Day 134 – 138: Derby
We are in Derby until Friday of this week. It’s great to have a seven night stay so that we can sit back and relax a little. This morning we head into town to the Visitor Information Centre as I saw a picture of the bright orange boab sculptures and I wanted to see them for myself. It’s a great Centre with lots of really bright coloured souvenirs and a large TV showing videos of all the attractions around Derby. The orange boabs are a real centrepiece.
Looking for a morning tea stop we discover the quirky Jila Gallery Cafe. Our friend Leanne would love this cafe, we immediately thought of her when we sat down on our red chairs. There is a small selection of fresh homemade cakes and cheesecake. The apple crumble and custard cake looks absolutely amazing and of course the Baileys cheesecake. Both did not disappoint.
Located at the jetty is the Centenary Pavilion. It tells of the geography and history of King Sound and the Port of Derby. The Pavilion features a colourful 28sqm mosaic tile floor depicting facets of life in the district. It was very difficult to photograph and this panorama doesn’t really do it justice.
The clouds are rolling in today and I’m very excited as that usually makes for a brilliant sunset. We head out to the Jetty just before 5.00pm. The tide is coming in fast as Derby has some of the highest tides in the world. There are people everywhere fishing on the Jetty. As the sun sets the sky turns to a brilliant burnt orange hue. I cant help myself capturing the silhouette figures of the fisherman.
We order Barramundi and chips from the Jetty cafe but end up taking them home as we were driven away by the mosquitoes and sand flies.
This morning we take a drive out to the wetlands. We weren’t sure what to expect. It wasn’t terribly exciting. A very small fenced off area beside the waste management ponds. The wildlife all take off as we enter, there is obviously not a lot of visitors to these wetlands.
Heading back into town we decide to stop at the Norval Gallery. We are greeted at the door by a lovely lady who tells us to make sure that we watch the video. The Gallery is in a building that resembles an aircraft hangar and is packed with artworks from floor to ceiling. The fifteen minute video is about the life of Mark Norval, resident artist and gallery owner.
He was a teacher dedicated to the indigenous communities and fell into deep depression after several young indigenous suicides. He was hospitalised for eighteen months and his art was his saviour. He came to Derby and started teaching the indigenous people to paint. His gallery is a place where the indigenous people can come and paint and he sells their art for them. The works are amazing, so bright, colourful, telling the stories of their culture, sold and shipped all over the world. I bought some A5 postcards and while I was waiting to pay, Mark was quickly sketching the woman beside me who had just bought a copy of his book. She explained it was her birthday the next day, he asked her name and wrote a special birthday message with the portrait sketch. She was overwhelmed and couldn’t thank him enough.
The afternoon is spent doing some baking. I’ve made the cucumber pickles again and Mum’s fruit cake. I’ve never made a boiled fruit cake in a silicone container before let alone in the turbo oven. It’s turned out really great and tastes just like I remember.
The clouds have rolled in en masse this afternoon so another trip to the Jetty has been planned for this afternoon. The Jetty is a hive of activity with tourists and locals arriving for the sunset. Rugs, drinks and nibbles are spread out everywhere and iPhones and cameras are busy capturing the ever changing half hour spectacle of the fiery hues of sunset.
Another day has dawned and Andrew is having his first round of golf for the trip. He bought a small carry bag before leaving for his favourite clubs & they have been sitting on the floor in the back of the car since we left home. Finally he can get them out. I chose not to go with him as it’s time he had some time to himself to wander the course and enjoy the peace and serenity. It’s an eleven hole course apparently, I’m not into golf so that means nothing to me. Two holes are over 500m so they were long holes and good exercise. He enjoyed his game and chatted to the greens man when he was done.
This morning we are heading out to the Horizontal Falls by seaplane. We are picked up at the caravan park at 8.00am and taken out to the Derby airport. Our pilot welcomes everyone and gives a safety debrief before allocating us to the seaplanes. We are all given name tags with the seaplane number & then asked to sign the safety waiver form.
Out on the tarmac we are all given our life jackets and then place all carry luggage into the under carriage. The plane carries 14 passengers and we are 2 short for our trip. It’s quite a confined space & I’m lucky to have no one beside me so there is plenty of room. I’m very excited as it’s my very first seaplane flight. There is a bit of turbulence taking off as the wind has picked up in Derby today. The view below is spectacular as we fly out over the mudflats. The creeks, rivers and mangroves make interesting patterns from above, I’m immediately thinking of what they would like like on canvas.
The pilot takes us for a loop over the Horizontal Falls before landing and I’m madly clicking away on my camera. They are spectacular.
Landing on the water is smooth and everyone claps as we motor over to the pontoon. We are met by the jet boat driver and taken to the top deck for refreshments & a safety talk about the jet boat ride. We head off after a very short break as the tide is right for the run through. There are two sections to the falls, the first is a 20m gap and the second is a 7.5m gap. The tide is coming in fast. It’s an excillerating ride through. We do several runs before heading into the second section. The tide is running at 12 knots and the 3 x 300 horse power engines push us through with ease. We cruise around while hearing all about the history & future of the falls before taking another couple of run throughs before heading back for morning tea.
Another group flies in from Broome and they are quickly taken out on the jetboats too. Morning tea is fruit cake & biscuits and tea and coffee or cold drinks. Next up is feeding the sharks and the opportunity to swim in the shark enclosure. We’re not fans of sharks so Andrew goes down to watch the feeding & I stay up in the top deck to take some good photos. There are about 6 sharks that come in for the feed, mostly tawny nurse sharks and a bull shark and a couple of bat fish. They are being fed bread and fresh barramundi.
Next up is a cruise in the jet boat along Cyclone Creek. This is where all the pontoons and boats are moored in the wet season. In a sheltered bay is the overnight stay pontoon which also houses all the supplies and fuel for all the pontoons and boats. All the supplies and fuel come in by boat. Further along the creek in another sheltered bay is the pontoon that all the fishing and helicopter charters run from. We travel further along the creek through heavy mangrove country in search of crocs but there is none to be seen today.
Back at the pontoon it’s time for lunch and we can smell the fresh barramundi cooking on the bbq as we dock. The bread rolls are just out of the oven and there is plenty of salad as well. We spend some time chatting to two cattle farmers from Boonah. There is another group of six travellers from the Gold Coast. It’s amazing how many Queenslanders we have met on this trip so far. We are always willing to tell them all about our piece of paradise back home.
Lunch is over and it’s time for one last jet boat ride as the tide is going back out. It’s a real thrill and this time we spend time in the 7.5m gap to get some up close shots of the tide forcing its way through that tiny gap. For safety reasons the jet boat will only go through the falls in up to 1m tides, any higher than that and the risk is far too great due to the force of the water flow. Here’s a short clip of the ride.
It’s now 1.20pm and we are back on the seaplane for a 40 minute scenic flight at low levels back to Derby. The scenery is breathtaking from the air and the photo opportunities are endless.
This experience has been the highlight of our trip so far. The whole day was run like clockwork and the tour operator and staff where extremely professional, friendly and courteous to all tour guests. We couldn’t recommend this experience enough and would do it again!
Andrew is up early today, the battery in the fire alarm has been beeping for some time. I managed to sleep through it which is unusual for me. Our neighbour asks if Cinta was in the caravan while we did our tour yesterday. She was quiet as a mouse, not a bark out of her. She knows the caravan is her home now and when we leave her inside she goes to sleep and waits for us to return. It’s a different story if we are all outside and another dog tries to come into our camp, she’ll let them know this is her territory.
Our neighbours are Grant and Linda aka My Aussie Travel Guide. We immediately strike up conversation and are talking everything tourism and travel. They left the corporate life behind in 2011 and have been travelling ever since. We would love to spend more time with them but we are both heading off this morning so we have exchanged contacts and hopefully will cross paths again during our travels.
Day 139-140: Broome
Our journey today is 254km and in the distance we see a pilot vehicle approaching. There is something really large behind him and Andrew slows right down to pull off the road. It is an extremely large haulpak, obviously heading for a mine site somewhere.
We arrive at the Tarangau Caravan Park just after lunch time. This is the most expensive park we have stayed at throughout our travels. $52 per night plus a $2 per night fee for Cinta. We have booked in for three nights as I have a work day on Monday. We’ve got a large grassy site which Andrew reverses into with ease. We are all set up in no time. Cable Beach is about a 15 minute walk away, however we take a drive into town to get our bearings and to pick up some supplies.
We have been told that the courthouse Markets are a must do. We are lucky to find a park close to the market right beside the prison! We’re hoping the car will be safe here. The market is buzzing with people and there is a great range of stalls with bright and colourful displays of artworks, clothing and jewellery. There isn’t any fresh fruit and vegetables which is disappointing, however there is a few food stalls. There is an amazing watercolour artist Tom Montgomery painting his latest works. I can’t help but admire the works. The smell of coffee is wafting and we can’t resist lining up for one. It was a 15 minute wait but it was worth it.
Next up is a visit to Chinatown. Most of the shops are open and there is plenty of food outlets all overflowing with people enjoying what’s on offer. The Broome Art Gallery is quite different. Artist and Owner James Down captures the colour intensity of Broome and the Kimberley’s. A lot of the artworks have then been printed onto tourist items such as stubby coolers, drink bottles, mouse pads, postcards and the list goes on. The gallery is abuzz with people picking up colourful mementoes of their visit to the West Coast.
Town Beach is our next stop and I can’t get out of the car quick enough when I see the azure blue ocean. It is mesmerising. There are kite surfers everywhere gliding along the ocean and wind gusts take them soaring through the air. We’ve missed the feeling of the sand between our toes and the salty smell of the ocean. Cinta makes a b-line straight for the water too. Mangroves are close to the shore line as we walk further along the beach and the rock formations are colourful hues of ochre and burnt orange. Amazing formations carved by the Indian Ocean and the strong winds along the coastline over thousands of years.
This is picturesque Broome, it’s everything we imagined and more.
Wildlife: corellas, ibis, parrots, peacocks, galahs, ducks, seagulls, wild cat, sharks, 3 dead cows, eagles, crows, pelicans.
Week 20 total expenses: $842.35 under budget, however, if this journey is going to go beyond a year, we need to work hard at getting our expenses down.
That’s a wrap for Week 20 of the Lap of the Map, stay tuned for more on Broome next week!
PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!