Enjoying Broome

Days 395-397

I booked a two-hour jet ski tour, but I was the only person who signed up. The instructor called me and said he could still do the tour but would have to limit it to an hour since it was only me. He explained that we’d only skip the really choppy part, so I’d still get to see the good sections. 

I drove my scooter to the beach and found the trailer with the jet skis and the guide. Sam looked like Bill from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He was in his 20s, had dark blonde wavy hair, and was about 5’9” tall. Sam was from Geraldton, and he works in Geraldton and Broome, depending on the season. The trailer is mobile, so he can take it anywhere. 

Sam unloaded the jet skis by backing the trailer into the ocean. He asked me to hold on to his jet ski while he got mine off the trailer. It wasn’t easy because it was so heavy, and the waves were forcing the machine around. 

Then Sam got my machine off the trailer and told me to drive it over the waves and into the ocean to wait for him. The waves were a lot bigger than they appeared, and they were difficult getting over. 

I made it past the waves and waited for Sam. He met me out there on his machine, and I followed him to the first destination. The waves were so big; I had to jump over them. Somehow, Sam was able to go straight through them. I asked Sam if I was doing something wrong because I couldn’t cut through the waves; I was bouncing over them. Sam said I wasn’t doing anything wrong. His machine was much heavier than mine, which enabled him to cut through the waves. 

Our first stop was at a cable. We turned our machines off while Sam explained that the line is the world’s longest underground cable. Australia wasn’t telegraphically connected with other countries until a cable was laid under the ocean from Java, Indonesia, to Darwin in 1872. Once that was connected, a landline was connected from Darwin to Adelaide. While I was in Adelaide, I watched a documentary on the journey (and how many groups didn’t make it) to find Darwin’s best route. Australia was the only country in the world not connected through the telegraph. Once it was connected, news first went through Adelaide before making it to Sydney. 

The cable to Darwin had problems because of underwater volcanic activity, so they considered Broome. The line was laid in 1889 and ran from Java to Broome. It connected Europe to Western Australia until 1914. 

We continued driving our jet skis, and Sam warned me that we would go through choppy waters. It was so choppy that I had a hard time controlling my machine. We stopped at a section of rocks where Sam told me about the history. It used to be a sacred spot where aboriginal boys were made into men from ages seven to eleven. It’s no longer used or considered sacred. 

The next stop was at dinosaur footprints. The tide was far back, so it was hard to see the tracks. Sam told me that the rumor in town was that someone stole the two most famous tracks during the night two months ago. He wasn’t sure how someone could steal them, considering they weighed tons. 

On the way back, Sam told me that I could go as fast as I wanted, and he’d follow behind me. There was a smooth section, and I increased the throttle. It was a blast! Unfortunately, I got carried away and hit a huge wave going way too fast. I slammed into the giant wave, getting completely submerged by it. I slowed down and was soaking wet. It was also painful. 

Sam pulled up next to me and said, “That wave really got ya.” The waves and currents were much more powerful than I’ve ever experienced while on a jet ski. 

When we arrived back at the trailer, I talked with Sam for a little while. He’s traveled solo a lot and prefers it. Now he has a girlfriend, and she’ll yell at him at the end of the day because she wanted to do “couple things,” but he wanted to do adventure things like jet ski. He said, “Sometimes, it’s nice to do different things, so then we have something to talk about, but she prefers to do everything together.”

Sam warned me about snails that were on the beach. They have a point on the top of them, and if you get stung by it, “you’ll be dead in an hour and a half.” Great. I’ll add it to my list of things that will kill you in Australia. I asked him about alligators, and he said they only pass through the area, so they’re not there all the time. However, the beach was closed the day before because a guy was swimming, and a hammerhead shark was in a wave next to him. People shouted to the man, and he ran out. Sam said, “It was a tourist, so they closed the beach for the day.” 

I noticed there were never lifeguards around at the beaches. There would be a small sign warning of things like alligators, which was so wild to me. 

I laid out on the beach sunbathing. Later, I realized that I got bit by sand flies and have lots of itchy bites on me. The morning that I woke up at Eighty Mile Beach, I had many bites all over the top of one foot and didn’t know what it was. Sam informed me that it was from tiny sand flies. 

It was sweltering outside, so I was done sunbathing. I ordered a sandwich at a hut and drove back to my Airbnb. I got some writing done and relaxed for the rest of the day. 

The next day I bummed around while getting a few things done online. I signed up for a whale-watching cruise, and the shuttle picked me up at 2:40 pm. When we arrived at the beach, we had to climb on a small boat with wheels. That boat was the coolest thing! It held about ten of us, and we sat on the side of it while holding on. The wheels and engine took us into the water. Once we could float, the wheels pulled up, and the engine took us out to a larger boat. 

They do this because of the tides. Boats are stored out in the ocean, and there’s no boat dock. Once we pulled up to the larger craft in the sea, we climbed up the ladder. 

The tour was full of families and couples. I sat at the front bow on a metal, grated floor. The water occasionally splashed on me, and it was extremely salty. As we cruised around, we saw a few whales near the boat. We mostly just saw their backs and tails. Occasionally they would blow air and water into the sky. 

While we watched and searched for whales, a woman talked over a speaker giving information about humpback whales. There are 80,000 worldwide, and they are all over the world. There are 30,000 around Australia. Humpback whales are conscious breathers, meaning that one side of their brain has to stay awake to remember to breathe when they sleep. They will rest for six to eight minutes and then switch which side of the brain stays awake. 

Some of the neurons in their brains are similar to humans. One whale lost a calf, and she carried him for two weeks because of the grief she experienced. The woman mentioned the whale that saved a diver from a shark. I had seen the video, and it’s pretty incredible. 

The woman continued with information as we searched for whales. She said that dolphins are the only animal to pass the “self-recognition” test with a mirror. 

I sat on the deck near the railing and could see straight below to the ocean. Several jellyfish floated around us, which was amazing to see. I’ve only seen jellyfish at aquariums, and seeing one in the wild was magical. 

A girl walked around with trays of appetizers, but I had pre-ordered two glasses of wine. I had to get it myself, so I left the bow. The bartender gave me both glasses at once, probably thinking I was with someone. We were almost back to shore, so I had to hurry and drink one glass (also so I didn’t look like a lush). 

I sat down in the main section and quickly felt the wine on my mostly empty stomach. The sunset was amazing. 

As I was getting off the small boat to board the shuttle, a man said, “Looks like you were enjoying your wine.” What the hell did that mean? I only had a glass in each hand because the crew poured both at once. 

The next day, I washed my clothes and hoped they dried outside when I needed to pack. I really missed having a dryer. I repacked my bags because of the ten-day tour. I would ship my suitcase, but I needed clothes and items for the adventure tour. 

I drove my scooter to various points around the peninsula and rocks. I walked around the dinosaur rocks but couldn’t find the tracks. 

I wanted to enjoy driving my scooter for as long as I could. I stopped at a pharmacy to get a few items and then had to return my scooter. I ate some food next door and tried to figure out how to get a taxi back to my Airbnb. Uber and Lyft were not in Broome. 

As I searched online to find a taxi, one pulled up to the fast-food restaurant! The driver let me jump into the minivan, but had another passenger to drop off first. The aboriginal woman had taken the taxi to the restaurant and asked the driver to wait for her. She was friendly and said I could jump in too. After we dropped her off at a house, the driver took me to my Airbnb. 

I talked with the driver, and he told me that he came to Australia from England in his 20s (he was now in his 70s) and hitchhiked for two years. He said, “That was back before the loonies started killing people.” When he went to Australia, the English wanted English people to populate Australia. They offered a boat ride for £10, so he took the offer. 

After two years, the man took a boat back to England for £420, and it took five weeks. He shared a room with three other guys, and it included all of his food. The man met his wife on the boat, and they lived in England together (south of London) for 14 years. They also had a couple of children.

The man’s wife couldn’t stand the grey skies and weather in England any longer, so they moved back to Australia. They were married for 42 years and had been divorced for eight years. I asked what happened, and the man said, “I was naughty and messed around.”

The man lived in Perth for half of the year and Broome for the other half. He was a taxi driver in Perth but said Uber had destroyed the taxi industry, and he can no longer make money there. Broome doesn’t have Uber or Lyft, so he can still make good money driving a taxi there. However, it’s a seasonal town, so he can’t make money during the non-tourist season. Plus, it gets too hot, so he lives in Perth during that period. 

When I arrived at my Airbnb, I only had an hour to finish packing. Colleen drove me to the Greyhound station so I could ship my suitcase. The station was a large, outdoor building in a gravel lot. I stood outside at the counter while the woman got everything set up. It cost $88 to ship, and the limit was 23 kilos. My suitcase weighed 24.6 kilos. The woman said that since it was going to Darwin (where they have a larger facility), she would let it slide. 

As the woman checked in my suitcase, the radio was on. The announcer talked about a drunk guy and said, “Only in Australia…” I laughed and told the woman that’s how we describe Florida. There is even a game where you can Google “Florida man” along with your birthday (month and day), and there will be a crazy story. For example, mine is, “Florida man arrested after hitting girlfriend in face with burrito.” Only in Florida. 

A customer in front of me took a long time, making Colleen late for her hair appointment. It was with the only hairdresser in town, so we drove to the resort anyway. I told Colleen to blame it on me. She rushed inside and was accepted. 

I walked around the resort with little bungalows. There was a pool and a beautiful garden. Then I walked down to Cable Beach again and watched the sunset while enjoying a beer outside. 

It was my last night in Broome. I didn’t know what to expect from the ten-day adventure tour. I hoped it would be amazing, and like Flic said, “It was all for a reason.” I soaked up the views, enjoying the breeze. In the end, I enjoyed Broome. It is a beautiful town with great people. Instead of remembering it as a place where my car died, I remember it as a place where I met great people, enjoyed driving a scooter, and started the next chapter of my travels. 

Thanks for reading! Hit the Like button or leave a comment! Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss a post!

Published by Christy

I quit my corporate job and sold my house in Los Angeles so I can travel and write. I grew up in St. Louis, MO and moved to the Los Angeles area after college. I worked in the business world for 15 years. Follow along to see pictures and hear stories of people I've met along my journey so far - driving to Alaska.

One thought on “Enjoying Broome

  1. Pingback: Conflict

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: