The hell road to Cape Leveque

Saturday, Jun 17, 2006 at 00:00


Saturday 17th June, 2006
Cape Leveque

Jeeeeezzzzzuuuuusss Ccchhhhrrrriiiiiisssssttt!!! What a friggin road! Thank god no, thank me because I was the bloody driver and there was no bastard looking over my shoulder offering assistance let me tell you!! Even though it be nigh on 9 bells in the p.m. and I am clutching some of natures anti-inflammatory and everything still aches from the pounding we took on the way in.

The day started ordinarily enough with packing and then a few last minute chores as we left town. The Cape Leveque turnoff is only 10 km east of Broome town and the first 10 km or so are comforting bitumen. Once the black stuff ends, the road goes down hill fast. It is largely a sand road with occasional outcrops of hard rock but the condition of the road had to be seen to be believed! Corrugations, blowouts, steep shoulders in both cambers. The corrugations alone were of such irregular size and nature that it was impossible to judge a speed to get on top of them. I was hard-pressed to find a memory of a road I’d travelled on that was in as poor condition as this.

It wasn’t long before we were letting the tyres down to below 28 psi which helped with the corrugations and ballooned a bit better on the sand. I even used 4 wheel drive over the roughest parts to gain what assistance I could there. The worst thing was the oncoming traffic though. The locals fly over the road and it’s apparent by the manner in which the front end of their battered bombs jump all over the road that they have little control and yet they pass you at 90 to 100 kph spraying dust, dirt and stones everywhere. In some places the road was so deeply worn into the surrounding country that you couldn’t see over the sides of the verges. It was also one lane and very difficult to pass but the locals managed it at 100 kph plus. I swear a bloke in an old cruiser ute passed us at 90 degrees from the verticle, centrifical force being the only thing keeping his vehicle pinned to the road embankment in apparent defience of all the laws of physics. It makes you wonder how many are killed or injured in road accidents up this way each year?

We called in at Beagle Bay just on Midday and after a quick and uninspiring drive round the town, visited the local church which was constructed in a Spanish mission style. The alter and interior of the church had been decorated with mother of pearl and Trochus shell. On having our lunch under a nearby shady tree, the incumbent priest arrived to say hello. He was a young Nigerian who was on his two years internship for want of a better word. He was waiting for some of the locals to arrive to take him fishing. They duly arrived in a 1980 SWB patrol with some interesting modifications. (An axe or something just as subtle had been used to cut the roof off to make it a convertible. There’d have been 10 kids and a dog or three hanging loosely about the vehicle but the young priest managed to squeeze in and off they went. The vehicle was a testament to the toughness of Nissans in general though mind you the front guard had rusted away.

The last 80 km into Leveque were a bit better with a few patches of solid road surface and some bitumen. We arrived at Kooljamon in good time but shaken and sore. I was fearful of seeing the contents of the trailer. On checking in, I elected for the powered site and ended up in the main campground area. This is a well maintained but somewhat condensed area consisting of 10 or so sites, and other 12 safari tent arrangements under a few large trees. Sites were pretty small and by the time a small outback tour group arrived on the site next door, the campground was full. J & J have got the un-powered “sea-view” accommodation, final payback for Ningaloo. They have a beaut view over the western beach to the sunset.

It was a 30C or more today so we didn’t waste any time in getting to the beach for a swim. The swimming beach is on the eastern side of the cape and is a lovely long stretch of sand with rocky promontories at each end. There are various types of accommodation available here from fully equipped safari tents to log cabins and beach side shelters that have rudimentary facilities. Most are set along or overlook this western beach. A boardwalk leads out from the campground and over the hill past the lighthouse and down tho the beach. There is a restaurant and store on the other side as well.

Amanda and I had an hour snorkelling with little reward before returning to camp for a shower and a well earned aperitif at J & J’s to watch the setting sun. Amanda created a plate of Rice Paper rolls for dinner which were thoroughly enjoyed by all. On getting the diary started in the evening, I stumbled over a wireless network so was able to check the emails. Also listened to the bull flowing round the campfire from the tour group. By 10.00 p.m. it was all quiet, the stillness of the evening only being broken by the earnest and sometimes frantic squeaking of the springs on the nearby Kea Camper. Just loved the way the head would occasionally pop up to look through the mesh screens! It was a laugh.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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