MONDAY 27 AUGUST BROOME
After much debate with myself, this morning I went back to the bead shop in China Town and indulged in quite a stock up. I planned to make really good bracelets for the females of the family, as well as ones for M and me, and perhaps some anklets as well.
In Broome, one’s thoughts tend to turn to jewellery, because of the ever-present reminders of the pearling industry to be found. Pearls were responsible for the early growth of the town, and both directly through the modern pearl farms, and indirectly through tourism, have helped sustain it in modern times.
The pearl oysters found in these waters are very large ones, which meant that, from the start of wild oyster harvesting in the 1860’s, some large pearls could be found. But also, the large shells were an excellent source of mother-of-pearl shell, used for things like buttons and handles for cutlery sets.
Diving to gather oysters became the province of Japanese divers, adding to the multi-culturalism of modern Broome. In the first part of the 20th century, an exemption to the White Australia Policy was made, to continue to permit the Japanese divers in Broome.
The mother of pearl industry was decimated by the post WW2 development of plastics, but from the 1970’s, pearl farms concentrating on producing pearls for fine jewellery developed and efforts to promote this have seen a change in the image of pearl jewellery and a revival in its popularity. The several outlets in Broome featured some superb items. I could easily spend a small fortune here – but to acquire some of the loveliest things would need one!
M and John went off together, fishing, from Cable Beach. They did not catch anything.