FRIDAY 24 AUGUST FITZROY CROSSING TO BROOME 400kms
Managed a reasonably early start, having been able to stay hitched up.
Refuelled – $1.44cpl.
Checked out the free camp area at Ellendale as we passed, but of course M was long gone – although we did wonder if her plans had worked out as intended, and she had even been there. Won’t know till we get to Broome…..
Today’s drive was less interesting than that of yesterday – no dramatic scenery of distant and near ranges.
The only points to note, amid the dry and dusty grass and scrubland, were the crossings of the impressive Fitzroy River – at Fitzroy Crossing and again at Willare Bridge, closer to Broome.
At this time of year, the river was a small flow in the huge river bed. It was hard to believe how high and raging it could become in flood times. In 1993, I’d bought a postcard of the caravan park where we’d stayed last night – with only the elevated amenity block showing amid the floodwaters from the river.
The Willare Bridge was one of the long, single lane bridges that feature in this part of WA. Again, it was hard to credit that, at times, Highway 1 could be closed here by the river in flood.
We reached the Palm Grove Caravan Park, at Cable Beach, Broome, about midday.
M was already there, of course. From her overnight stop at Ellendale, she’d had a good head start on us. She had found Old Halls Creek and its surrounding area, interesting, and worth the visit. But she had driven out to explore some of the area and at Caroline Pool had felt quite intimidated by a group of locals who told her white fellas weren’t welcome there. She didn’t stay round to argue the point.
The caravan park sites were on the small side, gravelled, but adequate. The amenities were reasonably modern, and clean. It was not the most upmarket park we’d stayed in, by any means, and really didn’t justify the $255 we paid for the mandated week’s stay. But, hey, that’s Broome.
M’s site was across the access road from ours, so at least that was convenient.
We heard that two of the Cable Beach caravan parks, including this one, had been sold, to be turned into resort units. That would put the squeeze on caravanners to Broome, even more. It was really hard to find a vacancy in a caravan park here, in the winter months. The overflow area used at this time of the year, at a gun club, was even hard to get into. It is one of those areas that poses real dilemmas for accommodation providers: in the winter months, a few more caravan parks could be easily filled, but for the rest of the year there would be insufficient patronage to be viable.
We set up, then went to the Information Centre in town, to see what we could suss out.
When I say, in town, it is because Cable Beach and the main Broome town were separated by a few kms of scrub and industrial land. The original town of Broome, and the modern one that has grown up around it, is located on a peninsula that juts into Roebuck Bay. The much more recent development of Cable Beach is located on the other side of this peninsula, facing out into the Indian Ocean.
We drove around the town, looking at the changes since we were last here in 2000. There had been a lot of development and building since then. Broome seemed to be really booming – we thought this might be due to the offshore oil and gas developments. Even Cable Beach seemed to be growing rapidly – and not only tourist resort development, but housing as well.
For our Friday fish and chip dinner, we walked from the caravan park, a few hundred metres, to a van parked overlooking Cable Beach, which did a roaring trade in take away food. The prices were reasonable, the food excellent. It was very pleasant, sitting looking out over the ocean, eating our dinner. Great to be by the sea again!