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15 Sept 2008

Broome and Down the West Australian Coast

(Contributed by D Wright – One of our ex-contributors) (15 Sep 2008)
Planning for this holiday had involved little more than booking Australian travel insurance, a flight from Sydney to Broome and a rental car which we intended to drive all the way down the coast to Perth, stopping frequently along the way. To avoid needing to be anywhere we made hotel reservations online using Wotif, always a couple of days in advance but we never had any problems with availability.
I had been warned in advance, but stepping out of the plane onto the Broome International Airport runway at midday was like stepping into a sauna fully clothed and carrying packed bags. We collected our rental car at the airport, switched on the air conditioning and checked in at the serviced apartment we had booked. Thankfully the apartment also had air conditioning.
The sand around Broome is a rich red which taints the black tar roads and settles to form a thin layer over all of the cars. I was amazed at the amount of construction of new houses and roads was going on, upon reflection probably due in large part to the mining boom in Western Australia. For such a remote place, houses certainly weren't cheap. The frames of the part-completed houses were all steel - due to hurricanes I was later informed.
In contrast the sand down at Cable Beach was a beautiful white, and the water of the Indian Ocean amazingly clear and pleasant. They do get sharks at the surf beach, and given the warmth of the water, even crocodiles coming around from the river mouth. But not that early in the year we were told by the lady we picked up the rental car from - we were there in November but it gets a lot hotter and more humid in the following months. We did have a swim, albeit with less than total confidence.
A main attraction is the camel rides at sunset, but we gave that a miss and just watched the chain procession of camels and riders pass us instead. After living on the east coast of Australia for 5+ years now it was great to watch the sun set over the ocean. We were persuaded back to the car by a storm of heavy raindrops that developed out of nowhere. It stopped within 20 minutes though and did little to cool down the hot evening, the dark clouds vanished almost as quickly as they appeared.
On a drive through the still industrial area to the heads we noticed a shop that looked almost abandoned selling fresh fish so stopped and bought some to grill for dinner. It turned out to be a great decision - we tried a variety of salmon I had never heard of before that was unbelievably fresh, and even went back to buy fish for the following evening. In the end we spent three days in Broome before starting the drive down.


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