One last lap, continued

Following Exmouth, we made our way up to Broome, a good two day drive. 

Broome is one of the many areas bombed by the Japanese in WW2. Everyone has heard of the Darwin bombing, and most Western Australians are aware of the bombings in Port Hedland and Broome but it is a little known fact, that submarine captains and their vessels made it all the way down to the Albany area on the south coast. One of those, wanting to be able to say he bombed Australia, launched a weapon into farmland along the coast, a little north of Geraldton. 

I’m always surprised what we don’t know.

Anyway, WW2 and the manufacture of plastic shut down Broomes pearling industry which was booming for many years. Malays, Chinese, Japanese and the English made their way to this far north spot, diving for pearls and trading them for enormous value. 

The Asians had a better diving capacity than the Caucasians, and free dived in the pre-scuba days, along with Aboriginal women, enslaved by pearl Luger captains. There’s a moving monument to these women in Broome, a young Aboriginal lady, in early pregnancy, reaching up with desperate stretch and need for approval of her hopefully, valuable find. 

We had a Chinese tour guide, whose father was a pearl assessor and dealer, and he showed us the tools used to weigh and also craft the pearls. The shells were originally plucked from the ocean for the mother-of-pearl, because of the high demand for pearl buttons. And it was a natural course of events that the pearl was found, appearing in approximately on in 10,000 pearls.

We loved Broome. The fat boab trees soak up water in the wet season until they sometimes split their bark. They seemed to sum up the history of the pearl industry. 

More boom and bust.

We rode camels on Cable Beach, saw dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point at low tide, toured a pearl farm and saw a freshwater croc lounging on the sand, and watched the Staircase to the Moon.

This is a phenomenon that happens once or twice a month, when the moon is full and the tide over the mudflats low. 

Onward, onward, we head through the Kimberleys through Katherine and then south to Alice Springs.


One final lap, continued

After Karijini, we took a long LONG drive over to Exmouth. It’s a bit of a trick to get to Exmouth from inland. You have to drive south for a good hour or so on the North West Coastal Highway, before then heading west and eventually north again to drive up the long peninsula that is Exmouths home. And then another 70ks to our campsite at Cape Range National Park. 

Exmouth was the site of a US Naval Base for many years although they have recently left. Nice that they feel no longer needed here, but a shame for the scuba divers, because their Navy Pier, over the years, had become an artificial reef, supporting an incredible range of colorful fish. It has been described in several magazines as one of the top ten scuba sites on the planet. It’s closed now, but there are plenty more places to see the sea life. Exmouth lies at the end of the amazing Ningaloo Reef.

You are in the tropics here, and the weather certainly feels like it. Cooler at night but not as frigid as the south. 

Our campsite at Tulki Beach was literally a short sand dunes walk from the sea. The most amazing sunsets, abundant wildlife in the form of kangaroos (we hit one on the way there) emus, dingos and lizards, make for a beautiful site. It was common to see several kangaroos while exiting your tent of a morning.

A campsite lizard

The incredible Ningaloo coast

Our tent is the blue one. We had some very friendly neighbors who stopped to talk every evening on their way to “happy hour” at the picnic bench!

An amazing sunset on our third evening. But it was like this every night.

Will liked to play in the channels of the creek that occasionally has enough water to run into the sea. I went to find him one day, and found a blue spotted sting ray, as I was kicking around a rock in the shallows of the sea. He was mooching around for food, and flipped his rubbery flat body out of the water when he heard me, taking off at a remarkable speed.

Of course, the most beautiful part of this area is underneath the sea. At Turquoise Bay we snorkeled in an open treasure box of fish, jewels of the ocean. 

This has been the best view of His Creation for us this year. It all shows such immense power and yet such intricate and minute design. It’s so mesmerizing that I find myself hanging deep underneath, holding onto a rock to stay down, waiting until the  very last possible moment to kick back up into the sunlight and oxygen, gasping and grateful for what He’s made.

On our trip to Exmouth we also swam with whale sharks, a docile creature the size of a bus that has the title of the largest shark in the world. Brightly spotted over grey, smooth skin, these are incredible creatures, baleen and feeding off of plankton. 

The creatures are so placid, the tour divers could easily assess their path of travel, guiding the snorkelers alongside as it passed. And then you are off, kicking like crazy to try and keep up with this mammoth creature, who seems to be barely exerting any effort at all in its perfect design. After a heart-pounding view minutes, the tour divers call a halt, and we climb back on the boat, puffing and exclaiming noisily about the sight. 

And then another is spotted, and back in we drop, flippers first, off the wooden step, kicking like the tiny little ineffectual human fish that we are.
We have good photos on a flash drive which we will add when we have access again to a laptop.

Here’s Addie on the Three Islands Whale Shark boat. 

It was our last stop before getting away from somewhat familiar coastline and heading north into the tropical top-end.

One final lap around WA…

This last month we have had the camping trip of our lifetime. As I write this, I’m sitting at Alice Springs airport waiting to check in for our flight to Cairns and then on to Bali for a couple of days.

We’ve been on the road for 4 weeks. We’ve traveled a total of some 8000 km (LA to NY and back), and have been grateful for every kilometer He’s shown us.

We started in Kalgoorlie in the Southern Goldfields, where we learned about the gold rush days of Australia. Gold is still being mined today, although a lot of the small towns disappeared in the boom and bust nature of gold. 

Kalgoorlie is home to the Super Pit, the largest open cut gold mine in Australia. We watched minuscule, although enormous, CAT vehicles ascending and descending the mine, bringing up the tons of ore out of which they eventually extract a tiny bit of gold.

It was pretty chilly in Kalgoorlie, as it was the couple of nights we camped at dams as we furthered north in the goldfields. Will and I were designated wood collectors for these camp nights, and we really enjoyed the fires.

We also visited the town of Gwalia, the site of another extraordinarily large gold mine, and the location of Herbert Hoover’s stint as a mine inspector. He even built a home there, which you can stay in as a guest, the home now converted to a very nice B and B, overlooking the big pit.

It has one of those lovely Aussie wrap-around porches.

From the north Goldfields we drove to Meekatharra, on bright red unsealed road, stayed overnight at a well-run church mission school, which ministered to local Aboriginal children. They had a campground, showers and laundry, the latter of which seem like small luxuries but have been huge blessings these last few weeks.

Another full day on the road and we reached Karijini National Park later that evening, squeezing in a camp set up before sunset. A dingo wandered through our site and scared us half to death, until he became a regular feature.

Karijini is stunning, and if you ever go to Australia, see it. It is a hikers and photographers paradise.

We spent three days climbing gorges, up and down, swimming in waterfalls, and watching as the sun rose and set over the daily changing colors of this land.

We hiked a section of gorge called the Spider Walk, which was exactly as it sounds, plus there was a waterfall thrown in for good measure. It’s amazing what a family can do when they work and play together.

We will always be grateful for this time.

We got a little wet, a little more tired, but we mostly had a greater wonder and awe in the Creation of our God.

More later, when I can get some fresh wifi!