Page 1 of 32
Kimberley Kayak Expedition
It struck me with the power of a bull. My kayak was lifted and I was thrown off balance. I quickly regained my composure and turned to see the large shark that had just rammed my left side.
I was horrified, the shark was at least 3 -4 feet across, but I couldn't determine it's great length as it faded under the ocean.
Because no one else could go with me, I went alone. The routes of the early coastal explorers were roughly the itinerary followed. The kayak I used was a Nordkapp, especially designed for sea conditions and used for demanding sea expeditions throughout the world.
Waving farewell to my friend, Bill Grogan on July 14th 1982, I paddled across the brilliant turquoise water of Roebuck Bay named after another Englishmen, William Dampier, in 1699. His explorations certainly overshadowed my own, but as I sliced across the choppy bay, that once had 300 pearling luggers working out of it, I felt my own small expedition had similarities.
One hundred years ago the thriving town of Broome also boasted six hotels and had people from Malaya, China, Koepan, Manila, West Indians, as well as Aboriginal and Europeans that all worked in the pearling industry. Pearling had soon become Western Australia's most important industry but the plastic button caused the industry to decline and was finally overtaken by gold.
In 1942, Japanese Zeroes attacked the defenceless town, destroying sixteen flying boats and several other planes on the aerodrome. Many passengers occupying the flying boats died. Today, only memories and museum pieces reflect the past, the 300 old luggers have dwindled to half a dozen and instead of workers, the tourists have started to invade the tropical coast.
As I passed under the high stilts of the Broome jetty, I dodged several fishing lines and moved around the coast towards Gantheaume Point, the place of the 130 million-year-old dinosaur prints.
Cable beach, the town's favourite tourist attraction, was deserted as I paddled alone heading into the unknown, destination Wyndham, an estimated 2000kms and 3 or 4 month paddle away.