[This video was originally hosted on KoldCast TV]
The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve was something of an endurance contest for us, as we drove more than 2,000 kilometres in three days through some of the most spectacular landscapes that Australia has to offer.
We met local bull enthusiast Tex Kitchen at Willare Bridge Roadhouse. And as we finally arrived in Broome we farewelled the old year from the camel’s back and went looking for 120 million year old dinosaur prints.
Cruising through Kununurra, we stopped at the wonderfully scenic Lake Argyle, Australia’s biggest artificial lake, and the second largest water catchments in the country. While in the south people are desperately trying to plan for future droughts, the scarcely populated top end of the country is laughing. Lake Argyle remains Australia’s most under-used lake.
It may be under-used by people, but freshwater crocodiles love it here. The area has the highest density of fresh water crocodiles anywhere in Australia. Apparently these beasts are safe to swim with – and the lake certainly looks like the perfect place for a dip – we are carefully reminded (twice!) by the official Lake Argyle website that “swimming in Northern Australian waterways is totally at your own risk.” And, if you’re really unlucky there could be a saltwater croc or two hiding amongst their more humble relatives.
Shun the thought!
We crossed the majestic Kimberleys in three days. If we could redo the trip, we would have spent more time here. And we would have probably also done this stretch at a different time. Between Darwin and Broome, entire townships had shut down between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, making it a bit dull to travel through beyond just taking in the spectacular sights of course.
Entering Broome was something entirely different. This is tourism central. Apparently the population almost triples here during tourist season. Seeing as we were having something of a holiday while in Broome – we wanted to do something really touristy. Hence, we opted for the camel safari, which really wasn’t a safari at all, in the dictionary sense of the word. Oh well, at least we did something we had never done before. We sat on a camel, on a beach for about 15 minutes in nice and hot weather – and we had an air-conditioned bungalow to go back to afterwards, and it was New Year’s Eve. So who were we to complain?
But, while we’re still on the topic of camels, as mentioned in the episode, the wild camel stock has grown so big many regard it as a threat to the fragile inland ecosystem. And there have been two main suggestions as to what can be done in terms of culling the population. When Kevin Rudd suggested launching an air strike against this unnatural enemy, outrage rippled both at home and across the sea. In the US, CNBC’s Erin Burnett, most famous for her market reports, lashed out at Rudd, calling him a serial killer on live TV.
Then of course, there was the other option of making camel meat more approved in Australian households.
You can read Eirik Laugerud’s take on the camel’s place in the Aussie cuisine in his blog Don’t smoke the camels, eat ‘em!
And if you want more in-depth information about Australia’s issue with the ‘feral ships of the desert’, read Nicholas Rothwell’s article No country for old camels.
Beyond being one of the top-end’s major tourist machines, Broome – and more specifically Cable Beach, on which we were sitting on these camels – has had a particular historical significance for Australia. This very beach was the point from which, in 1889, Australia was first connected to the rest of the world; with an underwater telegraph cable to Java in Indonesia.
The white sand beach stretches 22 scenic kilometres, and the sun dips into the ocean every night. It looks perfect for a swim, but then again, like with the inland lake Argyle, there are things that keep you from jumping in. Between November and April there are small, yet very deadly box jellyfish present around the coast, and of course there may be saltwater crocs.
Still, people do seem to enjoy the beach life in Broome, and there are still a few daredevils that do go near the water. And, for the keen public undresser, the north side of Cable Beach offers Australia’s most famous nudist beach. Speaking entirely for myself here, and not the rest of the crew, it’s probably more likely you’d find me in the water than sprawling on the north side.
Happy New Year!