Michael Sullivan Online

Roadtrip across Australia: Canberra to Broome

BROOME AUSTRALIA - 16 November 2002 - We have arrived safely in Broome, north west WA and Oz, having driven frantically from Canberra to Tennant Creek, with a sidetrip to steal a peek at the mysterious Devil's Marbles - named not sure because they look like they've been made by the devil or that they are the marbles he's lost.

The weather has been unbearably hot and humid, reaching 38oC (about 100oF) on the drive up. (We've just bought a thermometer.) We have only just started to hit some rainy weather, driving through a freaky (after having driven thru very dry country and plenty of roadkills) downpour in the lovely but little known Gregory National Park(NP) which sent the car spluttering and me panicking, and last night when we were camping at Fitzroy Crossing. I have visions of us floating down the mighty Fitzroy River in the tent on the air mattress. The river could extend to 30 km (18 miles) across during the wet, less than 30m (80 ft) wide right now.

Litchfield was simply suberb; just the perfect answer to the hot and sweaty drive. It was our first easy day, just moving from one waterhole to the next. Kakadu was equally wonderful, especially boogie boarding down Jim Jim Creek, surrounded by the magnificient gorges (Katherine gorge, in my opinion, pales in comparison). Bird watching on the Yellow Waters billabong, a bird watcher's paradise, until the cane toads arrive (expected this wet season). They have already reached Katherine. We went on a night crocodile trip and in addition to crocs, witnessed a bizarre sight, a brown kite hopped to the river, stucked its head in and stayed there motionless, lots of dead birds and fish and sick looking birds from eating the poisonous cane toad (I almost walked into one sick bird). This must be my first animal suicide, not counting the silly birds and roos/wallabies that deliberately moved into the car's path. (We have, for sure, killed 4 birds. Near misses include a number roos/wallabies, some feral donkeys, emus, strange birds, cattle, iguanas.) Boy, this country is huge and we have to travel such long distances (averaging 600 km (350 miles) on driving days) between attractions.

We flew over the Bungle Bungle instead of hooking with a tour group cause all tours have ended right now and walked through the mini Bungle Bungle (Hidden Valley) instead, grounds where the dinosaurs used to roam. We had to give the Windjana NP a miss as the 10am temp three weeks ago was 40oC (well over 100oF) when the heat of the sun reflects off the rock face! Instead, we had a 7am walk thru Geike (pronounced Geeky) Gorge, from the same range as Windjana. These limestone gorges were ancient reefs formed when the Kimberbley was a sea, hard to imagine right now. We decided to view Wolfe Creek Meteroite Crater on a postcard instead of driving out there as it didn't make too much sense to drive 113km each way on an unsealed road, across pretty much nothing (although we've been told the wild life is awesome - camels, donkeys, horses, dingoes, and native animals) to see the lip of the crater. We had to miss, most unfortunately, Manyallaluk, an aborginal reserve where you can taste whatever bush tucker in season and partake in aboriginal activities, throwing a boomerang, playing a digeridoo. Just cos another film crew will be there. Getaway was there the week before. Do all travel programmes feature the same travel options?

Broome, like Darwin, are rest stops when we check into nice hotel/motel for much needed stops to recharge. The milky turquoise waters at Cable Beach is very tempting. The sunset last night was magnificent and the beach is rated as one of the top 5 in the world. Broome's a strange town that's gone crazy on the oriental theme. Check out their bus-stops. The Sun Pictures, an open air cinema with beach chairs, is really groovy. Unfortunately, I've seen all the movies they have to often these two days.

It is an advantage travelling westward as our biological clock is ahead of the mechanical clock and we are able to rise at or before sunrise and have early starts before the day heats up.

A contribution from our woman in the field, Irene Tan.

Related Stories: