27/9/09 – 6/10/09
After spending a few weeks living out of IGAs and smaller local ‘supermarkets’ it was nice to be arriving in a town serviced by Coles and Woolworths. If there’s one thing that I find hard to be a budget-shopper for, it’s food. After not seeing hardly anyone I’d met before in Exmouth and staying in a dorm with only one guy, who’s sleeping pattern was the polar opposite to mine, it was really cool to walk into the Kimberley Klub and get mobbed by Anouk, Rick – the Dutchies – and Nina and Timm – the Germans. The hostel is probably the best I’ve been to so far for atmosphere – it’s got a pool, bar, decent sized kitchen, lots of tables to eat/drink at, pool and table tennis tables, a big tv area with sofas, a volleyball court…and hammocks! Unlike the normal hammocks that the hostels in Geraldton and Denham had, these were hung in a clothes-hanger sort of fashion from the ceiling, so you couldn’t lie down in them but they were great for squeezing into, getting wrapped up and falling asleep in, and gently swaying in the breeze.
Other cool things were the offers the bar did, like pizza (2 slices, ordered from the local pizza joint) and a beer for $10 and the, not so easy to take advantage of, 30 seconds of free beer. Every day the hostel runs a free bus to Cable Beach at 10am and 2pm – nice for a few hours of frying yourself in the hottest sun. They also run a bus to Town Beach on each night that the Staircase to the Moon phenomenon occurs. Bike hire is offered at $15/day and the bikes were in better condition than anywhere I’ve paid more to rent a bike from. I stayed in a 6-bed dorm but, as long as you stay in a dorm, it doesn’t matter what size of dorm you’re in as they are arranged in sets of 4 with only dividing walls between them, so you can hear all the noise from the other 3 dorms and, at night, see the light spilling over when someone comes into one of the other dorms.
On the first day there was no question what the plan was – straight on the morning bus to Cable Beach. Reaching the steps that lead down to the beach the first thing we noticed was the board giving predicted conditions for the day – the one that really caught our eye was the water temperature: 28degrees, don’t mind if I do! The surf/boogy-board rental place was pretty reasonable and we each got a surf-board for 4 hours for $25. And so began my first day of trying to jump on a big plastic board while getting chased down by a wave about as high as me – it was awesome. I think I only actually managed to stand on the board for about 3 seconds over the 4 hours, but at least by the end I’d pretty much got the hang of catching a wave and so could just lie on my belly and cruise back to shore on top of the bubble-bath-like surf. Even wearing a rasher, after 4 hours my belly and ribs were extremely tender and so ruled out going back again the next day. Lying on the board so much also seemed to have aggitated a spot on my stomach causing it to swell up a bit, so I was hoping that would calm down before heading out into the surf again. For all the injuries I seemed to sustain, the amount of sea-water I inhaled completely got rid of the really sore throat that I’d woke up with that morning, but walking out of the sea to find that every time I tilted my head forward water would uncontrollably spill out of my nose was a bit disgusting!
I thought Exmouth was hot, but this was definitely a different level – basically even more hot and humid. After walking all of the 10 minutes in the late afternoon sun to Woolies I had to find the first chiller cabinet and take as close an interest in the food within as I could without it being obvious that, ideally, I’d like to be in there too. Later on I went with, what seemed like, most of the hostel went to see Inglourious Basterds at the open air cinema. It wasn’t quite as open-air as the bunch of chairs in the middle of a park I’d imagined but about half of the seriously comfy deck-chairs weren’t under the canopy that extended towards the screen so quite a lot of the film was spent looking up at birds, bats and clouds floating past the moonlit – but still very starry – sky. I thought it was pretty good going that only by the end of the film was I starting to the feel the cold from not wearing only shorts and a t-shirt and nothing on my feet. When we left I noticed some smarter folks had brought pillows and blankets make themselves more comfy but, for what they were compared to big cinema seats, the deck chairs were definitely up to the job. Oh and they also accept pretty much any form of student ID in there so that got me a ticket for $12 instead of $16.
Although I never actually got round to visiting any of the pubs in Broome, I’m led to believe that most of them are actually different facades of the same building so there isn’t a lot of real choice in where you drink. The alternative, and almost as popular a choice especially with some of the locals, to the pubs was to buy a 6 pack and find a shady bit of grass to park down on – there was a nice patch near the Last Resort hostel, although the first night we hung out there someone – who could have been the owner but I don’t really know – got a bit worked up and threatened to call the police. The second night we were there the police actually visited the hostel and didn’t seem to care about us so it seems like quite a safe spot to have a cheaper night out at.
On one of the quieter days I took a walk down to Town Beach – it’s quite a nice walk from the town centre along past the Mangroves and Roebuck bay and in the late morning the sun is at a good angle to let a polarising filter really pull the sky down to brightness that is comparable to, if not darker than, the sublimely tropically-coloured sea. The day after, I rented a bike and did pretty much the same route, in a lot less time, then continued on across town towards Gueantham Point. I stopped where the road turned to dirt and kicked myself when I got back and realised that the Point was only a few hundred metres away. While I was down there I did nip onto the quiet end of Cable Beach, although there were still plenty people there. It took the best part of an hour to cycle (along the roads) the length of Cable Beach but that included a detour into the dunes along one of the walking trails which cover most of the dunes, bush and the beach itself. Later on, I went back to Town Beach with Yvonne and Kate and found it was a really nice place to sit on the grass watching the purple hues rise over the sea as the sun went down behind us. We met a french couple, who were living out of their car, there so invited them along to our late-night park drinking sessions. If I get a car of my own and start living out of it I can see it being really hard to meet half as many people as I have done by staying in hostels and will definitely miss decent showers and kitchens.
I can’t remember what night it was now, but Yvonne made the best Thai curry I’ve ever tasted. I like to think my dedication to stirring the sauce may have helped somewhat but the small fact that she’s from Thailand probably was the winning factor. If I can track down exactly how she made it I’ll probably make a post for it as I’d love to be able to make it properly myself sometime.