Our journey is over, we are in the big silver bird heading back to Melbourne, and some much cooler weather.
We’ve been to Broome before, I’ve been to Derby before and we lived in Hedland but three weeks here has opened our eyes to the spectacular Kimberley. The gorges, the red dirt, the rough roads, the pearls, the crocs and the harshness ….amazing.
A quick summary….a few days in Broome, almost a week at Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, ten days on an organised bus tour up the Gibb River Rd ….and then two nights back in Broome. What are the memories?
1. Broome is a maturing holiday resort – we have been here about every ten years and it is growing up. But it is not losing it’s great feel. The weather was fabulous, Cable Beach as white and inviting as ever and town was fun. Direct flights to and from Melbourne make it so easy. We stayed at a couple of different places but Seashells was our favourite.
2. Cygnet Bay pearl farm may be at the end of a longish mostly dirt road, but well worth the effort. Combine it with a stop at Cape Leveque, a great combo. While we were at the pearl farm, we had several boat trips – I loved the reef waterfalls / whirlpool one. Also cafe had good food and great coffee.
I’d also have to say that their pearls were great too….the range of quality and prices meant most of our group could find something special to buy to help remember the trip.
3. The Gibb River dirt road is hard work, even in a bus built for the trip. We enjoyed it but would not recommend for those towing vans (unless they are the rugged ones). Our trip with Kimberley Wild had some highs and lows. The sights were incredible but their organisation skills lacked a little. The side trips on Lake Argyle, Gieke Gorge and the Bungles were amazing.
4. A bus trip with 19 people for ten days is hard work – even if you know more than half of them before you start. Living in one another’s pockets (or tents) is fun but causes a few stresses, not sure I’d do it that way next time. I must say that Sandy’s decision to pay for a tour upgrade was extremely wise. Some nights it was just a decent pillow and sheets, on others we had real beds in permanent tents….at the end of a tough day, it was well worth it.
5. I can live without power, hot water, Internet and phone for about 3 days. The lack of phone and net was less of an issue that the lack of power. It meant having to ration camera use to ensure I’d capture that important shot before the camera and phone batteries both died. The cool showers simply meant the river swim was even more appealing.
6. I think that tour guides need a decent accreditation system. We had some (Chopper over the Bungles, Boat on Argyle and boat on Geike) who were unbelievable passionate and knowledgeable. In other places, the information was a little skinny. I’d be happy to pay more for a ‘Level 3’ accredited guide.
Finally I must add something about health. As my regular readers know, we often test local hospitals and medical facilities, various members of our team tested a few places this time. The doctor at One Arm Point, the medical centre at Warmun and the hospital at Halls Creek all played a part and I must say, were all very good. None of the visits were serious but were necessary. Health insurance and a good first aid kit are always important, in this part of the world, they are essential.
One final thanks to Qantas who did the obligatory lap of Uluru (Ayers Rock) for us.