Living in a Marsupial World
 
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It’s official: we’ve made it to the west coast! We’ve traversed Australia from East to West, woohoo!

We arrived earlier than anticipated, since we initially planned on first spending a few days romping around in Alby on the western half of the Gibb River Road, a famous 4WD track that cuts straight through the heart of the Kimberly and boasts some of the best scenery Australia has to offer. Some say the land surrounding the Gibb is Australia’s last frontier due to the extreme road conditions, numerous river crossings and general lack of humanity. Naturally we wanted a piece. 


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A sweet pair of hooters at our first campsite in Broome
Neville had previously suggested, given our time constraints, that we at least drive in enough of the way to see Bell Gorge. We were just about to start gearing up in Derby for the trip when we happened upon a very important and not well advertised bit of information that became our reality check – that there would not be a drop of petrol to buy for the entire 600+ km loop we intended to drive. On top of that, the dirt track would be extra corrugated and generally brutal due to it being the end of the tourism season for the area. As we ruminated on this, we took one look at Alby and could almost hear him whimpering, pleading with us not to subject him to almost certain death. There was a collective gut feeling that Alby didn’t stand a chance, so we decided to call it a miss and pass on the Gibb River Road. We were absolutely gutted over this, but knew we’d probably made the right choice. If I find myself back in Australia sometime later in life, I am flying to Darwin, renting a solid, DIESEL four wheel drive and I am doing the Gibb east to west and not stopping til I make it to Derby, so help me Gahd.


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Mar soaking up the rays at Cable Beach
When we arrived in Broome, we immediately liked the vibe. Back in the 19th century, Broome was a boomtown for the Asian pearling industry, allowing it to prosper despite its remote location. Due to this disconnect from the rest of Australia, the town developed a unique character. While the rest of Australia seemed to ignore the fact that they are more an Asian country than a European one, Broome has embraced it. There were classic Aussie corrugated steel buildings with curved roofs in the Japanese style, streets with names like Matsumoto and Yu, and plenty of Asian-inspired food. Walking around town you felt more like you were on an island in the South Pacific rather than some alternate dimension Texas.

We were particularly excited about spending some time at Cable Beach, a lovely expanse of powdery white sand and swimmable waters. We took this opportunity to finally use the trick kite that Devin had hauled since Brisbane. I took this opportunity to continue the tan that my stubbies had started. I'm fairly certain offshore ships could see the reflection off my lily white thighs and thought it was some kind of distress signal.

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Broome's iconic open-air movie theater (featured in the film Bran Nue Dae)
Due to our time spent with Neville, who came from Broome and spent nearly a decade working on pearling boats, it felt like we had a more intimate knowledge of the town before we even saw its downtown. While we were at his home in Udialla, Neville would regale us with stories from his pearling days. It turns out Neville was one of the last of the traditional pearl divers, using the metal and glass helmet that was hand-screwed onto the oilskin suit, which was weighted down with lead-soled shoes and fed with air through a tiny hose that went all the way back to the ship deck. Bad. Ass.


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Spectacular Gantheaume Point
We only spent a few days exploring this awesome place, but while we were there we enjoyed some spectacular coastal sunsets. One of our favorite spots was Gantheaume Point, a dramatic outcropping of ocean and wind-beaten rock that proved to be a prime sunset viewing location (and contained some fossilized dinosaur footprints!). It went especially well with a bottle of wine, “reduced for quick sale” cheese, cherry tomatoes, olives, bread and chocolate. Apparently the area held strong cultural significance to the local Rubibi people – we could certainly see why.


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Good Times.
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Refreshing brews on a sweaty Broome night
We also had another rare tasting of great Australian microbrew in Broome’s own Matso’s Brewery. Their prices were a bit outrageous and although we were largely ignored by our waitress and paid far too much for some toasted bread, the beer itself was quite delicious. We sampled six of their in-house brews and one of our favorites was surprisingly their Mango Beer. I say surprisingly because we usually shy away from fruit-flavored alcoholic drinks, but the mango they use is local and the taste is subtle yet refreshingly sweet. It went really well with their very spicy Chili Beer to create a “chango” beer as we were told to call it. It was the kind of beer you salivated over on a hot day in Oz.


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We were hoping to meet back up with Neville while in Broome, since he brought up the possibility of a bit more work in the Dampier Peninsula, but that never worked out. Seriously lacking in funds, we decided it was time to move on south and look for work.


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Mustache-trimming party before heading out

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