On our journey in to Derby we visited the Derby Commonage, an area containing several of Derby’s historical landmarks, including the Boab Prison Tree, Myall’s Bore and Frosty’s Pool. Derby developed primarily as a service centre for local pastoralists and was declared a town in 1883. The first wooden jetty was built in 1885 to ship wool and later cattle from this isolated town throughout Australia. It is also renowned for its large tidal variations, the second largest in the world at up to 11.8m high. During our explorations we stopped to visit the old Gaol built in 1896 to hold prisoners waiting to be sentenced or transferred to the Common Gaol in Broome. Derby is one of the two principle towns to offer tours to the Horizontal Falls which is one of the reasons for our visit.
We left Derby and headed for Broome where we were lucky to secure the last spot at Roebuck Bay Caravan Park, adjacent to the picturesque Town Beach. The next day we set off to explore Broome on foot and what better way to start the day than with a visit to Matso’s Brewery. Here we were able to sample a large range of craft beers including their popular Mango beer and their mouth burning Chilli Beer, a relaxing way to start the day. Continuing on we reached China Town, the heart of Broomes Historic identity, starting with the old Streeter’s Jetty and then onto Cygnet Bay Pearls where we were able to listen to an informative talk on how cultured pearls are created and read some history about the pearling industry in Broome. Later in the afternoon we followed the many 4X4’s down to the beach area to the north of Cable Beach and watched the three trains of camels wandering along the beach front while the sun set over the water. The following morning we arose early to drive out to Gantheaume Point for low tide to see the dinosaur footprints in the 130million year old rocks. With help from fellow would be paleontologists we managed to track down a couple of the smaller footprints and explore the rocky outcrops.
This morning we continued south, surrounded by a different landscape, one of mostly open, grassy plains as we followed the western coast line, through cattle country. Our destination was 80 Mile Beach Caravan Park, an idyllic and popular campsite adjacent to the beach. We took an obligatory walk up this sandy and shell covered shore line, which was also heavily infested with fishermen trying their luck, with some succeeding. We returned later with drinks in hand to watch another sunset. The following morning we were up early to catch a magical sunrise.
Today we left our idyllic beach retreat and continued on to Port Headland. In the centre of town we found an oasis, Marapikurrinya Park, one of a few in town and within the park was Finucane Lookout where we could watch the enormous iron ore ships being loaded before their journeys overseas. You could also see some of the many ships waiting out at sea for their turn to come in to load up. Time to head out to South Hedland and the Blackrock Caravan Park but first a stop to photograph the Rio Tinto Salt mine – it’s not all about iron ore here in Port Hedland. Later we returned to town to visit Cemetery Beach, where we were told you could see the Green Back Turtle on the in coming tide and yes, we were fortunate enough to spot a few. A pleasant way to end the day. We had planned to head to Karijini National Park tomorrow but due to a fatal accident on the Great Northern Highway, the road was still closed in both directions so we will stay in Port Hedland for another day.