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Friday, October 11, 2013

A Continent Crossed!



 Sat, Sun, Monday Oct 5 -7

We did it! Crossed the entire continent! Left the east coast at Rockhampton and today we made it across the Outback to Australia’s northern west coast! We are in Broome, WA. I had read about a touristy, crowded town but on Saturday afternoon most things were closed and the streets were half empty. Strolled through a tiny Chinatown at 37º. Finally found something I wasn’t able to buy anywhere in the Outback: knitting needles. I had made due with a pair of chopsticks but now I can make more proper sleeves for the sweater I’m knitting. Campground is very close to the white sands of Cable Beach, supposedly one of the top 5 best beaches in the world. But not any nicer than our gorgeous Oregon beach!
“Can I swim here?” I ask in the campground office. “Sure,” says the lady. “Is it safe?” I want to make sure.
“Sure,” she says. Then adds, “Just the odd hammerhead shark and a croc last week.”
I did not swim.
Aussies are such wonderful, lacksadaisy characters! Most men in the Outback are rugged cowboys. When you stopped at a roadhouse, hundreds of miles from anywhere, you see families buying an icecream, roadtrain drivers going for a meal and everyone else just getting petrol. I saw one guy get out of his car. Must have been 65, 70 years old. Standard bush clothing: rugged hiking boots with wool socks. Sleeveless vest showing heavy biceps.
Suntanned face in the shade of a leather cowboy hat (called a bush hat). This one had a long thin, white ponytail and instead of the standard dusty shorts he was wearing a long purle sari wrapped around his waist.

On our second day in Broome we got up at 5 AM for a long, 8 KM, walk on the beach before it got too hot. Lovely.
Spent the rest of the day doing laudry and cleaning the camper. Beat lots of red dust from the pillows and even mopped the floor.
We still grin as we sit by the pool, reading a book. Kees keeps saying “If this is retirement, I can handle it!”

But on Monday morning we continued our drive south. It’s kind of a bummer - no sooner have you made it to the gorgeous beaches of the coast or you need to go back into the desert. More than 500 KM from Broome to the next town. Same long straight roads through shrub and red earth. Even knowing that the coast is about 15 KM on your right, doesn’t help much if you can’t see it. The distances here are amazing. It kind of reminds me of Nunavut, Canada’s Arctic region. If those remote, isolated villages had roads connecting them, it would be similar to here. Hundreds of kms to the next town. And it’s easy to miss the one roadhouse in between where you can get gas. Often it literally is one building. But some places on the map turn out to be one shed with the name spraypainted on it. Have even seen several places that show on the map and are one big truck tire on the side of the road with the name spraypainted on it. Perhaps there’s a cattle station somewhere off in the bush. But you can’t see it from the road.

We followed the bright red track into the bush. It led to brilliant blue sky and a pure white beach: Eighty Mile Beach, which is actually 221 KMs!
They sure could use more surveyors in Australia. Not once have the distances on the maps and on the signs and on our odometer been the same.

Eighty Mile Beach. Life doesn’t get much better than this. White sand and an amazing array of shells. Turquoise waters. Little white waves to play in. Not really swim because of sharks, but still nice. Kees took a long walk, I searched for and found gorgeous sea shells. Watched the sun set with a glass of wine in the sand.

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