Thursday, July 17, 2008

DAY 266: Bush camp to Broome

60 km @ 17.4 km/hr
Weds 16th July 2008
Sunny, 31 deg C
Elevation of /destination 20 m
Distance to date 16165 km (10103 miles)

I was just settling down to sleep at around 9 last night in what felt to be a perfect and secluded camp, when I was jump-started into action by a deep orange glow some distance away - a bush fire! Ooops - is it coming this way? Well, that’s not very likely since there’s no wind at all, is it? Better err on the side of caution, so I spent a hectic 10 minutes packing everything away, apart from tent and sleeping bag, in case a quick exit is required. By the time I’d done this the glow seemed to have reduced so I kept a watching brief for half an hour. I understand that these fires, usually deliberately started at this time of the year to clear dead vegetation and make way for new growth, always go out by themsleves with the onset of night (dampness and still air). And indeed by 10 there was no sign of any fire so I was off the hook, and coud sleep in peace, which I did until 7 this morning. Apart from that drama this was a perfect camp; completely unseen from the road and I got in without being seen also.
It was very cold again and as I didn’t have a big ride today I lingered until the sun touched the tent, entertained by the early birds’ activities and calls. Mostly Honeyeaters which I’m not good at identifying.
I set off at 0815 onto a busy road with no tarmac shouder but a very loose gravel one, which when I had to use it to escape a roadtrain caused me to slide and slither down to the bottom of it, whereupon I had to get off the bike and then push it back up onto the road.
But I was feeling very positive and soon covered the 23km to Roebuck Roadhouse, and an iced coffee and piece of chocolate cake as reward for my efforts. From here it was some 35km to Broome town centre along a dead straight and mostly dead flat road, again with plenty of traffic around. The wind was SE and behind me most of the way, but approaching Broome it bends to the south into the wind. I went straight to check out the YHA ‘Award Winning’ Kimberly Klub hostel, where, as was the case with the YHA in Darwin, I was prepared to treat myself to a room for a few days. Unfortunately, as with Darwin, it was full. Next choice was the Vacation Village CP - also full (even to a little tent and bicycle). 5km away at the Tarangau Village CP I was offered a shadeless site (last site in the place) for a massive $32 (rip-off), and finally got one of the last sites at nearby Cable beach CP. This site wasn’t that shady at first look, but I managed to squeeze the tent under a couple of small palm trees up against the fence right in the corner of the park, which I was quite happy with. There’s a lovely big pool here and the whole place is very clean and modern - not bad for $13/nt compared to the other expensive sites here.
After setting up and showering I had a look at the gorgeous but crowded Cable Beach itself (idyllic, white sand, blue sea, said to be one of the world’s best beaches) then headed down to the large shopping complex 4km away for some serious Aladdin’s Caving. And I wasn’t disappointed either, some great shops and a large Woolworth’s with ‘proper’ supermarket prices after the ridiculous roadhouse prices. I was pleased to get a Daily Telegraph Weekly at the newsagents; a box of red wine at Woolies (first alcohol since Kununurra) and a great mango smoothie at Wendy’s ice cream shop. After the grocery shopping I went back there for a wonderful chocolate cherry ice cream - mmmmmm..... I think I like Broome!
There are plenty of good cycle tracks here too, including one all the way from the CP to the shopping centre. The town is very spread out and takes a bit of getting around by the looks of it. It is ram-jam-full at the moment, this being the height of the season here.
As I got back from the shops the sun was just disappearing over the sea, beautiful, and around 500 people were trying to photograph it. Back at the tent a line of 15 camels, led by a young English girl talking on her mobile, singled by. I think they’re for riding on but no takers tonight, unless they were being exercised.

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