Published: July 1st 2009July 1st 2009
We have now clocked over 5000km! We are in Katherine for the next couple of Days but I will come back to that as I still have to fill you in on what we have been up to since Karratha. We headed to Port Headland which was a really industrial town, they mine Iron Ore there and the whole town is covered in red dust, it is really strange; all the paths are red, the roofs are red - just everything! At this stage the weather was becoming unreal so we found a caravan park with a pool, had the biggest lunch ever (steak rolls - tooooooo good) and spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool. There really wasn’t anything for us to do in Port Headland it was just a stopover town to help us on our way to Broome. We had intended to spend the next night at the “Sandfire Roadhouse” which was marked on the map but when we got there it had been burnt down by a fire and although they still offered plots to camp on it looked like the kind of place where you would go to sleep and possibly never wake up
- so we pushed on to Broome. Broome was awesome, very small town made famous for its pearling that has been going on since the 1700s and still occurs today. We arrived quite late so just had a stroll along the beach the first night and then headed out for a bite to eat and a few drinks. The next day we got up early and headed to the local museum which, for $5 (£2.50) was really really good. They had the history of pearling and machines showing you how it was done and the history of Broome itself, and how the town helped in the war effort and the aboriginal history and all sorts. The further north we head, as well as it getting hotter, the more aborigines we see. They are quite disliked over here and are treated how I imagine Asian and black people were treated in England in the 70s. They have a terrible drink problem as a race and so this fuels the dislike many harbour for them. From what we hear, and from the amount of them that we see wandering the streets, none of them work and the children don’t go to school.
They walk around town trying to sell carved nuts and things to tourists. We haven’t had any problems from them so we are in no position to judge but they do seem to find our brightly painted campervan interesting and sometimes at petrol stations the kids seem to migrate to it but they are harmless and just say hi. So after checking out the museum we headed to the “Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park” and oh my gosh was that fun! The crocs were SUPER scary and the park was quite small so there you are walking along a path about 2m wide with crocs on either side of you, held in with flimsy wire fences also ONLY about 2m high! We were walking around for about ten minutes and I was convinced they were all models or dead or sedated because they just didn’t move, then we walked past this big pond and didn’t notice this croc actually right beside us who suddenly snapped his teeth and started shaking his head! Needles too say we totally jumped out of our skin and both of us ran away screaming, prompting the guide to come out and tell us he was only
a puppy! ONLY A PUPPY! The croc had blood all around it mouth and the guide was telling us that it had been in a fight so was particularly aggressive. So anyway after an hour of (cautiously) exploring the park ourselves the tour began. The guide took us around the park and proceeded to throw a kind of buoy into some of the waterholes; at which point the BIGGEST crocs would jump out of the water, get the buoy between it’s jaws and start thrashing around. Some of the crocs we had been walking past and hadn’t even realised were there! Then he would throw some chicken into them and some of them would climb up the fence to get it. The whole thing really was something else; it is one thing watching the discovery channel and listening to Attenborough go on about them and then watch them nab a wildebeest that got too close to the edge, but seeing them up close - just their sheer size is incredible, some were up to 15ft long! They are also really scary, they are unlike any other animal you will have ever seen and they just look so prehistoric and from
another world or something. They have certainly put me off swimming in the water up here! At the end of the tour the guide came out carrying three year old crocs and we got to hold them so that was all pretty cool, they feel kind of like snakes. The guide was also telling us that they breed their own crocs and then kill them to conserve them. By selling the near perfect skin (the crocs won’t have been in any fights or anything) at a low price it makes poaching them pretty pointless and so, in turn, conserves the croc population. After the croc park we headed down to “Matso’s Brewery”, which once used to be the house belonging to a Captain Gregory who used to be a local merchant. The converted home now brews some award winning beers and a band was playing country music so, naturally, we stayed there for a few hours watching the sun go down, listening to the music and suppin’ the grog! The aborigines seemed to be seen as a problem in this town too as we were given a key to the shower blocks and there were signs up asking us to
make sure we shut the door properly so that people without sites cannot use the facilities. So anyway, at 5 o clock in the morning I needed to go to the loo but when i got there all the lights were off but there was someone in there showering; so the aborigines obviously come in at night and use the facilities, turning off the light will ensure that no one else would go in there - I wasn’t going to the loo in the pitch dark with someone else in there that was for sure! So our next stop (day 15) was Fitzroy crossing, here we were getting more into what is known as “The Kimberleys” and essentially getting closer to the border for the Northern Territory. Here the aborigines were also a problem in town so they had essentially made the whole place dry only selling alcohol in the bar at the caravan park we stayed at and not allowing take-away for anyone that wasn’t saying in the hotel itself. We were told that the next town along, Halls Creek, is totally dry due to the large aborigine community there. As i say, we didn’t have any trouble from
them but to make whole towns dry must indicate that there was some sort of trouble. Again, Fitzroy Crossing was more of a stopover place for us and so the next day we headed the 670km for Kununurra. The drive up there was absolutely fantastic with some of the most magnificent views ever, it was here that we felt that we were driving through the “real Australia” (and sure enough, when we got to our caravan park they were offering movie tours as “Australia” with Nicole Kidman had been filmed in the area). It was full of amazing mountain ranges and the most beautiful reds and greens and browns; the sun reflected off it all and it really was a lovely sight. We would have loved to have explored this area a bit more but as we don’t have a 4wd it really isn’t an option. The next day at Kununurra we lounged by the pool and then in the evening we took a BBQ boat cruise along the River Ord. It took us right up along the Ord dam overlooking Lake Argyle which is the biggest man-made lake in the world. We had a lovely meal and watched the
sunset over the river. After dark the boat turned around and that is when the croc spotting began - one guide shone a light out onto the lake and you could see the croc’s eyes reflecting back an amber colour, then the boat would get in closer. Sometimes the crocs would retreat back into the water but one wasn’t quick enough and the guide jumped down onto the bow, put his hands in the water and snatched it out! It was crazy! Everyone took pictures and touched it and stuff and then we headed back to shore. It was a wicked night. We woke up this morning and had intended to stay in Kununurra a second day but it was quite overcast so we decided to battle on to Katherine and so here we are! It has taken us over the state border and also pushed us an hour and a half further ahead in time so by the time we arrived it was dark. We have heard there are a few things to do here including hot springs and gorges and stuff so we shall try and check in all out in the morning.
There are more photos below