We wake early on day three of our getaway and walk to Cable Beach for sunrise. It’s such a beautiful, peaceful time to wander along the sand.
After grabbing a coffee at a nearby cafe, we return to the hotel to pack and wait for the transfer bus to the Reef Prince – our home for the next 10 days. And wait and wait … it’s an hour late due to issues created by the lockdowns in Melbourne.
Poor Melburnians are being disembarked from another boat and sent into quarantine, while a couple who had already arrived in Broome to join our cruise are turned away. In all, six people miss out on joining the boat due to their addresses, so the passenger list goes down from 30 to 24.
The Reef Prince isn’t allowed to dock in Broome because of the COVID issues, so we are dropped at a beach to clamber into tenders and be ferried off shore. We check in to our cabin, which features a window and a small ensuite. There are several outdoor areas to laze on the boat, plus a modern dining/living area at the heart of the vessel.
Day One on the boat is a bit of a housekeeping exercise. We’re given lots of information about what the cruise will entail, plus safety briefings and a tour of the facilities.
I do a quick recce of the passengers and discover I’m the second youngest. I chat to a couple called Paulo and Rich, who have a Facebook page called The Gaymads, and checked their dates of birth. At 51, Paolo is officially the youngest passenger, while Rich and I are both 53. The boys are on a three-month tour of Western Australia and the Northern Territory in their caravan and booked the cruise on a last-minute whim a week earlier. The joy of being DINKs.
The ages of passengers escalate from there, with a few in their late 70s. All have interesting stories to tell. We sip our welcome drinks with an ex-chemist who became an absinthe distiller after the movie Moulin Rouge was released, which featured Kylie Minogue as the Green Fairy (aka absinthe). The chemist/distiller tells me the bottom fell out of the market about three years ago. I reckon he could resurrect the business now, with the renewed focus on craft distilling in Australia.
While our fellow passengers have venerable birth dates, they are all pretty sturdy, which is fortunate as the Reef Prince isn’t a lazing about in deck chairs kind of holiday. Each day promises to be crammed with tours and shore excursions.
Dinner on our first night is whomping chunk of lasagne made with pulled beef ragu, which everyone eagerly wolfs down … then regrets as the night wears on and the waves become bigger.
We are all curled up in bed and hoping for the best from 8pm. We’re too wiped out to even read books or watch a movie on the cabin’s DVD player.
Tomorrow our wild adventure begin, kicking off with the Horizontal Falls.
Meanwhile, in the real world … it was back to the daily grind for me yesterday – bus drop offs, trying to convince the year 12 student to go to school, skipping drop offs, Job Active/disabled employment agency meetings, cleaning dog barf off the rug, cooking dinner, sigh … Take me back to the Kimberley, stat!
Song of the day: Dido “White flag”