A Pearl of a Day.

Pick up at 8.20 and we were on our way to Broom Airlines. Our substitute trip to Horizontal Falls was on.

There were two groups of 4. One being our group the other another 4 from Brisbane.

Our flying mosquito

Our two pilots introduced themselves – Michael and Bayley, a couple of young mavericks who looked like they’d just hurried from bed to be there!

No safety talk. Just a ‘listen carefully if I tell you something’ and out we walked to the plane. Or a mosquito as I referred to it. Tiniest plane I’ve ever been on. And quite old looking. Oh well we trust our Top Gun pilot.

Chris up front with our pilot

And with a quick tuneup we were off and away. It was a beautiful day. Clear blue skies, not a cloud and no wind – perfect.

We all had our headphones on with a little mic to talk to Michael and each other.

The colours below were wonderful

We flew over a crocodile park, a meat works, lots of trees, aboriginal communities.

We continued north over Derby and into Horizontal Falls. Stunning blue waters, the tidal rush between the 10 metre wide rock faces were making a surf like effect. This was where the jet boat hit the rock face.

The twin entrances at Horizontal Falls.

We saw the pontoon and houseboat we were meant to stay on.

Pristine water with pontoon & houseboat

We circled around and around taking in the beauty of this place. So many little islands. This cluster of many islands is known as the Buccaneer Archipelago.

We double backed towards Cygnet Bay. This beautiful area is home to the pearl farm that produces some of the most valuable pearls in the south seas.

We landed at a little red dirt airstrip and were collected in a small bus and taken to the pearl farm for a tour and lunch.

Cygnet Bay Pearl farm began when Dean Brown headed north of Broome in 1948 and started pearling. His son Lyndon Brown was the first non Japanese to culture a pearl.

Now it takes the provenance of each pearl very seriously. They can tell you the location found, size, lustre, blemishes of each pearl. They run a very impressive business.

Our guide Stephen has worked for the company for quite a few years and is passionate about this industry.

He took us through the steps that are needed to have a good pearl. It takes several years of caring for the oysters to help them grow a good pearl.

He opened 3 oysters before he found a pearl.

We then had a lesson in identifying the features of a pearl. Lustre, shape, colour, size, surface. Each one plays a part in the value of a pearl.

We moved into the gallery shop where I took my time to find something that ‘spoke’ ’ to me. Find something? I did. For my 0 birthday later this year. ……… all shall be revealed later.

The shape of the pearl determines its value

We had a lovely lunch in the little restaurant upstairs overlooking the beautiful bay.

View from the restaurant

While Jill and I contemplated a swim – as nice as it looked we decided not to get all wet for our trip back. We decided on a Prosecco instead to celebrate my purchase.

We headed back to the red runaway and in the blink of an eye Michael had us up in the sky.

We followed the coast back and marvelled at the colours and the effect the huge tides have on the coast line and the sand and mangroves.

We flew over two islands with iron ore mining being carried out.

As we headed further south we saw a few campers with their 4 wheel drives. How remote they are. How lucky they are to have these areas to themselves.

The colours of the tidal waters is amazing

We flew over our resort and a few minutes later we landed.

A perfect trip.

Back at Cable Beach we headed to the pool for a swim and a cocktail before our second flying treat for the day. A trip to the local outdoor theatre Sun Cinema an outdoor theatre. Tonight the movie was ……Top Gun: Maverick. What a great movie to finish off our flying adventure.

We sat in canvas deck chairs eating pizza sipping a beer under the clear skies. Twice planes flew overhead – so appropriate to the movie!

Waiting for the movie.

We all loved it. Even Tom Cruise.

Last day on the Gibb.

I have made packing up after each stop easy . The secret is not too many clothes and keep everything handy on the top of the bag in the same position!

Our last day on the Gibb River Rd and we want to fit as much in as possible.

Talking to other travellers we decided we must detour and visit Windjana Gorge to see the crocodiles and to Dimalurru to visit Tunnel Creek.

Breakfast included making a simple sandwich for lunch as there is nothing between here and Derby. Not a shop or petrol station. Nothing.

As we are packing the car I got chatting to a lady filling her water containers. We compare trips and I told her we are disappointed to be missing our house boat stay at Horizontal Falls because of the jet boat accident.

She shocked me by telling me they were there and her husband was on the boat.

She went on to describe the horrific scene as the boat with many injured people limited back to the pontoon. Many women with fractures in their lower limbs. It sounded awful. No wonder they are not ready to reopen. The staff are all traumatised and needing time off.

We are thankful it wasn’t us on board & the woman I spoke with was always very grateful she didn’t want a jet boat experience that morning.

So off we went – an hour drive back to the Gibb Rd turned toward Derby and the half an hour later turned left to Windjana.

The park is beautiful. The limestone walls so impressive.

The approach to the Gorge is through a small tunnel of limestone walls. it’s like entering a magical world.

Out the other side and a peaceful walk along the river bank keeping an eye on the opposite bank. The crocodiles are lazing and sunning themselves. Lots of them.

About 7 crocs sunning

We walked along for about 15 mins. Such beautiful scenes.

Next stop Tunnel Creek. This place I remember being talked about because of a boy called Jandamarra. He was with his mob when they were captured. He escaped into the tunnel where the creek flows under the limestone hills. It was written as a children’s book years ago.

To get to the tunnels you need to climb and clamber over rocks. They are the most amazing colours: pinks, grey, blue even a greenish look.

Then a wade through water into the tunnels. Quite creepy. We looked out for the red eyes of the resident croc.

Lunch was a simple sandwich outside under the trees. We are so lucky with the weather warm but not too hot.

From here it was a short but fairly boring straight drive into Derby. We were told that it’s not the most exciting place to be and to be sure to lock up well. Didn’t sound too good!

Sunset at Derby pier

We arrived in time to see the town in the afternoon light. Everything looks good bathed in a glowing sky. Then to our hotel the Derby Lodge. Not a lot of good things to say about this hotel. Except pretty ordinary.

We crossed the road to the Spinifex Hotel for dinner and made an early night of it. It was a big day of driving.

In the morning we walked to the local CWA markets, an oasis and spent a very happy hour. Such nice people and the Boab nut coffee was great as were the donuts and the home made slices.

There was music provided by the Rusty Nails, and sitting under the shade of a tree chatting to other travellers was as usual very interesting.

We walked back to get the car and of course we two retired children librarians popped into the library .

A welcoming library in Derby
Mark Norval’s art work.

We’d been told to visit Norval Gallery and we are so glad we did. What an interesting story behind Mark Norval the owner. He and wife Mary went to Derby as young teachers and never left. He now has this wonderful art space where local aboriginal people are welcome to come and paint. He travelled to many of the communities along the Gibb River area and taught painting and encouraged painting and it’s really taken off. There are some wonderful people doing great work. Edna Dale and her daughter Petrina Bedord. I bought one I couldn’t resist.

With Edna Dale and my new painting.

We spent a long time chatting to Mark about his life & work in Derby. He is so kind. So understanding of the problems facing the indigenous youth.

He has mentored Edna Dale mother of 7 and her daughter Petrina an up and coming contemporary indigenous artist. Her grandfathers Jack Dale and Paddy Bedford were famous in their field of art. Watch out for her. She paints in a style to reflect stories of Windjana passed down to her.

Petrina was painting in the art shed while we were there. Lovely to watch.

We also bought some decorated boab seed pods – such beautiful work.

We left the gallery and continued on our way to the prison Boab tree. A very sad story about indigenous peoples imprisoned in the tree.

Onto Broome. We have an extra night here as our planned night in a houseboat at Horizontal Falls was cancelled.

Sunsets are spoken about here more than anywhere else – except maybe Santorini! So we set out to find it. After checking into the Oaks at Cable Beach we drove along the coast to the port.

Broome is also famous for its dinosaur footprints. We went dinosaur hunting. It took us to Roebuck Bay.

Notice the rock behind. It has a face!
The light was soft and gorgeous

We decided to head to the fishing club for a sundowner. It not well known to tourists. It’s where the locals head. I’d read about it and it turned out to be perfect. Casual and a beautiful setting. One glass of Prosecco led to another led to fish and chips.

And so a perfect start to Broome has begun.