Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Saturday 19th June 2004 to Monday 21st June 2004

Saturday 19th June 2004

A much more leisurely start to the day with 7.00am rolling passed before we considered it time to face the morning... Then it was at our own pace which would be sure not win any races.

At about 10.00am we set off into Fitzroy Crossing where we filled the Patrol and an empty 20 litre jerry can with diesel in preparation for our drive to Derby and Broome tomorrow.

Next we traveled the 20 kilometres out to Geikie Gorge where we found a spot in the car park and went to check out the CALM gazebo where there were information posters and directories.  Fortunately we arrived just as a CALM officer was setting up to sell tickets for the 11.00am boat trip up the gorge, so we immediately purchase tickets for this activity, costing $20.00 per adult person.

As it was only 10.30am we took a walk around one of the 20 minute walk tracks that take the visitor in between some of the very interesting cliff faces.  The Gorge and the surrounding cliffs were created about 350 million years ago when this area was covered by a vast tropical sea.  In what was then warm shallow waters, grew an enormous limestone reef, winding itself across the countryside for about 1000 kilometres at a height between 30 and 100 metres.  At Geikie Gorge the Fitzroy River has carved a 14 kilometre long gorge deep into the Geikie Range, creating this spectacle of nature.

With true Australian Bush craft and knowledge (assisted by a well worn path and direction markers) we made it back to the gazebo without getting lost or being devoured by fresh water crocodiles and were ready for our boat trip before it departed.

At 11.00am we were on the boat and motoring up the river past limestone outcrops, fresh water crocodiles basking in the sun on the sand banks and listening to a very informative description of the area.  A short distance up the river we started cruising along the bottom of what they call the 'South Wall' of Geikie Gorge, at times a little nervously looking at the huge cracks in the limestone and large chunks of stone sitting precariously at the top of the cliffs.  This wall of Limestone was a light limestone colour for about 16 metres then changes to a darker stained stone colour the rest of the way up.  This lower section is just an indicator as to how high the water rises during the wet season.  Our guide stated that the Fitzroy River is the second fastest flowing river in the world when it is flowing during the wet, the Amazon being the winner of the title.  At it's peak, there is enough water flowing through the Fitzroy River to fill Sydney Harbour every 12 hours. (We think he also said 21 swimming pools per second!)

We continued up the river to the 'West Wall' which was perhaps even more impressive than the South Wall and were provided with a quite a few more sightings of fresh water crocodiles (saw 24 in all), unusual plants and rock formations, whilst also being informed of the aboriginal beliefs and culture of this land.  It was then time to turn around and motor back to the boat landing, all this over the duration of one hour and well worth the time and money spent on this venture.

It was then time to return to the caravan and enjoy the afternoon with our feet up and preparing for more of this hard life tomorrow as we wind our way into Derby and Broome.

Part of a Geikie Gorge 20 minute walk track

Geikie Gorge South Wall

Geikie Gorge West Wall

Sunday 20th June 2004

Well we were up before the sun again today, but didn't get under way and out of the caravan park until about 6.45am. 

We drove through Fitzroy Crossing for the last time and headed west on Great Northern Highway towards Derby.  the country side was not as interesting as the previous drive had been as we were traveling a distance south of the Kimberley Ranges and most of the way was fairly flat with little more than the local lora, including the occasional Boab Tree and spinifex grass.

We passed through the Erskine Range, which was a few break away hills either side of the road then back into the flat country again before reaching the Broome/Derby turn off at about 9.10am, then headed up to Derby for a look.

Derby was quite a clean and neat little town but not a lot within the town area that was of interest to us as tourists.  As we left Derby we called in to the 'Prison Tree' which is a well know large Boab Tree that has a small opening into a huge hollow inside that is believed to have been used to hold aboriginal people that had been either kidnapped for Pearling workers or arrested by police for killing station property animals.

After having morning tea at the Boab Tree we set off again back down the road toward the Broome turn off.  This little deviation to Derby was an additional 84 kilometres and took about an hour and fifty forty minutes, but we have now seen Derby and happy to have done it.

From the turn off we continued toward Broome, passing through Willare (or past the roadhouse) at the Fitzroy River crossing, then it was uneventful all the way to the Broome/Port Hedland turn off and then the last 32 kilometres in to the town of Broome.  Once there we set up at the Broome Vacation Village Caravan Park before enjoying lunch and then going for a drive around the town of Broome.  WE called in to the Coles Shopping Centre and restocked our fridge with salads and a few extra items we were running short of, then returned to the caravan park to put our feet up for the rest of the day.

Tomorrow is another day and it is too difficult to make up our mind on what to do then, as the say in NT - Not Today!

One of Derby's main streets

The Boab Prison Tree - Derby

Monday 21st june 2004

After settling in to the caravan park and enjoying our 5 o'clock 'cool' drinks last night, a fellow in a caravan over the road from us asked what the camera was in the front of the Patrol.  We then discovered we knew each other as he is Ron Spencer who is an ex police officer who was in charge of Albany Police Traffic Office when I was at Albany Police Station.  We had a bit of a chat then he invited us to join them for a few nibbles at about 4.30pm today.  I have noticed him putting a few stubbies of beer on ice so we might just have to take some with us as well.  'One of us' then insisted we go to Liquor Land and purchase a few more bottles of Passion Pop, so whilst there the 'other one' purchased his first block of WA beer (Emu Bitter) since leaving WA back in December last year.

This morning we drove into Broome town centre and Chinatown where we stopped and visited Coles Store again and 'one of us' found another souvenir shop which she proceeded in her usual style to buy them out.of all stock.  Fortunately they wouldn't sell everything they had to her so we can still afford to buy fuel for the rest of this trip.

Next we drove down to Cable Beach where we took our shoes off and had a short stroll in the sand.  The water looked a beautiful clear green colour and there were a number of people enjoying the sun, sand and sea water.  However as Broome is a Summer Getaway for retired people from down south, there were some sights that one would rather not see as well....  We then had to endure an ice cream that 'one of us' bought while we sat in the shade looking over the beach. 

The afternoon was spent with feet up, books out and eyes resting in preparation for those nibbles and drinks that we have to go to.  Life has become very tough, but if we didn't do it, someone else would have to and that may be unfair.

Chinatown - Broome

Cable Beach - Broome