The horizon slowly comes to life with the shades of reds, greens and blues, then as the sun bursts over the sea, my night shift has come to an end and I am ready for a new adventure. A road trip to Broome, 6hrs 600km north of Port Hedland.
I pack my 2002 Toyota Prado with my trusty Waeco fridge and some clothes and we were off. I was excited but needed to have a sleep so my friend was left in control of the steering wheel. It wasn't long and I was awake and soaking up the scenery. The roads are long and flat with a thick bush that lined the roadside. Wildlife on the road to Broome consists of cattle, wild horses, kangaroos and wild dogs. We also shared the road with a few big road trains travelling to the local iron ore mines or transporting cattle and general goods between Broome and Port Hedland. The vast stretches of land seemed endless and full of mystery. I knew we were getting closer to Broome because the lush palm trees lined the roadside and the smell of the sea was intoxicating.
First stop was Matso's Broome Brewery at 60 Hamersley Street, set in grounds flowing with palm trees and lush tropical shrubs and trees. The Matso's Brewery started life as the Union Bank of Australia Ltd and was built in 1910. By 1997 the building had survived the destruction of the depression and the new owners began Micro-Brewing Mango beer, a cafe was started an art gallery opened. Matso's now distributing Australia wide, a delicious range of mango beer, Ginger and Chilli beer among a wonderful array of tasteful treats. I felt very adventurous and tried the chilli beer then I had to order a ginger beer to help put out the fire in my month. It is not for the faint-hearted. The visit was a wonderful way to start our four days stay in Broome.
We booked into the Breeze Apartments at 14 Bin Sallick Ave, Cable Beach. It was clean, tidy and comfortable. The only problem was the hot water system was broken so we had cold showers in July. Lucky we were in the tropics. Accommodation during the dry season is very expensive and sometimes hard to find. You can get some great deals at five-star hotels from November when the wet season and cyclone season starts.
Broome Race Day
I was excited to go to the races in Broome, the racetrack overlooks the Indian Ocean where the surf meets the turf. It was so much fun with great live local entertainment and the facilities were very good. Horses, trainers and jockeys came from all over Western Australia to chase the riches in the racing game. They were rewarded for their support with stake money being very lucrative. I spent the day sitting under a big beautiful tree right next to the mounting yard and just a few short steps away I could hang over the fence and watch the horses gallop down the main straight to the winning post. I happily spent my hard-earned money, winning a little back before it was time to go.
I was the first to put my hand up to go camel riding. We chose Red Sun Camel Tours on Cable Beach. We drove down to the beautiful Cable beach where we were greeted by the friendly, professional staff. Once the camels had arrived, we were introduced to the camel that we would be riding. The camels were very quiet and gentle, but they had a very strong smell, quite overwhelming. Climbing on to the leather saddles we got comfortable us the camels slowly got to their feet, giving us a little shake. A little bit like a rollercoaster ride for 5 seconds then we were off down Cable Beach at a very leisurely pace. The colours of the sun setting over the Indian Ocean and the sea lapping the sands of Cable Beach was romantic and breathtaking. I was lost in a dreamy world of contentment and thinking that this was one off the bucket list.
Zanders and Courthouse Markets
We visited Zanders, a stylish restaurant on Cable Beach. My favourite place to relax and discover an array of delicious seafood and French cuisine. The restaurant is located right on the shore and overlooks the Indian Ocean. A must visit. Another little treasure was the Broome Courthouse Markets set in the grounds of the heritage-listed gardens of the Broome Courthouse. The locals have been coming together to trade local produce, arts and crafts and culinary delights for over 25 years. I loved strolling through the markets looking at all the different and colourful stalls, meeting with the owners and sharing a yarn. They were kind and friendly and offered helpful tips on where to buy almost anything you were looking for. Nestled around the grounds the local musicians entertained and filled the air with excitement and fun. I only wish I had a forty-foot container back in Port Hedland so I could buy up some of the unique arts and crafts. The markets were one of the highlights of our trip.
The Mango Place
From mango wine to truly delicious mango smoothies, Mango Place is a tranquil tropical oasis, located 15km northeast of Broome at 120 Kanagae Drive, 12 Mile. We spend time wandering around the art and food shop while we enjoyed indulging in sweet treats and stocking up on homemade mango jams and sauces for the caravan. Sitting among the heavily fruited mango trees listening to local music playing in the background I just enjoyed sitting quietly and smelling the fruits of life.
12 Mile Bird Park
Just a short drive from the mango farm we found 12 Mile Bird Park at 24 Yamashits Street. A bird sanctuary to a host of over 600 birds with more than 80 different species spread over 100 aviaries. Most of the birds have been hand-reared, or are rescues. and cannot be released back into the wild due to illness or injury. I enjoyed slowly walking around the aviaries, spending time sitting on old timber seats under shaded alcoves, just listening to the orchestra of birds singing and dancing among the trees. My love for animals kept my heart feeling a little sad because I just wished the birds had a larger enclosure and I felt like letting them out to be free but they were getting well looked after and looked healthy. My favourite bird was the parrot. They have extraordinary colouring and great personalities.
Paspaley Pearls in Broome
Wow! next time I'll take the Bank manager. It was so beautiful and the array of pearls and designer jewellery was stunning. I just soaked up and explored the exquisite variety of pearls on offer. You can find Paspaley Pearls at 2 Short Street, Broome. There are many unique little shops scattered around Broome's township. The streets were lined in beautiful brick roadways that flow throughout the town. We spent each day exploring as much as we could and I remember thinking I have to come back because there is so much I have yet to see.
Once a bustling pearl trading town, I could not help feeling like the town had been somewhat abandoned and now had just die-hard Australians who loved the tropics and living in a remote town by the seaside. Grey nomads cruising through during the dry season have become like residents. I loved the old homes in and around the town as they reminded me of outback shearing sheds, with a tin roof, very few windows but surrounded by palm trees and a garden. I could have lived there.
I loved the relaxed and carefree outlook the locals shared with us. While wandering around the shops I found myself having a laugh and finding out all the history of the town. The community is strong and passionate but they rely heavily on tourism to stay afloat. One of the main attractions is Cable Beach. It stretches for 22km and backs onto rolling sand dunes and ochre red cliffs. The turquoise water of the Indian Ocean meets the pristine sands, the home of the turtle between October and February when they nest along the beach. The sunsets are spectacular and the high tides allow for great 4X4 driving. With beautiful beaches and fun things to see and do, I look forward to visiting again soon. Come and join me and share your fun www.theedgetofreedom.com