People think Broome, they think Cable Beach. I'm guessing. But I'm probably right. They think the iconic camel train at sunset, the pearling industry and the sun melting into the Indian Ocean. All this is true of course, we spent a day or two exploring Broome and it's history of pearling and multicultural architecture and mish-mash of Japanese/Indonesian/Malay/Aboriginal/European life. But then we headed north, as everyone who visits Broome should I think, up the Dampier Peninsula to really discover what all the fuss is about...
Red, red, red cliffs meeting white sand beaches and that water. So turquoise! Indescribable really until you see it for yourself, it's like your eyeballs have exploded and you've never truly seen the colour of the ocean until you've seen it like this. We roamed through the labyrinth of mudflat tracks around Willie Creek until we found ourselves at Quandong Point for the night. A great campsite overlooking the water, but with some trees to shade us (still quite hot) and protect us from the ocean wind. As soon as dusk fell hundreds (ok maybe not hundreds, but a lot) of little hermit crabs all came scurrying about on the sand and weren't at all fussed about us, and as long as we watched where we stepped we weren't fussed about them either.
Next day after some lounging about (it is our honeymoon after all) we eventually packed up and headed further north to James Price Point. A big new gas mine is proposed to go here, I don't know all that much about it (I think it is all offshore though?) but there was a lot of placards and a group of protestors camping there. A lot of work being done on the road (basically just a sandy track) though so I think bets are hedged that it will be going ahead. Such a pristine area, I hope won't be destroyed or tarnished in any way, but like I said I don't know a whole lot on the subject.
After an afternoon of exploring north of James Price Point, finding a creek and following it out to wide open beaches, we decided to return to our camp at Quandong Point seeing as though it was so nice. Hammock was set up and an afternoon and following morning thoroughly whiled away.
We made our way north to the community of Beagle Bay where the Sacred Heart Catholic Church is a must see. It is absolutely covered in mother of pearl shell! Well not the actual church, but a lot of the interior is adorned - from the main spectacular altar, to the windows and the floor where it is inlaid up the centre aisle. Very beautiful.
Middle Lagoon was our destination, after our friends Elisha and Dan who were here last year highly recommended it. As we were here out of season though it was a bit dead...as in we were the only ones camping there! At first we weren't even sure if they were open. But camp we did, not far from the beach, Matt went fishing off the rocks and I crocheted in the shade. We're predictable like that. That evening we watched another perfect sunset over the ocean, the only ones on the beach, and Matt went for an impromptu swim in the ocean!
Our next stop further north up the peninsula was Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm - the oldest Australian owned and run pearl farm and the only 'true' farm open to tours and visitors. I spent awhile browsing the gallery showroom - exquisite jewellery all really well set with gorgeous pearls. I tried on a divine pearl and diamond bracelet, I wish I'd got a photo, my gosh it was gorgeous! It was also $30,000.
Onwards to the little Aboriginal community of One Arm Point, lunch by the beach and a look around the trochus shell hatchery they have there. They also house lots of marine animals like turtles, squids, huge barramundi and cute little clownfish. Matt feed the barra (scary!) while I stuck to the more gentle giant turtles.
The water at One Arm Point was beyond description. We walked out, it was fairly low tide, to the water and just marvelled at it, wading and taking some photos. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
Another night at a small Aboriginal run campground before heading back to Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm for a tour and to learn all about how they actually grow a pearl and harvest it. Very interesting how the seed the shells and grow them, makes you have a much greater appreciation for the end product knowing what has gone into it! More trying on of fabulous pearls, but didn't end up buying anything after much consideration as we thought I'd rather have something truly fabulous like a whole strand. We will be back!
We checked in to I suppose what you could call the 'most fancy' of the campgrounds on the peninsula, Kooljaman at Cape Leveque. A camping resort of sorts with safari tents down to beach camping. We opted for a little beach shack, right on the water (and very hot sand!) which provided us with shade and a cold freshwater shower in the back. It was the best idea ever to get it. We went for a swim in that blue/clear water, got salt in our skin and hair, bobbing about in the gentle waves, walked back up the beach to our hut and shower and whiled another afternoon away reading. Honeymoon bliss eat your heart out.
The next day we explored the beach some more, the still functioning lighthouse which shone brightly all night sweeping across the nearby rocks and ocean, before heading south again and back to our trusty campsite at Quandong Point. A nearby fire made for pretty smoky, windy, hazy night.
Driving back to Broome the following day to explore the markets, something which I had been looking forward to. Not as big I'm sure as in the tourist season but still lots of little stalls, a few pearl jewellery ones selling Indonesian/Chinese freshwater pearls rather than the Australian saltwater ones (which fetch four times the price). We did eventually decided that I couldn't leave beautiful Broome without a pearl and so I got a pearl ring at the markets, which I love. Some more exploring of Broome, the docks and the giant blowholes down near the lighthouse.
And just as we were leaving Broome a brilliant storm decided to roll in, creating this stunning scene. A spectacular finale to some of the best scenery we have seen on our journey around this amazing land...