In the dry winter months the sun shines on Broome every day and temperatures are always in the late twenties to early thirties. Here the dusty traveller can quench her thirst with house fermented ginger beer from Matso’s, the local brewery. Oh, it’s good. Refreshing citrus notes fire up into a fierce ginger bite. Perfect on a hot day. Richard takes a liking to an angry ranga. No, not a red haired Scottish barmaid, but a beer with a chilli kick.
By chance we are also in town to see the famous stairway to the moon. We join other tourists who flock to the seafront to see the full moon rise over the water, its golden red reflection creating the illusion of heavenly steps leading away from this world and into the mystic. It’s amazing to see people gathering to watch a natural phenomenon in the party atmosphere of a New Years celebration. There’s no countdown, but we have a very precise time for the moon to rise, 6:31pm. It’s there on schedule and despite hundreds of iPhone camera flashes, it is still quite beautiful. The huge red moon slowly rises and the shimmering golden steps appear. In a few short moments it is over, it’s just another full moon and the crowds disperse.
It’s busy. Both West Australia and Northern Territory schools are closed for holidays and Broome is bursting at the seams. We retreat to a bush camp and spend two nights camping in the sand dunes at Quandong Point. Steak sizzles on the campfire barbecue and we toast Broome as the sun goes down over the azure Indian Ocean.
The next day we walk the beach looking for whales and dinosaur footprints. Whales 1 Dinosaurs 0. We see a humpback whale out to sea, but no sign of dinosaurs. It’s disappointing. This area of the coast is known as the dinosaur highway and apparently has more dinosaur tracks than anywhere else in the world. We decide the huge tides have hidden them from us.
Deep red cliffs edge the beach, contrasting with the white sand and deep blue ocean. It’s a landscape in primary colours. As the high tide recedes, it reveals a pavement of black rocks, forming hundreds of rock pools where sea salt crystallises in the hot sun as the water dries. We peer into the rock pools at tiny fish and slow creeping sea snails. Our campsite neighbour, a Frenchman, found a small shark in a pool earlier and skinned and filleted for dinner. No sharks for us.
Our walk ends at a palm fringed point where a rickety old plastic chair looks over a picture postcard ocean view. An invitation to sit and stare a while.