Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Broome and the Beginning

It was almost June. I really needed a new job. The doc kept telling
me not to worry about it, but I l felt like it would help to get back
in some kind of rhythm; to feel useful again. At the same time, I
also wanted to get away from Melbourne; to wipe the slate clean; to go
for a hike; and most of all, to curl up in my little tent in a wild
and beautiful - and peaceful - place. It was too cold and wet to
consider camping in Victoria, so I set my sights further afield and,
after recommendations from friends, decided it was high time I got to
the Kimberley - priority destination: Bungle Bungles. A couple of
weeks away'd do me good and I'd get stuck into my job search when I

I landed in Broome on a Friday afternoon and took a shuttle to the
hostel I'd booked. I'd done scant research, but knew it would be
difficult and expensive to get around the Kimberley on my own, with or
without a vehicle and I thought I'd have more chance of meeting travel
buddies in a hostel. But when I got there I took an immediate dislike
to the place and impulsively decided to walk a K down the road to the
campground. After all, I had all my own camping gear. The welcome
wasn't much better, but I set up camp and was feeling pretty pleased
when a friend of a friend came to take me out for a drink (big thanks
to Sue & Mel for the nice welcome!).

Over the next two days, I discovered that Broome is pretty hard to get
around without a car and that it's not really the place to be on a
long weekend - it's utterly devoid of any sign of life coz everyone
heads out of town! But I did manage to get to the excellent Saturday
morning market and make a soon to be great new friend, Doug Thompson
(Doug's story to come). I also gave in and hired a car. Mainly so I
could go to all the campgrounds and stick up notices, hoping to meet a
travel buddy. But while I had the car I also visited Gantheaume Point
for a stunning sunset picnic.

Monday morning came and I was planning to call some foreign guy about
a trip he was planning from Broome to Kununurra along the highway for
which he wanted a female companion (dodgy much?). I'd met some German
girls too, and thought I might get back in touch with them, depending
what this bloke said. I'd also left my number with Conservation
Volunteers who run fantastic-sounding conservation projects, where you
camp in the Bungles for 10 days for peanuts. Well, a fair few peanuts
at about $40 a day, but still a damn sight cheaper than the $2000+
charged by the budget tour operators for the same time frame.

As I was walking to the shower block that morning I said hello to my
curious neighbour. He and his mate were packing up, so I asked where
they were headed. When he said, 'The Gibb River Road', "the shortest
and most spectacular way between Derby in the west and
Kununurra/Wyndham in the east" (The Kimberley – An Adventurer's
Guide), not many more words passed between us before I asked if he
might take a passenger...me. My life changed when he said yes.

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