11 Jul 2015

Getting to Broome!

Angie here!

This is a post from Kununnara to Broome, where we're living.

The night in the Bed and Breakfast in Kunuarra did me very well. The owner was marvelous, she gave us a bunch of food that people had left behind that she didn't have use for: tuna, wraps, crackers, rice, coffee, beans, etc. She was very helpful and recommended some places we could check out for the day.

On her advice we decided to head to Lake Argyle, but did a quick stop over at the Zebra Rock Gallery. It was fantastic! For a lot of reasons!

1) Zebra Rocks
2) Pretty gallery of other rocks too
3) Cat fishes! (Kittyfish)
4) Birds!

Zebra rocks are interestingly interbedded red and white silts. The result is a stripey rock that they carve into neat sculptures and jewelery. The gallery also had some interesting fossils and rock samples from around Australia. It was quite a lovely gallery. We found out from the promotional TV that was playing that we could feed the fishes down by the jetty, about 100m from the house. I LOVE fishies so we decided that was a must.

For a donation, you could take a piece of bread with you and feed them. It was incredible! There were BIG kittyfishes and really fast smaller ones and a turtle :) We took a gopro video of it, but this computer can't handle that so that will just have to wait. My apologies. I did take a bunch of picures with my phone though:

I even got to touch one :) I slapped the water pretending I was bread and when it came up to nibble the area, I gave him a little pet :) Good fishies.

After we left the riverside, we wandered back to the house and gallery (which also has a workshop and a cafe) and found some cages. In the cages there were rescue birds :) There were a couple cockatoos, some corellas, and a couple gallahs. In essence these are very similar birds, but different in their own way. The corella was particularily adorable and it played with Graham for a while before it let us give him a good little scratch.

After that we left to go see Lake Argyle. It was quite a drive to get there with some corrigation but the view was worth it. Lake Argyle is a dammed river turned tourist trap. It's quite effective though. The waters are beautiful and the part is a mini town. They have their own radio station, bar, souvenier shop, inifinity pool... that sort of idea.

It's a beautiful spot. We ran into a german couple that we'd met in Katherine, they had stayed the night and they said it was quite a beautiful spot at night as well. Graham and I considered going into the infinity pool, but it was $5 each entry and neither of us felt like getting wet. We did take a walk to go see it though, and it is incredibly nice.

We stayed the night at a 24hr rest area at the turnoff to go south or north to Wyndham. It was a nice place to stop and little brown quails hung around us for the evening. It strikes me as really weird that quails are so similar between Canada and Australia. I don't know the history involved but it seems to me that such an isolated continent would have very different birds (at least the ones that don't fly much). And for the most part that's true, but the quails were very "quail-like". They didn't look exactly the same but they sounded quite similar.

Most of the mammals here are marsupials though... so I guess that covers the weird and different animals bit. They are very very different from the animals in Canada. I swear, eveyrthing is a marsupial. Tasmanian tiger that looked like a stripey dog? Marsupial. It wouldn't surprise me too much if someone told me the dingos were marsupials, it really wouldn't.

Rant over haha

In the morning we decided to zip up to Wyndham. It's kind of a nothing town but we toured around anyways. There's a relatively new looking public dock that absolutely no one was docked to and we took a walk on it. It starts out a ways above the water and you can walk down near the water at the end. Graham was teasing me on the bottom level not to get close to the edge of the water because there were crocs. First, you couldn't really get that close to the edge, and second, he's always teasing me about crocs becasue he knows they scare me. But as we were walking back to the car along the upper part of the dock we saw one! Big croc in the water a little ways from the dock. I think I emitted a high pitched whine, probably only audible to dogs, for the rest of the day. Crocs are really scary. Eep.

After, we drove up a hill to see the 5 rivers lookout. If the name didn't tip you off, you can see 5 rivers from up there. Jokes aside, it was a beautiful view! Half the tourists in Wyndham were no doubt up there with us, but there was plenty to go around.

I guess the best part about the actually little nothing town of Wyndham was a 20m croc statue. The pics can speak for themselves I suppose.

Theres not much more to say about Wyndham?

About 50km South on the way back down to the crossroads, theres a road that takes you to the Grotto. Graham and I were intrigued by the name so we decided to take a peek. We are so glad we did. The Grotto is an incredibly beautiful and deep plunge pool accessible from 180 man made steps down.

As it's the dry season, there wasn't a river flowing into it, so it was just a beautiful pool. Really though, it looked like something out of a movie. One of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. As it has steep sides it's almost always shaded and the water creates it's own little ecosystem. On the top: Savannah. In the Grotto: green vines and lush trees. And fish!! And a Rainbow Bee Eater swooping the water.

A sign on the way to the Grotto said that it's 300 ft deep. Graham and I find that hard to believe (and frankly, terrifying) but he was dropping rocks in to see how long the bubbles lasted... and they lasted a very long time. It's a popular swim spot and there were rope swings, but Graham and I were intimidated by the supposed depth. Also, the water was very cold. It's hard to say much more about it, hopefully the pics do it a bit of justice.

That night we stayed in an incredible rest stop. It was just after Halls Creek. A looong drive that day.
You had to drive into the bush a bit and across an old concrete bridge to get to it. It was HUGE. And pretty full! It seems to be the kind of place that people go to to camp and aren't just passing through. It was quite nice. We found ourselves a nice corner and set up for the evening. We took a walk to the 'river' that the bridge crosses over and it's basically just drying up stagnant pools that have been cut off. Unfortunately there were 100s of small fish in these pools :(

Poor guys were trapped and could only really wait out until the pool got too hot, too little dissolved oxygen, or a bird decided they were lunch. A bit sobering and sad for me :( Poor fishies.

The next morning we drove and drove. We passed through Fitzroy Crossing and "saw" Geike Gorge...no real gorge unless you take the $60 boat trip...

The next day we left our rest stop on the way to Broome. On our way we saw a roadkill snake on the road! We went around it, but I wanted to see it better. It was the first roadkill snake we'd seen! I begged graham to go back so we could have a look at it. We turned around and something about the
snake didn't seem right. It didn't REALLY look dead. So we parked a ways away and gently lobbed a couple little rocks at it too see if it would move. (Can never be too careful with Aussie snakes). One of the little rocks got him and he flinched!!! Not a dead snake!

He moved a bit and we could see that his face was a bit hit. He wasn't squashed exactly, but he wasn't doing so hot. I like snakes, so I didn't like the idea of him just sitting in the middle of the road. If he wasn't going to die from his current injuries, the next car to come around would hit him and he would definitely die from that. With a few more encouraging gentle rock throws he started to come towards the edge of the road. With him in motion, graham and I hopped back in the car and watched. The poor guy really had a hurt face. I hope his last meal wasn't long ago and he can wait to eat until he's healed up... otherwise it might be fatal.

Graham and I still didn't know what kind of snake it was so we just watched him for a while. He made it off the road fine but when he got to the grass he bomped his face on a stick and recoiled in pain :( I hope the birds leave him alone and he lives.

We later looked it up and discovered he's a Black Headed Python (?). It's even worse for me that a good harmless python would be hurt. There might have been people we could call to save him, but we don't know the numbers and he's probably long off the road by then. Still, feel for the poor dude.

Lets pull ourselves out of the sad state!Think of happy things! Bunnies, kittens, rainbows, ice cream... beaches?

How about... CABLE BEACH!

We arrived in Broome and went immediately to Cable Beach. Easily the most beautiful beach I have ever seen (in memory). White sand, turquoise waters, cool sea breeze.

Just. So. Beautiful.

We decided to just chill at the beach for a bit before going into town to explore.

Broome is a tourist town that started as a pearling town. It still has a lot of business in pearling, but for the most part that's all aimed at the tourists. It's no wonder though. In the winter (now) it's still hot and beautiful. The perfect place to go. Darwin is too hot and anywhere South is too cold. Broome is simply perfect.

We checked into Cable Beach Backpackers... and I don't want to just go out and say it, but it was a terrible hostel. Not great at all. The idea was there, and you could see that it's glory days were glorious... but it just didn't hit the mark.The people staying in the hostel were actually living in the hostel. So instead of a nice stream of people coming in and out, everyone had been there for months. It created a really strange atmosphere.

One of the nice things about other hostels is that you usually have a group of people that are looking to make friends and are a bit unsure of their surroundings. It's nice because there aren't cliques or weird groupings. Unfortunately that's exactly what was at Cable Beach Backpackers. And while they were nice, they were very much a friend group. They all knew each other and had lived in the same place for months. It would be like going to live in res right in the middle of a semester but you only were going to stay there a week. You'd find that everyone was content with their friends and didn't feel the need to hang out with someone only staying a week?

The rooms were a bit weird too. Very bare bones. Just beds and fans, no lockers. We were lucky for the first few days (we'd paid for a week so we had to stay) as we didn't have roommates. But on the 4th day we got a couple and they were incredibly noisy. They would come in at 2am and they'd crinkle plastic bags for forever or go on their phone and watch some show with sound on or they would just move around a lot. It wasn't great. We were not fans of them.

The good news is that Graham got a job though! Our friends that we'd met just before Mataranka were in Broome at the same time and we visited with them. They gave us a tip that their friend has just left a job and so there was an opening.

They told us to give it a try. Graham walked in with resume in hand and they hired him on the spot! They didn't even really look at his resume. As it turned out, the owner had just been grumbling to himself about having to find a new guy when Graham had walked in.

It's a great job for Graham actually. He's washing buses for a tour company and helping with odd jobs related to that as well. He's been rolling swags, doing grocery shops, dropping off 4WDs. The guys he works for are great and he's doing some good manual labour. We're happy with it :)

Not to mention his hourly wage is literally what his AND mine were in Canada combined. Rollin' swags, makin dough.

(Graham will explain what a swag is soon!)

We immediately started looking for a place to rent. It turns out that rentals are done through real estate agents in Australia! It's pretty interesting. They actually manage the buildings as well and are your first contact if there's a problem. We went to check out a complex that we'd seen a lot of listings for but, through miscommunication, no one was there to show us the suite.

Luckily, as we were starting to leave, a resident asked us what we were up to. We told him and he was familiar with the renter and, actually, he was familiar with the whole building. He knew of all the vacant suites, who owned them, and details about each one. We walked around with him and he showed us a few through the window, he was also kind enough to show us the inside of his own suite. We decided we liked the place but told him our limitation was that we could only rent for about
3 and a half months. He called one of the suites owners and explained to them our situation. The owner was fine with the short rental period (usually you have to rent for a year or pay a bit more and rent for 6 months).

The nice fella had all the big fees waved for us, he went and got the keys and took us for a tour, and the next day we were getting set up to lease it. It was wonderful :)

As it was a Friday, we had to wait a few days for our bond to go through (kind of like a damage deposit) so we stayed for 3 nights at the Kimberly Klub YHA Hostel. Now this is a nice hostel. 100x better than the other one. Which is really strange because it is rated poorer on trip advisor. Not only did it have a nicer pool, better lounge, clean kitchen... it was CHEAPER.


If you're coming to Broome and want to stay at a hostel, stay at Kimberly Klub.

On the Monday we finished signing all our papers and we moved in!!!! It's not luxury, but it doesn't need to be. It's a nice little studio apartment with white washed brick walls. The most important part is that it came furnished. It actually had a brand new bed too, plastic still on it and everything. It's good.

I spend a couple mornings cleaning it as it had a fine layer of grey dust everywhere, but its perfectly good. Definitely a place we can be comfortable :)

Just as an aside, if you're interested:

A comparison between Australia and Canada

Food: Same price (cheese, bread, milk, some meats are cheaper in Australia)

Fast Food: More

Makeup: Double or more (I stocked up a bit before coming :P I will not be buying makeup here haha)

Appliances: Generally less ($7.50 toasters, kettles, that sort of thing at Target)

Phone plans: Cheaper and with more data

Home Wifi: More and with limited data (though it's my understanding that Canada is putting on a data cap as well soon)

Alcohol: Wine and sparklings are half, cheapest bottle $3.50
Beer is a little bit more
Spirits are a lot more and interestingly are smaller. In Canada you'd get a 750ml (2-6) for $25, but the bottles are all 700ml and are $50. Weird.

Bus Fare: Victoria transit $2.50 each way
Broome transit $4 each way

Housing: More
Our 1 bedroom in Victoria was ~$850 monthly (Victoria is more expensive than a lot of places in Can though)
Our Studio in Australia is ~$960 monthly. For proportionality sake, a 1 bed is about $1200 monthly.
So 850 vs 1200, 30% more in Aus

Wages: Generally double (or more than double in Grahams case)
       Also, Aussies make even more money on Sundays and if they work outside of regular hours (7am-7pm)

Also, CAD is worth a little bit more than AUD.


Fast food is more expensive than buying regular food (also, there definitely aren't a lot of overweight people here)

Vanity is much more expensive and so less girls wear excessive makeup.

Australians spend about the same on food as Canadians
But only about 30% more on housing
But make DOUBLE the wages.

Graham made our montly rent within the 6 DAYS of working here.
Let that sink in.

Lets say 7-8 days of ONE person working gives you enough money for food and rent for the month.

Thats 3 weeks of savings.

Now imagine what it will be like when I get a job too?

Life's good.

Graham is going to do a post about his job soon and we will post more pics about life in Broome soon too! Internet is frustrating as we have to come to the library and it is real slow....


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