23/9/2005You are here: Home > Travelogues > Nerd's Eye View > 23/9/2005
The West Coast
Another Friday, another email. This time it's from the town of Derby, sensibly pronounced phonetically, rather than "darby". I've finally made it to the west coast. It's a whole new ocean out there!
Anyway it's been another week of mixed activity. I spent last Friday night at the Crossing Hotel in Fitzroy Crossing. It's the Kimberley's oldest pub, and boasts a certain amount of local character.
In years gone by the floor was dirt, but they've graduated to concrete now. It's pretty rough and rowdy there, but there is a caravan park attached, and a restaurant in which I had the nicest Nasi Goreng of my life.
I spent the next day at nearby Geikie Gorge, a great spot where the river has cut through an ancient limestone deposit (formerly a coral reef several hundred million years ago), leaving spectacular cliffs. There is a natural sandbar after the gorge, so the water gets trapped there in the dry season and it's quite green and lush.
I walked around for half the day, in scorching heat, but there was no hurry, and the scenery was worth it. I spent quite a while sitting by a billabong, under a tree (which was possibly even a Coolabah as they were growing there) watching little birds play.
Later in the arvo I took a cruise up the gorge with the usual collection of oldies. It goes a little further than you can get on foot and was quite pleasant, and I finally got to see some freshwater crocodiles. They're extremely cute, with smaller noses and teeth than salties.
The gorge is also extra spectacular at this time of day. The white/black delineation is caused by the seasonal flooding scouring the limestone clean; the level of the colour change indicates the average wet season flood level.
The next day, I pushed on to Broome. The drive was largely uninteresting, and in the end, so was Broome.
I'd been looking forward to it, but it didn't really live up to expectations. Sort of a mixed vibe there; I think some locals are worried that it's becoming like Byron Bay, to use a loose analogy.
I think matters weren't helped by the fact that the backpackers I was staying at had a really unpleasant, decaying and dismal feel about it. Broome's Last Resort was it's name, and I would say that should you visit, it should be just that re accommodation choice.
The chief highlight though, of my visit to Broome, was not the random festival that was being held there (the parade of which gave me a few nice photos), nor was it the azure water of Cable Beach (although that was rather pretty). It was of course that Jana flew over to meet me there.
We'll be travelling together for the next few months, and it will be lovely (indeed, it has already been) to have someone around to share the experiences with.
The first thing we did (pretty much) was get out of the dismal backpackers, and head to Cable Beach for a night.
We also headed to the Monsoon Hotel one night to witness the famous "staircase to the moon", a local-ish phenomenon where the full moon rises over the tidal mudflats, and the resulting reflections create a "staircase effect" (in theory).
The reality turned out to be somewhat of a non-event, due to clouds (and, I think, a general over-hype), but it was relatively pretty (the moon was a lovely reddish colour).
It was also amusing from another point of view, as we got to watch crowds of idiots experience the event second-hand through the pallid glow of their digital camera screens. Flash photography also abounded, which is always highly effective when shooting a subject over 385,000kms away.
After that diversion, it was time to get out of Broome itself and move on to the Broome Bird Observatory for a night and day.
As some of you might have noticed, I've developed a certain interest in birds over the months, and whilst I'm not in any danger of becoming a serious birder, I do rather enjoy watching and taking photos of them. Having Jana here I can now generally find out what they are straight away too. :)
The time at the bird observatory was quite nice; the bay it's located in (just south of Broome) is very tidal and has the same amazingly coloured water as Cable Beach.
Of course, there are also countless birds there, of many varieties. We got some really nice pictures, and generally had a good time, despite a walking trail snafu that caused us to miss the mangroves.
We've moved on now to Derby, with it's enormous tidal mudflats and famous sunsets, one of which we sat and watched this evening (a sunset, not a mudflat). It was pretty nice, but not amazing (I'll give it a 7/10), but of course I'm spoiled for sunsets these days. A few more clouds about and it would have been a 9.
We also had a pretty damn nice seafood dinner on the jetty overlooking the water. If you come to Derby, I'd recommend it.
Apart from that, there's not much in town, so from here we'll head up the Gibb River Road (from the other end) for a few kms, and loop back down through some nice Kimberley spots before heading off down the coast on the long run to the southern continent; stay tuned next week!
Pics from this week are:
The Tubbs Farquhar of the freshie world
A cute Double-barred Finch
Roebuck Bay, Broome Bird Observatory
All images in this gallery: