Friday, May 30, 2008

woof woof

Andrea is...not the one woofing

This is the sound Amos, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is currently making. For a little street with only 4 houses, we have a lot of traffic. And a lot of dogs. So a lot of barking. Today there are 6 dogs between the four of us!

I came home from work to be reminded that we are dog-sitting for the weekend. It was getting dark-ish because I'd left work late, and I found Amos in the yard. The Land Cruiser was gone (nobody home) and they don't usually leave Amos out, so this was unusual. Then another dog emerged from the shadows. Oh, that's right.

So no one is home (strange, because I'm meant to be babysitting Oscar in an hour,but he's not here) and I don't even know what this dog is called. It obeys when I tell it to sit though (after a few gos). And it is ball obsessed. I remember being told this.

At the parks in Brunswick and the beaches in WA I have marveled at the ball-obsessed dogs while Amos is being distracted by everything that moves. I have often pointed the dogs out to him and asked him why he can't be like them (poor parenting, I know!). He ignores his balls (even the squeaky one) when we are out of the house, but is much devoted to them at home. Often even I no longer exist as he tears 100m up the beach after a bird. So these dogs for whom it is all about the ball fascinate me. They show such patience and concentration, their eyes glued to the ball and its every movement, salivating at the thought of a chase.

One woman in Brunswick didn't really need to walk her border collie, she just had to throw the ball in front of her as she walked. Other owners didn't even need to exercise - they just stood and threw.

So I always thought having a dog like this would be cool (especially since Amos will not relinquish the toy once he has fetched it. He loves chasing it, but then wants you to chase him. Not my idea of fun though it is a great way to keep small children amused!).

So now there's this dog in the yard. With the ball. At the door in fact. As I walk around the house, he appears within seconds at the other doors. At the front the back the laundry door...With the ball.

I have spent some time throwing it to him, but he brings it back so quickly that after a few minutes my arm is sore. Meanwhile, in the time it takes Amos to find his ball (which funnily enough, he is very interested in tonight) bring it back, do his lap(s) of honour and eventually put the bloody thing down (or get close enough so I can snatch it off him!), I have thrown the other dog's ball 6 times!

Amos, Casey's ball and Casey lying in wait-->

But I have learned this: It gets old very quickly. Plus the garden is a mess because she (I just checked) tears through everything. Were those palm trunks on the ground this morning? Surely the dog couldn't do that - must have been 'Cyclone' Oscar (the 4 year old) again. But it's hard to resist those expectant looks and sad eyes at the door. Think my arm is going to get a work-out this weekend.

I think Amos is feeling a bit forgotten. I hope he can learn from this dog how to give the ball/toy back, but not how to be so obsessed!

Does anyone know how I can stop him from barking???! Especially when I leave the house at 5am for work? Any suggestions would be most appreciated by the people I am living with and the neighbours!

First impressions don't always last

Andrea is...talking about her first day

Bad experiences on the first day in a new place can really tarnish your opinion of it. But a few good experiences and/or getting a better picture of the place can go a long way in changing your impressions.

Fortunately, I had no choice but to stay in Broome following my first day although I was very tempted to turn around and head back to Perth or even Melbourne.

I wasn’t in a good mood when I arrived in Broome, so my first impression was ‘what am I doing here???’ as I waited for my luggage in the arrivals shed and then struggled to find my dog
. Amos and I were sad to leave the friends we were staying with in Perth, I was nervous about working at a new station, was tired, still feeling stressed after leaving in a hurry that morning, and was angry that the travel agent had failed to book me a vegetarian lunch on the plane.

Armed with luggage and dog, I eventually found the taxi rank which had two people waiting and no taxis in sight. It was a good twenty minutes since everyone else had left arrivals, so this was fair enough. When a taxi finally showed up and agreed to take the dog, we ditched my luggage at the youth hostel and then went in search of the house where Amos was to stay. I was dropped off at the only house on the street (to which I had to give directions to the taxi driver!) but with no one around, I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place. A track continued from the end of the road, so I trudged though the red sand (Amos was excited – he must of thought we were at the beach!) to find it was a (4WD) cut through to a different street. So we found a straggly tree near the house and sat and waited. It was 32 degrees, I was in trousers because I hadn’t had my legs waxed, I had little water, was hungry and fed up. After half an hour, we walked back up the street to find a shop. A Gatorade and bottle of water for the dog cost $7.00 at the BP, so I was glad that work gives me a good allowance for travel days – I needed it!

Back at the house, we find the guy had arrived as we had been walking up the street and said it
had been good timing. What???! I had said we’d be there at 1 and it was now 2.30! How is that good timing?

I was a little concerned and sad about leaving the dog there, and felt bad for dumping him on them, as they were the friends of a friend of a friend whom I had never met!

The offer of a lift back to town I had been hoping for never came, and I
didn’t want to hang around any longer waiting for a taxi, so I walked the long 3km back to the hostel. I had to stop at Target anyway to buy a towel as I hadn’t been able to fit mine in my pack and would be desperate for a shower when I finished my long, hot, dusty walk.

When I got back to the hostel and discovered the bar below my crappy room, I needed that shower to cool my temper!

I headed into town despite my aching legs just to get away from the hostel. I found it was mainly made up of pearl and other tourist-y shops and cafes and restaurants that were too expensive to justify eating at. I also found myself stuck talking to a guy standing on the veranda of a pub, being asked for money by some locals and feeling generally out of place.

I went back to the hostel, had a $4 glass of goon (aka cheap box or cask wine), a $10 microwaved lasagne and an early night despite the noise.

My opinion at this stage was that Broome was hot, dirty, over-priced and not somewhere to walk around at night. Actually, I still think that it’s over-priced and don’t like to be out at night, but I’m liking it a lot more now - stay tuned for reasons why!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Andrea is...feeling much more alive now.

I struggled to get out of bed this morning at 4.30am. I sacrificed having a shower for snuggle time with the dog, further dozing and procrastination, getting up 10 minutes before I had to leave.

Despite a pot of coffee at work (Grinders coffee in plunger) and breakfast, I was still half asleep at 10am when I headed into town to put the day’s forecasts up on the noticeboard at Coles. Being able to leave the station during shift is a huge privilege which not many (if any) other stations get to enjoy. It means riding to Paspaley Plaza in ‘Chinatown’ (the main
shopping precinct in Broome) which is about 10-15mins away. The temperature always likes to jump to 31 degrees at this time, but it’s usually not too bad. There is a flat of mangroves between the airport and the plaza, and it is endlessly frustrating to see the shops right ahead of you, but having to cycle all the way around.

I stopped at the café in the shopping centre because I couldn’t be bothered riding an extra half a block to another which I wanted to try out. Echo’s Café, doesn’t look impressive, but uses Grinders coffee and actually has a good selection of food, snacks and cakes. All expensive ($12 for foccacia), but this is Broome. My skinny mocha was $4.20 which is 40c cheaper than Henry’s across the road, and service the service was about 5 times faster. It wasn’t as good as my first Henry’s coffee, but it was better than the others I’d had there. It was presented beautifully in a tall glass and with plenty of chocolate and not too much milk – just the way I like it. I was pleasantly surprised and will definitely be back there.

"It's going to be a fine day..." slap

Andrea is...being eaten alive

What is with the mosquitoes up here???
They are driving me mad!

They are always inside the office at daybreak, swarming around me as I do my radio crosses. They then follow me out to the balloon shed where they taunt me as I have my hands full, tying off the balloon. Then they seem to go. But today they haven't left!
They are bad again at dusk and set upon me as I am trying to get on my bike after work. Often I am forced to give up trying to put on my helmet and just run with the bike out of the carport to safety.

They seem to be worse at work than elsewhere, but I am being told that they are not usually this bad. When I arrived, the excuse was that the 9m high tide was bringing them out. Now there is no excuse.
So I just have to slap on some more tropical strength Aerogard and do some more swatting!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bug yoga

Andrea is...itchy

I accompanied Rachel (with whom I am living) to her yoga class last night. It is held in a classroom at a primary school and was unusually full. We squished our mats together and tried not to hit each other when we had to spread our arms.

This must be yoga Broome style - small classroom with fans going, doors open and bugs! Amazingly there weren't any mozzies buzzing around while we were doing our stand on one leg, hands in the air poses. That could have been disastrous.

I watched as one ant-like bug with wings and a stinger wandering around the room. It decided to crawl on me while I was lying on the floor in some stretch. I flicked it off and injured it, hoping no one had seen me perform such a non nature-loving act during a yoga class. But it got up and proceeded to crawl on me while my head was turned away. Payback I guess.

Then in the meditation/relaxation part at the end I was attacked. I don't know if there was just one bug or many, or if my mind was playing tricks on me, but swatting bugs while you are not supposed to move kind of ruins the moment! I forget what the instructor wanted us to focus on during this time, but all I could do was feel the bugs and listen to the fan squeaking above me, the bug chorus outside, and some one so relaxed that I'm sure they were snoring.

Maybe yoga, Broome-style is not for me!

Monday, May 26, 2008

How much for the shed???

Andrea is...talking real estate

As mentioned in the last post, housing prices over here are high due to demand. So the property market has been booming (although this is finally starting to slow). The Real Estate Institute of WA (REIWA) has just released figures for the year to March 2008.

They show that the average Perth metro house price to March '08 was $462,650.
Within the metro regions, average prices range from $340,000 in the southern inland suburbs to $1.4million in the beach-side Western suburbs and $740,000 in Perth city.

A new residential sale price record was set in October with a river-front mansion in Claremont (median house price $1.3 million) purchased for a whopping $23million! This property had previously been purchased in May ’06 for a modest $16million. Nice investment, I say!

Now to Broome, which has the 3rd highest annual increase in house price in regional WA with a growth of 28% (compare to almost 6% in Perth). Broome also has the highest median house price of regional WA at $718,000 (!). This is followed by Karratha, a booming mining town with a serious shortage of houses and accommodation in general, at $671,000.

I knew Broome was expensive, but that price surprised me.

<-- New house going up in 'Old Broome' area
REIWA says that Broome has the highest prices because it has the least amount of land for development. Yet there are still new estates being built and expanded at a ferocious pace. I have not yet found a map that has all the current roads on it. I have ditched my ’08 WA road atlas map as it was already quite out of date and getting me lost (I don’t need any help with that). It wouldn’t be so bad if they just extended and created roads, but some just no longer seem to exist or else have had their name changed. Very confusing!

There is also a lack of rental accommodation in Broome, which I discovered when looking for somewhere to live for these 3 months. Fortunately I am able (along with my dog) to lodge with another BoM employee and his family at a reasonable cost.

The few houses that are available for lease and advertised at are:

*A furnished (patio chairs, card table) caravan with annex (pictured) at a holiday park for $280 per week (12 month lease). It has it’s own toilet and shower (ooh luxury) and a courtyard (aka the walkway between the caravans) -->

*At the same location there is a ‘1 bed, 1 bathroom (external) unit’ (holiday cabin) for only $220 (6 month lease).
Can you really include the bathroom as a feature when you have to share it with 100s of holidaymakers? I don’t think so.

*2 bed apartment in a secure complex with a pool - $320 (that's pretty good actually)

*2 bed ‘unit’ (this is unit #32, so I’m thinking they are actually apartments) in a dodgy street for $340. It does feature a smoke alarm which none of the others have mentioned, so it must be good.

*Ohh, a house! For $525 - ‘2 bed+ sleepout & pool in the LIA’. Anyone care to explain any of this to me? LIA means light industrial area as far as I am aware. So is the pool in the LIA, or is the house in the LIA and has a pool?

*Here’s a good one – 3 bed, 2 bath (one is ‘spacious’) unit with veranda and A/C for $550. It features a photo of Cable Beach park which is in front of the big resort. But the unit is actually in the old Cable Beach estate area a good 5km away.

…Actually, there are way more places than when I was looking.
The rest seem to be 3-4 bed houses ranging from $550 to $980 per week. Last time I looked, there was nothing under $550 and at least one at $1000!

The problem with my job is that the longest I will get posted somewhere is probably 3 months which makes it next to impossible to take out a lease. It’s fortunate that I am more than open to house-sharing, but this is difficult to find too for such a short period of time.
So I have been really lucky to find a bed of my own in Broome and will appreciate it despite the occasional screaming of the 4 year old.

And now for the news...or not

Andrea is...venting

The Saturday West Australian newspaper is huge. I usually make the mistake of riding or walking to the newsagents to buy it, only to then be faced with the problem of getting it home. Today (Sunday) I treated myself to it and struggled to fold it in half to fit in my backpack as I rode back to the office.

The largest sections are employment (88 pages) and real estate (a whopping 120 pages, plus an extra magazine today). Then there is the travel mag, the ‘weekend’ mag, cars guide and an entertainment guide. Plus of course the main news/sports/classifieds section.

Although at least 50% of the News section (96 pages) is made up of advertising, it contains a fair bit of news from Perth, the Eastern States and the rest of the world too.

Upon arriving in WA last year I quickly found that the state has a bit of a complex about itself because it perceives that the “Eastern States” think it inferior. I always found it interesting that West Aussies over in the east are always making a point that they are West Aussies and trying to convince you of how great WA is, meanwhile choosing to live outside of WA. Now I think they are all fuming because they didn’t buy property here when it was a ‘cheap’ and far away place to live. Now it is on par with Sydney and Melbourne in terms of property prices and West Aussies can’t even afford to live here.

So, Perth felt isolated and alienated (its own fault) from the rest of the country. Yet up here in the Kimberley, you feel more alienated from the capital of your state than the rest of the country.

Taking the West Australian for example: Upon reading it, you could be forgiven for thinking that WA is made up of Perth and its sprawl to the south, and the rest is one big mining pit. Anything beyond this rarely gets a mention (Ok, so admittedly, according to the 2006 Census, 70% of WA’s population does live in Perth, but that's not the point)

WA’s ‘booming’ mining industry (of which it is intensely proud!) is frequently referred too, especially with respect to the cost of living and climbing population of Perth. The increasing wealth and fortune of the state is a huge ego boost (and cash boost for the Perth Foreshore-We-Want-A-Big-Wheel-Too! Development) despite the fact that the average person and ‘working families’ are actually suffering because of it. This is actually recognised today with a comparison between a child-free couple (originally from Victoria of course) who are making big money at the mines and own two houses and two boats, to a family in Perth’s northern suburbs who have to sell their kids’ toys to put food on the table (because the dad can’t work, and the mum works part-time). Of course they don’t represent the population (but this is the newspaper after all), but its good to see that it’s not only Today Tonight picking up on this.

So let’s examine this Saturday’s West Australian for evidence that people do in fact exist outside of Perth:

-“Petrol costs could stop 30pc driving”: “Up to 30% of WA motorists will ditch their cars if petrol stays over the $1.50 mark”.
Petrol is a record 151.3c per litre in Perth and people are upset and threatening to resort to using public transport (what is this world coming to??). Meanwhile, on the opposite page, in small font, a selection of regional ULP prices is listed.

And the cheapest is…155.93c in Bussleton. Bet they are still driving cars there.
Interestingly the Kimberley is not listed, but Port Hedland has a similar price of 172.6. And people are still driving their cars (by cars I mean 4WDs) because there aren’t many other options.

-Farmers want the government to build a new rabbit-proof style fence (to be wild dog, donkey, camel and emu proof) to protect crops and livestock, or to at least repair what is left of the original early 1900’s fence. Interestingly, the original fence which spanned from north of Port Hedland to the south-west coast was later shortened to only 1170km running from Shark Bay and renamed the ‘State Barrier Fence’. Guess the rabbits got through the other one and ruined its the name. Or is it just to protect Perth from the rest of the state???

-The next stage on the $500 million Perth-Bunbury Highway, which is really just turning Bunbury into another outer suburb of Perth if you ask me.

-WA crops could be crippled by a bee virus – mentions rural WA

-And Broome (we got a mention, yay!) has claimed the title of "WA’s drink driving capital". Oh. This article gives the top 10 “worst spots for drink driving” according to the number of people charged in each area. One location (ranked 10th) is a suburb of Perth. The other 9 are rural (4 in the Kimberley).

And that is it.

So is the rest of WA a drunken, pest ravaged, bee infected mining pit? Seems so.

And you know what really makes me mad?! Up here I have to pay 50% more for this newspaper to cover freight! And I can’t even buy the Saturday paper on Saturday! The weekend papers always a day behind despite the 3 incoming commercial flights per day from Perth. So I have to pay extra for a paper which, as it turns out, is not even relevant to me!

So I am no longer going to purchase the paper which should be called ‘The Perth-ian’, not “The West Australian’, and revert to reading Melbourne’s ‘The Age’ online for free.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Broome: “It’s really nice…or so I’ve heard”

Andrea is...finally talking about Broome

So what is it about Broome?
Plenty of people have told me it’s really nice here. But I don’t know that any of them have actually visited. Sure, it looks great on the travel programs – lounging around the pool at 5 star Cable Beach Club Resort, camel rides on the white sands of cable beach (tide at perfect height of course), joy flights around the Kimberley, fine dining, pearls…

All this is really nice, I’m sure. If you can afford it.

Broome is a very expensive place to live and visit. A number of people I’ve spoken to are coming to the end of the few years they had planned to live here and are moving on because they can’t afford it. Even when working in the booming mining industry.

Broome is a bit of an oasis in the surrounding desert (I haven’t actually been out of Broome, so this is my assumption!). It is on a little peninsular with the sheltered mangrove-lined Roebuck Bay to the east and the Indian Ocean to the west. Roebuck Bay looks magnificent at certain times of day, with the water a stunning, picture-postcard shade of blue. When the tide is out, mud flats are revealed, almost the same red as the soil. Roebuck Bay-->

Roebuck Bay has the town’s port, ‘Town Beach’ and is famous (apparently) for the ‘Staircase to the moon’ phenomena (more about that later).

<--Town Beach...mud
Visiting Town Beach at low tide is not a pleasant affair. The red sand becomes mud long before you reach the water. There are lots of pretty shells, but you soon realise these are all sea snails of some sort (see Critters) and decide to be more careful where you walk (And Ang, certainly do not collect them to make jewellery!). They are everywhere and hard to avoid. You start sinking into the mud and decide to give up – heading back to the thorny grass, hoping to find a tap. Not surprisingly, there don’t seem to be any locals around. Any why would there be? Town Beach is very unappealing at low tide, and only marginally better at other times.

So you trek over to Cable Beach, approximately 7km away. It feels further though. Perhaps because the roads bend and curl, and the footpaths stop and start and change to the other side of the road at random points. Plus it’s 32 degrees with 50% humidity (I think the humidity makes it feel at least 4 degrees hotter). Finally you reach the surf lifesaving club, only to find that the public change rooms are another half a km away.

Being famished, you go to purchase a muffin from the kiosk. The kiosk is attached to a fancy looking café. Hmm…the kiosk guy is wearing a uniform, “That’ll be $5.50 for the muffin” he says. Well it better be bloody good! But it isn’t really, you discover as you hear a mother almost choke as she is charged $7.00 for two small cones of ice-cream for her kiddies. This must be Cable Beach!

Ok, so the sand is white(-ish/grey) and the water is a tropical blue-green . The tide is still out so you have to walk a long way to get to the water. But that’s ok because the sand feels like velvet and changes texture as you get closer to the water. And then your feet disappear. Is this quick sand?!

<--Cable Beach tide out-->
The water is a little cooler than you expect, being the tropics after summer. The sign says it’s 29°. A guy walking back and forth through the water and dragging something behind him (doing some sort exercise I presume) tells me it’s 27° and falling. It’s nice to finally have a swim and enjoy the clear water.

Four days later you return, only to discover the sign now says there has been an irukandji (a nasty type of ‘douse with 2 litres of vinegar, seek urgent medical attention’ jellyfish, pronounced ‘ear-an-gan-gee’ as far as I can tell) in the days since you were last here (the beach had also been evacuated due to a sighting of a 2m shark, according to my British dorm-mate). This is interesting because I’m sure I read in the guidebooks that you only had to worry about jellyfish from November to April. Before the May-11 attack, the last sting was in January. But turns out these (as well as box jellyfish) are present all year around and that it is recommended that ‘stinger suits’ are worn because these can prevent up to 80% of stings. What about the other 20% I ask?
According to my research ( irukandji stings cause ‘Irukandji Syndrome’, with the onset of pain about 30mins after the sting. Symptoms include: lower back pain, muscle cramps, sweating, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, anxiety and palpitations. In the most severe cases people developed pulmonary oedema (water in the lungs), hypertension and toxic heart failure. Victims are advised to go straight to hospital due to the possible complications and severe levels of pain.

Anyone want to come swimming at beautiful Cable Beach now?

Even better, the jellyfish are small and clear, so difficult to see. And no one knows much about them or the illness they cause. And you know the guy doing the ‘exercise’? Turns out he is a lifeguard in a stinger suit, pulling a net behind him to scour for jellyfish, as they do once or twice a day.

Sunsets (not just sunset camel rides) at Cable beach are very popular. I’m guessing because most visitors are from the East Coast, so a sunset over the ocean is a bit special (unless you are from Melbourne or Adelaide, or Tassie). I finish work at 5.15pm and sunset is around 5.25pm. So the evening I was invited to join some people for a picnic at Cable Beach, I had missed most of the sunset. But not all of it. I arrived at the full (yet quickly emptying) carpark to find the bus stop swarming with people and tour groups eager to leave. They were all staring at me as if to say ‘bit late, what are you doing here now?’. Yet the sun hadn’t quite dipped below the horizon, and the clouds were still magnificent shades of pink and orange. But I guess they had all seen enough.

Plane spotting

Andrea is...thrilled

It’s still dark when I get to work. Very dark. I struggle to cycle around the bend in the pot-holed, dirt-covered road which leads to the Met Office and charter aircraft services. I have learned that riding in sand/dirt is really very difficult. It’s a strange feeling, because you don’t notice it at first when you have enough speed, but within a few seconds, your speed drops dramatically and suddenly you are moving in slow motion. sunrise reflected in sunshine recorder-->

So today, Saturday, I got to work at 0520 and got to see a nice sunrise, although I was still mostly asleep. When there was some more light, I went out to look for signs of fog and, to my surprise, I found there were RAAF jets parked at the airport just across from my office! I was very excited. There were 4 Hawk jets plus the Roulettes. What a treat!

I could get to within about 5 meters of one of the Hawks – they were parked right next to the perimeter fence. Then a few hours later I got to watch 3 of the Hawks take off. The sound is just amazing when they all turn their engines on at the same time and idle. And the noise is even more spectacular when they are taking off. No wonder I am a bit hard of hearing!

As for the fog…couldn’t really tell (even when looking in the right direction-away from the planes!)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Andrea is...chasing things!

I have been able to see a number of creatures around Broome (and have smelt the croc farm - no thanks!), especially at work. We are visited by wallabies who knock over our ground thermometres, have geckos inside one shed, and always have kites flying above us. Plus plenty of bugs and the mouse in the kitchen. Here's a sample of some creatures I have (and haven't) been able catch on camera:

snake trails - there are new ones everyday, but I'm yet to see a snake
Mr Crab at Reddells Beach

Intriguing: road-train of caterpillers...?
<--slimy shell
....and of course:frogs!!-->

Andrea is...plane spotting

Andrea is...plane spotting

Moon setting over private jet (rumoured to be James Packer's)

On final approach: QANTAS 737 (The largest aircraft we get at Broome)

Broome airport is right in the middle of town. Great for getting to work, but pretty noisy with planes coming in and out over the town and Cable Beach.

[This strange roof is that of a drive thru bottle shop (aka liquor store). I was taking photos of the bottle shop (hear me out...) because when my friend Ang from Canada was in Oz, she was intrigued by the concept of 'drive thru' booze because I think in Canada they are not allowed alcohol in their cars whether open or sealed. So we visited a number of bottle shop drive thrus in Perth and Margs. And so, I was taking this pic for her because it has a huge imitation-Chinese roof (more about the Chinese stuff later) making it by far the fanciest bottle-o I've seen.]

It's all relative

Andrea is...sitting at the computer, wondering what to write

My brain is fried at the moment. I am a little bit sick and haven't been sleeping despite having left the hostel. The weather is hot and work is slow. So this doesn't help.

<-- (where I'd rather be!)

I get to talk on ABC local radio in the mornings. I start at 5.30am to prepare for the broadcast at 6.15 (which is a bit cruel if you ask me), but I have to get in at least 10 minutes early to put on the coffee and get through my first 1 or 2 cups of the day. On the radio I am supposed to give the forecast for the Kimberley region (Fine, fine, fine) and coast, synoptic situation (a high sitting over the south of the state...Easterly flow) and current temperatures in places such as Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Kalumburu, Kununurra, Wyndham, Bidyadanga, and discuss interesting weather (temps were 1 degree cooler overnight at Mount Elizabeth. Is that interesting?)

It's the same every day. Now I cut it down to 'another fine day' and a few temps here and there and whatever else the DJ prompts me or gives me time for. Mostly we just chat (DJ:what did you do on your day off? me:went to the beach). Today however, I got to choose a song! And after the song he said "As requested by Andrea at the weather station". Pretty cool!

Aside from that, nothing else has happened today. Although I did see the Royal Flying Doctors leave with a patient, presumably to Perth.
<-- RFDS hard at work

Oh, back to the radio - quite often the comment is 'quite chilly this morning'. It does feel chilly, even though for those back in Melbourne, 14 degrees is the daily max, not the min! But compared to the average 32 degrees during the day, 14 is cool.

So I'm counting down the hours of SKC ('sky clear' ie no cloud) and 02 (no significant change in weather) before having 2 welcome days off.

Plus tonight is the famed 'Staircase to the moon'. If my camera wishes to behave, you shall have some pics later in the week!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

against better judgement

Andrea is...exhausted and annoyed

I've now been in Broome for 12 days. Before I left Perth, I booked a week at a backpackers up here. It was one of 3 in Broome. Two are near the airport and town, and one is closer to Cable Beach which is not close to town. Out of the two that were closer to town and hence work, I chose the Kimberley Klub 'Resort'.

I know I should be weary of places which purposely mis-spell words following my experience at the "Klub Habitat" hostel in Prague (bed bugs, toilet block, guys taking over the female bathroom, no shower cubicles, a hard bread roll for breakfast, dirty sheets) which surprisingly was recommended by my friend Honoria (I'm sorry darl, but you have really low standards when it comes to hostels)! But the other hostel is called 'The Last Resort' which I took to be more of a warning. So Kimberley Klub was it.

Visually, it is very nice, with palm trees, tropical pool, hammock seats and thatched roofs. But I soon discovered that it had its own pool-side bar (I value sleep so if I'd realized, I wouldn't have stayed here). And that my room overlooked it! But it was to get worse. The dorm windows were all louvered, so didn't shut out any sound, and the dorms were divided by walls which didn't reach the roof! So despite opting for the 6 bed dorm over the 10 bed, I was technically in a 30-something bed dorm!

I managed to stay 3 nights and then had to escape as I have 5.30am starts at work and hence need sleep! So I treated myself to the Broome Motel which is the cheapest non-hostel accommodation available. But at $140 per night, it really seemed like too much of a luxury for me. But I made the most of my 5 nights there, enjoying having the pool to myself in the evenings (bit cold for sensible people to swim that late in the day), a double bed, not having to remove other people's razors from the shower and having my own tv with some cable channels.

But sure enough, these days went by quickly and I found myself back at the KK, in a room away from the bar (which I had requested) with surprisingly considerate people. However, the people in the connecting dorms were highly inconsiderate - some of the worst hostel people ever! I don't know why, but Aussies feel the need to be particularly loud when they are the minority in a hostel. Then there was the Brit who was taking phone calls at 7am on Saturday in his bed while 30 people tried to sleep!


Additional Kimberley Klub gripes:
* Some girls thought it was fashionable to walk around in undies and a t-shirt. Have I missed something?
* The bathrooms were filthy and not because of the lack of cleaning - within 2 hours of being cleaned the girls had trashed them again
* You were not allowed to bring in your own alcohol, but had to purchase overpriced drinks from the bar ($4 for a small glass of goon!)
* There were so many rules that the walls were plastered with notices
* My food was ravaged by ants
* During the weekly(? possibly monthly) kitchen clean, the staff moved everyone's food bags around and it took 10 minutes for me to find mine this morning (everyone has the same Green Bags and blue fridge bags so it's hard to find your own even when you know where you left them!)
* The "fully equipped" kitchen had 2 saucepans to share between 100 people trying to cook 2-minute noodles every night
* The kitchen was at least 35 degrees all the time

Shall I go on...?

No, because I need a nap. And not at the KK (there was someone having a shave in the next dorm and playing music). Fortunately now I have found some lovely people to stay with, so I have gladly ditched the hostel even though I've paid for one more night there.
Good riddance hell!

Friday, May 16, 2008


Andrea is...meant to be doing a radio broadcast in 6 minutes...make that 3!

As previously mentioned, I am a weather observer. So I talk a lot of weather. On the radio, to people who come in to the office or phone up, to fellow observers, to the weird drunk guy from Northam who would phone me at Perth airport and asked to marry him (!). And also to anyone (probably everyone) who finds out what I do for a living.

Last year I trained with the Bureau of Met in Melbourne. There were 18 of us on the course and we got on really well. Probably because we were all obsessed with weather. Although the course was full on and stressful, it was fantastic to spend time and work with this awesome and diverse group of people. My only regret was not having gone to the pub enough together.

Now we are spread all over Australia and Australian territories (points to those who DON’T work for the BoM and can find these places on a map):
Brisbane, Longreach, Mt Isa, Charleville, Cobar, Moree, Rockhampton, Townsville, Darwin, Alice, Gove, Broome, Perth, Esperance, Eucla, Kalgoorlie, Ceduna, Adelaide, Willis Island, Macquarie Island…oh and Melbourne (traitor!). Have I missed any?

Almost all of us move around our respective states, filling in where we are needed. Hence the long list of locations.

As I am expecting that the most likely people to have the time to read this blog are my fellow Observers, I may revert to Wx (aka weather) talk and abbreviations/references/in jokes/bitching/scuttlebutt/acronyms and the like. Please ask me for an explanation if you want a translation!

What's in a name?

Andrea is...explanationing while killing bugs

The link for my blog is "ultraviolet lining". I wanted 'silver lining' but it, and any derivatives I could think of were taken already. UltraViolet was my internet nickname from back when I was in my teens...

Excuse me a minute, there is a spider creeping ever closer to me, so now he must die! Oh god, I just looked under my desk to find a forest of cobwebs. Yuck!

Where was I...I think UltraViolet was pre-my weather obsession, and primarily since I loved purple. I never knew how fitting it would be.

UltraViolet Designs is now the name behind the bags and other craft items I attempt to sell.

The blog title "UltraViolet Observations", is because I am a weather observer (observing all manner of things weather related, not just radiation!) and was sunburned at the time I needed a name!

On blogging...
I think my mum was very excited when she was informed that I was considering blogging, and I would just like to take this moment to apologise to the people in dorm 11 at the Kimberly Klub that night when my mother tried phoning and messaging me at 11.30.

Why is she so excited, do you ask? Well my mother (aka Sueblimely) is a superior blogger who blogs about...well, blogging. Strange as it sounds, she has a very popular blog, has won numerous awards and ranks among the top bloggers in Australia. Her blog is very technical and web-developy and unfortunately I can barely understand a word of it.

I would like to point out that I had a blog long before my mother discovered blogging, so I am not following in her footsteps! The blog is probably still out there in the wide world of net-land, but I cannot remember the name of it!

To start

Andrea is...beginning a blog

So here I am again, entering the world of blogging.

So where to start...? I can't actually remember where I planned to start when I decided to do this a few weeks back.

So I'll start with the weather:
Time: 1454WST on 16 May 2008
Temperature: 32.4
Max temp so far today: 32.6
Rainfall for May: 0.0

Now you have to guess where I am!