Friday, 3 June 2016

Broome to Derby

Where are we now? We are in Derby

Route to Derby

The drive from 80 Mile Beach to Broome is very boring, around 370 kms of flat landscape, shrubs and not much else. We took a few pictures of the 80 mile beach campsite to remind us how nice it was

Sunset and fishing

The beach is very popular with fishermen and they seem to catch enough to keep themselves happy.

80 Mile Pitch

Our pitch was quite acceptable although we seemed to pick up a lot of red dust when we walked anywhere.

Road out

for our memories only, this is the exit from the site

Dust Road

and this was the road out which was a perfect Red Dust road, very firm but very dusty and therefore no sudden braking is advisable.

Landscape to Broome

The road to Broome is very boring

Very Flat

and it seemed that 374 of the 375 kms looked like this to either side of the van. The roads are also very straight which would be perfect for a fast car if there was no speed limit.

Broome is a very popular town with RVers and other travellers. It trades on the phrase “Broome Time” and hence gets a lot of visitors despite being around two days drive from any other town of reasonable size. Residents seem to be refugees from the rest of Australia and alternative lifestyle activities and products seem to abound.

Our priorities here are to:

  • get the stove permanently repaired;
  • refill our LPG cylinders;
  • stock up on food for the Gibb;
  • do the washing; and
  • have a couple of meals out;
  • ride a camel.

We managed to achieve all of this and a major moment was when we went to the local depot of Apollo Campers, we explained our problem, the mechanic came to look at it and said “that will never work, you need a new hose” which he then proceeded to give us. Having tested that it worked, he then refilled our cylinder for free and sent us on our way. First two tasks done in 10 minutes with absolutely no hassle.

As a postscript to the Broome repair to our stove, we now can have Toast for Breakfast or lunch or tea or anytime for that matter.


Our repaired cooker has a Toast Attachment and it can do both sides of a slice of bread in 55 seconds!

Similarly shopping at Woolworths was no hassle and $180 later had all we needed plus a discount coupon for fuel (so far we have used 492 litres and probably will use the same again over the next few weeks).  

Cable Beach Sign

Watching the Sunset on Cable Beach is the big thing and as this time approaches,

Cable Beach

Cable Beach 001

lots of people walk to the beach carrying chairs, cold beer and wine. Others will have beaten them to the beach with their picnics.


The sunset we saw here was a cloudy one - not as spectacular as a clear sky one but the sun behind the clouds created a nice set of sunset colours.

Town Beach Market

After Sunset, there was a market on the Town Beach selling craft products, food and other things - pizza for supper was our choice.

Downtown Broome

The last time we were here we stayed in a hotel near the centre of town. In the past few years little has changed other than there are a lot more housing developments and a shopping mall has opened. 


The climate suits Bougainvillea and it was out in profusion everywhere. 

Sun Pictures

Sun Pictures cinema is a must see for visitors because it is partially open air and at the end of the airport runway - hence films are regularly interrupted by planes. We had intended to go to an evening showing but there was nothing on that we were prepared to see or to see again. We went there last time so it got a miss from us this time.

Segregated Seating

There is a picture in the foyer of how the seating worked when it operated a form of apartheid with whites on one side and others elsewhere in the cinema with Aboriginals seated at the back

The central shopping area is famous for its Pearl Shops. Mrs Harvey was hoping I would buy her some pearls so we went into a shop to see what was on offer.

$179 000

This necklace costs $179,000 AUD (about £90,000) and my credit card would not cover that so reluctantly we gave it a miss.

Pearl Stall

At the town market however we found some pearl earrings for $18 (£9) at this stall

Pearl Ears 1  Pearl Ears 2

so at least Mrs Harvey went home with some Broome Pearls !

Cable Beach RV Camp

 Sandy Pitch

The RV Camp here is typical of those in larger towns. Because Broome is so popular, pitches are close together and expensive as far as RV camps go ($57 per night, we paid $25 three nights ago). The camp kitchen is not that well equipped, this seems to be a common thing this time - we remember them being better seven years ago.

Camp Washing 

Showers and toilets are acceptable but show wear and tear, not surprising taking into account the popularity of the site. Washing clothes is always a priority and here it was only $3 a load (£1.50) and in the hot sun, everything dries very quickly. This site has a large camp office from where we can access paid wifi (up until now, wifi has either been unavailable or free).

Mango Smoothie

Unusually for a camp, there is a cafe in the office area which serves great Mango Smoothies.

Camel Ride on the Beach 

Camel Brochure

One of the things Broome is famous for is the Beach Camel Ride. The last time we were on a camel together was on our Honeymoon 42 years ago so today will be the first repeat.

Camels on way to beach

As we drove to Cable Beach from where the Camel Train departed, the train crossed the road in front of us walking at a very unhurried pace.

Camels awaiting us

Having arrived at the beach, they then sit down awaiting their passengers. 

How to mount a camel

The first stage of the ride was to teach us how to mount the camel, rear passenger first, left foot in stirrup, swing right foot over and sit down. Then the front passenger. If there is only one, then they sit in the back seat. 


This was our camel - Wongai 

Wangai 001

not much of a conversationalist but said to be very gentle. 

Line ahead

Having mounted, it was then off onto the beach in line ahead formation.

Pat steering 

Initially the front seat passenger held on very tightly but she gradually learnt that it was quite good fun and we were not going very fast and there was little chance of falling off.

Camel Selfie

There was even time for a selfie - getting better at these I think ! 

Mr and Mrs Arabia

By the return leg we were definitely in control of the situation

Us Camel Shadow

and there was time for a nice shadow photograph as the sun set 

Camels in the sunlight

on a camel train walking along the beach.

Pat and Wongai

Pat was able to say thank-you to Wongai.

Camels Favourite Food

This is a camel’s favourite food and one was given to each of them as a reward after the ride. Riding a camel is not something we are likely to do again but was a nice thing to do after a gap of 42 years.

We also remember a conversation I had with someone about Camels when we were in Baghdad before we were married - the gist of the conversation was to do with how many camels I was being offered for the lady who was with me. Needless to say reader, I turned the offer down!

On to Derby

Three days in Broome has been nice, but Derby beckons because it is the gateway to the Gibb as well as being famous for a few things in its own right. It is only a few hundred kms away and so can be reached in an easy morning’s drive. It is a Bank Holiday weekend here so some of the campsites are fully booked (a rarity) but we have managed to reserve a place over the phone at one of the two in Derby. 

There are four things most tourists see on the way into Derby and five things which we two travellers see.

Firstly, there are hundreds of termite mounds along the side of the main road from Broome to Derby. 

Termite Mounds

We know little about termites and have written them down on our “post trip research” list. The mounds themselves vary in size from small to absolutely enormous and some have been made around a tree and its branches.

Secondly there is the Boab Prison Tree

Boab Prison Tree

which is a large Boab Tree near Derby under which Aboriginals kidnapped to work in the Pearling Industry were held whilst waiting for a boat at Derby

Kidnapped Aboriginals

Third is is longest cattle trough in Australia

Longest Cattle Trough

which was built to water cattle who had come down the Gibb River Road or who were waiting for shipment out of Derby. It is 120 metres long and can water 400 bullocks at a time.

Fourth is the Gibb River Road Entrance which will be reported upon tomorrow.

And our fifth is this Boab Tree which is at the junction where the Great Northern Highway continues on towards Halls Creek and where the road (which we followed) goes to Derby.

The Boab Tree

Why this gets a special mention is that 7 years ago when we were driving around Australia in a similar van, we stopped and took a photograph of the same Boab tree and at that time it was one of the largest Boab Trees we had seen, being about 12 metres in circumference. 

Boab Tree and Pat

This is that photograph with the same lady (albeit around seven years younger) by the same tree.

Derby is a very spread out town of supposedly 5000 people. It is almost nowhere and tries to sell whatever it has as a tourist attraction. This includes its semicircular pier

Derby Pier

which leads out into the Indian Ocean, past or through a loading shed and then back onto land again. You used to be able to drive around the pier but this has been stopped, presumably people get going over the edge into the deepest tide in the region, in excess of 11 metres.

Sun 1Sun 2Sun 3

Derby does do very nice sunsets however, we think better than those we saw at 80 Mile Beach and Broome which were a bit cloudy.

Fish  Chips

It also offers a reasonable takeaway (Derby Wharf Restaurant) by the pier with Barramundi and Chips for Pat and Veggie Spring Rolls (and some of Pat’s Chips) for me.

Its main street is very pleasant, it has a good supermarket and the RV Camp we stayed at (The Kimberley Entrance Caravan Park) probably has the cleanest toilets we have found at any RV camp in Australia. There also was some very good entertainment in the evening from a travelling Australian / Irish singer (Outback Paddy) who kept us all entertained for a couple of hours - he expressed exactly the way that those of us on the road feel about the lifestyle and the beauty of Australia.

Derby is a place we have come to to pass through but it has its attractions.

On to the Gibb tomorrow.

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