LiAM) and marveled again at how little water was in the Fitzroy river in town, compared to in the gorge. Then we headed out for the long drive west to Broome – about 400km. The scenery today was the most monotonous we’ve seen for a long time. Mainly flat land, with short dark trees and not a lot of undergrowth. Sometimes the trees were different, there were some black, feathery looking trees with no leaves, not sure what they were. There were lots of boabs, some were really huge, just amazing to look at. Some had green leaves and/or yellow leaves, others were bare. One thing that quite surprised us was that the landscape and vegetation didn’t change much, even as we approached the coast. Within a couple of kilometres of the shoreline, there was no indication that we were in a coastal area.

We crossed several rivers, most of them dry, some with waterholes, occasionally one with a lot of water. Crossing a one-lane bridge over a large waterhole, we saw several freshwater crocodiles sunning themselves in the water. LiAM didn’t see them so we did a U-turn and went back over the bridge, where there was a spot we could pull off the road and get out of the car. We stood up on the top of the bank and watched the crocodiles in the water for a while. We didn’t see any on the banks (and we didn’t go down closer to the low banks, we just stayed up high) but saw 7 or 8 floating in the water. It was our first completely wild sighting of freshies and it was rather exciting. The sun was searing hot and not everyone had grabbed a hat as we got out of the car so it was quite uncomfortable.

3 freshwater crocodiles in a large waterhole
Back in the car we continued westwards. I’d been ringing caravan parks whenever we had signal and we’d decided to stay close to town (it would be cheaper to stay about 35km out of Broome, but we thought we’d enjoy it more if we were nearer all the activities this time, even if it costs us a bit more). We’d been warned that we might not get accommodation because it was school holidays and many grey nomads come to Broome for 1-3 months at this time of year – but we found a few parks who had room for us. We picked one on the outskirts of the town – the slightly cheaper, closer to town one that had a site available also had lots of reviews saying that there was a lot of theft, so we decided to go for more security.

We arrived and set up our tent, and saw cows wandering past on the other side of the fence, and a wallaby a few sites down. We had something to eat then Tony took the kids to the pool, which is pretty spectacular. I had a rest by myself, I was feeling quite overstimulated and just needed some down time. Can happen sometimes when we’ve been in the car for a long time, all my senses get a bit on edge.

It was exciting to be in Broome though, it feels like a halfway point – like it’s the top north-west point we’ll reach before heading back to the South East. It’s not exactly half-way, in terms of either time or distance, but it feels like a midpoint. It was also such a relief to easily find accommodation after all the warnings we’d had. We were all too tired to head into town to check it out tonight, looking forward to actually seeing the town and the beach tomorrow. Weird too to think we are back on the coast, and with beaches we can swim at!

We had a combination of leftovers, instant pasta, soup and eggs for tea. Afterwards Caitlin and LiAM played Euchre, and continued playing as we read Inheritance, then Caitlin got into her tent and we read a bit more before going to sleep.

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