Around Australia Week 29 – Cape Leveque, Horizontal Falls and Broome

Finally… we get to see Broome! We’ve looked forward to seeing this part of the WA Coastline for a long, long time. We’ve all heard about the hordes of people who go to Broome every year, because they enjoy it so much; we know that it’s hard to get a site during the popular months. There has to be something going for this city!

Then friends of ours said “You have to go and see Cape Leveque”. Other friends said “You have to visit the Horizontal Falls!” So, apart from the city of Broome itself, and Cable Beach, these were the two places we really wanted to check out.

It’s fairly clear that these are big ticket items. It’s no wonder that many people save up for a trip to Cape Leveque, especially if they choose to go on an organised tour and stay at the accommodation options on the Cape, rather than driving themselves.

Ditto for the seaplane trip out to Horizontal Falls, which is not your typical budget item (especially if you want to include a night on the houseboat).

We decided to go on a 4WD day trip to Cape Leveque, a tour which included a few hours along a dirt road, a stop at Beagle Bay (to see the mother-of-pearl altar at the Sacred Heart church), and an hour or so spent beating the tide in an effort to find mud crabs. Then it was on to Lombadina Mission (where the bush church was just as attractive, in a completely different way) and to a beautiful pristine beach for a much-appreciated swim.

29_01_Cape Leveque Churches


At the end of a day – which stretched to around 14 hours – we were tired out, but satisfied that it had been well and truly worth it. AND it was good to have someone else’s 4WD absorbing all the bumps and rattles!

We flew out to Horizontal Falls on a seaplane out of Broome, although we spoke to others who had decided to fly from Derby because it was a bit closer. This was another great day that involved first the flight over beautiful scenery, and then fishing on the reef, feeding the sharks, and of course that adrenaline-packed ride through the fast waters of the Falls! The only drawback (and this is, of course, not typical of most travellers who fly out there) was that I was still battling the flu, and suffered that pesky ear complaint that is so common when someone has a bad cold and then flies. (Those who have experienced it will know what I mean… as soon as you achieve some altitude, it feels as though someone is sticking knitting needles in your ears. Very painful! It can be overcome by taking Actifed or Sudafed an hour or so before flying… IF you remember! Of course, I didn’t.) However, the ‘good’ thing about this ear pain is that it subsides as soon as you land. Anyway, here’s a suggestion: if you have the flu or a sinus infection, see a doctor or chemist and ask whether it’s advisable to take something before you board the flight.

29_03_Horizontal Falls

As you might expect, we did some typical ‘Broome’ things as well, such as the Cable Beach camel ride, a visit to the outdoor theatre and a 4WD expedition onto the beach at sunset to enjoy drinks with everyone else. (I have another tip. If you’re planning on an outing to the Sun outdoor theatre, take a cushion. There’s a very good reason that so many people emerge carrying pillows! Those deck chairs are tough on the backs of your legs. Take a nice squashy pillow to sit on for extra comfort.)


Back to the longer trips… if you choose to go on some of these day trips (especially the ones that involve air transport) the cost can go up pretty quickly. We have heard it said that the ‘average’ grey nomad can’t afford these prices.

It’s true that these trips might mean that you have to dig deep into the piggy bank… but what we’ve found is that quite a lot of people save up well ahead so they can go, looking upon them as a special treat or highlight. One woman at Kununurra told me about a trip she had coming up to Kakadu: she said it had taken them a year of hard saving to include it in their budget, but it was going to be worth every cent!

A couple of weeks ago on the blog, I commented that there doesn’t really appear to be any such thing as a ‘typical’ grey nomad! Here are a few of the different types of travellers who we think fit into the “grey nomad” category – but we’re sure you can come up with lots more.

  • Couples who have worked hard all their lives, paid off their house, and have bought a new car and van from savings or with superannuation money. They want to spend a few years (or decades!) travelling and enjoying the country. They’re not interested in getting jobs to fund their travel… they figure it’s time to relax!
  • People who have saved up for a round-Australia trip. Some were taking a year off from their jobs. Their aim? Enjoy the trip and spend up on a few special treats on the way around (sometimes more than a few!)
  • Those who had sold their home and bought a caravan or motorhome, and now live on the road. Some are funded by superannuation funds; others have to work in order to sustain their lifestyle.
  • People who have never owned a home. They figure they might as well be travelling Australia and finding work as they go, rather than renting and paying money to someone else. The caravan park site fees can be almost as much as paying rent, but at least they’re seeing Australia!
  • People who live in a ‘lifestyle village’ or in a relocatable home in a caravan park, and come and go as they please, travelling part of the time. Some are on pensions, some are on retirement income.
  • Those who have a granny flat or a converted shed in the backyard of their children’s home. They live there part of the time, and travel the rest. Some move from the home of one child to that of another.
  • Pensioners who have a basic van and car, and can just make ends meet by allocating their pensions to fuel and/or food/caravan park site fees. They often stretch a dollar by staying in free camps for part of the time, and often catch fish to supplement their larder. Some say they stay ONLY at free camps, and they couldn’t afford to travel if they had to pay.
  • Cashed-up retirees who have a home base somewhere in Australia, and can afford to buy a top-of-the-range motorhome, fifth wheeler or caravan/car.
  • People who rent their own home, buy a motorhome or caravan and fund their travels with rent money. Others rent their homes to continue paying a mortgage, and find jobs on the way around Australia.

So… a “typical” grey nomad might ROUGHLY (very roughly!) be thought of as: “someone who is maybe 50 + years of and who simply enjoys travelling, whichever way they choose to do it!”

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