Sorry to say we did not hang around in the Northern Territory or in the north of Western Australia as it was so hot. The summer heat had arrived a month early and even the locals were struggling. At 9am in the morning we were already reaching 40 deg c. Phew!
We drove around 6 hours a day for 5 days (with the air conditioner going full blast) to cross the state of Western Australia hoping to find cooler temperatures and perhaps a sea breeze on the west coast. We drove through wide valleys with tabletop escarpments rising high on either side, across plains as flat as a tack where suddenly high rocky mounds seemed to pop out of the ground. Are they old mountains that have been worn away by time and the harsh elements? Past the Bungle Bungles, beehive shaped towers, originally an old river bed which was one large block but over millions of years rock has been worn away by torrential rain, wind and summer heat leaving fantastic shaped rocks.
Having arrived in Broome we found it was a little cooler (37 deg c!) and we were at the right time to witness the 'Staircase to the Moon'. During the winter months as the full moon rises it casts its silvery glow over the retreating tide in Roebuck Bay and the way the light reflects off the water resembles a 'staircase'. This was a must see. The evening was drawing in, everyone was poised with tripods set up, cameras at the ready, filters on lenses, to take pictures of this unusual phenomenon. As the sky darkened, the moon, a big silver disc, started to rise above the horizon, throwing its silvery beam across the bay, the staircase started to appear then just at the critical moment clouds rolled in spoiling the effect. That's nature!
For a couple of days we camped by the famous 'Cable Beach', said to be one of the top 10 beaches in the world. It is a long expanse (22kms) of fine pale gold sand with the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean gently lapping its shore.
The town of Broome is very white. Most of the buildings are constructed from white corrugated iron. Very little timber is used as the termites would have a field day.
On the drive south from Broome we stopped for lunch in the busy port of Port Hedland. While watching a fully loaded ship being towed out of the narrow harbour mouth by tugs we sat down to enjoy our lunch but I think the flies enjoyed it more than we did. They settled on the food within milliseconds and no amount of hand flapping helped. We were frightened to open our mouths to take a bite as there was a good chance a few flies would fly in our wide open cavities and be chewed up along with our sandwich!
On my bucket list has been the wish to snorkel on Ningaloo Reef, a fringe reef on the west coast. We found a fantastic camping spot just across from the blue, blue ocean in Coral Bay. I squeezed my body into my swimming cossie, googles and snorkel gear at the ready, along with my bright pink noodle (my floatation device) and it was off to the beach. I walked through the warm shallows, out to the deeper aqua blue coloured water, positioned my noodle to keep me afloat and plopped face down into the water. It was amazing, so many fish, small and large swimming amongst the soft corals, going about their business not taking any notice of the strange face staring down at them. The corals here aren't as colourful as those on the Great Barrier Reef but it was fantastic. I even managed to get Paul to expose his body to the sun and come in for a swim.
One afternoon it was feeding time and we watched as ½ metre long Spangled Emperor fish (a type of Snapper) were fed. As we stood in the warm shallows they swam in and around our legs, we could feel their fins and tails brush our skin as they swam past looking for the special pellets they are fed. Following along were two brightly coloured parrot fish looking for any leftovers!
As luck would have it we are in Western Australia in time to see the states beautiful display of wild spring flowers. Carpets of the daintiest flowers bloom along the road sides and out in the bush amongst the scrub in a wonderful array of colour, pale lemon, periwinkle blue, pink and lilac. Paddocks are dotted with sunshine yellow, cream and cornflower blue flowers waving in the breeze. Small low growing shrubs are covered with a profusion of beautiful bright cerise pink, purple and white flowers. The pillar box red Sturt Desert Pea flower appears in clumps and clusters joining the display. The gum trees are also in bloom. One of the most awesome sights was to see the wreath flowers blossoming in the sandy soil. How amazing that this red, dry, arid land can produce such a spectacle.
That's it for now.
Hope all is well.
Love Liz and Paul x