Wednesday, July 28, 2010

really on Broome time now

We are now hanging out in Broome for a length of time that feels a little like a piece of string.   As people say, there are worse places to be.  It is warm, hot even.  The sun shines.  The rain does not come (at the moment anyway) and the wind seems to have calmed down. 

Broome seems to be a place for weary travellers to arrive and find that things have gone a little awry.  There is the family who have discovered that their brakes on their trailer don't work, then there is the couple who had the back of their car rammed into up at Cape Leveque, all of the caravans needing their wheel bearings done, a man with a broken foot, a Nissan with a blown up engine, holes in mufflers, and gashes in legs.  It is a long way from everywhere and we are all weary.  None of us intend to stay for this long.  Most of us spend no more than 2 days in a town whilst we restock our food boxes and fuel and get out of there, however, Broome holds onto us for longer. 

The caravan parks are all full to the brim, bursting at the seams.  They are like little cities with people who have made their way up to stay for 3 months or more.  There are 500 sites or more in each.  There is the overflow caravan park for the weary worn out sick and bedraggled traveller who needs the work or rest.  It is the footy oval with shade only on the side, but it becomes home.  Maximum stay is 7 days for travellers, however, for those who fall under the exception rules, Medical or Broken Down, this is stretched to a piece of string.

So here we sit like a piece of string on the side of the oval at the overflow due to our Medical Exemption, in a lovely shady spot which I have hung cotton sheets all around to get as much shade as possible.  Frank is making his slow recovery. 

He had a visit from the medico, Brett, who worked on him up at One Arm as we had been to the Op Shop and the lady there, Di, knew him, said he would be in town, called him, he said he wanted to know how Frank was...and dropped by with his family to check on him.  Unfortunately for Frank he a really bad day the next day with a terrible bout of vomiting (dehydration is considered quite serious up here in the heat).  Another trip to hospital and a miracle tablet to fix that so he could actually keep fluid down.  Next day he woke up like a normal, happy Frank again.  Hallelujah.  Stitches looking good, no infection - the rest will take a while to heal.

day 3                                                               day 8

By the way...while at the op shop, I found myself a sewing machine....I know I said that I wouldn't bring it, however, I am finding it too frustrating.  Will only be able to use it when in power, still haven't had a chance to check it all out (what with sickness, hospitals, blah blah blah...) but Di at the op shop said it did work.  That is tomorrows job.  The boys have cleaned it out for me already.  The only thing wrong is that it doesn't spool up bobbins, so Di said I could do a bunch there.  Nice.

Our time is not wasted here.  We have been making the most of it. 

Chris Schrapel who we met up at Gambanan is in the helicopter industry and gave the boys a tour of a helicopter (see the smiles!).

We sold Jude Brieffies bike for her to a very happy German backpacker.

We have discovered the port where the locals are entertained on a Sunday afternoon watching gooses trying to their boats back in (or not) for hours on end...

after we watched the hovercraft long after we heard it coming in.
John and Pete have been having a great time playing with the Schrapel kids who have been staying here (stuck because their brakes don't work on their trailer...need to be sent from Melbourne).  Learning to ride a rip stick, playing Monopoly Deal, scooter soccer and watching movies during the heat.

The lady next to us, Robyn, has been teaching us how to make beady spiders which is lots of fun, and I have realised how much I have missed crafting around.  Time to get something to play with.

Matt was really lucky to get some work through my sister in law, Jen, at Troppo Sound, playing at being a roady watching the sun go down on Guantheum Beach.  Tough, hey! 

While he did that, we went down to watch Staircase to the Moon, a natural phenomenon where the moon rises over the low tide mud flats and the reflections look like it leads to the moon (telling you in case my pics don't really show it!!).  

Finished the night off with watching fire circus dudes. Silver lining.

We will leave Broome one day.  The Gibb River awaits, but those gorges have been there for millions of years.  Just getting Frank strong and healthy first and making sure our house gets rented out again first.  Sitting on Broome time now.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Second time up the Dampier Peninsula - a time to remember

We roared (in our snail paced way, with our new sports muffler) up the Cape Leveque road for the second time in about half the time it took the last time as it was a lot drier now to stop at an Aboriginal camp called Gambanan.  It is just short of One Arm Point which is on the tip of the peninsula. 

We arrived to find that our friends, the Brieffies, had caught fish aplenty that day, so it was fish for dinner!  Yummo!  We had a room with a view of the Indian Ocean and it was great to be camping with the the Brieffies again.

Lyndon took the boys and another boy, Ryan, from another family, the Sharples, out fishing in the morning in the boat, but they came back empty handed. 
At the first low tide, the kids all ran down to look at the natural fish trap to see what had been caught and Frank slipped and gashed his leg open to the bone with a 20cm cut from just next to his knee.  We were very lucky to be with two other families.  Ryan (a 12 yr old) yelled for help.  The other 2 dads, Lyndon and Chris, ran down the cliff to the kids where Frank had ripped his t-shirt off to wrap it tightly around his leg to stop the bleeding and they carried him up to where they had told me to wait with the first aid kit.  I had been warned that Matt & I would need to take him to the medical centre and quickly, but I was not prepared for what I saw. Frank was a really brave boy.  We had a short drive to One Arm Point where there was a small medical surgery and Brett and Dean, the Medico's in charge did rock, paper scissors to decide who was going to treat him. Matt had a "quick" drive down to Lombadina (40min) to pick up the stitches while I let Frank squeeze my hand until Brett was able to start the process of 20 local anisthetic needles in preparation.

Thirteen stitches later and a lot of breathing to get through it, we could no longer see his bone, muscles, fat and everything else.  We were very thankful to Brett (who worked on Frank) and Dean who popped his head in and out and provided lots of support.  We were also very thankful to Jude and Lyndon who took care of John and Pete, and Lyndon and Chris and Ryan for their great first aid.  There are times that we are very thankful that we are talkative people who make friends along the way.  This was certainly a day that we needed a friend.

Frank is continuing to heal, but it will be a very long road as the nerves and muscle have be cut.  His leg has lost feeling in one half it and this may take a year or longer to come back.  I don't even know what the damage is to the muscle.  Once the wound heals, we will begin to try to exercise it slowly.

Catch of the day

Frank's fish filleted

Frank's fish

This did not stop Frank having a great fishing moment thanks to the lovely generous Lyndon who took him out in his boat enabling him to catch a beautiful Golden Trevally.  Lyndon that day also caught a 1.3m spanish mackeral - certainly making him the provider for the 3 families!

Jude made twisty damper sticks for everyone that we filled with honey and butter!  Yum!!

We also visited Lombadina which is a beautiful Aboriginal Community and had a great picnic there meeting some other Melbourne couples who had travelled up and across.

Peter and John also caught Trevally and Queen fish to feed us the day before.  It was great eating so much fish and great for the boys to catch fish to eat for the first time.

Beautiful sunsets again and then the wind whipped up so we decided to make our way back to Broome to keep Frank's leg clean and get out of the wind.  Sad to leave the Dampier Peninsula, but now we will certainly never forget it as we start the road to recovery for Frank.
Cape Leveque Road again, this time hard and corrugated and lots of dust

Friday, July 23, 2010

Life, in Broome Time

We stayed at Cable Beach Caravan Park, which still to this day, I am not sure how we got in.  The other caravaners did look at us when we arrived, covered in red dirt with disdain.  One elderly gentleman informed Matt that the site that we had been put on was for the "dirty cars". 
We had a very busy last day and a half with Granny to end her trip in Broome and her time with us.  We went to The World's Old Operating Outdoor Cinema to watch Bran Nue Day with her and our friends, the Brieffies.  It was fantastic seeing it there as it was where it was set.  It also featured the Beagle Bay Church which we had just seen that afternoon.

The next day was Granny's Busy Day in Broome as we zoomed around.  First we stopped at Cable Beach to eat our morning tea,

then we fixed my glasses which had spontaneously snapped in half, then we visited the Town Beach and Jetty

From there we went to the Museum and learnt all about the history of Broome

Then we ate some lunch in the park and Pete and John wrestled

Then dropped by Cable Beach for a camel ride

Lastly we took Gran to the airport to sadly say goodby to her as her week had finished and she had to go back to work.  The boys had a great time seeing Gran and felt refreshed from the time with her.  It was great for all of us to have her around and see the things that we are seeing.  A shame she can't spend more time.

Once she had left, we moved to a different campground where our friends, the Brieffies were, and it was half the price - at the PCYC - the overflow caravan park.  Lots of fun for the kids, a big basketball court, lots of scooter time (we didn't bring bikes, just stupid scooters, that have only been used about 4 times), and lots of kids to play with.  Fun.  Except when Frank fell off his scooter so hard that he sprained his wrist so badly that we didn't know if it was broken.  The hospital didn't either and put it plaster overnight.  Next day, all day he was kept there for checks, until, no, just sprained badly.  Still today (1 week later) he has terrible bruises on the inside of his wrists.

Matt serviced the truck, oil change, filter change, checked diff oils, and transmission oils and most importantly, muffler change due to the big hole in the muffler.  The only muffler he could get was a sports muffler, so now we sound hot.  Watch out!  

Three days later of no car....the kids and I had had enough of sitting around the caravan park....time to go.  One last play at the town beach water park, then outta there back up to Cape Leveque to go camping at Gambanan (the Aboriginal camping ground)  

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's a long road to the top...but it's worth it

When we left Quandong Point, the sun was out, Manari road had dried out (a bit), even though it was technically closed still, and we squeezed the family of 6 now (Granny included) into the car (the boys made a special effort to clean it out for her) into the 'cruiser and off we went up to Cape Leveque.

The rain came while we were driving and the road changed from being a dirt road to a muddy river.  Granny sat very quietly in the car the whole time, while the boys "whooed" and "yippeed" until even they were silenced.  Finally, we got bogged (Matt was driving this time).  Yep, the great ol' Landcruiser got bogged, even in low gear with centre diff lock on, we were not moving anywhere.  I got out (in bare feet) and sunk down to my ankles in the thick mud to jump up and down on the back to help get a bit of traction while Matt did the manouvering.  After a good while of doing this and only moving about one metre, I saw some locals coming (on the higher, and not so boggy side of the pit of death), so yelled at Matt to stop and "call a friend".  The advice was to yank the steering wheel hard left and keep at it.  They waited for us, and we finally got out.  Hallaleuh...  It took us 4 hours to get up that dirt (mud) road (river).  It would normally take 2.  When we hit the bitumen, we all got out, pee-ed and smiled again.  It was a very stressful drive.  Another hour, then we got to Kooljaman, a Tourist Resort owned by the Aboriginal communities up on the Dampier Peninsula, and run by white fellas.  We arrived at 4.45pm, and were the only people to make it that day.  Matt lay down on the (neatly clipped) grass while we checked in.  It had not rained there that day....

We were a little shattered that night after the drive, but it was a lovely place to be.  It had a calm atmosphere, tents set up for people who fly in, and a restaurant.  It was quite different to the normal camping grounds that we go to, however, still very beautiful, and something that we had wanted to bring Mum to.

Whilst up at Cape Leveque, we did get rained on again (when did they say the wet season was?) in a torrential kind of way, which was good for finding where more of the leaks were in the tent.  We are slowly sealing them all up. 

The kids didn't mind the rain and played soccer with some kids, Ryan and Jordan who were camped next to us who they became good friends with.

The rain then stopped, thank goodness, so that my Mum (Pattie) could have a sunnier holiday.  One Arm Point, an Indigenous Community has a great turtle hatchery where they are discovering more and more about turtles, barramundi, and trocus shells.  This is the only place where the trocus shells are allowed to taken from the reef and then the local people sell them to Italy for making mother of pearl buttons as their main source of income.

We met some local people there when they were fishing for turtle who have a camp at Gambanan on the Dampier Peninsula, bush camping, and they asked if we wanted to come and camp there.  They said how they tell dreamtime stories, and teach more about their culture at their camp.  We decided that we would have to come back up that road again once we had sent mum home to Melbourne as the time was too tight at this stage.

At Cygnet Bay we learnt all about pearls and what their differences are, and then watched a beautiful sunset over the Indian Ocean.

 Friends we had met just down in Quandong Point, Nick and Emily arrived on our last night, so we had dinner and drinks with them for the last time as they are heading back to Vic in the anticlockwise direction. 

We went through Beagle Bay on our way out to get fuel and check out the church which has shells in it.  Unfortunately, we got our timing wrong, and had to wait 1.5 hours for fuel as we arrived at lunch time.  The church is being restored and is quite incredible with all the pearl shells in it.

Where we had been bogged

The drive back down to Broome was not nearly as bad, especially as the sun was out.  The puddles were still there, the mud was still there, it was all just a little less, and a lot more wash outs.  We didn't get bogged and were pleased again to get off that road.