Broome Airport has waived long-term parking fees for East Kimberley motorists who had to leave their vehicles and fly home after the New Year’s floods destroyed the Fitzroy River Bridge. Now, with motorists expected to wait weeks or months for a temporary crossing to be arranged over the Fitzroy River, there are calls for the State Government to help residents get their vehicles back via Perth. Broome Airport chief executive Craig Shaw said there were around 40 vehicles in the overflow parking area. “In addition to the numerous flights from defence and regional aircraft originating out of Broome International Airport in support of relief efforts, we were happy to be able to support residents more directly with the storage of their vehicles,” he said. The vehicles are inside airport grounds behind fences with 24-hour security in an area not used at this time of year. Come the dry season the overflow parking is usually full, however, the airport is optimistic there would be a temporary crossing over the Fitzroy River by then, connecting the East and West Kimberley and allowing people to retrieve their cars. Mining and Pastoral MLC Neil Thomson said the severed Great Northern Highway would take months to repair and called on the State Government to provide a grant scheme or a coordinated transport effort to get the vehicles back. “With long-term disruption facing the East Kimberley, the already high cost of living will take a further hit on costs for businesses and residents are not mitigated,” he said. At the moment the only way to drive between Broome and the East Kimberley is by travelling more than five times further by going south towards Perth before heading east into South Australia then north through the Northern Territory and then west to Kununurra. That is what tyre fitter Jake Woodhead, 21, chose to do with his girlfriend Emma Webb when they found themselves stuck in Exmouth after the Christmas and New Year break with no way to get back to Kununurra. “We were going to leave the car and fly but then thought it would take too long to get the car freighted to Kununurra so we thought ‘let’s do it and it is done’ and we are back home with the car,” he said. The couple drove their Isuzu D-Max with their dachshund Bean in the back from Exmouth to Geraldton then east to Kalgoorlie, across the border to Port Augusta in South Australia and then north to Katherine in the Northern Territory before heading back into Western Australia to Kununurra. “It took us four days. We were driving about 1700km a day, one day 1900km,” Mr Woodhead said. Mr Woodhead said it wasn’t, “too bad,” as they listened to a lot of true crime and Hamish and Andy podcasts. “I got two speeding tickets but I can’t complain it is always good to go for a drive.” Mr Woodhead said he knew a lot of people who were holidaying in Perth during the floods and had left their cars and now could not get them back. “A lot of the freight companies aren’t willing to go all the way around, all the other freight companies are getting smashed with bringing everything else up. It’s hard to get their cars shipped up,” he said. Kununurra Visitors Centre manager Vivienne McEvoy and her husband found themselves in a similar dilemma when they arrived at Fitzroy Crossing an hour after the Great Northern Highway was closed to motorists. The couple was forced to drive back to Broome and fly, leaving their vehicle behind. Their neighbour Frank Rodriguez and his wife found themselves in the opposite dilemma. They were in the middle of moving to Broome where all their furniture was in their new house when the Great Northern Highway was severed, leaving them and their vehicle in Kununurra. After a bit of reflection, Ms McEvoy told Mr Rodriguez: “Do I have a deal for you.” The neighbours decided to swap vehicles, with Mr Rodriguez driving Ms McEvoy’s vehicle in Broome while the Kununurra couple have their neighbour’s vehicle in their garage. Ms McEvoy said when the bridge was finally open to traffic they would meet halfway on the side of the highway and swap vehicles. The State Government were contacted for comment but could not respond by deadline.