Karijini to Pardoo Roadhouse
The best $100 I have ever spent is probably today on a crappy container cabin at Pardoo Roadhouse on the way to Broome. It’s only as big as a shoebox but after riding for 6 hours in the rain and getting soaked, it’s worth it to dry myself out, dry all my clothes out and dry my tent out (I had to pack it away in the rain this morning at Karijini). I can also sleep on a proper bed after several nights camping which my aching back is grateful for, and recharge all my dead camera batteries.
Once again, the simplicity but luxury of a hot shower and hot meal made my day, and I’m now lying on my clean bed with the heater on surrounded by wet clothes and tent sheets hanging in every conceivable space. I even splashed out on red wine with my meatballs to oil the old joints and now my head is heavy against the pillow.
Yes, it seems the rain finally caught up with me and it was my time for a thorough drenching. Riding in the heavy rain in Australia is not a pleasant experience, and I was soaked more from the deluge of water lifted from the road and thrown at me from each of the 32 wheels on the huge road-trains passing in the opposite direction than the rain itself, while also being blown from one side of the road to the other.
When it came to overtaking road-trains on my side, it was almost impossible to see through the wall of water thrown up behind them. Lucky kindly drivers often indicated to let me know the road was clear before I risked life and limb to ride into & through the deluge. However, sometimes they didn’t indicate, leaving me stuck a safe distance behind before a suitable window opened and gave me a glimpse of an open road ahead.
For some reason my GPS was playing up, and originally said I could make Broome from Karijini in one day. However, after 6 hours solid riding that proved to be wrong, and strangely the GPS distances were often way off from the road signs. I checked later on G Maps and found the distance to be almost 1000km, so no wonder it took forever to get anywhere!
So anyway, I decided to stop at this roadhouse and get an early night, which turned out to be about half way to Broome. Outside another shoebox cabin I saw an old Harley parked, and ventured round to find the owner smoking a tab (how come all Harley owners smoke?) He had set himself the challenge of riding the old girl around Oz but was pushed for time and so didn’t have much time for anything other than riding (seems a shame). Unfortunately his bike had proved to be pretty troublesome and had broken down 3 times in the first few days and almost caught on fire after a fuel leak… I love my Tiger! (touch wood!)
Pardoo Roadhouse to Broome
The next morning I was sure pleased to see the sun shining as I didn’t fancy another 6 hour ride in the rain sitting in wet pants. My GPS was still out (maybe showing distances as the crow flies?) – I’ll add it to my list of jobs to sort out.
I wrung the power on and sped up to warp speed to the first sight of interest along the way ‘80 Mile Beach’ – 80 miles of sandy beach each way you look – and not much else.
A pit stop at the lovely Sandfire Roadhouse was pleasantly augmented with lunch with an ostentation of peacocks (as that’s what they’re called, bizarrely) before I set off on the final stretch to Broome, land of pearls and tourists.
Eventually I made it to Broome and booked into the local YHA. As my next leg was going to be the infamous Gibb River Road and involve lots of camping in the middle of nowhere, I went down to the local supermarket and stocked up on camp food to see me through.
The Gibb River Road is a 660km unsurfaced road right through the Kimberley region, meant to be both challenging riding and remote. From what I’ve read on the internet it appears I’ll need a range of approx 450km to get to the first Road House at Mt Barnett after detouring for the gorges & sightseeing along the way. This means I need to carry at least another 10 litres of fuel as my current range with 19 litres is approx 300km on road (usually less off-road).
I’d heard a lot about the famous Cable Beach in Broome so I swung by to take a look before sunset. It was nice, but I’ve seen so many lovely beaches on my travels it didn’t stand out as anything particularly special to remember, except for being one of Australia’s most famous nudist beaches. Funny that the nudist area ends at Willie Creek. From what I saw it should have been called Little Wille Creek – ha ha! Amazingly the tidal range at Broome can reach 9m (30 feet), and box jellyfish and crocodiles can be your swimming partners at certain times of the year.
I also had a ride out to Gantheaume Point where at very low tides you can see dinosaur footprints from the Cretaceous period (approx 130 million years ago). Unfortunately the tide was in and I didn’t to see them enough to wait 6 hours for the tide to go back out.
Broome itself reminded me of Queenstown in New Zealand – lots of tourists, travellers and ‘trill seekers’ milling around numerous clubs and bars. After weeks of solitude I didn’t like it that much, and couldn’t wait to get on the road again for some peace and quiet. What a miserable sod I’m turning into! (Is that what happens when you get old?)
Back at the hostel I bumped into the unluckiest (or most jinxed) backpacking girl in the world whom I’d met first at Kalbarri. Within a few months of arriving her first car was crashed into & written off, second car stolen and third car broken down & beyond economical repair. I think she’s got the message and has started walking everywhere. We had a few beers and then I turned in early again as I was excited to start the Gibb River Road tomorrow!