A Summer Holiday Down Under
Part 4: Broome to Cape Leveque
Thursday 5th to the Sunday 8th June 2008 . . . Days eight to eleven.
In brief : Broome - heart of the Pearl Industry. We take a town tour, visit the colourful local market and watch sunset over the Indian Ocean from the famous Cable Beach.
Weather : A typical Lake District summer day - cloudy and the hint of rain.Broome only has about four of these in their 6 month dry season . . . they kept one for us ! Otherwise blue skies and sunny again.
Classic Kimberley Sandstone next to the pool in The Courthouse B&B
Down to earth again after landing at Broome's impressive town airport,
we were met and transported to our home for the next few days, The Courthouse Bed & Breakfast, Broome
The house was built by Shane and Debra and looked after for this year by Terry and Janine.
Situated adjacent to Broome's Courthouse the town centre location was great, and allowed us easy access on foot to all the local sights..
In the shade of the courtyard canopy, a fine pool ready to use.
The garden from our chair at the side of the pool.
By the time we had settled in it was mid afternoon and we opted for a local walk out around town.
Our son, who had worked in Broome during his Gap year, suggested we visited Matso's.
The weather has been so consistent that we should be able to see that classic sunset over the beach tomorrow . . . !
Unfortunately, the following day was rather overcast, but it did nothing to dampen the spirits of Scott, our driver and tour guide on a Broome Sightseeing Tour
The best way to see the town and to understand what it has to offer is to join a tour like this one. Scott even had a video screen in his tour bus and kept us informed in between his commentary, with extra photos and newsreels giving us a real insight to the history, the culture and the hidden gems of the area, going right back to its early beginnings in the 1880's.
The cinema still gives nightly performances, where you can grab snack and a deck chair and enjoy the show.
Round town now and Scott gave us an insight into the Pearl industry, how the divers coped with the dangerous work of collecting the shells, the influence and importance of the Japanese within the pearling community and how in the early days, the shell was far more important for buttons and jewellery pieces than the occasional round pearl they found by accident. The culture of modern round pearl is much younger than we thought.
The Japanese Cemetery
Unfortunately, the drive to collect shell took the divers into deeper and deeper water. The mortality rate was high as it was only towards the end of the industry's illustrious 100 year period that the divers really began to understand the problems of deep diving and the 'Bends'. The cemetery was cruel testament to their commitment to the work.
Scott briefly introduced us to several galleries in town, though there was little time to fully appreciate them.
What it did do however, was to show us what was tucked in all the little corners of town, so that we could return at our leisure if we wished. ( Apologies for catching this inside-the-gallery shot without copyright permission, but it was an excellent one of a local mud crab ! )
At the southern end of Town Beach was Gantheaume Point with it's dramatic Pindan Red Sandstone rocks and beaches.
This was the landing area used by the local hovercraft company that offered their own version of a town tour - from the sea.
Weathered rock formed beautiful sculptures.
The Palm tree, grass on the headland and Mangrove plants on the beach contrasted wonderfully with the richly coloured stones.
The weather, which had been rather overcast all afternoon, suddenly took pity on us.
We were offered an even more dramatic sunset as a result of a distant break in the cloud.
Sunset over the Indian Ocean.
As we watched, the sunset developed, exploded, changed colour and gradually faded into the sea.
True North, a local cruise ship, against the last of the westerly sunset.
There were so many other places Scott introduced us to, the Dinosaur's footprints and Anastasia's pool, all the other galleries, China Town, the Pearl Luggers and more that we haven't been able to includ them all her. It's just sufficient to say a big thanks to Scott for the informative and entertaining tour.
As if to apologise for the cloud of yesterday, today dawned bright, sunny and very warm again.
It was market day in the Courthouse grounds opposite our B&B.
Colourful crafts and local produce were the speciality today.
( The exchange rate was approximately two dollars to the pound by the way )
Two enterprising local gentlemen playing Digaredoo and sound stick at the market.
Broome is a very multicultural town, with it's history of early English and European settlers, Japanese and Timorese pearl workers and modern Asian migrants bringing Thai, Chinese and many other cultures into the town. In the background to all this are the indigenous Aboriginal peoples who's traditional culture has been totally different from that of the modern merchant classes.
Their treatment over the years and the result of their moves towards urban life has not been a history that Australians have necessarily been proud of. All through the holiday this theme of the indigenous peoples, their history and art, their modern commercial successes, their obvious personal failures, plus the reactions of modern Australians to them has been a reoccurring and very interesting topic of discussion.
We promised ourselves a visit to Cable Beach so here we are.
Sun, sea and . . . iced mango smoothies !
Cable beach was named after the Telegraph Cable that came ashore here and provided early Australia with it's first phone link with the rest of the world.
It is a 22km stretch of pristine white sands facing the deep ocean, a real contrast to the red pindan sands on Town Beach.
Time to wonder, to walk, to swim and to sit back and relax in the sun.
Where did he come from ?
Broome's famous Camel Rides on Cable Beach.
We could have enjoyed a camel ride along the beach during the afternoon - but we didn't.
Here's some more guys, along for the Sunset rides at the end of the day.
Follow my leader.
Camels have had a significant place in 19th and 20th century explorations of Australia
and now in the modern 21st century tourist experience that is Cable Beach.
Wide horizons as the sun starts to set.
Pearl Luggers, now offering sunset cruises rather than collecting shell, sail across the bay in the early evening light.
A sunset glow . . .
. . . as we watch the sun set below the Indian Ocean.
In the market earlier in the day we had met Greg Quicke, who was offering Astro Tours of Broome. This was a great opportunity for us to explore the unknown Southern Skies so we signed up. A taxi collected us from Cable Beach and took us a few miles out of Broome to meet Greg once again.
The first thing he explained of course that the sun had not set at all, it was us that had rotated away from it.
The concept of the earth with it's daily rotations and seasonal spirals was complimented by explanations of the night sky and with views through some of his many binoculars and powerful telescopes. My amateur attempts at digi-scoping can be seen below.
Full marks for an enthusiastic and different view of Australia.
Next day we said goodbye to the 'outback town' as our next plane awaits our arrival.
Broome from the air, our accommodation was in the trees to the right, China Town to the left and Town Beach beyond.
Our flight was taking us north, up the coast towards Cape Leveque.
Red sands again contrasting with the white beaches as we circle ready to land at the airstrip.
Could that be our boat waiting over there in the bay ?
Another text book landing on the dirt airstrip and we have arrived.
Ben holds the 'Tinny' steady
as we make our way down the beach and prepare to board.
Five night ahead on Discovery One as she makes her way up and down the archipelago of islands off Kimberley's magnificent coastline.
What surprises lie in store for this time ahead ?
Ann contemplates the prospects as she watches the sun once again set into the western ocean.
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(or should that be as Ann watches the horizon revolve upward to obscure the stationery galactic star . . . . Greg ?)
Click below to follow our story onward.
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Technical note: Pictures taken with my Cannon G7 or Ann's Ixus 75 Digital cameras.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . Time to enjoy the sunset.