Beautiful Broome

This blog should have a soundtrack. I suggest you go on utube find the Pigram Brothers song “Going Back Home” from their Saltwater Cowboy album to listen to as you view this. We met Stephen Pigram in Port Fairy and this song has the feel of this town.

We were in Broome briefly 16 yrs ago and it has grown a lot since we were last here. It is more developed, but not in a bad way (except for the appearance of a McDonalds) and to be in such a remote town with a main street full of pearl shops is just so strange. It’s pearl heaven if you are in the market for one. The pearling history is what makes Broome interesting today and the reason this town is here to begin with. M

Steve on Cable beach
Our first walk on the beautiful Cable beach. The 22.2 km Cable beach was named after the first ever telecommunications cable that crossed the java Sea to connect Australia to the rest of the world in 1889.
like savers cable beach
The life savers drive their little station onto the beach and off when the huge tides come up. Because of the second largest tides in the world the beach is hard as a rock not the soft sand we are used to on Sydney beaches. People hire chairs here to make it more comfortable.
cable beach
Cable beach on one of the busiest days of the year. Still not too bad we were thinking.

 

brown booby
Bird number 303- A Brown Booby flies low over the swimmers looking for a fish dinner.
cable beach mist rolling in
However, the mood of Cable Beach can change sometimes.  A few days later an afternoon fog rolled in and it got suddenly cold and our hair went instantly curly.
cable beach mist
With the swimmers gone and a chilly mist blowing one could almost imagine we were walking on a North Sea beach at low tide.   OK it was still 22 degrees, so let’s say the North Sea on a warm but misty summer day. Still we were actually cold as the temp dropped from 33 to 22 quickly!
cable beach north mayhem
If you look to the north you get the area where it is allowed to drive cars on the beach.   This is also the area where they do camel rides.   It’s certainly not like in the brochures and website which give the impression of joining a train of camels along a deserted stretch of beach.   However this doesn’t seem to stop people raving about the experience, but I’m not sure I would enjoy it.    We much prefer to stick to walking along the southern end of the beach which is still over 5km long and with nobody on it.  S
town beach jetty
Town beach jetty where we went to see the staircase  to the moon and the Thurs night markets at town beach.
staircase to the moon
“Staircase to the moon” is the full moon reflected on the water and mud flats in front of town beach. Hundreds of people come down to  town beach to watch this spectacle. It is a huge tourist attraction and also pretty stunning to see in this lovely place.

 

stairway and jump to the moon

 

 

roebuck bay at lowish tide
Robuck bay lookout. The Broome bird observatory is down that way somewhere and we hope to be there soon.
Red rocks of reddell point
The red rocks of Gantheaume  point where the dinosaur footprints can be found at a very low tide.

There are many things that make Broome and this area interesting. One of them is the National Heritage listed coastline of the Dampier Peninsula. It preserves one of the most diverse collections of dinosaur tracks in the world. Tracks of more than 20 different types of dinosaurs occur in the 130 million year old rocks of the Broome Sandstone and tracksites are scattered over 100km of coastline. The easiest to get to near town are at Gantheaume Point. They are not sign posted so you have to wait until they are uncovered at very low tide and walk along the slippery rocks looking in the general.

dinosign 1dino sign 2

spot the dinosaur print
Can you spot the theropod foot print in this photo?
dinosaur footprint1
You can only find these at very low tide, so you need to look for them fast. There are no signs to tell you where they are. It’s quite amazing when you come across them. There is no fence around them or building to house them in like at Lark Quarry in Winton, where we saw the same type of dinosaur footprints. They are even more amazing here, as you have to find them yourself which is fun.

dinosaur footprint2

dinosaur foot print 1dino and steve

dino and maddy
You can even see the claw on the left toe of this one digging into the sandstone that was once mud.
gantheaume point sunset
Another nice sunset at Gantheaume Point

The history of Broome is the history of the pearl shell. Without it Broome may never have been born.

THE FIRST INDUSTRY

It was here in the 1870’s that the worlds largest mother of pearl oyster the Pinctata Maxima pearlshell was found. Nowhere else in the world can you find this species in such numbers and size. Pearl shell was used for buttons, inlay for furniture and many other things. At one time 80% the world buttons came from Broome! In 1910 this industry was at it’s peak and there were 400 plus pearl lugger boats in the area.

Most of the divers and workers in this industry were Asian. These men were good at this work and also the only people willing to do this high risk job. The Japanese cemetery in Broome has 900 divers buried in it from this time. Such was the power and influence of the pearl shell that Broome was the only town exempt from the “white Australia Policy” allowing for the employment of this important workforce.

The great depression and WW2 saw the industry slow and then shut down and in 1949 the development of plastics ended the demand for pearl shell for buttons.

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Above are photos from the Broome Japanese Cemetery where so many of the pearl shell divers ended up in this dangerous job. The regular cemetery was interesting in that many of the sites has chairs and benches around the graves with very happy colourful graves many with personal items included.

THE SECOND INDUSTRY

It took the collapse of an industry to see the birth of the cultured Australian pearl.

In 1899 Mikimoto opens his first store in Japan selling his Akoya cultured pearls. He is the first person to successfully culture pearls on a commercial scale. He guards his secrets closely.

It wasn’t until 1959 that an Australian pearl farm (Cygnet Bay) conducted experiments to develop cultured pearl techniques. Until then only the Japanese could culture pearls and in 1960 Lyndon Brown from Cygnet Bay became the first non Japanese person to culture loose pearls commercially and is the first to be granted a licence by the WA govt. Once he mastered the art of pearl cultivation he started training his colleagues. The first were 3 Aboriginal men Tom Wiggan, Gordon Dixon and Aubrey Tigan. These 4 men were the first non Japanese people to be able to hold the highly secretive intellectual property of pearl cultivation. We will be staying at Cygnet Bay Pearly farm this week which is a beautiful area on the Dampier Peninsula near Cape Leveque. M

It is the pristine waters of the Kimberly Coast and the huge tides that bring them the nutrients that keep these pearl shells growing so well and happy and producing the world’s most highly regarded white south sea pearls. We didn’t know until coming here that many of the world’s pearls are bleached and enhanced but Australian pearls never are because they don’t need to be. It pays to be an island away from the mainstream in so many ways!  M

 

sun pictures
Sun Pictures. supposedly the oldest picture gardens on the world. Built in 1913 and still going strong. You sit on deck chairs under the stars if you choose. You can see the moon and the stars and bats heading out to feed and the planes about to land at the airport. The main street of town  is right in the flight path and the airport is in the middle of town. You drive around the airport to get from one side of town to the other.
rocketman ad
We were here to see Rocketman which is the Elton John story and really entertaining.
waiting for the film to start
It’s exciting to have a night out at the movies on this trip. We could even bring our own food in for dinner during the film. Last time we were able to see a film was Alice Springs and before that Robe South Australia. It’s a long time between movies! It was even nicer to see a movie outside under the stars and moon and planes!
huge shell midden near chinatown in Broome
A huge shell midden looking out over Roebuck Bay from very close to China town and the old port. This is where Aboriginal people ate what was inside these shells and left the shells behind and created this huge heap after many thousands (?) of years. 
streeters jetty
What is left of Streeter’s jetty Broome’s first wharf in the days of the pearling luggers. At that time all the mangroves had been cleared and all you could see were hundreds of boats and at low side sitting on their sides on the exposed mud
broome hovercraft
A hovercraft can take you on a tour of the mud flats and beyond in Robuck bay. Steve was walking in ankle deep mud when he took this photo. OH, so that’s why they were in the hover craft!

Broome  airport is right in the middle of town and you need to drive around it to get from one side of town to the other. You can look up and see a landing plane low in the sky as you are walking around the town and check out it’s landing gear. The prison built last century is also right in the middle of town and you must drive/walk past it just going about your business, which is a bit unusual. You can supposedly sometimes see prisoners on the football oval playing football while prison guards watch them play which is also a bit quirky.

 

cable beach sunset
Everyone heads down to Cable beach for the sunset.
lugger
An old (new) pearl lugger sails along for the sunset cruise.
wives of pearlers statue
A statue to honor the women who waited for their pearler husbands to return from the sea each season.
trailer parts
Another reason Broome was beautiful was because we got the last thing done to the caravan to get it back on (off) the road again. Cameron from Kimberly Trailer parts was fantastic and did a complete service and was happy with how it all looked underneath. His brother in law in Derby did the wheel alignment and he even checked that work. He was not surprised the spare wheel fell off. He agreed with the guy in Alice Springs that kedron used too light weight a back bar for the weight of  the tyre!

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Beautiful Broome

  1. Hi, Another amazing adventure, loved the staircase to the moon. Love Glenda

    On Tue, Jul 23, 2019 at 11:31 AM Maddy and Steve Norman’s gap year wrote:

    > maddyrichter posted: “We were in Broome briefly 16 yrs ago and it has > grown a lot since we were last here. It is more developed, but not in a bad > way (except for the appearance of a McDonalds) and to be in such a remote > town with a main street full of pearl shops is just so st” >

    Like

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