Almost five months into my Oz adventures, I’m having to say goodbye to the Kimberley. And my god, it’s hard.
I’m currently sitting in the cab of the truck on one of the final stretches back to Broome (about fifteen minutes from the Boab Rest Stop if you’re really interested), and I’ve been very aware all day that this is it.
And it feels like it’s come around quite suddenly. I was meant to have one more tour after this one, but because of schedule changes and staff swaps, which ultimately suit me better as well, it was confirmed halfway through this tour that it would be my last. So I’ve spent the last two weeks going along the Gibb River Road and the Great Northern Highway and saying goodbye. To places, campsites, gorges, walks and friends. And it’s genuinely been like leaving home. The Kimberley is the first place other than London that I’ve ever felt truly at home, and while I’m really excited for all the adventures I have coming up, it’s really sad to think I only have a week left in Broome.
Unfortunately, I was overwhelmed by a flood of receipts at that moment which I had to catalogue and sort (who says a History degree is useless?) so I wasn’t able to continue writing in the truck. But now I’m chilling back in Broome and I have plenty of time to be contemplative and nostalgic. Originally I was going to cover every spot on the itinerary over the next two blogs posts, but in the process of writing it I realised that it was just sentimental ramblings that no one would be interested in reading except me (and to be honest, I was getting a bit bored as well). So I’ve decided to abbreviate and only pick the places that have really made an impression on me.
Buckle up for the emotional rollercoaster…
Cygnet bay and Kooljaman
As well as being one of the most beautiful campsites on the tour, Cyggie Bay is one of the most memorable parts of a trip I did last year with my mum and brother. They both fell in love with the campsite as well, with the tents on the beach, the stars and the Milky Way, enjoying bolognese round the fire, and listening to the tide come in. Every time I go there I think of them, and tent number two on the left hand side will always be mine and my brother’s. I half-wanted to see a plaque there immortalising our residency, but I thought that might be a bit much…
Kooljaman at Cape Leveque will also always hold a special place in my heart (thanks again to that trip last year). It was my first night ever swagging it under the stars and, arguably, it kindled and stoked an addiction which would bring me back to Australia eight months later. To add to the magic, that night, at about 4am on 16th August 2015, I awoke briefly, and, as I was opening my eyes, I saw a shooting star. Talk about impeccable timing.
Tunnel Creek and Windjana
Jandamarra has become a very important part of my life in recent months and is another reason why I’m back in Australia. I’m doing a Master’s degree next year in World History and Culture and I’ve decided to base part of my thesis on the Bunuba resistance in the nineteenth century (2020 edit: I did a lot of the research, but after coming home from Oz, I felt my calling was a tour guide course rather than the Master’s. It was a tough decision, but unfortunately I couldn’t do both).
Jandamarra’s life is an amazing tale of determination and bravery, but also about a very human and relatable character who struggled with who he was and where he fitted into the world. It was also incredible actually listening to that story from one of the Bunuba elders halfway through Tunnel Creek: to listen to such an amazing storyteller in the spot where many of the events actually took place, and where an injured Jandamarra would have stumbled through and hidden from the men hunting him.
If you want great scones in the middle of nowhere, go to Ellenbrae.
It is a little patch of paradise on the Gibb run by the loveliest people (although I wasn’t able to say goodbye to them on my last run so this will have to do!), and I always always looked forward to stopping in there. It was also an opportunity to educate a lot of passengers and a few tour guides about the Cornish/Devonian jam and cream controversy. In Cornwall, one takes a scone, spreads on a layer of jam and then finishes it off with a dollop of cream (I know. Makes perfect sense). In Devon, however, in a seemingly desperate attempt to be cool and alternative, they spread their jam on top of the cream. How they function in such anarchy is beyond me.
And that’s all for this week, oh faithful reader! I’ve tried to stop at a good halfway point so that I can hold your interest for another week, and there are so many more exciting things to come (although I would say that even if there weren’t… but there are, I promise!). Including but not withstanding, the Gibb River Road, El Questro, unicorns, and Cathedral Gorge, but not one of those things. Guess you’ll just have to read next week’s to find out which. I’m such a tease, I know.
Find Part Two here.