Friday, June 16, 2017

The Big Empty and Broome

By Jen.

After leaving Carawine Gorge, we started towards Broome. Here the Great Northern Highway skirts along the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. They call this section The Big Empty. There isn’t much. No POIs, no lookouts. Hardly any interesting landscapes. The trees and bushes are just tall enough to obscure your vision, but not tall enough to be interesting. Jonathan had to entertain himself by watching birds of prey hoping for them to plummet down from the sky to catch small birds and lizards. With his sharp eyes, he actually saw several catching things.

The landscape in The Big Empty.

A bird of prey in the distance.

Finally, upon reaching Broome, we picked up a few more packages we had mailed to ourselves beforehand. We now have stinger suits of our own so that we can go swimming in the northern waters without worrying about jellies or sun. I also now have a scoop for my canisters, making cooking easier. And, of course, we now we have the correct sway-bar down link. On the way towards Broome, Jonathan noticed our right sway-bar downlink was cracked as well. So, when we got the other link, he had planned on replacing both sides (good thing we had the spare from the ordering error earlier). But, we found that after another round of corrugations, the link had completely broke. Time to replace both! He managed to do it all outside in the sand in one afternoon. Friends, do you know how awesome of a husband I have? This trip would not be near so successful without his expertise, and probably a lot shorter because of the repair funds we would have to spend otherwise.

We were now in a waiting game. I have had this fungal infection on my back since December. I probably would have had it banished by now, but the first products I put on it were expired. Then, I didn’t put anything on it for about 10 days, while we were waiting on our van. During which, it grew in size. Then the stuff I had in the van was expired too, and not working. Finally, I bought some product from the pharmacy based upon the recommendation of the pharmacist, but after month, it still didn’t work. So, I went back and tried another product. This time, the pharmacist recommended I visit the doctor if it didn’t go away soon. After trying to get into several clinics in Karratha by walking in with no success (they don't have urgent cares here, just clinics and hospitals), we figured we had better just book an appointment ahead of us. As a result, we had several days of waiting in Broome until the appointment. You would think we would do more touristy things while we were there, but the things I wanted to do (see dinosaur tracks and the flying boats wreckage) required a really low tide, which wasn’t happening during our stay. So instead, we got internet, watched a movie, and did some errands. We even got haircuts. One day, we walked along some rock pools along an estuary. There were puffer fish in a few of them!



Since this is a short post, I shall go off-topic and answer questions we often get. Since we left the Ningaloo Coast, it has been fairly warm, in the 80s. These are more the temperatures that I was expecting in Australia. Before that, temperatures had been closer to the 70s most of the time, which could be a bit cool with a breeze or in the shade.

We often get asked what a typical day for us looks like. I wake up in the morning about daybreak. Here, that is currently around 6:20 am. I normally lay in bed drowsing until I can convince myself to grab my phone and read my daily devotion. Jonathan typically manages to sleep a bit longer, but by 7am is waking up. If we have reception, he will get out his phone and read some news. Otherwise, he gets out of bed before me, puts up the shower, and gets breakfast. About the time he is getting breakfast, I finally get out of bed and get my own breakfast. As we start putting things away, we start discussing our route and plans for the day. Most days, we need to drive a bit to the first destination. We normally hit the first location in a few hours, where we do our exploring. By then, it is typically lunch, so we whip something up. Then we drive to our next destination. By 2 or 3 pm, we typically done for the day and find a campsite. This gives us a few hours to rest (I watch anime; Jonathan plays Roller Coaster Tycoon) and/or to do some errands (fix broken things, clean, etc) before dinner. After dinner, we normally watch something together before setting up our shower. We shower, brush teeth, and then get into bed. Before I hurt my knee in early May, I would do my exercises after dinner and before the shower. I hope start that up again soon. 

Fun fact: in most of the parts of Australia in which we have been, they get their drinking water from lakes or reservoirs. This is an interesting concept to me as I grew up in dry southwest Kansas. We fought for every drop of water we could find, and most of it came from an underground aquifer, which we are seeing how quickly we can empty. Up here in the northwest, they also get water from aquifers, so I feel right at home. I know most of the US also gets water from lakes or reservoirs. What is unique here (and that I like) is that they put fences up around the lakes and put up signs around the region letting you know the water catchment area. These signs remind you to be careful what you are putting in the groundwater systems.

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