I do believe it's time for a new adventure
May 30, 2018
'In a few minutes we will be passing over Uluru. First we'll slightly tilt to the left, then to the right, where those on the right side of the aircraft should be able to see the rock. We'll then circle again, tilting to the left to allow those on the left side to get a good view.'
Reminiscent to that of our recent viewing of the Nasca Lines from the air, the plane tilts one way, does a full circle, and tilts, providing everyone on board an equal view of the scene below. But today, we're not sitting inside a six-seater cessna. We are in a full-sized 737, complete with 300 passengers, and whilst the pilot seeks permission from air-traffic control to circle Uluru, we wait in anticipation.
I'm not sitting next to the window, so my view is limited to what I can see through the tiny porthole and the cooperation of my neighbour. A collective gasp rises from the other side of the plane as the passengers catch sight of the mighty rock below, and I can't wait for the aircraft to make its last circle and tilt so I too, can glimpse Uluru for the first time. My neighbour is not only cooperative, but points to a cluster of red rocks below the aircraft.
'There's Kata Tjuta,' he says as he points to what was once known as The Olgas. 'Uluru is below the wing, so we won't be able to see it.'
My excitement hasn't waned, as I think about our position, just over halfway from our starting point in Melbourne and our destination. We are travelling from the bottom of south-eastern Australia to the top of north Western Australia, to the city of Broome. The circling of Uluru is like an added bonus, and despite not seeing it, I am not really disappointed.
I stand up to stretch my legs.
An airline steward approaches, points toward the tiny oval window opposite and tells me that Lake Eyre is just below. Huge. Flat. Silver as it reflects the sunlight. For me, the sight of the elusive Lake Eyre is a nice reward for not being able to see Uluru.
Lake Eyre is the lowest point in Australia, and on the rare occasions that it contains water, is the largest inland lake. When the lake is filled, it has the same level of salinity as the sea. The official name of the lake is now Kati Thanda. Typically, the lake fills every three years or so, but it can be dry for a decade of more before flooding rains in Queensland make their way into the river system, which eventually empties into the lake.
We arrive in Broome. I descend the steps of the plane, walk across the tarmac, and enter the airport building. Instantly it reminds me of the airport in Maroochydore. Inside, it is buzzing with people, and suddenly, I hear my name being called. It is Susan, the mother of the groom for whose wedding I will attend on Friday. After exchanging pleasantries, I am ready to find my hotel and to get a feel of the town before we attend the first of the wedding events.
After the cool weather of Melbourne, I relish the 30 degree heat of the northern climes of Western Australia. The similarities between this town and Maroochydore become more apparent as we drive through the town. The older homes are built on stilts, which not only protect the homes from floods, but provides a natural air conditioning system, which is effective and cheap.
We set the address on the GPS and follow the instructions to Gantheaume Point, following a line of cars, bouncing along a track. We arrive, and like the locals, park our little rental car on the beach. I'm sure Avis has a clause in bold print that says that we must not drive on the beach. Regardless, we do just that, parking close to other vehicles. Ahead, I can see a gazebo decorated with white balloons. This is the meeting point for the wedding guests for this first introduction to the wedding party and guests.
Gantheaume Point is the place where the bright red cliffs, the white sand and turquoise water meet, providing a contrast of colour, not seen anywhere else. I arrive in the late afternoon at low tide and way away in the water are yachts, and other craft. I walk toward the water, realising about halfway there that the white sand has given way to rippled, grey mud. To my left are bright red rocks, among which, I am told, there are fossilised footsteps of dinosaurs. I walk toward the water, marvelling at the tiny creatures busily doing what they usually do at low tide. The clear water is cool against my feet as I rinse the mud from my toes in the tiny rippling waves. The red rocks, once belonging to the cliffs before centuries of the effects of wind and water carved them into shapes. I fancy I can see one that looks like a crocodile; the open jaws filled with shellfish, which look like 'teeth'.
The sky gradually changes colour from blue to mauve and pink. As the sun moves toward the horizon, the sky is lit with orange and yellow colours. For the first time, I witness the sun setting into the sea, and the sight is awesome. Suddenly, as the sun slips out of sight, we are plunged into almost darkness. It is not yet 6pm. It is the end of our first day in this beautiful, idyllic town on the north-western coast of Australia.
Title Quote: J.R.R. Tolkein
Accommodation: Bayside Holiday Apartments, Hammersley St, Broome. WA 6725