Today is my last day in Broome, so I am making the most of the easy internet access and trying to get up-to-date with both photos and diary entries (my use of Blogger isn't sufficiently sophisticated to combine the two without messing it up and losing everything - I've already tried that).
I have really enjoyed my time in Broome (as the diary entries should convey), but it will be good to move on and see some other places on the way back down to Perth. Entries might be somewhat fitful en route as there isn't a great deal (of anything - and I imagine that includes internet cafes) for hundreds of miles...
Right, let's get back to where I last left off, somewhere in Perth:
Wednesday 18th October 2006
*the aforementioned incident involving the Mad Irish man woke me up (through ear plugs) some time between 5 and 6 in the morning. From what I could gather the Irish bloke was accusing one of the Oz contingent of stinking and there was a quite a ruckus about it. Luckily the Australians left soon after, but the Irish bloke was ranting to me about it (and about everything else he could think of - he hated Perth and couldn't wait to leave, apparently). I tried to pretend to fall back to sleep and luckily, when he did the same, I was able to make a swift exit (I had to check out early anyway and was able to leave my bag in a left-luggage locker).
After that excitement it was nice to go over to the Botanical Gardens, which were absolutely beautiful. I took the free city bus there and back and had a good wander round. The views back over the city and the Swan River were absolutely amazing. It was such a clear blue day, everything looked wonderful - beautiful flowers, beautiful birds (several different parrots and loads of other species). The Bottlebrushes certainly give their Sidmouth relatives something to aspire to! It was really quiet to boot, so made for a perfect relaxing morning before going to get my flight.
I took the local bus to the airport, through Perth's sprawling suburbia. Talk about bungalow land (it puts Sidmouth to shame in that department - I don't think I saw a single building of more than a single storey outside of the centre).
Had a smooth flight, which was perfectly on-time. There were really good views to start with, although the flight path was somewhat inland (I was able to see Rottnest Island and the Swan River in the distance though. It was amazing once it got dark. So much nothingness - just the occasional bush fire breaking the complete darkness below.
Oddly, Broome Airport is right in the middle of town, so it was only 10 minutes walk to the hostel (Roebuck Bay Backpackers). The place looks a bit of a dump, but luckily I'm sharing with a really friendly bunch of people, which makes all the difference. The tropical heat is quite intense (reminiscent of Singapore), but it makes for really balmy evenings, which are great.
Thursday 19th October 2006
Today was my first full day in the tropical north and it's certainly very hot and tropical. It's a really unusual place and has a feel unlike anywhere I have ever been. Not sure I can describe it in words at the moment, but might be able to make a better stab at it after a few days here.
I spent the morning around town - going to the visitor centre, inquiring about the possibility of a trip to Cape Leveque and my options for going down the coast. I think I'm going to go for a Easyrider hop-on-hop-off tour bus, which combines the sightseeing of a tour with the flexibility of a normal bus service. There is plenty of space at the moment. I think I will go on Tuesday, which will take me down the coast, popping - well, driving for several hundred miles - into the Karijini National Park en route. I'm really looking forward to it.
Unfortunately, I have had to scrap the wilderness camp plan. After spending the morning asking around Broome about options to get there, it seems that they are all really expensive. Apparently the postal run is only done at the discretion of the postwoman, and according to the people at the post office, she has stopped taking passengers. So, given that the cheapest alternative would be over 100 pounds (200 to fly!), I have decided to give it a miss and spend a few days in Broome itself instead. Plus, camping in this heat would be pretty suffocating, and I'm not sure what I would have done about food while I was there. So I'm not too disappointed. It will also give me chance to relax a bit before covering the huge distances down the coast.
The hostel here has turned out to be a bit of a gem. It looks very rough around the edges, but the people in my dorm are very friendly (offering me food at every opportunity) and it will be nice to spend some time with them before moving on. It makes such a difference sharing with nice people, as in Perth I was subject to the Mad Irish Man in my dorm (and a general lack of atmosphere otherwise), which meant I was glad to only stay there a couple of nights. Here in Broome I am sharing with a German, Australian and Japanese bloke, a Swedish girl and a girl from Birmingham (of Bangladeshi origin). Quite a mix!
I had a nice restful afternoon lazing around the pool (we can use the pool of the neighbouring hotel, which is a major bonus). Everything in Broome seems to happen very slowly (they're on "Broometime", apparently), which might just have something to do with the heat and humidity. In the evening it so was nice to sit around the patio area outside the dorm, chatting with my roomies and enjoying being out in the balmy evening air.
Firday 20th October 2006
I went for a walk in a different part of town this morning. Over to the town beach and mangrove swamps. The sea is an amazing shade of turquoise - it really is incredible - I'm not sure that the photos will do it justice. The contrast with the green of the mangroves and the reds of the soil/rocks is astonishing (it's the same as East Devon in the palette of colours, but rather more intense under the tropical sun).
There are loads of mango trees around town, but unfortunately they won't be ripe for another month or so. There are also Baobabs and other interesting tropical plants (several are similar to the ones we saw in Grenada). It was very hot indeed and the sun was almost directly overhead by 11am (it gets light really early here and is dark by 6pm). Lots of Aboriginies about - mainly sitting around in groups in the shade of trees.
Booked myself on the Easyrider tour I mentioned and will be leaving on Tuesday...
In the afternoon I got the hostel's free shuttle bus to Cable Beach. Again, the shades of blue are amazing. The beach is enormous and the tidal range huge (it was on it's way out during the afternoon). I think am already beginning to get some insight into the sheer scale of Australia. The water is incredibly warm (31C), although it is shallow for a long way out and full of jellyfish (not Box ones yet, I don't think), so I just made do with sploshing about on the edge. It was quite windy, so made a refreshing change from the stifling heat of town. It was lovely just sitting on the grass on a bluff overlooking the Indian Ocean.
3 of my dorm-mates came over in the evening to watch the sun set over a bottle of wine and some cheese and biscuits - very civilised! Got the bus back and cooked together in the evening (a proper three course meal!), which made a nice change from the usual meal-for-one.
Right I'll publish this and attempt to upload a few photos of Broome before entering the final written entries for Broome.