Welcome to my tales of cookery school, food and travel

The first 30+ posts of this blog describe my experiences as I complete a nine month cooking course - the City and Guilds Diploma in Food Preparation and Culinary Art. I did this after I moved out of full time employment and it was purely selfish - I love food, cooking, eating and drinking. Subsequent posts are about, food, travel and adventures.

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Thursday, 20 September 2018

Australia - Darwin to Broome - final part: the Horizontal Falls

What? I hear you say. By definition falls are vertical not horizontal.  Well this is Australia and the unusual is not unusual.

Way, way up where the roads don't go, there are two narrow, natural breaks in the McLarty Ranges.  One about 25 metres wide and the other much narrower, at 7-10 metres.   I have already mentioned the very high tides along the northern coast of Australia, and it is the ebb and flow of these tides that create the falls as the water builds faster on one side than the other.  On a Spring tide the waterfall can be five metres.

outgoing tide at the Horizontal Falls

The Falls are dubbed "one of the greatest wonders of the natural world" by no less a wonder of the natural world than David Attenborough.  We found ourselves similarly gob-smacked.  An hour's flight from Broome took us to the tour operator's base on Talbot Bay, from where they run the boats to the Falls and other surrounding inlets.  Very big bucks have been invested in this operation.  

Permanent pontoons - four boats, two or three seaplanes, a couple of helicopters, overnight accommodation
We need all 4 x 300 horsepower engines - the h-g is very impressed

And it's slick.  We are on a seaplane from Broome at 6.00am and land on Talbot Bay an hour or so later.  We have coffee - at least that's what they said it was -  listen a spiel about the falls, put on life jackets and board the boats to ride the falls.  Understatement alert - this is fantastic fun.

I can't describe the surge and power of the tide other than to suggest you check out how many big ass outboards there are on the boats, and figure why so much horsepower is needed.  On our trip the tide is running at about two metres.  It's hard and fast enough we only breach the first level as it's too dangerous to shoot the narrower gap - damn.

Through the first gap
There's a reason they give us breakfast after the boat trip. 

And then there's the sharks. Yes, we thought crocodiles were enough to worry about.  It takes all of no time to decide I don't want to get in the cage to watch the sharks being fed.  I can see perfectly well from here.  There are several sharks and they have very snappy mouths and they inhale the food with enthusiasm.

shark feeding - such fun

 All this, another tour up Talbot Bay then back on the plane and we're home by lunchtime. 

The flight back over the Buccaneer Archipelago, King Sound and Cape Leveque is quite beautiful.  Thousands of tidal islands dot the sea and feature miles of white sandy beaches which, I suggest, are hiding many, many sun bathing crocs.  It's easy to see why cruises along this coastline are popular, although swimming would take on the mantle of a death defying feat.

Flying back over Cape Leveque

Dampier Peninsula  -from Cape Leveque to Broome

We're talking here - an hour by seaplane from Broome (hidden by Search for a place or an address)
Back in Broome we fall in love with the small town.  Long white sandy beaches where, apparently, it is safe to swim; a pearl industry; interesting history and more fascinating (and largely unknown) stories about the experiences in WW2.  Several Australians we meet tell us they never learnt any of the history of the Japanese bombing of Northern Australia at school. It comes as quite a surprise to them.

The town has a relaxed, holiday feel about it, due largely to the many "grey nomads" who head north to escape the winters of Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Sydney.  

Tide out at Broome, town side of the peninsula. The other side is one long white beach

Same spot, tide in.
Oysters and wine - how civilised
And so ends our all too brief trip.  So much to see but on the other hand, a vast emptiness.  This has left us wanting to explore it more, and that is a surprise.

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