19 June 2002
We began the day at Cable Beach, which is a vast expanse of powdery white sand set against an aqua blue sea. We found some scanty shade up near the dunes and went for a swim. Due to the wide variation in the sea level between tides, we had to wade out a long way to swim.
Clare soon got cold and wanted to play in the sand, so we spent several hours constructing a sand sculpture of Jethro, a 5 metre-long crocodile we saw at Wyndham. The life-size replica had starfish for eyes, jagged cuttlefish for teeth, and bony spikes on his tail made from broken, flat rocks. He became a pop-up tourist attraction, and was photographed by passing admirers. Some tourists hesitated to take photographs lest we hit them up for a few dollars!
For lunch we had burgers at Matzo’s Café and washed them down with ginger beer brewed on the premises. While we were poking around the outrageously expensive art gallery next door, we realised that we were late for our camel rides. We drove as quickly as we could back to Cable Beach, and to save time we drove down the 4WD track onto the beach. It seemed firm enough save for a short boggy stretch of sand. We arrived half an hour late, but just in time to catch the tour.
We went on a one-hour ride up the beach astride three splendid beasts, as their proud owner sang the praises of camels. She had lived with them for some years in the wild of the Pilbara. On the ride back, the sun set over the sea as we waved to the nude bathers.
After we had taken leave of our tour guide and her noble beasts, we got back in the car and headed back towards the road along the beach. As I slowed down to avoid some rocks, the car sank to its axles in soft sand in the middle of the boggy patch. I suddenly regretted our hasty decision to take the car onto the beach. It was such a dumb tourist mistake: the Nimbus was only a 2WD vehicle, and it was also very front-heavy. The tide was coming in, and it would soon be dark.
Susie and I got out and started digging the sand out from under the front end of the car. Before long, Susie hit on an idea and removed all of the mats from the interior. When I had cleared the front wheels, we jammed a mat under each tyre and made a short path in front of them with the remaining mats so we could use them like caterpillar tracks. I managed to drive the car forward a few metres but it got bogged again. We repeated the procedure and recruited the help of some tourists. With extra muscle behind the car we managed to extricate it from the bog. We thanked our fellow travelers who were by then covered from head to toe during the exercise with a fine layer of sand.
That night I cooked up hearty spaghetti Bolognese, sang the kids to sleep after dinner, and thanked our lucky stars for escaping what could have been a major fiasco.