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.

And again, the sun sets on Cable Beach

Our guests, Dianne and Bob, left yesterday after spending a fortnight with us. We had a blast – we swam, we beach combed, we tried to catch some fish (unsuccessfully). We did some sight seeing, we went on some tours, we watched the full moon rise (staircase to the moon), and we watched the sun set over the ocean – many times.

And now the time has come for us to be leaving too. We’ve spent today packing up, and tomorrow will begin our journey for home.

We’ve enjoyed so many glorious sun sets on Cable Beach. Here’s a few of my favourites from this trip:

Sunset enjoyed whilst having drinks with Kaye and Brian at Sunset Bar.

And who could forget the sun turning pink as it dropped through the smoke haze.

We played around with some silhouette photography.

Wendy and I

Father and son enjoying the sunset camel train.

We drove down onto the beach taking sunset drinks with us often. A few times we also took a simple dinner down to enjoy as we watched the sun sink over the horizon.

We had a particularly memorable dinner on the beach one Friday night. Our Friday tradition is to have finger food only – no knives or forks allowed. This was something we started years ago so as to get our week-ends off to a good start after the working week. It’s a tradition we enjoyed so much, that even now, four years after retirement, we still try and stick to it. Last Friday night with Dianne and Bob, we took the small gas burner down to the beach along with some chorizo, Halloumi, crackers, and sliced salad ingredients. What a treat to be sitting in our beach chairs on the damp sands of Cable Beach eating our finger food as the sun’s afterglow lit up the darkening sky.

Cooking dinner for Friday night finger food.

Bob and Paul wandered down to the water’s edge, and clearly found something worth pointing out.

Bob and Paul talking ‘man’s talk’.

As the sun darkened further, a flock of seagulls took flight.

Seagulls flying into the sunset

We stayed long after most people had left the beach. With the beach to ourselves it seemed like a good opportunity to have some silly fun in front of the camera, knowing full well our faces wouldn’t show up.

Trying to make a heart.

A great laugh.

We’ve been up here for the better part of three months, and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The weather has been perfect with daytime temperatures of 28 – 33 degrees most days, dropping to 13 – 18 degrees overnight – perfect for sleeping. We haven’t had a drop of rain the whole time we’ve been here. The beaches have been delightful, but we found there’s a lot, lot more to Broome than just beaches. What a pleasure it’s been to be here.

And now I just hope some of the sun follows us home.

The Snubfin Dolphin

A  relatively new dolphin species, the Snubfin dolphin, wasn’t discovered in Australia until 2005. Most live in the Northern Australian waters, with only a few sightings of the species extending up as far as Papua New Guinea. No global population is known, however, the population is estimated to be extremely low, and is likely to be diminishing. Roebuck Bay, off the coast of Broome is a noted hot spot for the species with a population of less than 200.

Personal research indicates if care isn’t taken, the species may be gone in the blink of an eye with virtually only one generation having had the joy of knowingly witnessing this unique species of mammal.

Resembling the South East Asian Irrawaddy Dolphin, their blunt, rounded heads present a totally different looking marine mammal than the bottle nosed dolphin we’re familiar with in Australia. The neck is a distinct, functional feature that allows the animal to turn it’s head without turning it’s body.

A rounded head, and movable neck.

They feed on fish, squid and crustaceans, and use a unique technique known as ‘spitting’ to catch fish. They will spit a metre or so in front of their prey, causing them to panic and change direction – often reversing direction straight back into the dolphins mouth.

We recently went out on an eco/dolphin tour with Cameron and his crew from Broome Whale Watching. The main purpose of the tour was to learn about, and see the unique Snubfin dolphin.

The species are found in groups averaging around five, but sometimes up to 15. As we headed out into Roebuck Bay in search of our main subject, Cameron’s commentary of Roebuck Bay gave us a good insight into the unique environment the Snubfin lives in. We came across a few other marine creatures, including a giant Mantaray, before a family group of nine Snubfins was spotted. This group was engrossed in having some ‘fun family time’, so we were able to drift in close to watch them at play.

When Snubfins socialise they form tight groups, and roll around interacting intensely with each other. They even blow ‘raspberries’ – true!!! At these times they seem oblivious to anything other than each other, making them particularly vulnerable to vessel strikes. The intensity of their play, shallow waters, and the high speed of boats means that the dolphins are unlikely to react in time to get out of the way of boats. In addition, the overlap between the dolphins foraging area and recreational fishing zones increases the risk of injury to these unique marine mammals.  In a recent study 63% bore the scars from vessel strikes, fishing nets, or fishing lines. The group we stopped and watched from a safe and respectful distance clearly showed some of the scars.

Scars of interaction with man clearly evident.

When playing they interact with each other very closely making them difficult to photograph with our little camera. That new camera  is rapidly changing status from being a ‘want’ to becoming a ‘need’, and will be with us very soon I should think.

Every so often the group would all dive together, seemingly giving us a united wave goodbye with their tails. It wouldn’t take long for them to surface again though, and Cameron would manoeuvre his boat around and drift in close allowing us to watch them a little longer.

A synchronised tail wave as they dive below.

Currently under Australian legislation, the Australian Snubfin Dolphin is simply listed along with other whales and dolphins. Reviewing and uplisting the current conservation status of the Snubfin to ‘threatened’ is imperative if we’re to avoid a repeat of reaching the recent extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin.

Thankfully we have tour operators like Cameron and his crew from Broome Whale Watching Tours who care about these creatures and the environment they live in. Their livelihood depends on it.  I personally would love to see a slight increase in tour operators, and commercial fishing charters, and a significant decrease in individual motor boat and jet skis operators. Some people would disagree, believing the charter boat operators to be unscrupulous. Possibly some can be, but their livelihood depends on the environment and it’s creatures remaining healthy.  My gut feeling is there are enough Australian operators with an eye on conservation and the sustainability of eco tourism to keep the unscrupulous operators in line.

If the tour operators can stimulate their client’s interest, they increase the chances of the masses aiding any future conservation efforts. My interest was certainly stimulated. They’re amazing creatures, unlike any other dolphin I’ve seen before.  I hope my great-grandchildren also get to see them.

A morning out on the turquoise waters of Roebuck Bay, watching Snubfin Dolphins at play – what a pleasure.

Beachcombing

There’s always something different to see when walking on the beach. Here’s some of the things we’ve seen whilst walking on Cable Beach:

Starfish stranded as the tide recedes.

Sea snake waiting for the tide to rise and take him back to sea.

Artistic crabs digging out balls of sand as they make their crab holes.

Forest patterns made in the sand by the receding tide.

Then there’s rocks to walk around:

Rocks and rock pools exposed at low tide.

With the sun setting over the horizon.

There’s planes:

Plane coming into land on air strip just beyond the dunes.

And boats:

Boats.

And birds:

Birds in the waves.

Taking flight.

And birds flying over boats:

Bird flying in front of one of the small luxury cruise ships.

And then there’s the things we haven’t managed to photograph. Birds circling as they look for fish and then, wings tucked in to create a streamlined body as they dive, whoosh!  into the water trying to catch their lunch. Sometimes they’re successful, most often they’re not. There’s whales, now off Broome’s coast line. We’ve spotted a few breaching and blowing reasonably close to shore.

There’s always something different to see, but unfortunately our current camera isn’t up to the job of capturing some of the images. A new camera is on our list. Paul does a reasonable job with our little Lumix, but when he gets the new camera with the bigger zoom, and all the other whiz bang things it has, I’m sure his photographs are going to be awesome. He has his eye on a Lumix DMC-FZ300, but it’s currently still in research mode – any advice will be greatly appreciated either for, or against. Please feel free to leave your comments below…….

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