There is so much to do and it’s going to take a little bit of planning to organise ourselves to cover things of interest to us and spread over the 6 weeks instead of rushing through all and having nothing to do…..but relax and swim in the last few weeks. That would be hard to take as well.
Marg has started her walks again and the first morning was surprised to find this following her down the beach. Cable Beach goes forever and at high tide the pristine white sand and beautiful blue water is so inviting. We intend to have a daily swim, even if a quick dip in and out. The water is actually warmer than the park pool. Today we were lucky enough to be in the water and a few dolphins were jumping about 10 metres away. Very special to see so close.
Each Sunday, Wendy and a group of her friends have a morning tea. Volunteers make scones, jam and cream and raise money for Royal Flying Doctor Service. Cost $2 pax. BYO cuppa and chair. Wendy is a very close friend of John and Faye and has been coming to Broome for many years. Marg and I were invited as newbies. Unfortunately I couldn’t eat the scones this time but I might have to rise to the challenge and try making some Gluten Free scones. I might have to ask Sue for the recipe. Wendy says hello John and Faye and wanted to know, ”where the bloody hell are ya?”
Jimmy the sculptor has been commissioned to do a sand sculpture at the end of Short Street in ChinaTown. It’s amazing to see it taking shape. So far he’s been working on it 3 days.
Then it was off to The Stairways to the Moon. We did visit Saturday night as a market was held in the town beach reserve but didn’t stay for Stairways. Sunday night we took a bottle with biscuits and cheese to sit and wait for the moon to appear at 8.03pm. Another fail, we didn’t see the sign that said this was an alcohol free zone. Into the car it went after a few quick mouthfuls. We met a couple from Tasmania who had been on the road for over 12 months. We talked about our booked trip to Horizontal Falls on July 15th and they were quite envious. Saying they couldn’t go as they had a dog and couldn’t leave him. We (I) volunteered to look after him for the day if they really wanted to go. They seemed interested so it will be interesting to see if they call in the next day or two as they only have this week. Ratsy is a Kelpie Lab cross, and loves riding around in cars and going for walks. I’m sure we could manage that. PS. They didn’t ring. I guess the trips were booked out)
Stairways to the Moon should be a bucket list thing as it is hard to describe and even capture on photo. Unfortunately at the very precise moment the moon appeared a large number of us were facing 90o the wrong way and by the time we all pivoted on the spot our prime position became the back stalls with no raise seating. My tripod was useless then and hand held photos were a little blurred. We have another opportunity at the end of the month so I’ll be more prepared. Today I learnt how to use my Nikon on Manual with low aperture and to use the timer so there is no movement when the photo is taken. I am quietly confident I can improve on last night’s efforts. It’s always a big learning curve trying to use the full functions of an SLR camera.
Took the bikes in today for tube and tyre repair. The good news is Darren says he can save the tyres and use hardened tubes. The bad news is that the cost, after a couple of spokes and brake adjustments will be just short of $200. The moral of that little exercise is to never, never, ever go off the bike track no matter what stone you want to look under. Leave the bike on the track and walk.
Sunday Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral in Broome was a highlight for Margaret. It was a special mass to celebrate NAIDOC week. A once a year celebration. Didgeridoo, clapping sticks, indigenous men and women in traditional costume. She had a very friendly aboriginal lady sitting beside her who quietly explained the significance of the occasions as some of it was in their language. It was a specially designed mass for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. I found this on the Church news sheet and thought it was a reasonable explanation of respecting aboriginal spirituality and culture. You will need to enlarge it to read.
Altar is made of Pearl Shell
We started exploring Old ChinaTown today (Tuesday) and came across Oscar in James Down’s Art Studio. Jan told us about Oscar and that we had to go and see him every day to give him a hug from her. She fell in love with him during her visit last week and wanted to take him home. Oscar is a rescue dog at 4 months old and has been a regular at the studio since. He is now 14+
Another surprise catch up was with Lucy Armstrong. We taught together at KFSC etc. She is in Darwin visiting a friend during the first week of the school holidays. We had a coffee and the next day we met at The ZooKeeper for another coffee. We have arranged to meet on Cable Beach Thursday morning for a long beach walk and I suppose we might just have to have another coffee….although Lucy only drinks hot chocolate. We are keen to meet as she is doing the same Horizontal Falls trip on Wednesday that we are doing Sunday July 15th. We will be keen to hear what she thinks of it. No matter where you are you always run into someone from home.
After our beach walk in the morning we had a few chores in town to do—get gas bottles filled, print TripNotes 11,12 and 13, buy some other bits and pieces and pick up our bikes. It’s good to have them back as we can start doing a few rides around the area. After our beach swim in the afternoon I turned the car toward the beach front, much to Margaret’s horror. She was convinced we were going to get bogged or caught by the tides. It was easy. To make it more special we happened upon the afternoon Red, Yellow and Blue Camel teams all doing their thing with the tourists.
Two friendly Tawny Frogmouth’s have taken up day sleeping in the tree just behind our van. They have the weirdest faces ever. They are often mistaken for owls due to their nocturnal habits and similar colouring. Plus they can camouflage themselves well amongst the tree branches.
Walking through the Japanese and Chinese Cemeteries makes you feel a little sad as there were so many young men and women who didn’t get to return to their homelands. The Pearl Shell industry was ruthless as many succumbed to diving accidents and the bends. The Japanese Cemetery has 900+ graves, very well looked after and most with headstones of local rock. The Chinese, Malay and Muslims cemeteries were showing a little lack of care in maintaining headstones. The Broome cemetery is full of many different people and religions who lived, worked and died in Broome. We found the graves of the Sisters of St John of God. These Irish Sisters arrived in 1907 and didn’t go home. Many spent time in the Missions.
After an exhausting morning visiting the Japanese and Chinese Cemeteries we had to go to Broome’s famous Matso’s Brewery and try their equally as famous Ginger Beer. Despite being nice and cold it really wasn’t anything to go back for. I still like our Bendigo’s True Blew Ginger Beer.
Had a swim today and saw 2 stingers not far from us….or were they jelly fish. We left pretty quickly but no one else seemed worried??? So back to the Park Pool for our first swim since we arrived. It wasn’t as cold as everyone was saying. I’ve had one go at driving on Cable beach. Easy as long as you watch the tides. Hopefully one day we will take our lunch, chairs and books and spend a few hours down the beach. Might even use the car awning for the first time.
After a massive 2.5 hour beach walk (which included coffee at Zanders) we went exploring the Port area today (Thursday) The Port of Broome is the largest deep water access port servicing the Kimberley region and is open to shipping on a 24 hours basis 7 days a week. The Port supports livestock export, offshore oil and gas operations, pearling, fishing, charter boats, cruise liners and is the main fuel container recieval point in the region.
Broome is the Pearl capital of Australia and I suspect the world. As with Darwin’s WW2 history I had no idea of the extent of the history of the Pearl Shell industry in Broome. Pearls and their shells were first harvested in the early 1880’s. Unfortunately there is a long history of pearl managers abusing their workers who were “captured” indigenous and Japanese who proved themselves very capable divers. Many lives were lost in pursuit of the pearl shell. Chinatown has many, many upmarket stores selling exquisite pearls. Isn’t it fortunate Marg’s not all that fussed about adding to the very nice collection she already has at home. Phew………
Broome’s Historical Museum was very interesting as we learnt about the Pearling Industry, interruptions of WW1 and WW2 and even the impact of the White Australia Policy of 1901. Aborigines, for many years have collected and traded pearl shell which they also used for personal decoration and ceremonial purposes. By 1860’s the first commercial pearling vessels arrived in Roebuck Bay. Aborigines acted as divers and many died as a result. Blackbirding and kidnapping aboriginals for divers was a common practice. The DIVERS Suit when introduced allowed divers to go deeper and remain on the bottom for longer. It still was a very dangerous occupation which was poorly paid. Asians took the place of aboriginal divers and Lugger crew came from the Dutch East Indies (Koepangers), SE Asia, Philippines, China and Japan. There were many risks, the weather one of the biggest. Roebuck Bay is in one of the world’s most cyclone prone coasts and on 23rd April 1887 a massive storm hit the Lugger fleet, drowning 140 men.
The Pearling Industry serviced survived and by 1900 Broome was supplying the world with pearl shell again. In 1901 the White Australia Policy put an end to foreign labour. This meant the 1,358 Asians workers could no longer work. There were only 132 Europeans employed. Lobbying got the Asians an exemption but they had to live offshore, something that wasn’t enforced.
The WW1 hit which disrupted the Pearling industry and it wasn’t until the 1920’s the Japanese dominated the crucial role of diving and tender with fleets.
In 1935 another cyclone caused havoc and another 140 men were lost at sea. Hence the large number of Japanese buried in the Japanese cemetery. And at the start of WW2 all Japanese were interned following the attack on Pearl harbour.
However, by 1953 the Japanese divers were back but the Pearl Shell industry had collapsed by the 1960’s. …as the plastic button helped stifle the world demand for pearl shell.
For a while a group of men had attempted to culture pearls but a Japanese man, Kokochi Mikimoto had perfected the process.
Today cultured pearls earn more revenue than the old Broome pearl shell industry ever did.
The Broome museum also has a Dinosaur Footprint exhibit. Since 2011 scientists have identified thousands of dinosaur tracks in the Broome sandstone rock on the beaches from Roebuck Bay to Cape Leveque, 80km away. Tracks of more than 20 different types of dinosaurs occur in the rocks. People are still finding footprints made by dinosaurs 130 million years ago. Unfortunately the footprints are very hard to find and they are only visible when the tide is below 1 metre. While we are here we have a few opportunities to search at Gantheaume Point. (July 13-18; July 27-31) Hopefully we will have some luck at seeing real footprints. Stay tuned.
That’s week 1 in Broome. Can’t believe the week has gone so quick.