A very special sunset

OK, I know. You’ve seen enough sunset pictures to last a life time, as have we. However, I couldn’t resist posting these next ones.

Sunset through a smoke haze

Paul took these from Gantheaume Point beach earlier this week. There was a faint smoke haze on the horizon, which added a special purple hue, and added depth to the colours. The one above is my favourite of all the sunset photos Paul’s taken, and he’s taken more than a few. It’s possibly my favourite of all the sunset pictures I’ve seen. What do you think?

A couple of others taken also on that night:

I love the red outline around the sun in this one (no we didn’t put there, it really was there)

This one reminded me of the Aboriginal flag

You’ve heard of a Tequilla Sunrise – well we have our own vodka and tonic based version.

Cable Beach Sunset cocktails

We call it Cable Beach Sunset. It’s our drink of choice when having happy hour on the beach as the sun sets – another of the life’s simple pleasures!

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Gantheaume Point Beach

Gantheaume Point is located approximately 6 kms from Broome. The beach at the point is approximately an hours walk south from the main Cable Beach, and there’s a once a day bus that services the area. It arrives at the point at approximately 8am to drop people off who want to enjoy a beach walk back to the main Cable Beach area.

For those with vehicles there’s easy vehicle access onto the beach, so it’s a favourite place for Paul and I to go. Being able to drive onto the beach with our beach umbrella, chairs, towels, and lunch is a lot easier than lugging all our gear down to the beach by hand.

We sometimes also drive to the north of Cable of Beach, and area that goes for miles. Hundreds of vehicles go to the north, but because there’s so much space you can always manage to put a lot of space between yourself and others. The area allowing vehicles to park at Gantheaume Point isn’t very big, so it can get a little crowded.

A busy place – note the buses which drive their passengers right onto the beach

Unlike the drive on beach area to the north, which is quiet and peaceful, Gantheaume Point Beach is always a hive of activity. Don’t let this detract you from visiting – it all adds interest.

Kayak tours leave from here. Usually when we’re there we see a tour either leaving or arriving. Fishing charters, whale watching, and snub fin dolphin tours also depart from this beach, so there’s always people coming and going.

Plenty of boats, both private and charter anchor in the calm waters of the bay

A parachuting company sets up their flags adjacent to the vehicle area as an area for their tandem jumpers to land. There’s plenty to see.

Tandem jumpers landing – Mr Tilley is terrified of the parachutes

Mr Tilley is absolutely terrified of the parachutes. The first time he saw them we were very close by. He shook with terror for around ten minutes. It’s the only thing we’ve ever seen that’s frightened him. We now set up closer to the rocks putting quite a bit of distance between us and their landing area. Most times he doesn’t notice them coming in to land, but if he does he clearly hasn’t sorted them out as something not to be scared of yet.

Setting up close to the rocks gives us a bit of breathing space for Till’s to run around with a bigger margin of safety.  Some of the drivers don’t observe the 15KMH speed limit, and Tills loves to bound after something that takes his interest. The two together could be disastrous. We love to explore around all the rocks, as does Mr Tilley so it makes good sense to be near them.

Rocks at low tide add interest for puppies (and us) to explore

As at Cable Beach, Gantheaume Point Beach is another great vantage point from which to observe the sunsets that Broome is famous for.

We sip our cocktails poured from the back of the car as the sun descends towards the ocean

The fiery afterglow after the sun sets reflecting in the wet sands of Gantheaume Point beach signals the end of just another wonderful day on Broome’s beaches

We’ve been in Broome a little over two weeks now, and apart from basic food shopping, caravan park fees, and the occasional ice-cream, have spent very little. It’s easy to enjoy the simple things in life here – good weather, pristine beaches made for walking on, and glorious sunsets at the days end. What more could anyone want – it’s such a pleasure to be here again in Broome.

Walking on Cable Beach

There’s always plenty to see when walking on Cable Beach.

Sea birds diving for breakfast beside a fishing boat

Wings tucked in close for streamlined water entry

A perfect entry – worthy of the Olympics

It took Paul several attempts to manage to get the full descending dive. What he didn’t manage to capture was the success of the dive when the bird surfaced with his breakfast. Maybe next time….

The planes, frequent at this time of year,  fly low over Cable Beach to land not far away.  If we’re directly underneath Mr Tilley gets a bit of a fright, but soon recovers to watch them disappear over the dunes. His curious gaze always follows them until they’re out of sight.

Another plane load of visitors arrive scaring a bird as it comes in to land

And another plane load disappearing over the dunes

There’s cyclists to see. These wide tyre cycles, suitable for beach riding, are available for hire close by to the parking lot at Cable Beach.

Cyclists and a jogger enjoying  early morning exercise on Cable Beach

There’s plenty of people on the beach in the morning, but providing you time your walk to coincide with the lower tides, you’re always able to put a comfortable space between yourselves and others.

Mr Tilley loves it. He’s a bit like our friend Brian. Kaye, Brian’s wife, says he can’t walk from one end of a mall to the other without making at least two new friends. There’s regular canines on the beach that Mr Tilley recognises and greets now like they’re old friends. And there’s new possible friends that he introduces himself to, referencing and cataloging their individual scents with a sniff in the places that dogs use for this purpose.

This boy gets a bit too boisterous for smaller dogs if off his lead. He’s a regular that  Tills recognises now and always says hello to. They’re happy to see each other despite Bluey’s seemingly concerned look.

By the end of each morning’s beach walk I’m sure Mr Tilley has made at least two new friends. I don’t think Brian sniffs his potential new friends rear ends though for future recognition. Such are the delights of the canine ‘meet and greet’ system!

Enjoying Broome’s glorious sunshine and beaches

Anyone familiar with Broome will know that the consistently good winter weather entices more than it’s share of visitors from the south of the country during the colder months. Years ago the Broome caravan parks could name their price, and had strict booking conditions. Whilst the prices still remain high during peak season, the rigid booking conditions are now more relaxed. On our first camping trip to Broome some of the caravan parks would only take a minimum booking of two weeks, and only from Saturday to Saturday. Of course, you could depart earlier, or arrive later in the week, but the payment was in accordance with the Saturday – Saturday fortnightly schedule.

I’m pleased to say the conditions are now a lot more relaxed, and vacancies are usually obtainable, at least somewhere in the town. People who arrive in town without a booking can usually be accommodated, if not in one of the proper caravan parks, at least into one of three additional overflow sites that are now allowed to open for the peak season. Up until this year, it was only in the overflow sites where one could stay if any pets were on board. Anticipating nowhere else for us and Mr Tilley, we arrived at Broome Pistol club’s overflow site where we stayed for the first week.

Whilst we were grateful for a place to be able to stay with Tills, the rustic, dried out, grass sites were full of seeds, and weren’t proving to be overly compatible with Mr Tilley’s scruffy coat. Fearing it was only a matter of time before a seed managed to embed itself in-between paw-pads, or down an ear, and finding out Broome caravan park is this year, trialling accommodating pets, we secured a booking for the remaining two weeks of our time in Broome.

So – that’s where we have been, and are currently staying. Now onto what we’ve been doing. Fortunately we’ve been to Broome several times so have ticked off all of the must do’s. The absolute stand out highlights have been, The Horizontal Falls, Cape Leveque, and last year’s trip up the Gibb River Road using Broome as our starting base. If you’re planning any trips to Broome, you really must factor those places in.

With those things ticked off, we’re free to just relax and enjoy acclimatising Mr Tilley to the pleasures of caravan life. Learning to quietly adapt to people, their pets, and children coming and going from neighbouring caravan sites is uppermost, and for a twelve month old puppy, he’s doing remarkably well.

We start most days with a lengthy walk and ball chase on Cable Beach to ensure he’s used up a considerable amount of his puppy exuberance early in the day.

Cooling off in the shallows after relentlessly chasing his ball

he runs till he’s knackered! and would still run some more if we’d let him

It took us a while to connect his sudden bursts of disobedience with being physically over stimulated. Now we’ve made the connection we’re able to regulate his behaviour (most of the time), by interrupting his break neck speed of ball chasing and beach running, with some quiet trick training.

Time out – ‘right paw shake’ – yes, he knows his right paw from his left paw

Eagerly awaiting the next request (and accompanying treat)

“beg” – yep, but only with a bit of help. Balancing isn’t his strong point yet

A few minutes of quiet mental stimulation provides some much needed respite from all the hectic physical activity, and he remains a reasonably obedient puppy throughout the walk.

Then, depending on the tides we may pack up a lunch and return to the beach for a couple of hours of people watching. Or we may pack up drinks and return to the beach for sunset drinks.

Some things just go together – Bread and butter, flowers and sunshine, Cable Beach and dogs! Mr Tilley understands quite a few words now including, ‘Beach.’ A question of, ‘Do you want to go the beach’, gets an almost whiplash response, followed by his undivided attention as we get ourselves organised to go.

Our long travel days spent getting here seem to be well forgiven and forgotten. I suspect if Mr Tilley could talk, and we were to ask him what the highlight of his life so far has been, the answer would definitely be, “visiting Broome’s gorgeous Cable Beach.” Introducing and sharing this gorgeous spot with our canine companion –  a pleasure that’s sure to be repeated.

Cape Leveque

The Dampier peninsula stretches approximately 220 kilometres north from Broome. At the northern most tip lies Cape Leveque, and the Kooljiman Resort/camp ground. At this stage you’ll need a four wheel drive with good clearance to get there, but there has been on-going rumours that the road is soon to be sealed. (Those rumours have abounded since we first went in 2010 – the road remains the same).

We had the good fortune to include a trip to Cape Leveque in 2010.  There’s various places to stay on the peninsula, but as the Kooljiman Resort is right at the tip, it offers easy access to both the rising sun from the east, and the setting sun from the west. It’s an ideal location to see just how good the sun can be at different times of day.

Looking out to the right from our beach shelter

For our stay we rented a three sided beach shelter on the eastern side. We had our camper trailer at the time, and parked that beside the shelter, whilst Dianne and Bob set up a small tent inside. There was a cool water shower in the corner of the shelter, and a picnic table outside overlooking the water. The loos, and hot water showers were a bit of a trek away, but we often just made do with the cool shower in our own shelter.

And to the left

From the time the sun came up in the morning, to when it set in the evening the days were filled with so much to see and do. Being on the eastern side of the peninsula we had the joy of seeing the sun rise over the ocean, something rare for those of us who live in the west of the country.

The sun beginning to light up the sky

Sometimes we’d wake to an empty ocean view, and sometimes we’d wake, green with envy, when some lucky person or two had anchored their yacht just offshore.

Yacht anchored overnight

There was always plenty to do throughout the day. The water was only a few steps from our shelter, and absolutely perfect for a dip. In case you’re wondering, crocodiles and stingers are prevalent around the Dampier peninsula, everywhere that is except at the Cape. Apparently the tides there keep them away, or so I’m told. So we swam in safety, the guys managed to throw a line in a few times, and we went for plenty of beach walks.

Cruise ship anchored offshore

When we were at the shelter there was always something happening on the water to look at. Sometimes it would be a fellow camper doing some kayak fishing, or sometimes it would be one of the small luxury cruise liners anchored up ferrying passengers in for some shore time.

And then when the sun started it’s decent it was time to head around to the western side of the peninsula. Cape Leveque is famous for it’s sunsets, but it’s not as you’d imagine. It’s not the sky that brings artists and photographers from near and far to capture the glorious spectacle as the sun drops towards the horizon. As the sun sinks towards the horizon the rays hit the orange cliffs lining the shore. They shine bright, almost as if they’re lit from inside.

Cliffs lit up by the setting sun

Yes – these colours are for real

Just another place that adds to the ‘colours of the Kimberley’, and no trip to this glorious region would be complete without a trip to the Cape.

There’s various forms of accommodation at Kooljaman ranging from camping options, either in the campground, or at one of the beach shelters. There’s also different levels of houses to rent. Check them all out long before you arrive though to make your selection, and book early. They book out early in the season.

Just another wonderful Kimberley destination to add to your bucket list…..

 

The Horizontal Falls

Continuing on from The Buccaneer Archipelago…….

Swimming off the pontoon wasn’t an option

After witnessing the most amazing scenery to get to Talbot Bay, we boarded the pontoon to await our pre-lunch scenic cruise. As I remember it, it was a warm and humid day. A swim would have been most welcome, but on second thoughts – nah!! At the time we visited in 2010 the staff on board the pontoon used to feed these sharks. I think that today you can swim with them, (I guess from within the safety of a shark cage). I think the swimming is done near the pontoon, so quite likely, these same fish.

No diving off the boat either

After a bit of relaxation we boarded a small motor boat for our scenic tour. A gentle cruise around some of the Islands and waterways provided a bit of background to the flora and fauna in the area.

A Rock wallaby peering out from behind some rocks

Boat seats, or should I say saddles

Then back to our base for a barramundi fish barbecue lunch before boarding our jet boat for the excursion to, and over the Horizontal Falls.There were some bench seats on the boat, but most people chose the safety of straddling a seat with a bar to hold onto. Once we entered the falls, I’m sure those of us riding bronco style appreciated the security of that hand hold. I’m pretty sure I, for one, would have been white knuckled as I hung on.

Looking back at the photos it all looks much more innocuous than it felt. In reality it was more exhilarating than any fair ground ride.

The jet boat was almost as long as the gap was wide that we were to go through. Fortunately, our skipper knew what he was doing. He lined us up, and then with all engines screaming and all of us hanging on for grim death, we shot full throttle upwards towards the horizontally, tumbling waters.

Entering the falls

about mid way

and then the final ascent

The falls receding behind us

Looking back the tranquility defies the reality of what we’d just experienced

We went back for another go, and a third, and maybe even a fourth. One things for sure, we couldn’t get enough of it.

Then back to the pontoon to board our seaplane for the return trip to Broome. Looking down on the falls on our departure it was hard to imagine the sheer force of the water. It looked so tame…

The falls again from the air on our departure

And that was our trip to the Horizontal Falls, now almost eight years ago. It was then, and remains so today the absolutely best travel experience we’ve ever had. Would we do it again? – I don’t know. I’m always a little weary of repeating something that’s provided an amazing memory. What if it isn’t as good as I remembered it, then the memory would be spoilt for ever more. So, much as I’d love to, and want to, I don’t know if I should.

We did the full day tour. The cost today for that tour is around $1000 (give or take a little bit). The half day tour (approximately 6 hours in total) is a little bit cheaper, and there’s an overnight option for a little bit more. For the overnight option, as I remember it, the pontoon has ensuite cabins on board. The overnighters usually get to experience going over the falls in both directions, using both the incoming, and outgoing tides.

Then there’s also a 4 night trip at the cost of around $4000. This option incorporates  some fishing and some pristine swimming holes away from the dangers of the crocs. I’m sure, there would be some spectacular scenery on offer cruising round the archipelago. If I was tempted into doing it again – I think this is the option I’d have to chose, just so as it incorporated a little more than before.But, as I’ve already seen both the archipelago from the air, and experienced the amazing Horizontal Falls, perhaps I’ll save the money for a completely new experience, a completely new pleasure!

If you haven’t already done the falls, the half day excursion is all you need to put something absolutely amazing into your own book of life. If you include anything extra, whilst enjoyable no doubt, in reality I’m sure it’ll only be providing background to the shining star – The Horizontal Falls.

This is an absolute Bucket List destination. For both Paul and I, it surpassed swimming with the whale sharks off Ningaloo Reef, and it surpassed our amazing glamping sojourn last year to the Mitchell Plateau and falls. Those two things, whilst both being absolutely stand out experiences, pale in comparison to The Horizontal Falls. Photos, nor relating the experience can come close to letting you live the experience vicariously. It’s something you have to do for yourself to appreciate it. So, if you haven’t already done this, and if it’s at all possible, please put this excursion high up on your bucket list, and make sure you tick it off. You won’t regret it.

 

 

The Buccaneer Archipelago

It’s almost eight years now since we visited Horizontal Falls. The falls are located near Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago. To date, The Buccaneer Archipelago is a county mile in front of anything I’ve ever seen, and going over the Horizontal Falls in a jet boat is a country mile in front of any experiences I’ve ever had. More on the Horizontal Falls though in a later post – I suspect this one is going to be a lengthy chapter covering just the trip to get there.

In July 2010, whilst we were still working we took a rushed trip up to the Kimberley area, along with our good friends, Dianne and Bob. There were so many highlights on that trip, but the stand out highlight was Horizontal Falls, and that includes the trip to get there.

Firstly, from Broome,  we boarded a small (very small) plane to begin our journey. I think it was either a five, or six seater including the pilot. For this trip anyway it certainly held only us four, plus the pilot.

Smallest plane I’ve ever been on

First stop was Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm located toward the top of the Dampier Peninsula.  We were treated to a land-based tour which gave us an insight into the fascinating history of pearling, and how some of the pearls from the farm are chosen to be recognised as being amongst the most sought after and beautiful South Sea Pearls in the world. We were even allowed to try on one of their beautiful strands apparently valued at the time at around $20,000. (As I remember it, we were watched very closely).

Pearls fit for a queen, or at least a celebrity

After morning tea we boarded a small sea plane and headed out over the Buccaneer Archipelago.

1st ever seaplane ride

The take off on the bumpy, red-dirt runway was a bit hair-raising to say the least, but when we saw what was  awaiting us below, it was worth every bone shaking bump. The  most breathtakingly, beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen, with colours so vivid they didn’t look real. To this day it’s hard to believe what we were seeing hadn’t been photo-shopped way beyond reality. The 50 or so square kilometres of brightly coloured azure seas, with over 800 rocky islands, each fringed with mangroves and the vividest of moss green vegetation looked surreal to say the least.

The most amazing scenery

Surreal colours

So many Islands

Finally, the little gap in Talbot Bay came into view – Horizontal Falls.

1st view of the falls below

Down we went, landing on the calm blue waters before gently gliding in to the pontoon that was to be our base for lunch and an afternoon of exploring the islands – and of course, our Horizontal Falls adventure.

Landed, although that doesn’t seem like the right term for a sea plane on the water

To be cont…..