We could have easily stayed at De Grey River for days – the bird watching and exploring up the sandy river bed would have been great and we only got a brief glimpse really. We packed up though and hit the road. There’s not a huge lot to report between Port Hedland and Broome – it’s a long, often quiet and lonely highway with a couple of roadhouses and some cattle stations every now and again. We cruised along and decided on a stop at Eighty Mile Beach which has a caravan park and beach access for people to drive along and find a fishing spot.
We walked onto the beach expecting a deserted expanse of sand – instead the place was chockers with 4WDs lined up along as far as you could see with people fishing. The big high tide was the ideal time for fishing. We saw a man with a very bent fishing rod about 50 metres away and got up there to watch him pull in a good size salmon. They need to be bled immediately (and most say eaten that day) and the boys were in amongst it all as the man quickly dispatched the fish, bled it and then filleted it up. We had a good chat to the couple about travels and how the fishing was here.
The locals disappear on their dune buggies to their ‘secret spots’ along the 200km or more of endless beach – one guy has a trailer with an assortment of a dozen rods to choose from depending on conditions. Our new friends were regular visitors usually staying for a few weeks and fishing every day. As his rod bent over again he quickly handed the rod to Josh to have a go but the line went slack so no luck – the sharks patrolling the beach were quick to snap the line and/or take your hooked fish. Once the fresh salmon had been neatly filleted and bagged up for the fridge it was handed to us to take for dinner that night – very generous people who really just wanted to make the boys happy – plus they were eating so much fish while they stayed here that one salmon was insignificant.
With dinner sorted we pushed on towards Broome and decided that we could make it by the late afternoon and googled up a caravan park to stay at. We got into town and set up camp a short walk from Cable Beach. We ended up driving to the beach to watch the sunset (and the boys found the camels who were wrapping up for the day) and then drove across town to Town Beach where we’d realised the tides and the full moon were ideal for the ‘Staircase to the Moon’ event – something that only happens occasionally when the mudflats are exposed at a very low tide and the full moon is rising.
We arrived just in time and the place was busy as they have the ‘staircase markets’ whenever the event occurs. Very worthwhile seeing if you are here at the right time. The enormous moon rises over the ocean and a beam of moonlight brings the mudflats to life with the remaining water lit up like steps up to the moon. The serious photographers used tripods to get a good clear shot – the rest of us took blurry images – we recommend just sitting back and enjoying rather than getting caught in the frenzy of the photo op.
Back to our caravan park with a brief stop to get some eggs and breadcrumbs for our fish. The boys helped on the production line of fish fillet prep and we cooked the most delicious fish – many don’t rate the salmon at all and just use them as a catch-and-release sportfish – but this was very nice.
On Wednesday morning we did some Skype school lessons as Term 2 had begun. The pool in the caravan park was awesome so we spent some time relaxing and Cammy impressed everyone with his sudden ability to swim across the pool. The cave under the waterfall was lots of fun for all the kids.
We spent the rest of the day looking around Broome, Visitor Info Centre, a bit of shopping, tried to spot the local snub-fin dolphins but weren’t successful (the large turtles, on the other hand, were everywhere!). We claimed a spot down on the sand on Cable Beach for the sunset and popped some bubbly to enjoy the very pleasant place that this is. Instead of the postcard-perfect clear sunset like last night, this evening a cloud out on the horizon made the sunset so much more spectacular with so much more texture and colour and patterns – amazing!
We hit bed early as we had an early morning appointment tomorrow with some dinosaur footprints.