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Darwin to Broome

Written on: Monday September 15th, 2008

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

The 1,900km trip from Darwin to Broome really woke me up to just how big this country is. Although my trips down to the red centre and back and given me a taste, I wasn't really shocked by the distance and time it had taken. After travelling with my knees up by my neck squashed between a snoring, phlegm-dribbling elderly man and an aisle packed with rice throughout most of Asia, sitting in relative comfort gazing out the window at kangaroos staring over their shoulder at you paled in significance. However I had underestimated just how long the drive was going to take us to get to Broome, and as much as I love a roadtrip, I actually became bored at points with the absolute nothingness lying out in all directions. The contract that I'd signed with the relocation company required us to get the vehicle to Broome in five days, and prohibited us from driving on any unsealed roads. Now the reason Ben and I wanted to get a 4x4 was so that we weren't restricted to just the highways, and by applying to take this 4x4 Outback Camper, I very much had in mind to drive it across the 660km Gibb River Road through the Kimberley, a road that is unsealed the whole way. The lady at the office had flatly turned me down when I said that I wanted to do it telling me it would take at least seven days to drive down this road, but ignoring her advice and our restrictions we still planned to do it. We stopped by at Lake Argyle for lunch on our second day, passed through remote Kununurra, and then headed up and on to the Gibb River Road. We barely made it to El Questro, the first little town off the road, when travelling at the slowest of paces, our back drivers side tyre punctured. Barely 30km in already we had a flat and with only one spare tyre we figured it would be unwise to continue on and so, turned back, had a dip in the beautiful pool at Emma Gorge and returned back to camp at Kununurra in order to get the tyre fixed the next morning. Despite our trouble going off-road, we decided we'd give it another shot, disappointed at not getting to travel across the Kimberley, so we headed south down the Tanami road, one of the remotest roads in the whole country that heads all the way back to Alice, and made our way to the infamous Wolf Creek. The spot has been made famous because of the movie of the same name where a group of backpackers travel out to see the meteor crater here and meet a strange Australian after being forced to camp out the night there with car problems. The strange Aussie in turn starts to torture and murder the group as they attempt to escape his clutches. What better place to camp ourselves. The meteor crater is the second biggest in the world formed about 300,000 years ago leaving a hole 60 metres deep and 875 metres in diameter, and is worth the trek out to see it. With absolutely nothing around for miles the stars in the sky that night made an atmospheric backdrop to our location, appearing to be in arm's reach of where we were sitting eating our evening grub. As luck would have it we weren't all set upon by a mass murderer, but instead blew another tyre on our return the following morning to the luxury of the tarmac highway. The relocation company had agreed to pay for the cost of the first tyre being repaired. With the rim walls of this second tyre completely collapsed we weren't so sure they were going to be so understandable this time. We still had two days to get the vehicle to Broome, but decided to push onwards with the Staircase to the Moon spectacle occurring in Broome that night, a phenomena that only happens on certain days throughout the year where the moon rising reflects its light off the mudflats on Roebuck Bay during low tide and appears as a set of stairs climbing upwards. It was worth putting the miles in to get a prime spot at the side of the beach to set out our chairs and witness the amazing scene. All four of us were unsure of where out plans would take us next. The idea was to remain in Broome for some time and search out some work, possibly on one of the oyster boats that use Broome as a base and regularly employ cash-hungry backpackers, but nothing in the four days we were there really jumped out and grabbed us. Some people we had met arrived in Broome and others were already there so there was a good gang of us again, who hung out with the camels on the beautiful Cable Beach, and hung out in the evenings at Roebuck Bay entertained by the guitar playing Swedish Sanna and firestick-wielding Ben. Broome was a nice spot to visit, but as for somewhere to actually live, there simply wasn't enough going on and so it was that Matt and I, when offered an onward lift on Monday morning down the coast by Amanda and Sophie, two Dutch girls, we decided to take them up on it and continue on around the Australian coast.