This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

2007 Travels August 30

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THURSDAY 30 AUGUST     BROOME

Another “tourist” day – this time with M along too.

We visited the Japanese cemetery. Here, the majority of the graves were those of Japanese pearl divers, many of whom had succumbed to the “bends”, caused by diving deep then rising to the surface too quickly. Others were victims of drownings, especially due to the large cyclones of 1887, 1908 and 1935. Back then, there were not the advance cyclone warnings of modern weather forecasting, and pearling luggers could be caught out at sea by cyclones.

Japanese Cemetery

I really liked the headstones in this cemetery, mostly made out of the local rock, even though that fact probably reflected the poverty of those who came to Broome to work in the pearl industry.

Broome’s history has been an interesting one, with its rather diverse ethnic mix the result. The book “Broome Time”, which I re-read every few years, gives insights into the present day results of that ethnic mix, and the tensions and politics that ensue. It was written by two women writers, who spent a year living in Broome, getting to know many of the key people in the town, and recording their impressions in a diary format.

I know that progress and development confer positive benefits, but am sad that much of the atmosphere of “old Broome” is being greatly diluted. It is only 14 years since we first visited, in 1993, but the change since then is really marked.

We visited Matso’s Brewery and Cafe, to taste the locally made beers. Matso’s was housed in one of the older buildings, and worth a visit just for itself. The structure began life in the early 1900’s, as a bank, and has been relocated several times. In some ways, it has survived against the odds. Now with its wide verandas on all sides, settled into lush gardens, it looks like it has sat here since its beginnings.

I had a glass of the dark ale, John tried the chilli beer. I really liked mine, but I don’t think home brewer John will be attempting beer chilli style!

At the Monsoon Gallery, next door to Matso’s, we saw an Ingrid Windram print – one of those I really liked, yesterday – framed up. Kimberley Moon – featuring boabs and a moon. It looked even better, and this time John liked it too. So we went back to the Windram Gallery and bought the print, unframed, plus another one, of a creek inlet, all aqua-green sea and white sand dunes. At home, John would mount and frame these.

Our two Windram prints

We attempted to walk up Kennedy Hill in order to see the view over Roebuck Bay and the old wharf area, but there was an aboriginal congregating point up there – much rubbish, broken glass and human excrement lying about. We felt too intimidated – and disgusted – to continue on to the top.

Broome certainly does present  aspects of our indigines that are unsavoury and a discordant theme in the modern tourist town that Broome tries to be. There appeared to be two segments of this population: the established Broome families, with permanent dwellings, some of whose members play significant roles in the town. And the transients from out of town, who create the disgusting camps, some of who have followed relatives sent to the jail here. One can at times see them clustered outside the jail walls, and hear them talking across the fence to inmates – and occasionally throwing things over to them! Other transients are refugees from dry communities further out, and in town for the drinking.

John and M had a Subway lunch. I wasn’t in the mood for that.

We visited a supermarket to do a food stock up. Then to the butcher to redeem the $20 butcher voucher bowls prize. Exchanged it – and another $7 – for four good looking Scotch fillet steaks.

To the seafood outlet to buy a kilo of frozen prawns.

Even in our modest way, we had contributed quite a bit to the local economy!

Back at camp, we took down the awning roof, to avoid having to do it when wet from condensation in the morning.

M went to the Mangrove Hotel for tea, and to watch the Staircase to the Moon, moonrise over Roebuck Bay, from there. John didn’t want to spend any more money to eat “out”, so we had two of the steaks bought earlier. M reported that it had been too smoky for the moonrise to be much good.

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