Port Douglas

Wildlife : Sand Bubbler Crab

Port Douglas

 

Name: Sand Bubbler Crab

Scientific Subfamily: Scopimera inflata

Distribution:  tropical beaches

 

If you ever find yourself walking along a beach and you see little sand balls arranged in pretty patterns, then you are in the vicinity of a sand bubbler.

 

Sand Bubbler Crab - Port Douglas

 

These tiny little crabs are around 1cm wide across the carapace, and live in little burrows in the sand.  Those little balls you see are a byproduct of their dinner.  Once the high tide is over, they spend a few hours digging themselves out of their collapsed burrow and clean it up before feeding time starts.  They use their claws to scoop sand towards their mouth and once all the nutrients have been sucked away, the sand balls are discarded about 20-30cm away from the burrow’s entrance.  This is repeated until there is a beautiful pattern of balls around the burrow.

 

Sand Bubbler Crab - Port Douglas

 

Our Encounter:

The first time we saw these little beach balls was in Broome.  We were absolutely fascinated by the little works of art. We didn’t see them again until we got to Cape Tribulation on the east coast.

 

Cable Beach
Cable Beach

Lasseters Camel Cup

Wildlife : The Camel

Lasseters Camel Cup

 

Name: Dromedary

Scientific Name: Camelus dromedarius

Alternative Names: Arabian Camel, Indian Camel, One-hump Camel

 

Fast Facts

  • Dromedaries are found in Arabian deserts, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Africa and now Australia.  They are the next largest member of the camel family, second to the two humped Bactrian camel, which is found mainly in China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
  • Males can be up to 2m tall and weigh up to 600kg.
  • Camels wee on their legs and the evaporation cools them off.
  • Their specialised kidneys allow them to tolerate water loss of more than 30% – more than 15% water loss would kill most other animals.
  • Their hump is filled with fat, not water.
  • Their bushy eyebrows and long lashes protect their eyes, and they are able to completely close their nostrils during sandstorms.
  • Alpacas and llamas are related to camels
  • Camels first arrived in Australia in 1840 and up until 1907, about 12,000 camels were imported.  They were registered like we register cars today, and when cars finally came on the scene, all the camels were released into the wild.  Australia is now the only place in the world where you’ll find feral camels.

 

There are so many amazing camel facts – check them out for yourself!

 

Cable Beach

 

Our Encounter

Everybody knows about Juz’s close encounter with a camel named Coco in Western Australia.  Since then, we have crossed paths with many other camels, particularly in Broome and Alice Springs.

 

Juz probably didn't deserve it... probably...

 

We had a fantastic day at the Lasseters Camel Cup in Alice Springs watching the camels racing around the track and getting up close to them between races.

 

Lasseters Camel Cup

 

Pandanus Spiralus

Plant Profile : Pandanus Spiralus

Screwpine

Name: Pandanus Spiralus

Alternative names: Screw pine, Pandanus palm, Screw palm

Location: Generally around coastal regions of Northern Australia, throughout the Kimberley and Top End, and in Queensland.

 

The pandanus palm has a narrow trunk and long, thin leaves with prickles on the edges.  The leaves can grow up to 2 metres long while the tree can get up to 10 metres tall.  The leaves grow up the trunk in a spiral, hence the name – pandanus spiralus.

 

Pandanus Spiralus

 

They constantly grow upwards, producing new leaves at the top and the old leaves at the bottom die and hang on to produce a grass skirt around the trunk.  When bushfires occur, the dead dry leaves burn quickly and turn the tree into a huge fireball, but the plant survives.

 

The tree produces a cluster of woody fruit. The fruit is ripe when it turns a reddy-orange colour but the best time to eat the seeds inside is when the fruit turns brown.  Because the fruit is so tough, you need to put it into a vice and saw through it.  The seeds are said to taste a little like peanuts and coconuts mixed together.

 

The pandanus is very important to Aboriginal people and has a variety of uses from food to craft and even medicine.  They would make didgeridoos out of the trunks, toys from the fruit and would use the leaves to make necklaces, mats or string satchels.

 

 

Our Encounter:

We first saw pandanus palms when we arrived in Broome.  There were a few growing in town but it wasn’t until we were driving through the Kimberley that we saw them in the wild.  We were on the road to Mitchell River when we were suddenly surrounded by a forest of them.  We had never seen such a landscape before and it was like we were transported to some tropical island.   Also, when we went to the Keep River, the banks were lined with pandanus palms and we stood amongst them while fishing.  Don’t get too close though, their prickles are really prickly!

 

Lure fishing

 

Mount Nameless - Tom Price

Top 5 Things about Western Australia

We had many discussions before deciding what our top 5 things about Western Australia would be. The fact of the matter is, it was really hard to pick just five things. Western Australia is huge and has so many fantastic aspects to it; there was a lot to think about.

 

A Geraldton sunset...

 

The history of WA is pretty interesting. Unlike most of the other states, the Swan colony started off as a free colony instead of a penal colony where convicts were sent. The capital was supposed to be Albany but ended up being Perth because of the fertile soils of the Swan River. We loved how big the state was – WA is the biggest state in Australia and if it was its own country, it would be the 10th largest in the world! It is ten times bigger than the UK and is bigger than Texas, California, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada all put together!

 

The sunsets were undoubtedly spectacular, and any beach along the west coast is an ideal viewing spot. There were lots of places along the way that we fell in love with – tropical Broome, funky Fremantle, the kooky Principality of Hutt River, the magical Stonehenge in Esperance, the massive meals at the Denmark Tavern and the burgers Alfred’s Kitchen. One thing we noticed when we stayed with friends in build up areas was that nearly everyone keeps egg laying chickens in their backyard. We don’t know whether it’s because eggs are expensive or whether they’re doing their bit against factory farming but we loved it!

 

 

So, without much ado, and in no particular order, here is our Top 5 for Western Australia:

 

National Parks

You can’t dispute that WA has some amazing national parks. Karijini National Park is probably the most well-known park with its beautiful gorges, waterfalls and swimming holes. We were really sad that we had to leave Karijini early due to heavy rains.

 

One of our favourites was Cape Le Grand National Park. We were originally going to skip it but a local insisted that we go. We are so thankful because it is one of the most beautiful places in Australia. We also loved the red soil and dynamic coastline of François Péron National Park.

 

Other national parks that are definitely worth a mention are Kalbarri National Park with Nature’s Window, Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungles, and Mitchell River National Park in the Kimberley.

 

 

Shark Bay

Shark Bay was added to the World Heritage list in 1991 because it displays biological diversity, ecological processes, geological history and natural beauty. We spent about a week in Shark Bay and were blown away by the scenery and wildlife.

 

On your way in, stop at Shell Beach and marvel at the turquoise waters lapping at the blinding white shores made completely out of little cockle shells. If you have a 4WD, head to Steep Point and stand on the westernmost point of Australia. Camping at Whalebone Bay was $10 for the night and is a magnificent place to watch the sunset before you head into Denham for a beer at the westernmost pub in Australia. Make sure you visit Ocean Park and learn about the surrounding marine wildlife from a safe but super-close distance.

 

 

Beaches

Western Australia has over 12,000km of coastline and most of it is made up of picturesque beaches. Hellfire Bay at Cape Le Grand National Park was by far the most beautiful, while Shell Beach in Shark Bay was also spectacular.

 

Cable Beach in Broome was great because not only were we allowed to take our clothes off in the nudist section, but we got to watch the camel rides during sunset. Greens Pool near Denmark and Coral Bay both had an abundance of colourful fish right near the shore and were great for snorkelling.

 

 

Fremantle Prison

We did all the tours at Fremantle Prison. For some reason, we were absolutely fascinated with the place – the history of how and why it was built, the stories of stupidity and escape – and we wanted to see every part of this remarkable prison.

 

 

Breweries

Western Australia has some fantastic breweries. Little Creatures in Fremantle is absolutely fantastic and offers the works – interesting tours, delicious food and awesome beer!

 

In Kalgoorlie-Boulder, we were lucky to find Beaten Track Brewery, and learnt a lot about the beer making process and what hops looks like. Cheeky Monkey in Margaret River and Duckstein in the Swan Valley were also great breweries to visit, for both the beer and the atmosphere. Matso’s Brewery in Broome really blew our socks off with their chilli beer and their Smokey Bishop dark lager. We enjoyed it so much, we went there twice in four days!

 

 

Cable Beach

Town Profile : Broome

Located at the southernmost tip of the Kimberley about 18 degrees south of the equator, Broome was the first example we’ve seen of an Australian tropical town.  Palm trees and boabs line the streets, birds of prey circle the skies and everyone walks around like they’re on holiday.  The atmosphere is really laid back and after a while, you’ll learn about Broome time, which ticks at a much slower pace than Melbourne time.  Monsoon season between October and March can make some of the more remote areas around the town inaccessible due to rain, so if you plan to visit and want the best weather, make it between April and September.

 

 

William Dampier was the first to visit the area in 1688 and Roebuck Bay on which Broome sits is named after his ship, the HMS Roebuck, but it wasn’t until 1883 that Broome was declared a town. The largest pearl shells in the world were discovered in Roebuck Bay, and this led to Broome’s establishment as a pearling town.  People from Japan, China, Malaysia, Europe and the Philippines arrived to seek out the ‘Pinctada maxima’ shells, and while pearling was super-profitable for the pearling master (or as we see it, the pimp), the divers had it tough and suffered from the bends, shark attacks, cyclones and drowning.

 

During the first decade of the twentieth century, Broome produced 80% of the world’s Mother of Pearl shells, but after the plastic button was invented and cultured pearls were introduced in the 1970s, they were only producing about 65% of the world’s stock.  Paspaley is the largest and oldest pearling company in Australia and the producer of the most beautiful pearls in the world, and it has an outlet in town.  Juz took it upon herself to try on some pearls; about $98,000 worth to be precise, and while we were there, we also learnt about how pearls are valued.  They need to be smooth, unblemished, round and shiny, and there are different types of pearls that are available (black, white, gold, champagne and baroque).  Baroque pearls are asymmetrical pearls that are made when the oyster tries to spit them out before they’re ready.  The pearl ends up developing an irregular shape instead of a smooth spherical shape.

 

 

If you’re lucky enough to be in Broome during August/September, this is when they hold the annual ‘Festival of the Pearl’ called Shinju Matsuri.  The town celebrates their history, the pearl harvest and their multicultural heritage, which includes all the Asian and European folk, as well as the local Aboriginal people.  We were really happy to have a chat with a few of the locals, including a lady who was brought up by the Sisters in Beagle Bay, a super happy guy carving a boab nut in Chinatown, and another guy who came and sat down with us in the park while he waited for his mates to hurry up.  They were all friendly, welcoming and happy to share their stories.

 

There are two movie outlets to cater for all sorts of weather – Sun Cinema, which is indoors, and Sun Pictures, the oldest operating outdoor cinema in the world!  You can also enjoy the Staircase to the Moon at certain times of the month, when the full moon reflects on the mud flats and creates the illusion of a staircase.

 

So, whether you enjoy picking up some noodles in Chinatown, trying on expensive pearls or lazing on the beach, Broome has something for you.

 

POINTS OF INTEREST

Chinatown

The original commercial centre of Broome, Chinatown demonstrates the multiculturalism of Broome.  While we were expecting more Chinese restaurants and tacky neon lights, we were satisfied with the Asian architecture on telephone booths and Johnny Chi Shady Lane, which mainly contained clothing outlets that sold colourful dresses, a café with a terrible soundtrack and lots of souvenirs.  A great place for kooky food items is Yuen Wing Grocery Store…

 

 

Town Beach

A great spot to spend the day!  There is a great little park with BBQ and picnic facilities, right near Pioneer Cemetery, and the beach is clean with safe waters and outdoor showers.  We had lunch here with our travel buddies, Mark and Alexis before they hopped on a long bus ride to Darwin.

 

Cable Beach

This beautiful beach that stretches for 22km is named after the underwater telegraph cable that links Australia to Indonesia.  It is one of the most famous beaches in the world and is a great place to go swimming, play beach cricket, and watch the sunset.  Be careful though – between November and April, box jellyfish and stingers like to hang about, and if you get stung by one of those, you’re gonna have a bad time.

 

 

If you go north of the rocks, you can get your kit off in the nudist section (yes – we did), which also happens to be the 4×4 section and the area that the camels are parked to advertise the tours.

 

 

 

We considered going on a camel ride, but after walking past a group on their pre-sunset tour, we decided against it.  The camels stunk and we figured that we could get a much better photo off the camel rather than on top of it.  We did appreciate that the camels had shit bags attached to their bums to stop poop from getting on the beach.

 

Juz works on healing - at arms length...

 

Japanese Cemetery

There are over 900 Japanese divers buried in the Japanese cemetery, which shows just how dangerous the early pearling days were.  What makes the Japanese cemetery a beautiful place is the raw sandstone headstones that are inscribed with ornate Japanese text.

 

 

Courthouse Markets

We got up nice and early on Saturday morning to check out the Courthouse Markets, which were just down the street from the Kimberley Klub YHA. The markets run from 8am-1pm every Saturday and are the largest art and craft markets in the Kimberley.

 

Stalls surround the courthouse, selling pearls, semi-precious stones, tie-dye t-shirts, hippie clothes, summer dresses, jewellery, exotic food and soap while musicians were dotted around with their hats out.  One kid really stood out – long blonde hair covered his face as he smashed out wicked riffs on his electric guitar.  He was totally grunge and had a sign out that said “Need money for a haircut” – what a cool kid.

 

Gantheaume Point

The weather was precarious when we got to Gunatheaume Point (which Juz called Guantanamo Point because she couldn’t pronounce ‘gan-thoom’ point).  We walked past the kooky lighthouse to see the dinosaur footprints, but unfortunately, the tide wasn’t low enough.  It has to be at VERY LOW tide (1.3m or lower) before you can see the real footprints, so the concrete mould at the lookout would have to suffice.

 

We did climb down the cliffs to check out Anastasia’s Pool, which was built by the former lighthouse keeper for his arthritic wife, who found relief in the warm salty water.

 

 

FOOD & DRINK

Matso’s Brewery

The first place on our list of places to go to was the Matso’s Brewery.  This award-winning full mash hand-crafted brewery created the Smokey Bishop, a dark larger that was awarded Australia’s best dark larger during the 2006 Australasian Beer Awards. If dark ale isn’t your thing, there are fruity beers, hoppy beers, refreshing light beers and ciders, so there is something for everyone.  Matso’s Brewery is open 7 days a week from 7am until late, and they also offer tours on Wednesday and Fridays. http://www.matsos.com.au/

 

 

We spent the afternoon in the awesome beer garden drinking and chatting with our new mate Billows, who works for the local radio station.  The beer garden has a small stage for live acts, as well as the Curry Hut, which is run by an Indian chef that makes his own authentic North Indian curries.

 

  • Hit the Toad Lager – 3.5% yeasty and fruity with a hint of lime and minimal hops.  Very refreshing!  The beer was named to support the Stop the Toad Foundation, which works to raise awareness about the cane toad invasion across the WA/NT border.
  • Monsoonal Blonde – 4.7% a cloudy wheat beer with a fruity, floral taste and no bitterness. Very easy to drink.
  • Pearlers Pale Ale – 4.5% rich and heavy, full malt beer that is smooth and hoppy.
  • Smokey Bishop – 4.9% full bodied, dark, caramel and toffee flavours, deliciously smokey.
  • Mango – 4.5% sweet enough to be a dessert beer, it was fruity and tropical, very smooth with a hint of hops.
  • Chilli – 4.5% not for the faint hearted.  Juz’s lips were burning as soon as they touched the foam!  A great chilli flavour in a light, refreshing brew.
  • Chango – 4.5% Juz’s favourite! half chilli beer, half mango beer.  The sweetness of the mango was great to diffuse some of the chilli burn.  A beautifully tropical beer.
  • Lychee – 4.0% smells very much like lychee but the first taste is like a light, refreshing beer with a fruity aftertaste.
  • Ginger Beer – 3.5% not as sweet as expected.  Herbaceous and smooth without any ginger spice.
  • Mango Lime Cider – 4.0% a clear, light green cider with lots of fruits flavours and a smooth, buttery finish.

 

We headed to the Broome RSL after Matso’s Brewery and on the way out, we spied a raised up, 4WD HQ station wagon.  Dave creamed his pants…

AWESOME!

 

Broome RSL

The first thing we noticed was the yellow lights, which were probably installed to deter the insects.  The Broome RSL is a friendly, welcoming place full of happy locals having a great time with other happy locals.  We were there on a Friday night and took advantage of the $10 meat pack offer.  The meat pack contains two sausages, a chop and steak that you cook yourself on the BBQ. The RSL provides salads and veggies to accompany the meat you’ve cooked up.  What a great feed!

 

Before we entered the Broome RSL, we met a great lady outside walking her three tiny dogs.  She was an aboriginal woman of the Stolen Generation who grew up in Beagle Bay with the St John of God Sisters.  She told us about her dogs and her upbringing before inviting us back to her house for more chats.  We told her that we’d love to come over after a few drinks at the RSL but unfortunately, the more drinks we had, the fuzzier the directions to her house became.  After wandering around in the dark for about 20 minutes, we admitted defeat and went back to the hostel.

 

 

Divers Tavern

A short walk from Cable Beach will bring you to the Divers Tavern, a nice place for a meal and a drink, until they turn up the volume on the footy so you have to yell at your friends just to have a conversation.  We went here with Alexis and Mark after a few hours north of the rocks at Cable Beach.

 

They have a few meal specials, including a $20 schnitz and chips that we couldn’t overlook.  We ordered a serving with mushroom sauce and within 10 minutes, it was presented in all its deep-fried glory.  The chips were fairly average and the sauce was basically gravy with mushrooms, but the chicken schnitzel was crispy and hot.  Juz sampled the quesadillas and they were actually delicious and great value at $4 a serve.

 

The Roey

Popular with the locals, the Roebuck Hotel is a cool place to catch up with mates for a drink in the Asian-style beer garden, adorned with red lanterns hanging off the ceiling.  Dave’s cousin Tony met his wife here back in the day – they were both shitfaced and it was love at first sight.

 

We met Tom and Bella here to catch up and have something small to eat.  We shared two sides because we weren’t super hungry – the chips were delicious and well seasoned and the onion rings were crisp and tasty but not the best.  Later on, Billows turned up and we were happier and with our mouths open!

 

 

INFORMATION & ACCOMMODATION

The Broome Visitor Centre is located on Broome Road, right in the town centre.  Their phone number is08 9192 2222.

Kimberley Klub YHA 62 Frederick Street, 08 9192 3233.  Check out our post on the Kimberley Klub YHA.

 

Kimberley Klub YHA

Kimberley Klub YHA

If you’re looking for budget accommodation in Broome that is conveniently located, the Kimberley Klub YHA is the perfect choice!  With a vibrant and social atmosphere, lots of space and all the facilities that you’d need, this hostel will give you the opportunity to explore the surrounding attractions, meet new people and enjoy everything that Broome has to offer, including the Staircase to the Moon!

 

 

What really stands out about the Kimberley Klub YHA is the luscious surroundings; it’s like a tropical oasis with African thatched roofs, a rock-lined swimming pool and green palms all over the place.  There are regular theme nights, pizza and fish & chip nights, and during Broome’s annual horse racing event, guests get a free shuttle to the racecourse.  Kimberley Klub YHA guests are also privy to a free shuttle bus to Broome’s Nightclubs, as well as free entry, and if you love sport, there is a massive new projector screen for international coverage.

 

FACILITIES

You have the choice of single, double and twin room, as well as multi-share dorms and female only dorms, all with air conditioning and clean linen.  The communal bathrooms are centrally located and cleaned daily.

 

The stainless steel communal kitchen has plenty of preparation space, stove tops and storage, and you can hire pots/pans, crockery and cutlery for free from reception.  There is also an outdoor BBQ with lots of undercover seating, as well as hammocks to laze in.  The lounge room has a large TV for movie nights and a ping pong table for those to like to get competitive.  The swimming pool is surrounded by a tropical garden, timber decking and sun chairs, and right next to it is a licensed bar.

 

The laundry is open for use from 1pm, there is a 24 hour internet café and WiFi, secure lockers, free luggage storage, a tours desk and bike hire, as well as regular shuttle buses to Cable Beach.

 

 

THINGS NEARBY

Courthouse Markets – running every Saturday from 8am to midday, the markets are located about 400 metres towards the town centre and it’s chockablock full of funky clothes, artistic creations, jewellery, food stalls and local products.

The Airport – almost across the road.  Fly into Broome and walk to the hostel – easy!

Broome PT Bus Stop – the bus that travels around Broome has a bus stop that is 300 metres down the road.

Town Centre & Chinatown – only 1km from the hostel, the town centre has cafes, restaurants, the supermarket and other shops and facilities.

Shopping Centre – about 800 metres west from the hostel, this is a good sized shopping centre with clothing stores, a petrol station, a food court and supermarkets.

The Roey – located in the town centre, this a great place for a drink and a meal.

Broome RSL – if you want to meet some true locals, the Broome RSL is the place to do it and it’s only 500 metres from the hostel!  On Friday nights, they sell meat packs for $10 that you cook on the BBQ yourself and eat with the free salads on offer.

Matso’s Brewery – this is a mandatory place to visit and is a quick 15 minute walk from the hostel.  The atmosphere is relaxed, the beer garden is spacious, and the award-winning beer is delicious and plentiful.

Town Beach – about 2km south from the hostel is a nice little beach just past the Matos Brewery, with a park that has a playground, toilets and BBQ/picnic facilities.

 

 

THE ESSENTIALS

Kimberley Klub YHA is located at 62 Frederick Street in Broome. Reception is open 24 hours a day  and check in is after 1pm. To make a booking, visit the YHA Australia website

 

Phone: (08) 9192 3233

Email: broome@yha.com.au

Website: http://www.kimberleyklub.com/

 

 
Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

 

Noodles from Chinatown

Eating In : Chinatown, Broome WA

We were excited about having some Asian food when we got to Broome but as usual, the price was not right.  We simply could not justify spending that amount of money for one meal, when we could easily feed the both of us for the same price or less.

 

Juz had a brainwave – “Why don’t we go to Yuen Wing General Store, grab some kooky Asian noodles and cook them back at the hostel?” DEAL!  We went to Yuen Wing and had the choice of Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean noodles.  Dave went with Chinese beef and mushroom flavoured Koreano noodles while Juz went with Vietnamese Oh! Ricey Instant Pho noodles and chicken flavoured Koreano noodles.

 

Noodles from Chinatown

 

We scored two pots from the Kimberley Klub YHA reception and got to work in the communal kitchen.  Dave’s noodles were the egg sort so he put both packets into the water to cook simultaneously.  Juz had Korean egg noodles and Vietnamese rice noodles so the cooking time was a bit staggered.

 

The flavour of the noodles were standard – salty and non-descript – but Juz noticed a real change in aroma when she added the flavour packet from her Vietnamese noodles.  The star anise and cloves really came out and combined well with the typical chicken flavouring of the Korean noodles, while Dave’s beef and mushroom noodle combination was tasty but a bit spicy for his liking.

 

We ate in the courtyard out of the pot to save on dishes.  All in all, it was a lovely Asian lunch at a great price – $5 all up!