|Travelling Australia - Journal 2006
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17-23 July 2006 - Broome (Part 2 of 3)
Weather during our second week in Broome was unusual for this time of year. Locals claim it is either the coldest week ever, or for at least 20 years, depending who you speak to. Nights have been down to 7 degrees minimum, days are warmer with a very pleasant couple of hours in mid-afternoon before the temperature drops towards sunset. For most of the week a strong, cold, easterly wind came up in the morning and gusted for much of the day. We had to re-arrange the A'liner annex/awning to ensure it wasn't damaged by wind gusts. Gusty wind stopped before the end of the week but the weather remained cool.
Early in the week we went for a ride in a hovercraft over the mud/sand flats in Roebuck Bay. At one point we stopped beside a turtle on the sand and the driver hopped out to pick it up and show the passengers. After crossing the bay we ran up on a beach and stopped the hovercraft while we climbed out to look at fossilised dinosaur footprints in beach rock. Then back to the hovercraft base near Broome.
|Hovercraft provide tours to remote areas around Broome. This one has stopped on the shore of Roebuck Bay while passengers look at dinosaur footprints in the rock.|
|Pindan cliffs facing rocky flats on Roebuck Bay where tourists seldom go unless they are birdwatchers.|
|Turtle stranded by the outgoing tide.|
The coastline around Broome is particularly colourful with two to three metre high cliffs of red pindan very common behind the beaches. Pindan is a hard earth coloured by iron oxide which becomes soft and greasy when wet; it erodes quite easily and turns into the fine red dust common on dirt roads and giving beach sand a reddish hue. Below the pindan is a variety of colourful banded Broome sandstones which readily erode into weird rounded shapes; there are also area of limestone forming flat areas of broken rock eroded into sandwich rocks of darker bands. The colour palette is completed by the deep blue sky and by the water colours; blue and blue green of the deeper water and the pale grey of the shallow water carrying a lot of suspended silt.
Later in the week we visited the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park at Cable Beach for a guided tour. The guide pointed out that there are two crocodile species in Australia. The smaller one is the Johnson River, or freshwater, crocodile which is gregarious, non-territorial and eats small animals, insects, birds and lizards. It lives only in freshwater and will not normally attack humans; but can re-act if cornered and threatened by people. The totally different Estuarine, or saltwater, crocodile lives in fresh, salt or brackish water. It is intensely territorial and aggressive; a male immediately attacks another male entering its territory. An estuarine crocodile eats anything up to and including a buffalo; it regards people as food and will stalk and attack humans when the opportunity arises. The crocodile park breeds crocodiles for skin and meat. The incubation temperature of eggs is controlled to produce male hatchlings since males grow faster and reach handbag length of 1.8 metres quicker than females.
During the week I had a dust deflector fitted to the back of the Territory to reduce the amount of red dust gathering in nooks and crannies in the rear door of the vehicle when I drive on dirt roads. There has been so much dust collected after some roads that I get covered in it when I open the door. Surprisingly, Ford in Perth did not have a deflector in stock so it had to come from "over-east" and took a few days to get to Broome.