Camel Safari

12 Apr

Ahh, finally Britt and I have reached our destination in Western Australia: Broome! Britt is only staying for a few days before she heads back to Sydney so we decided to kick-start our journey in Broome with the utmost important endeavor: camel-riding.

I’ve always imagined camels to be indigenous to the Middle East, so they seem very out of place to me when found anywhere else (for instance my junior year prom in Nashville, TN). When you think of wild animals in Australia, you think dingos, kangaroos, crocodiles, koalas and emus. Anything but camels. Oddly enough, Australia actually has the largest population of feral camels in the world with a population increase of around 10% each year. Thousands of these one-humped camels were originally brought to Australia from India, Pakistan, and a handful of other countries between 1840 and 1907. They were primarily used as pack animals for exploration and the construction of railroads and telegraph lines; but they also served well for sending supplies to remote mines and settlements. Camels are perfectly suited for these tasks because, unlike horses, they are able to carry heavy loads over long distances and may go for days without drinking water. These are pretty powerful advantages in a country where temperatures can reach 50*C / 120*F in the summertime.

Even though they weren’t indigenous to Australia, camels have since thrived in the environment and are now considered pests by the locals. For starters, they have no natural predators so there is nothing to keep their population in check. They are known to destabilize dune crests, causing massive erosion, and they feed on over 80% of the available plant species so that other animals, such as the indigenous marsupials, must compete with them for food. Most of their infamy that I hear about results in their fouling of waterholes, which are already scarce in the Outback.

Regardless, dozens of camels are available for our tourist enjoyment in Broome. The funny thing is that unlike dolphins that experience shorter life spans in captivity, camels live much longer. They are extremely clumsy animals and would not be able to survive in the wild with any sort of injury, but in captivity, their caretakers are able to help them recover without exposing them to the harsh elements.

So here we are… in Broome… on the beach… with our camels… at sunset.

Our camel’s name was Matilda, and she was especially cute because she had this big droopy lip that gave her some extra personality.

darling Matilda

After the first 5 or 10 minutes passed, Britt and I began to wonder what in the world we were going to do in the next hour that could possibly keep us entertained. But as the sun began to descend, that time quickly flew by.

Cable Beach is known as one of the best beaches in the world… and for good reason! In the daytime, it looks like a National Geographic picture with green grass against red rock on white sand with a blue sky and turquoise waters. The beach is so long and the population so little (15,000 normally, but then 50,000 in the dry season) that there is more than enough room for everyone to spread out for their own private patch.

Then at night, well, you can’t beat that sunset!

sharing the sunset with Britt & Matilda

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