This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2000 Travels September 7


It was another hot day, but with a strong breeze, which gave some relief from the heat.

The owls had gone back to their usual tree. Maybe the one by us was too noisy, after all?

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Both frogmouths are in this picture

As the tide was going out, we walked around the beach and out onto the exposed reef. It was surprisingly extensive. There were superb little rock pools and crevasses.

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The reef exposed at low tide. The rock pools in the deeper sections have their own ecosystems

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A little pool still holding water in the exposed reef, with greenery

We saw crabs, iridescent fish, octopus, clams. The latter were quite fearsome looking. I would not want to get a hand stuck in that opening!

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A clam in a reef pool

There were several different types of sea birds too, including a Brahminy kite, assorted plovers and sandpipers, and a beach thick knee.

It was all very engrossing, and the tide was part-way back in before we realized.

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A little oyster stack on the reef

It was hot out there on the reef, of course.

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The tide starting to come back in over the reef.

Lunch was a late one.

John had a sleep during the afternoon, and spent some time using his computer.

I sewed.

K came down. She’d come down in the morning to tell us that there were whales offshore, beyond the reef, but we’d gone off on our explorations. Pity. I think we would have had to have been around on the cliffs to see them.

K had a bar shouldered dove that couldn’t fly and she was planning to take it to a wildlife rescue service in Broome, when they went back this afternoon.

All the young adults and kids of the extended family left, and the place became very quiet. It was also much easier to get a shower – we had been sharing this with the extended family.

Tea was curried sausages and rice.

There was a superb sunset.

09-07-2000 sunset Middle Lagoon

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2000 Travels September 6


Another hot, clear day.

The pair of owls had moved to the tree right above Truck. It was a bad day for them to choose to do that, because we planned to go out in it. However, they did not seem disturbed by the noise or movement.

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Pair of frogmouth owls

We set out to explore the top part of the Dampier Peninsula. Had to drive back to the main north/south road, then go north. The driving was hot, dusty, rather rough, and overall, tedious.

We saw no sign of any cattle or grazing activity on the way.

Went first to One Arm Point, a community on the eastern tip of the Peninsula. This was where Honeymoon Beach’s Les’ wife, R, came from.

The community office was closed for a meeting, so we couldn’t pay the required $5 entry fee, for being in the community.

A pinned-up police notice referred to problems with dead people, and police not coming up from Broome to deal with same. The notice said they could now be taken to the Clinic, where there was air-conditioning! I really did not want to explore the implications of that notice, any further!

The notice further advised that there would be a police patrol every three weeks, now that the house at Beagle Bay had been made habitable.

There were actually police there today – a vehicle and three men.

There was a new community store at One Arm Point; the old one was now empty. There was evidence of much money going into the community – a long, sealed airstrip (one of three in a fairly small area, up there). The road in town was being sealed. The community looked clean and tidy. There was a hatchery business, breeding sea horses and abalone, to re-stock the reefs in the area.

The coastal scenery at One Arm Point was wonderful, with lots of little offshore islands, and a really pronounced tidal rip going past the point as the tide began to come in. There were numbers of turtles, putting up their heads to breathe, as they swum past.

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At One Arm Point – lots of little islets

We ate our lunch at the Point, watching the tidal race.

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Low tide at One Arm Point

On the way back out, I suggested taking a side track that looked as if it would go to the sea and give us a different outlook. It turned out to go to the tip! Oops. Reversing, John backed into a tree – more oops! He only touched it lightly – no apparent damage done. But he was cross with me.

Next destination was Kooljamon, at  Cape Leveque. Paid the $10 entry fee to be there. Kooljamon is a low key camping and accommodation resort.

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Coast at Kooljamon

We walked on the lovely beach there. The scenery was superb, with the red pindan cliffs and the blue sea.

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At Cape Leveque

It was a pity that we did not have the time to come and camp up here, too. Still, if we can only do one camp, then we decided that Middle Lagoon was the better of the two. Certainly, the road from the Middle Lagoon turn off to the top of the Peninsula would have been hard on the van – it was rough.

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Beach at Cape Leveque

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Bay at Cape Leveque

On the way back, we detoured to look at Lombadina, another community, on the western side of the Peninsula. This community had a sort of old-time atmosphere. We looked at the church there, another dating from mission days, which was lined with sheets of paperbark.

We drove on a track through sand to get to the beach there. It was long and lovely, but with big waves. I picked up some small trochus shells as we walked along the beach.

Got back to our Middle Lagoon camp at 5pm, after a tiring day’s driving for John.

Tea was soup, and sausages – with bread for John and salad for me.

Early night to bed.

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2000 Travels September 5


Another beautiful day, but each one seemed to be hotter than the previous one!

After breakfast, John went bait hunting, and fishing.

I sat in the shade – and breeze – and sewed. I thought we’d go for a walk later in the day.

After lunch, while I was back sewing again, a local girl came down from the house and struck up a conversation. She was 13; her mother was related by marriage to the people here – families get very extended in these parts! They were out from Broome for a funeral at Beagle Bay, next Saturday. That is when we are supposed to be going back to Broome, so I hope we do not get caught up in traffic to do with that.

The girl – K – goes to school in Broome. She seemed a very pleasant girl, a little shy, well spoken, as are all that we have encountered on the peninsula. She told us that she was scared in the cyclone, last summer, and her cat disappeared. We talked for over an hour. She was intrigued by my sewing. John came back from fishing and entertained her some more. He showed her his trick with an egg that won’t squash if it is held on the ends.

He’d broken the new fishing rod, trying to pull a snag off a rock. Now we are back to only one lightweight rod, again.

We went for a walk, to the north this time, past the cabins, along a small beach, then around a headland, and back. We saw spectacular low cliffs and contrasting colours with the red cliffs and bright aqua sea.

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The coast around from Middle Lagoon bay

K came by again, to say goodnight, just as we were about to eat tea. It was dark by then. I think she must be rather lonely and bored.

Tea was soup, steak, mushrooms.

The family whose land this is, is Japorigine – a term for the descendents of Japanese and aboriginal. This was  not uncommon back in the days when Japanese pearl divers came to Broome. There is such an intriguing mix of ethnicities in Broome! This family seems to be quite enterprising. The tourism operation here has only been set up for about four years, and they are slowly developing it. As we know from being at Honeymoon Beach, in the Kimberley, there can be many difficulties for local people trying to start a camping area from nothing.

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2000 Travels September 4


It was a beautiful hot, sunny day.

After breakfast, John went to look for bait and try fishing in the lagoon.

I walked along the beach, right around to the creek.

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Creek mouth area – with old limestone reef formations

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Looking from the creek mouth, back towards the settlement, marked by radio mast

The tidal range here is quite pronounced. At low tide, a reef is well exposed at the lagoon entrance. At high tide, it is covered. It is interesting to watch the changes.

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Reef exposed at low tide

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Reef covered at high tide

John got some oysters and crabs for bait. He lost his little plastic bait catcher in the tide – it was not anchored to anything.

After lunch, we went back down to the beach and fished on the rising tide. John let me use the new rod he bought at Wynyard in Tasmania. The red one that was once mine, that John has used a lot,  had something wrong with the reel mechanism, it seemed.

I think I got one nibble from something!

I enjoyed the effort, but got a bit tired in the legs after a couple of hours of standing. The sun was strong, too.

We returned to the van about 4pm.

There were lots of birds around the place, in general, and around our site, which was lovely. A pair of tawny frogmouths live in a nearby rough-barked gum tree. There are doves – both peaceful and bar-shouldered, and a funny little mob of brown quail. The great bower birds are really amusing with their antics. We saw singing honeyeaters, rainbow bee eaters, zebra and long-tailed finches, mudlarks. So there was a real variety.

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Bower birds

I made soup – green minestrone. John liked it. Tea was some of the soup, and cold roast pork, mashed potato and cob corn again.

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2000 Travels September 3


It was Fathers Day today, but there was no contact from any of the offspring, despite the time lag between west and east. John was quite hurt.

John washed the van before hitching it up. Given the sort of road we would be going on, I failed to see the point! But it guess it removed any salt from being so near the sea.

Even doing that, we still managed to get away at 8am!

We had to go to Coles first, because a computer magazine that John bought yesterday did not have with it the disc that it was supposed to have. Apparently, I was supposed to have collected this when going through the checkout.

The drive out to Middle Lagoon was the same route we’d already been on. It was hot and rather tedious. Just red pindan dirt and scrub. There was not much traffic, which was good, considering the nature of the road.

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Dampier Peninsula road – note the sand banks at the sides

The van towed well on the sometimes rough road.

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Burnt sections by the Middle Lagoon road – probably a deliberate burn off

Paid our camp fees – $198 for the six nights.

We had quite a bit of bother trying to get the van onto the Gum Tree site that we’d booked. The track curves and slope of the land were against us. It was harder than it should have been because a couple of the local men were trying to direct John, but he wanted me to do it. Eventually they realized that he was angry, and went away!

John said we should have gone to a more remote, unpowered site by the beach, instead of me opting for this powered one. However, I was sure he would utilize the power too!

After setting up, John had a sleep, and I went for a long walk along the beach. I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise.

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Still life – beach variety

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The beach and huts for campers

There were fewer people here than when we visited last week.

Tea was cold roast pork, potato, corn on cob.

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2000 Travels September 2


In the morning, J tried to phone daughter R but got the answering machine and left a message.

We went to the markets and bought some vegetables. Then did the shopping that didn’t happen yesterday. I wanted to go to the book exchange to stock up a little, but John wanted to go straight back to the van so he could watch the football final on TV.

After that was over, we drove around Broome to see if any of the fuel depots were open. They weren’t, so we bought the more expensive fuel from a servo – $1.10cpl.

We did the usual preliminary pack up.

John tried phoning R again – still no answer. He left another message.

Tea was roast pork – very nice and lean.

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2000 Travels September 1


Spring! It really does not make much difference in Broome, except that it is getting hotter.

I worked on letters in the morning, filling in time, waiting for John in order to go and do the shopping. John was working on his next long letter to relatives. I set up the printer to do my letter – which involved hauling it, and paper, out from under the bed and setting it up on the bench. John then claimed it to print his letter to Landrover, asking for compensation money for the bearings fiasco. He then had to go to the Post Office to send it.

I got his lunch organized while he was gone, and he then went to bowls.

I did washing, including the bedding. It all dries really quickly, here.

There were a few people in the laundry, chatting, as one does. A lady came in with a bag of washing. She commented that she was so pleased to be staying two nights in one place, because it gave her a chance to do the washing. She said that she and her husband were driving right around Australia – in four weeks! This was the first time since they had left home, in Sydney, that they’d stayed longer than a night in one place! Basically, they were seeing what was on either side of Highway 1, and not much else. She was not enjoying it.

At bowls, John met and talked for a while with Mary – of the TV documentary program Grey Nomads fame. Her journey around Australia, from the Ballarat area in Victoria, had ended when she decided to stay a while in Broome. It was Mary whom we’d emulated at Wonga Beach in ’98, sitting on the driftwood log on the beach. It was interesting to find that she was still in Broome, several years later. She helps out with cooking at the bowls club, and does some work at the markets, so she has carved out her interesting niche.

For tea I cooked some cobbler from the freezer – it was rather dry. We bought chips to go with it.

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Dusk over Roebuck Bay

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2000 Travels August 31


Took the plate to the dentist, early. It had to be there all day, so I walked around with a big gap where one front tooth should be, and tried to keep my mouth shut!

This was, officially, the last day of winter – which is rather a hard concept to believe in, up here.

Left at 10.30 to drive out to Willie Creek. Took the Dampier Peninsula road for a short way, then turned off it back towards the coast, on the road that goes to James Price Point. Then, turned left and drove over tidal salt flats and then beside Willie Creek itself – really a little inlet.

There was a very high tide. We’d been told it was a spring tide and this was a king spring tide because there was no moon, or only a very new one.

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Willie Creek at very high tide

Willie Creek is so called because the pearl luggers used to shelter there from cyclones (willies), which are regular occurrences along this coast over the summer months.

We joined the tour group that arrived on the bus, together with a couple of lots of independent travellers like ourselves.

The tour lasted 90 minutes, and was excellent. It was more a talk than a tour, since the actual pearl farms are well offshore. A man explained the government controls and the reasons why Broome pearls are in strong demand.

We learned about cultured pearls – the round ones. Baroque pearls are the odd shaped ones. Keshi pearls are ones the oyster grows without being “seeded”, but in the same sac as the seeded pearl grows; thus they are not the same as a fully natural pearl because they do not have a nucleus. Mabe pearls are half pearls grown on an oyster shell – several on each shell, for earrings and the like – like we bought the other day at the Shell Shop. All of these types of pearl are nacre coated and so have genuine pearl qualities.

Freshwater pearls are imported – grown in mussels in places like Fiji.

The pearl seeding process was demonstrated. This is where a foreign object – a tiny piece of shell mantle, or a bead – is put into the oyster. This is an irritant and the oyster secretes nacre around it as protection, and thus grows a pearl. Back before pearl farming was begun, pearl divers would be looking for oysters where a grain of sand or similar, had been a natural irritant and started the process.

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Watching a pearl seeding demonstration

We were offered beer, sultana damper, tea or coffee.

We both thought the tour was excellent value.

They had a gallery there, too. The guide talked up the investment value of pearls, and there were certainly some buyers, afterwards.

I think I like the baroque and keshi pearls the best, because of their irregular shapes.

John also investigated whether he could buy pearl shell here, in the future, and what he would have to do to get some sent.

We drove along a track, from the pearl farm, a little way to the north and then pulled up behind a beach area to have lunch. The area was really bare and barren, but the beach was really long. There were some great shells lying about on it. However, when I investigated more closely, most had hermit crabs in and scuttled away when I put them down again.

We drove back to town – the pearl farm was 38kms out – and did bowls practice for a couple of hours.

Then it was back to the dentist to collect my plate. He’d rebonded the tooth as a temporary measure, but I am to get a new one, at home. That cost $43.

Tea was chicken marylands done with a honey and lemon recipe, with rice. Very nice.

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2000 Travels August 30


There was a heavy dew this morning. I could see the fog over the bay, to the south.

Today was another tourist day.

First, we drove around to the wharf area. The jetty was closed because there was a big ship in, so that put paid to our idea of a stroll along its length.

Drove around the red pindan dirt Kavite Road, following the shoreline around to Gantheume Point. We stopped there and looked at the brilliant turquoise sea and the contrasting red rocks. Saw some brilliantly coloured red-backed wrens.

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Contrasting colours at Gantheume Point

Continued driving, on around to Cable Beach again. The tide was right in, so there was not much beach! But we walked around there, for a little while, looking at what there was of the beach, and at the Cable Beach Resort, behind the beach – from the outside of it, though.

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High tide at Cable Beach – no 4WD’s on the beach now!

Then we visited the Willie Creek Pearl Farm Gallery, at Cable Beach. It had, to my taste, the best range and styles of pearl jewellery I’d seen in Broome. I bought a freshwater pearl necklace, earrings, and a bracelet made of pearl and ironstone. The total cost was $94, so that was affordable, unlike “proper” sea water pearls! I really liked the colour mix of my pearls – pale pinks and greys and creams. I put an entry in a draw for $500 worth of pearl items – it would be nice!

The gallery had an unusual outside  water wall, featuring water running down into a pool, and decorative pools with big carp in.

We went back to the van for lunch.

After that, we drove out to the Broome Bird Observatory, further around Roebuck Bay. We had to drive a little way out of town, then take an unsealed road to the south for a way; it then followed the coast to the Observatory. The road was rather rough, in parts.

The Observatory exists because of the tidal mudflats around Roebuck Bay. These attract migratory shorebirds that breed to the north, in Asia, but there are birds there the whole year round. It is a study and scientific facility.

There was a little campground out there and we wanted to check that out, for future reference, as well as look around. The camp area was basic, but pleasant enough.

We went down to the beach to look for birds, but the tide was right out – a long way away – so, of course, most of the birds were out there too. There were lots of crabs on the flats – big ones – and mud skippers and the like. We resolved to try to come back when the tide was in, and the birds with it. Gave a $5 donation to the place.

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Tide out at the Broome Bird Observatory

After a brief stop at the shops in town, that was it for the day.

A tooth on my part dental plate was loose – one of the only two teeth on it! Phoned the only dentist in Broome and have to take it in at 8am tomorrow morning.

Tea was dory and fries – nice.

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2000 Travels August 28


There was a thick sea fog this morning, hanging over the town. It was quite eerie.

Today we drove north, up the Dampier Peninsula. We had not been up here before, and wanted to get an idea of whether it would be worth bringing the van up for a stay.

The road was unsealed and rough in parts. Some of it was graded well down below the surface of the surrounding land, and there were banks of sands at the sides of where the grader had gone, so passing oncoming vehicles was a challenge. Someone had to drive part way up onto the sand.

The scenery was rather monotonous – all red dirt and sand roads, dry scrub, burnt in parts.

We stopped first at Beagle Bay, where we paid $5 each to enter the community. I wanted to see the Catholic Church. This was completed in 1918, using mud bricks made on site and mortar made from shells gathered by the community. At that time, the Church was run by Palatine monks, though various orders have been involved at Beagle Bay, over the years, from the 1890’s.

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Inside the Beagle Bay Church

The church decorations are unique, made of shells and mother of pearl. Even the floor is “tiled” with shell inlay.

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Floor detail in the Church. Note the stylized creatures

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Intricate detail at the altar

In some ways, we were lucky to be able to view the church at all, because there had just been a collapse of part of the front, under the bell tower. That area was vaguely roped off and we went in through a different door.

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Partial collapse at front of church

The church really was unique – something special. So much painstaking work had gone into its construction. We hoped that any further collapse and damage could be headed off. It would be a real shame to lose something as unusual as this.

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Luminous effect created by use of shells

We continued north, after some way turning to the west, off the main road to Cape Leveque, to go out to Middle Lagoon, where we’d heard there was a campground.

It was about 30kms from the main road to Middle Lagoon. We paid $8 for day entry to the place.

Middle Lagoon was a most attractive spot. It is so called because a reef extends across the bay entrance.

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Beach and bay at Middle Lagoon

 We ate our packed lunch sitting on some rocks, overlooking the lagoon. Then we walked on the beach and found some interesting shells.

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Along the beach

There was a campground there, set up by the aboriginal family whose land it is.

We encountered D and R there – again! Last seen at the King Edward River. They were off to go mud crabbing, so we did not chat for long.

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Creek mouth at Middle Lagoon – home to mud crabs

We decided to bring the van out and stay here, because it looked so lovely. We saw the lady at the “office” and booked one of their powered sites for 6 nights – at $33 a night! Costly, but we hoped it would be worth it. Already felt that it was a pity we could not stay longer, but cannot afford the time, with John’s Games schedule.

We were later leaving there than we should have been. It took us three hours to drive the 190 kms, or so, back to Broome. It was well dark by the time we got back at 6.45pm.

The outing gave Truck a decent run, after the repairs, and all seemed well.

Tea was pasta with my tuna, caper, olive etc sauce.

Watched the football Brownlow Medal count on TV.