Thursday, 7 July 2016

Half-lap Day 65: Broome

We had a quiet morning around the tent, playing some games on the iPad and organising our things a bit. Caitlin and I went to the office and got a heap of brochures about Broome activities so that we could start to figure out what we wanted to do while we are here. We booked a pre-sunset camel ride for the kids and I in the afternoon. I had a shower (the best shower I’ve had on the trip so far). Tony took the kids for a swim while I read my book for a while then got ready for our day out.

We had lunch and then went for a drive through the town, having a look at all the shops as we drove through. We went to Town Beach and looked out across Roebuck Bay, very cool to see a large expanse of turquoise water. We continued on down to the port, saw the jetty and lots of big tanks (for oil maybe?) and lots and lots of road trains which were dropping off or picking up their load. We drove around to Entrance Point and I was amazed at the red red craggy rocks, next to the blue sea – my brother had told me how incredible this looks and it was even better than I’d expected. I got out and took a few photos, then we drove along the dirt road to Gantheaume Point, past the race course (no horses there today) and then back up to Cable Beach.

Entrance Point
We arrived around 2.30 and I realised I’d forgotten to get cash for the camel ride. Tony dropped us off and went to get the money while we wandered down to the beach. As we walked down a little boy put out his arm and said ‘$20!’. We stepped around him and laughed and I chatted to his mum about how my kids make up impossible-to-guess passwords to stop people coming past. While we were talking a camel train walked past – these were the ones we’d be riding, very exciting to see them wander down on to the beach.

We followed soon after. The sand was white and soft and the blue ocean was flat (it was low tide) and seemed to stretch out forever. Again, I’d heard a lot about Cable Beach and it was as beautiful as people had said. We could see the camel’s footprints in the sand – we’d watched how their feet spread out as they walk on the soft ground, and they make massive footprints. We walked around the rocks on the beach to the 4WD beach and my first thought was that it was a carpark – there were SO many 4WDs there. People were setting up to watch the sunset in a couple of hours, lots of them had their awnings out with tables and chairs underneath – a great place to sit and spend the afternoon.

We found our camels, and Tony arrived with the cash in time for us to pay. He wandered down to the water while we had our safety briefing and so on, then was back to take photos of us once we got on the camels. Caitlin and LiAM were on the 3rd camel from the front (Karbul) and Millie and on the camel behind them (Jack). Millie and I got on first, and I held on tight to her as the camel stood up – with the back legs going up first, it’s quite scary and we needed to lean a long way back to stop from going over his head. He got the rest of the way up and Millie was unsure whether she wanted to stay on for the ride. I suggested she wait and see what it was like once we started moving and then she could ask to get down if she wanted to.

Caitlin was excited to get on a seated camel and have it stand up (the ones at Uluru were already standing and the kids got on from a platform). We headed off and the ride was slow but bumpy. I held on to Millie for a while and gradually we both relaxed. One of the guides ran up and down the line taking photos on everyone’s camera, so we got shots on LiAM’s, Caitlin’s and my cameras, Caitlin’s iPhone and Millie’s iPod. The walk was beautiful, with the ocean on one side and the sand all around. Watching the camels walk was interesting too, and there were 2 other groups walking as well so there was lots to see. Clothing is optional as you progress further up the beach, and we saw one naked man taking photos of the camels before he lay down on his back to sunbake.

The camels turned around after about 15 minutes and we headed back to where we’d started. The sun was getting lower and the shadows of the camels were very cool. Another one of the guides made his way along the line, talking to each rider about the personality and history of their camel – ours was a real joker and the other kids were on a very reliable camel.

We arrived back at the start and Millie and I were a little nervous about the camel sitting down, it was fine though (less scary than standing up). We climbed off, and received our free drink vouchers and a free pair of pearl earrings for me. We wandered down through the rocks and looked at the rock pools while we waited for Tony to come back from where he’d been walking on Cable Beach.

Looking at the tide charts earlier I’d realised that this evening was the lowest tide that we’d be here for, and it was low enough to see ALL of the dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point. Most low tides are only low enough for one lot to be exposed, but tides under 1.4m allow all 3 sites to be seen. So we headed straight there –there were a lot of people there already. We wandered down the rocks of the cliff – discovering halfway down that we’d gone the more difficult way – and then across the flat rocks at the base, looking in the rock pools as we went. We found lots of crabs and lots of creatures in shells, but were unsure where to go to find the dinosaur prints. It was a bit weird, lots of people wandering around randomly on these rocks, looking for something that wasn’t very big and no one was very sure what it actually looked like. There were lots of false alarms ‘oh, this might be something…’ then every now and then someone was say definitively ‘There’s one here’, and people in the vicinity would scurry over (although I was surprised, there wasn’t a lot of collaborative looking, people would find one and then not pass on the information to people coming the other way).

Anyway, someone pointed us in the direction of a footprint and when we saw it, it was really obviously a footprint – like a large bird print, bigger than my hand. 3 large toes and a hell, preserved in the rock. I was blown away, so incredible to think of an actual dinosaur walking here 120 million years ago, and we can still see signs of it. The kids were more interested in the live animals and glanced quickly at it then went on looking for crabs. We wandered around aimlessly for a while longer. Someone told us that the large round sinkhole type rockholes were dinosaur prints as well, but I wasn’t sure if that was right or not. They were different sizes even when they were together and some looked just like natural rockholes. After a while someone pointed out another site, there were 2 prints here, made by feet that were still birdlike, but more webbed. These ones were eroding a little. We pointed them out to passing groups, then I wandered off to look for the 3rd site – but I wasn’t sure whether these ones were the high water ones or the low, so I wasn’t sure in which direction to look. Someone said he knew where they were, so I followed him, but he couldn’t find them again. His friends found an octopus in a rock pool though, so I went and got the kids to come and have a look at it. The guy was poking it with a stick and it would squirt water out and change from striped to white. It was cool to watch, even though I didn’t think it was a good idea for him to be poking it like that. LiAM and Caitlin said they’d seen a couple of octopuses that they thought were blue-ringed octopuses. I didn’t think they were found in this part of Australia, but when I looked it up later I discovered that they are. That’s an animal that really scares me, but luckily the kids are smart enough not to touch animals they aren’t sure about, so they just looked and didn’t antagonise them.

The sun was setting while were wandering around on the rocks – making fantastic colours on the red cliff wall. We decided to head back as it was nearly dark, then an American couple came past, asking if we knew where the prints were and hoping they hadn’t come too late to see them. Caitlin and I showed them the first one we’d found, and they had a map so we discovered that the 3rd one was only 17m from that one (and the webbed prints were the high-water ones). So we looked in the vicinity of that print, climbing in between rocks near the water’s edge, and I noticed Caitlin step on a depression – we shone our lights on it and we’d found the print!!!! I was so happy, as I’d really wanted to see all 3 while we had the chance, and this tide was the only one that would allow us. It was hard to photograph in the dim light, but it was very exciting to see it. It was similar to the first, perhaps more spread out and bigger. We made our way back across the rocks and showed them the webbed prints, then started to clamber back up the cliff. It was a bit tricky in the low light, and at one point I dropped my lens cap and had to fossick around in the dark to find it, but we made it up with no real problems. The view from the top was quite spectacular, the horizon was red and the rocks of the cliff were silhouetted against it.

The others were waiting for us at the car, everyone very tired. We stopped at the shops to get milk and salami, then came straight home for tea. Millie cooked macaroni and cheese for herself and Caitlin, LiAM had an egg sandwich, and Tony and I had rice noodles with pesto and salami. Afterwards we cleared the table and headed to bed as quickly as we could.

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