Broome & Surrounds

broome feature pic

Offroad testing products with RV Storage Solutions

Broome is an out of the way place. It is as remote as it is truly special. A town that was built on the history and chase of the Pearl shell has become a bustling multicultural cosmopolitan town. Some say an expensive over rated waste of time, we say, can’t wait to get back there again.

"Woggy" Minshull outside his one stop shop.
Karen couldn't wait to hit the warm Cable Beach.

Broome is the start of many peoples track into the Kimberley’s. This is evident by the amount of 4WD’s that are in town having a look see and gearing up for the push North. Its also the ending destination for those coming the other way that started their Kimberley quest in Kununurra or Halls creek. This also very evident by the amount of knackered 4WD’s on tray trucks, hoists and garage floors.

My mate Warren Minshull or “Woggy” as he likes to be known owns and runs Minshull mechanical and 4X4 Mega store in Broome. “Woggy” also owns Broome towing and recovery. Woggy could write a 10 volume book on what he says comes and goes from his premises. Known also as the “Kimberley Kid” Woggy was born and bred up here and there is not much he doesn’t know about either. He is also our Kimberley distributor.

If you are in town and need help or advice on your vehicle, do yourself a favour and go and see Warren.

Go and see his back yard where you will see all the peoples 4WD’s that thought they could cross a creek somewhere before the tide came in only to end up bogged and under water. !!

Tides up here can run up to 10 meters in difference between ebb and full.

Streeter's Jetty in China Town.
Fishing's pretty good too!!

If you like sun, the sea, magnificent beaches, fishing and an atmosphere that would chill out an ice cube, Broome is for you.

There are many ways to do and see Broome and surrounds. Many people fly in, stay at a resort of their choice ( there are plenty of resorts to choose from and more go up each year) and pretty much see what they can on foot or by hired transport.

Fishing Again !!
Broome Museum.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to see that way. A night out at Sun Pictures, days lazing on Cable Beach, shopping in China town, refreshments at one of the many trendy cafes, bars and restaurants, a fishing charter, viewing the stair way to the moon, the markets every weekend, a massage at a day spa, visiting the Malcolm Douglas Croc park, Willy Creek Pearl Farm tours and so on.

All good stuff and a great way to do Broome for a fly in visit for a week or two.

Then there’s our preferred method.

Bring the 4WD and the boat. You still get to do all of the above and your options double in the bargain.

Now you can drive to Willy Creek, Barred Creek and Crab Creek to name a few. Take your time and explore the area and its environs. Collect shells on a remote beach ( don’t get bogged or you will have to call Woggy !!) or for that matter, camp on a remote beach. Flexibility and non conformity is the way to go if you can.

Rugged shore line at Entrance Point.
A done up pearl lugger cruising off Cable Beach.

It was a huge haul for us from Gisborne Victoria. We took the tinny with our new Oz tent and found we could do what we wanted when we wanted.

Over 6,000 Km’s one way with lots of side adventures. We came across the Nullarbor to Kalgoorlie, turned North and headed through gold country.

It took us 10 days to get to Broome with stops at Leonora, Meekatharra and Newman for a few days each.

We fossicked on the Nannine, Cue and Meekatharra gold fields for little gold return but found many mementos of yesterday including an 1865 threepence miles from any known settlement then or now.

Goes to show the amount of miles the old diggers did in the search for auriferous ground. Great fun and great historical areas.

Me and my mate Shag cleaning the catch.
Karen hooked up to a beauty

It was beautiful but Broome we were headed for and we could almost taste the Coral Trout and the Blue lined Emperor steaks on the BBQ, so we pushed on. Our base at Broome was at a mates place who was away playing in the Simpson desert.

We arrived via Port Headland to find it was the start of the school holidays. We were thankful that we were staying out of town on a few acres as the place was insane. We have never been here on school holidays before and I can assure you we never will again. It was just too much.

If you arrived in Broome at this time without a booking you were in trouble. There was not a room available and nor a caravan plot in a park. The local ovals were used as an overflow and they were just that, over flowing.

We got out of town as quickly as possible and spent lazy days on unpopulated beaches poking around the back creeks netting Mud crabs within 40 km’s of town. Hardly saw another soul.

After the school holiday exodus, it was back to normal so we hit the beaches and boat ramps in town.

Willy Creek Pearl Farm.
Coconut Well estuary.

In the middle of town at town beach, you can put your boat in, turn left for a couple of hundred yards and you are in Dampier Creek. It’s just amazing. In season it is a Mecca for Barra and where else so close to a town can you get a feed of mud crabs.

Crocodile Creek runs off Dampier Creek and on the high tide is accessible for some distance. The mangroves are another world and eco system that is quite unique.

Track out to Willy Creek.
Barred Creek estuary.

The further you can poke your boat up the creeks the better you will fare with the Mud Crabs. We got a few good feeds and had had what the locals call, a few great seafood “Cook Ups”.

Remember not to have any protruding items on your boats like Fishing rods or antennae’s. You will surely break them amongst the mangroves as you jockey for position.

Fresh fish frames and lamb necks seemed to work the best.

There is strict size limits and watch the tides as you will be left high and muddy if you don’t get out in time.

Fishing at the mouths of the creeks is also productive whilst your nets are attracting the muddies. Check them every 20 minutes or so.

An hour or so each side of high tide is all you have to get in and out.

Also watch for crocodiles as up those tight creeks is their territory.

Big termite mounds in the scrub - Barred creek.
Karen with a cracker Fingermark

Town beach is also the go to place for the stair way to the moon. This happens a couple of times a month and coincides with a low tide and a full moon. The reflection of the moon on the wet and shiny mud flats is a spectacle you must see. It is not unique to Broome and in fact we saw the same phenomenon at Port Headland on the way up and we had the event pretty much to ourselves.

Karen collecting shells at Barred Creek.
Sunset and Camels Cable Beach.

The ubiquitous camel ride on cable beach seems a must for most visitors. Personally I cant see the attraction but Karen loves Camels. There is even a camel shop in China Town which we seem to be always in. We have that many camels of all shapes and sizes in our house it’s not funny.

We also now seem to have a never ending array of sea shells. Karen now has a mission to walk every inch of every beach in search of new and interesting sea shells. It makes for some interesting sand driving to get her there and is all part of the fun.

We’ve read a few beachcombing books over the years and we reckon it wouldn’t be such a bad pastime. Especially with a metal detector. I’ve seen some pretty neat things come out of the sand.

The entrance to the Malcolm Douglas' Croc Farm.
Port of Broome.

Cable beach is an amazing stretch of sand. Named so because the submarine Telegraph cable came ashore here from Java. It starts at Gantheaume Point and heads North for miles. Gantheaume Point and other places such as Cape Leveque were named by the French explorer Nicolas Baudin in 1801.

It’s here you will see 130-million-year-old dinosaur footprints at very low tides. Anastasia’s Pool, carved out of the stone by a former lighthouse keeper to allow his arthritic wife to bathe in the salt water, are also at Gantheaume Point.

You can’t imagine this tranquil place being attacked by the Japanese in the second world war. Imagine being on Cable beach as eight Jap Zeros roared across the top of the sand dunes. They proceeded to blitz all the stationary aircraft both on land and the sea planes in the Bay. Over 100 people were killed and drowned by the Jap attack.

Broome was defenceless against this attack but however managed to shoot one plane down and wing several others with 6 x 303 rifles and one machine gun their only weapons. Most of the planes lost were being used to evacuate people out of Indonesia fleeing the Jap onslaught.

Southern side of Gantheaume Point.
Roebuck Bay.

The war years were difficult for the Broome population. When war was declared on Japan, the Japanese were interned. This proved an extraordinary situation. Most Japanese in Broome had been born there or had been there for decades. They were part of the society. They out numbered the whites several times over and could have easily taken over. However, they went quietly and understood. There was no violence. Infact most were well looked after in Jail and were let out quite often for special town events and activities.

It was the pearl shell however that galvanized the town into existence. From the early days of the 1860’s when the large oyster shell Pinctada maxima was discovered, the industry saw many changes.

The luggers owners were tough and ruthless people. They used and abused the aboriginals as conscripted slave skindivers until the advent of the hard hat diving suit in the 1880’s.

The Japanese were the best divers and the head diver was royalty in the town. The hard hats made the deep water shell accessible and the industry boomed and the town of Broome was declared in 1883 by Fredrick Napier Broome the Governor of Western Australia.

The Japanese cemetery in Broome.
Bronze diver statue China town.

Threats by Japanese luggers pre war and the war itself saw a decline in the pearling industry and the invention of the plastic button sounded the death knell.

Today Broome still thrives on the pearl industry but in cultivated south sea pearls not shell. So you can see there is plenty to check out if you are a history buff.

Broome is an intoxicating place. So your choice. Do it at a resort with ambivalence or sink your teeth into it and share its rich cultural history. Either way go and see Broome.

Love quartz covered red dirt.
Miners cottage Gwalia.

Port Headland south of Broome is really a mining town. It caters for the mines and not the traveller. As does Newman.

We found both towns rather uninspiring and ridiculously priced in all facets. The country around Newman is breathtaking in places with rock holes, gorges and the like nearby. These places are on the border of the fantastic Pilbara and the start of the amazing Kimberley and quite frankly they can stay there.

We bee lined it back to Meekatharra as we were to spend a few more days gold detecting and fossicking in the bush. The days were great but once the sun goes down make sure you have a jacket or two. Again we didn’t get rich from gold finds but managed to find lots of interesting things under the red soil. An old clay pipe and some old bottles were amongst our treasures.

Both myself and Karen have a passion for the old days and in particular life of the diggers on the goldfields. We don’t care for the mining companies only the alluvial gold seeker.
We do our homework and read lots of books and generally try to put ourselves where a particular thing or event occurred back in the 1890’s.

So to find relics as suggested means we were right where the old boys were and at least this time they were pretty thorough on finding the gold because we missed out!!

These trucks are massive. This one is at Newman.
What's left of the Nannine railway station.

Western Australia in general is amazing. The diverse South with their great Kauri trees to the tropical North and the stunning Kimberley is a place that can keep you occupied for years. It’s just a bloody long way away from Victoria. Every state in Australia has great places to go and see. It’s got me buggered why people bother to go over seas when we have all this in our own back yard. We learn a lot from our travels and always look forward to getting back to the factory to come up with new ideas for product that from experience we can see a need for.

What's left of Baileys Island.
What's left of the explosives stockade, Nannine.

We also test products when we are away to find out whether they are indeed good stuff and useable. If we use them and cannot break them, we sell and promote them with confidence. This trip proved to us that the new Aluminium roof rack which we had on the 200 series was infact tough, strong and durable. It made little noise at high speeds and had no significant impact on diesel usage. We did a few thousand Km’s of dirt and corrugated roads and again, no stress fracturing was evident. We had previously tested the prototype rack last year in the Kimberley and the same result was great. These racks are now released with confidence that they will last and do a great job for the user. The fact they weigh just 26 kgs is another bonus.

We have always been a sheep skin on bums people. This trip however saw us testing the new Black Widow Escape gear cotton canvas seat covers. Amazing !!
If you have never sat on a true set of pure cotton canvas seat covers, you don’t know what you are missing. These covers as opposed to the synthetic canvas covers that are the only ones available until now, will be a god send for sweaty bums Australia wide. They breath, no static build up , no shine and no burned bums. We are converts and it took a lot to get us off the sheepskin.

Typical Murchison scrub country.
Red dirt everywhere north of Leonora.

Western Australia has reaped vast riches from it mining activities. I accept that.

However the mining companies piss me off. They devastate the country side and really don’t give a stuff about cultural history and the effect they have on the environs. The photo of Baileys Island near Nanine is a testament to that.

Back in the 1890’s it was a great gold strike for the alluvial miner. There was probably several hundred men camped there, digging holes with a pick and shovel. Even in the 1980’s when gold detectors were first available, people found good gold with just a pick.

When the mines come in with huge machinery and open cut a whole area, there is nothing left. Its all gone and then they nick off and leave a huge hole which fills with brackish water and mounds of tailings everywhere.

Areas only mined by alluvial pick and shovel men revert back to natural bush very quickly. It takes a trained eye to even see where they have been. Its our history and should be sacred. It annoys me when you read about great things and can’t see them because a bloody mine has destroyed it or put a fence around it. GGGGRRRRRRRHHH

Gold country Meekatharra.
Love that Iron stone and quartz, Nannine.

Had my whinge now. Love mining companies, they buy a lot of RV Storage Solutions product.
Come see Australia, spend your money on a well equipped 4WD and you create the opportunity to visit anywhere, except where its “FENCED OFF”.


See you on the road,
Mark and Karen