Panigale Around Australia 2016: Day 14 – De Grey River to Broome

Day 14: Live update – Odometer 53505km. Broome, it is incredible how beautiful you are. Even though it is now Winter, we are basking under the balminess of a 35ºC high.

Cable Beach, Broome WA

There’s nothing quite like waking up from a tent on a campsite. One thing I don’t like about well-located campsites is that they are likely to require a fee to be paid, whether it be in a caravan park or a state park. Things like this, I prefer to be free. Do you really want to pay for a patch of dirt?

Free campsites on the side of major outback highways are always well away from any form of civilisation. Laws require such free sites to be at least 20km away from towns, but usually these sites are much further out from urban amenities. In the case of sparsely populated regions such as the Pilbara, dedicated free camp sites are usually located at least an hour drive away from towns.

The one aspect that you will realise on the topic of open road travels in Australia, there will always be at least a few grey nomads who populate these camp sites to park their expensive caravans and SUV. They’re everywhere, in fact. The odd one may come up to you to spark a lengthy chat and tell of their past energetic youth, others will chat to you momentarily before heading their own way. Generally, the Winter season is the peak holiday period for travellers in the warmer northern half of Australia, who prefer to leave the cooler southern parts for the Summer season. You will never be completely alone as a solo traveller in Australia.

By now, the warmer conditions of the north were no longer an unusual thing. Getting out of my stuffy sleeping bag in the morning was more of a relief than a reluctant chore, as the early morning sun heats up the interior of the dome tent. With temperatures exceeding 25°C before 9am, it was looking likely that I’d have to face the hottest Winter day I will have ever experienced in my life.

As mentioned in previous blogs, perhaps for countless times now, the highway surfaces of outback Australia are merciless against the longevity of the carefully engineered modern motorcycle tyre. The Pirelli Scorpion Trail fitted to the rear rim back in Esperance was quickly running out of rubber and on its wear indicators. By the time I reach the day’s end destination, Broome, the rear tyre will well and truly have one foot in the grave. In preparation for its eventual and inevitable death, I had organised for a timely replacement at the motorcycle mechanic in Broome for the next morning.

Sandfire: Land of sand… and fire.

By lunchtime, I had made it to Sandfire roadhouse. First thing on my mind was its name. Sounds like a very fitting name to describe an isolated place that has grown a hardy tolerance against the year-round exposure of harsh climate of Western Australia’s north west. Sandfire is on the western edge of the Great Sandy Desert, the second largest desert in Australia.

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Temperatures soared up to 36°C. How do people actually survive out here when a normal Winter’s day is this hot? If this is their Winter, I would seriously hate to imagine the fiery intensity of Summer. God bless those souls who work hard to keep such a place financially viable enough so that travellers like me can make it with ample supplies and without major concerns across an otherwise unforgiving, lifeless desert.

Almost forgot the fuel caps!

Heading up towards Broome, this was my chance to think about my journey starting from Perth. Here are some highlights and things that I had sorely missed on the way up from Perth.

The Shark Bay peninsula area is definitely a top place to visit that everyone needs to tick off their WA travel list, and the coast from Coral Bay to Exmouth is similarly immaculate. The beauty of the WA coast that is flourishing with coral reefs is massively underrated compared to its eastern coast counterpart of the QLD coast, but that’s probably a great thing when you’re looking to avoid urban over-development and experience nature as intended.

The main destinations that I had missed include the Cervantes, home of the Pinnacles coastal rock formations, and the renown Karijini National Park. Both the lack of time and a heavy flu had discouraged me to explore these places, and I urge anybody who does approach the WA coast for their road trip that they budget in more time than I have. In saying that, it was never going to be a surprise for me to miss out on these, considering that I run on a time schedule that’s set up for a fugitive.

Eventually, I was relieved to have finally make it to Broome. That’s the second major leg of my journey around Australia completed! The completion of this part also meant that this was the longest distance I have ever travelled from home in Sydney. It was going to be a hell of a long way to return home, but I still had many more places to visit, including a visit to Darwin that will complete my aim of visiting every capital city in Australia on the Panigale.

Broome International Airport

I deserve some sort of luxurious accommodation to sit my butt indoor for the night after a solid couple of days on the road. Of course, this means a night in a classy backpackers hostel. A bed with blankets, powerpoints for charging my electronics, a shower block for the sake of hygiene, laundry block to refresh my clothes… What more could I want?

Staying on the topic of backpacker hostels for now; I just love meeting people in such places. I think hostels are one of the best places where you can connect with diverse yet similarly-minded travellers. It is a place of rest where we can all share our wonderful experiences and tell of our destinations yet to come. That euphoric sense of both satisfaction and that you have the world at your hands to explore in the days, weeks and months to come is like no other. Travelling, in its core, is part of the purpose of humanity. We are born to discover, explore, and delve into the previously unknown. We are curious beings whose lives are enriched by the expanding knowledge of this vast planet in which we belong.

I still had an hour or so of daylight until the sun sinks under the Indian Ocean, so it was my chance to explore the beautiful surroundings of Broome. Keeping in mind that I would have to leave Broome the next morning right after my visit to the mechanic for that new rear tyre, I had to make up my mind on how to spend this time. One hour is never enough to pick out the best in my home town of Sydney, let alone a town in which I have just arrived!

Cable Beach, Broome WA

The most renown natural feature of Broome is Cable Beach, so this was chosen as the place where I would spend my time. Cable Beach is the coastal stretch on the western part of the Broome peninsula. The beach spans a massive length of 22km, featuring sunset camel rides in the northern section, 4WD driving areas, various swimming spots and rocky elevations that lead to the Gantheaume Point Lighthouse in the south. This beach is the place where you can view the spectacular sunsets that make Broome such an extraordinary place to visit.

One particular aspect of Broome that I was totally enamoured with was the very tropical characteristics of the town. It is a true oasis on a peninsula surrounded by one of the most pristine waters to grace a town that hosts a growing number of tourists every year. Beach bums, bike taxis, beautiful greenery and bountiful palm trees all form together to paint a resort-like image for the hip, coastal hangouts of Broome.

And, of course, that sunset. Every day of the week so far has consisted of the wholesome admiration of nature’s transformation from radiating light to a glowing dusk. Is there such thing as a sunset overdose? Side effects include overt optimism, lightheartedness, appreciation of life and a willing submission to future ambition. Oh wait, that sounds like a great thing!

Returning to the urban centre of town, I found that Broome goes off every Thursday night. The sweet peace of the outback gives way to a loud urban facade. The biggest event in Broome on a Thursday night is the clubbing event that is held on a weekly basis at the Oasis Bar. The dark of night turns into the light of day as partygoers dance their life out to the beats of excessive decibels which reverberates across the whole town. Locals congregate at this joint for its Wet T-Shirt Competition; no further details required for you to get the idea of what goes on in such an event. For a seemingly quiet city, this event shows the other side of the town’s colourful character.

The interior of the hostel complex of Kimberley Klub.

What do I make out of my short experience of Broome so far? If there’s one destination apart from Perth that I must recommend to first-time visitors of this huge state, it’s an absolute thumbs-up to Broome. It’s an incredibly beautiful haven that combines the very best of what Outback Australia has to offer.

I tend to avoid over-exaggerating my claims in case I disappoint those who take my word as Gospel, but I’ll make it a big deal this time: This town will change your life. No other notable town beats Broome in terms of topographical variety with its sprawling coastlines, a red dusted backdrop and contrasting lush flora. The way that the town integrates this natural advantage with its unadulterated cultural offerings and its tourist friendliness makes it a no-brainer to visit for those seeking the quintessential Australian experience. Visit for yourself, and you will wholeheartedly agree!


Basic Statistics for the day:

  • Route: De Grey River campground, Sandfire Roadhouse, Broome
  • Total distance: 578km
  • Range of temperature: 23°C to 36°C

Expenses for the day:


General map route: