The big road trip – Eighty Mile Beach to Broome

Day 16
Moving again into the unknown. It’s great feeling to know you are going where you’ve never been before. The road from Port Hedland North was quite deserted and so we chewed up the k’s quickly. Unfortunately we were pushing into a northerly so we chewed fuel quickly too but the big truck pushes on. The Piper hit some homework while I hit some tunes through the headphones and the Eighty Mile Beach turnoff turned up right on cue. The road in to the coast is typically red dust, and rutted and corrugated, but only 9k.

The arrival is unremarkable including the usual name, rego and sign here routine. I have one complaint and I mean no offence to anyone reading this. This place is full of pensioners. Grey nomads everywhere. Some of them clearly here for months. Their setups are elaborate and include fairy lights and potted plants. Their allotted piece of lawn is green, manicured and soft. They have washing lines and their front door plaque welcomes you to Bill and Mary’s Place. Good luck to them, I’ll be there in a few short years. But why do they get a discount in caravan park and the National Park? It cost me $35/ night. Unpowered. It costs them half of that for a powered site. They pay half of almost nothing and I pay more, essentially to cover them. Where’s my single-mum, pushing-shit-up-hill, cut-me-some-slack-so-I-can-show-my-kid-Australia discount. Or better still, one cost, as low as possible, everyone gets an even break. I know this will be controversial and I get that these folks have done their time but now the country is riding on the backs of mum and dad Australians. One price fits all and we could all be enjoying this country.

Anyway, after our check in we set up in the row immediately behind the foreshore. Unpowered sites are furthest from the generator and therefore closest to the beach. Nice! The camper set, we headed for a look over the dune. Wow! What an amazing sight. Eighty miles of beach. Two hundred and twenty kilometres to be accurate. At low tide. At least 100m away from the dune. And covered in shells. From the dune line all the way to the water, different shells in different places. Pippy shells close to the dune and at the high water mark. Cowrie and other smaller, ornate shells at the next level and round shells with 5 point stars at the next. Shell collectors heaven. My pockets were full in 5 minutes. There’ll be a bowl of Eighty Mile Beach shells in the house for sure. I hope we find a bigger shell like the ones at the war memorial in the park. I know they’re here …

Day 17 and 18 (and it could roll into many more),
The beach is all there is here and that’s more than enough for us. It’s stunning and rich. Yesterday and today we’ve fished it, with no joy, and collected from it, with great success. First fishing, which is really a term best used loosely when it comes to The Piper. We have one rod (and three reels) between us and the enthusiasm lasts as long as the cast and peaks again at the bites. In between the rod is abandoned to a holder (which may include me), while the fisho digs a hole, splashes in the water, dances a gig, builds a sandcastle with the fishing bucket and throws sand. An hour of that is more than a fishos mum can bear. Yesterday, a fisho further down the beach hauled a great sized red salmon out of the water. Today all is quiet despite a few bites. But it’s not for lack of trying, the beach is packed!

As for shells, the pickings are easy and we have far too many. In fact the bucket was so heavy on our walk back we had to share the load. Nothing big but they are pretty and for an avid shell collector like me it’s delightful. Our wind chime is complete and this afternoon I’ll thread another different one I have in mind. We’re going to drop the awning and take a spin up the beach in the car later today just to say we’ve done it and because everyone else is. We walked south for a long way yesterday so I think we’ll drive north. Then tomorrow we are back on the road. Assuming I can get the coconut harvester into the car. He’s found coconut trees, armed himself with rocks, a stool and a broom, and was last seen bongo drumming the stool off into the distance. Here’s hoping he doesn’t knock himself out with a falling coconut … And you thought he was a piper!

Day 19
A day on the road. The Piper has acquired my iPod and loaded it with his choice of music and can be heard singing lyrics to songs I can’t hear. His road trip playlist includes Hilltop Hoods, Seth Sentry, Skrillex and the like. I don’t mind some of it but after a while it gets monotonous. I like the The Waitress Song and Dear Science (Seth Sentry). Turns out The Piper is a fabulous spontaneous rapper. He can talk to me or The Moose, in rap, for ages. Makes me laugh. I told him to write them down in the margin of his math book for Mr P.

Anyway we made it to Broome before the 2pm deadline for our site and located the park and then our site within it. The park is massive, boasting (?) 450 landscaped sites. We have one that’s on the pool boundary which makes my life simple. I can see The Piper doing laps with snorkelling gear on as I tap is. I set the camper up so the door opens to the pool fence and promptly got told the draw bar must face the road. Now given its a corner site, and the van is too heavy to manoeuvre on gravel without being attached to the car, the drawbar is facing the road! Just across the site. It’s a corner. So, having already checked I could do that, I’ve left it as is and we are very comfy here despite the exorbitant cost of the site. Someone is getting rich fast.

Having set up, we headed for the laundry (fresh sheets) and then dinner. All day I had been thinking about fish and chips. I have cooked every night so far (except the roast in Port Hedland) so I was keen to enjoy take away on world famous Cable Beach. We got the fish and half a dozen chips with a side of calamari and were sorely disappointed. I don’t normally provide poor reviews but in this case I will. Unless you like a polystyrene box of batter don’t bother with the take away place on Cable Beach. Take a picnic and enjoy the view. We missed the sunset by a few minutes but we’ll get it while we’re here, in the car, with the hoards of other streaming onto and off the beach. In the meantime, a glass of wine and a G&T and another early night.

Days 20 and 21
Well that’s 3 weeks on the road. I should look and see how many k’s we’ve done but there’s not much point looking yet. Broome has proven to be a nice break but I’m not sure I’ll ever live here. It reminds me of Byron Bay a few decades ago. Palm trees, the beach, a hippie culture, tourists and locals, a place trying to define itself. Our three days have been warm during the day, cool but dry at night, sunny with a breeze, cloudless skies. It’s been good for The Piper because he’s made some “friends” and maximised the pool use.

Other than relax at home we’ve also watched the sunset, found the dinosaur footprints, walked the jetty at the port, swum in the ocean, seen the massive crystal Buddha and visited Willie Creek Pearl farm. We asked to see the Argyle pink diamonds in the shop in town and spied the $56k beauty. The two sales assistants standing guard were hardly friendly, even as we explained our link to the mine. At the pearl farm they went one better and I wore a strand of pearls worth 35,300.00. They were nice but my mother says pearls being tears and I’m hardly going to try for second time lucky. The strand in the cabinet worth $100k was nice too but that’s a lot of money collecting dust and lots that could be done with those dollars. Interestingly their dud pearls, known as Keshi pearls fetch $150 a gram. The current gold price is $49.00 a gram. So much for being worth your weight in gold.

In essence we’ve squeezed a lot into two and a bit days and we’re back on the road tomorrow. Of course we haven’t seen it all and some things are hard to see and do with a 12 year old in tow. So, when I do the trip again I need to do Matsos Brewery (I know, it’s just impossible with a minor) and see the sunset from Cable Beach in the car (I did see it last night from the lighthouse). For now, onwards into the Kimberly and beyond …

Late breaking news … Had a tasting plate at Matso’s! My advice do it when you don’t have a minor in tow (I was right all along).

To follow us as we head north east click here …

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