Friday, June 27, 2008

Andrea is...brain dead

After another nothing day at work, it is my long weekend off.

Sadly it's Friday night and I am home alone (with the dog, but he's gone to bed already). The family is out with their friends and consequently I have no dinner.

Last Friday night...more about that another time. It's an interesting story.

The good thing about working in Broome (compared to Perth airport) is that I don't have to work night shifts. This has helped a lot with the insomnia. BUT I start work at 0530 (as opposed to 0630) at Perth, and it's killing me.

One good thing is that I live with a 4 year old who has to go to bed between 7 and 8 pm. This was similar in the last house I stayed in (Paul, Alison and 2 yo daughter Rebekah). It gives you a good excuse to go to bed early (as opposed to living with 3 drunkard Germans), but also makes 8.30pm feel REALLY late. Does anyone else experience this?

So it's 7:42pm WST (or 1942WST/1142UTC) and I'm contemplating bed. Even though the 4yo isn't home. I don't think the beer helped! Please keep in mind I have worked almost 60 hours in the last 7 days!

What was I wanting to talk about...yes, the walls (!) The walls in this house make noises. I am assured that it is because 'monitors' live in them. Please tell me that monitors are lizards. Because I am not sure, and too embarrassed to ask Rachel who has a biol degree.

Also, if anyone is still reading, are my pics too small? Would you prefer larger ones?
I am have been having this debate with my mother who is a blog/net guru. I am trying to be considerate to people (like myself) who have slow net connections/limited downloads. So I would be interested in your opinions.

The pic above (probably quite small as it is cropped)is of a kite sitting on our wind vane during some grey weather a few weeks ago. It sat there for ages and then moved to our other one. We couldn't determine whether it was effecting our wind readings, but it probably was.

Next I'll have to get a pic of the stupid bird who likes riding on the radar as it turns around. No children for you, birdy!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


When I was travelling in Tassie a few years back, I had the idea of publishing a coffee table book of photos of old churches around Tas or Vic. I seem to really like old church buildings. I think they have a lot of character and manage to survive the modernisation of towns.

After travelling around England, Ireland and Europe, I think I was over churches for a while. Especially because those we have over here hardly compare to the grandure, scale and age of churches and cathedrals over there.

In Broome, the churches are interesting because they are built like no others. They have their own architectural style (or possibly no style, as in the Cathedral mentioned in the last post).

Pictured here is the Anglican church which I fell in love with when I first saw it. It is just so quaint! It was built in 1903, at a cost of 600 pounds, in what is now called "Federation Carpenter Gothic" style.

The Heritage assessment (it is listed) describes it as follows:
"with its masonry stumps separating the building's envelope from the ground, extensive use of French doors for ventilation, and steeply pitched roof, is representative of architecture built in
the early 1900s in response to the tropical climate."

Rebel Nuns and Emo Priests?

Andrea is...doing research
This blog entry was meant to be more interesting because I was going to talk about how these nuns formed their group because they refused to wear the traditional habit in the tropical climate. This I heard from a friend. It isn’t quite true.

So my research into the Sisters hasn’t yielded the information needed to justify my title (which I’m sure got you interested) but I have learned that the Sisters have done a lot for the people, especially the indigenous people, up this way.

Nine of them came out to WA in 1907 from Ireland. Most didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into. The conditions they lived in were rough. They established missions around the Kimberley, health clinics, a leprosarium (til 1986!) schools and orphanages. During WWII many indigenous and Asian people were evacuated to their missions. They provided a lot of health care and education to the indigenous and Asian population of Broome during the time when the government would not provide such things to them and also took in mixed race children who were not wanted by their communities.

I just read through the Heritage Listing report, and it turns out the priest that was there from 1916-1923 allowed them to “relinquish some of the more oppressive elements of their habit, such as the flannel petticoat, starched guimpe and train, which were unsuitable for the climate”. It also says they were an isolated group and not part of the approved Congregation of Sisters of St John of God. They declined offers to join other orders.

So really, they were rebels; outcast by their order, taking in and serving the outcasts of Broome.

The heritage listed Convent (pictured above) was built in 1926 in a ‘North West vernacular bungalow style’ by
Japanese carpenter and shipbuilder Hori Gorokitchi using a “traditional Japanese carpentry method featuring exposed framing”.

The first Catholic church (which burned down) was built in 1895 in Chinatown with the help of Filipino workers, the second, was built in 1899 on the current site. The current church (technically a cathedral!) was built in 1963 using asbestos sheeting and featuring a copper spire. It is the strangest cathedral I have seen (view of the side, above)! The bell from the 1899 church, which came from France, stands out front.

Upon seeing the sign for the “Fr Nicholas Emo Centre”, I was quite stunned. What is an “Emo Centre” I wondered? Are they trying to reach out to the ‘youth of today’? Turns out the guy’s name was Nicholas Emo, and he was in charge of the Broome mission station in 1895 and later built the mission at Lombadina, further north.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Chinatown - the truth II

Today I visited the Broome museum. According to the volunteer, Japtown was mostly destroyed right after the Japanese bombed Broome airport and Roebuck Bay on March 3, 1942. Apparently the name Japtown was scrapped then. I am still looking for confirmation of this.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Winds easing to 10kts

The wind continued over the weekend, gusting to 30kts (56km/h). Dust got into the bathroom at work through the louvered windows (even when they were closed) and into the kitchen through closed windows, coating everything in pindan (the name for the red soil here). Some newer houses I've seen just have louvered windows, so I wonder how they faired. I wouldn't want to be cleaning up!

Today it has eased off, but the easterlies have continued, blanketing Broome in smoke from fires 60kms away. So today I have the opposite problem - the Vis is down to maybe 6km, but the Vis meter is saying 14kms+, so again I'm getting calls from the forecasters.

Chinatown - the truth

The promised phone booth and bus stop pics! Stunning pieces of design work and creativity, don't you think!
I have also included a few other examples I found in this morning's quick hunt around Chinatown.

I've been doing some reading, and it turns out that 'Chinatown' was originally 'Japtown' or the 'Asiatic Quarter' having being built by Japanese workers from the pearl boats. Broome has been described as a 'melting-pot of cultures' in its early days however, at this time, there were few Chinese people here.

The Japanese were quite powerful in the 1890's, establishing their own hospital, shops and social and welfare club. The Club became almost a trade union, demanding better payment and treatment of Japanese workers. Japtown in its heyday was a chaotic den of crowded houses, opium dens, bars and brothels.

In the early 1900's the Government introduced the 'White Australia Policy' to stem non-white immigration to Australia. Because pearl diving was a dangerous and unpleasant profession (hundreds died or were crippled by the 'bends', attacked by sharks, drowned in storms) the industry was exempt from the policy, allowed to employ and bring in labour from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Japan and China (at least until 1913). The owners of the Luggers (pearl boats) were not willing to pay white wages and didn't believe that white people would work in such cramped conditions, out at sea for months at a time.

I've read that in 1941 Japanese outnumbered the white Australians in Broome and were very important to the economy. However, when Australia joined America against the Japanese in WWII, Broome's Japanese inhabitants were rounded up and sent to internment camps despite the fact that many had actually been born in Broome and had no ties to Japan. This, along with men enlisting, caused the labour pool to vanish so pearling ceased in Broome for a time.

I am yet to learn when the name 'Chinatown' was put in place. In 1910 there was a motion to change street names like 'John Chi Lane' (after the owner of the noodle shop) and 'Sheba Lane' (after Mr K. Shiba, proprietor of the Bay View Restaurant) to something more 'appropriately British' but nothing happened. Funnily enough, Johnny Chi Lane, as it is now called, is the most well signposted place in Broome!

The Japanese and Chinese cemeteries sit side by side on the road to the port. Most of the graves are said to belong to Pearl divers. There are 92 in the Chinese cemetery, and more than 900 in the Japanese!

Broome suffered extensive damage from the cyclones of 1908, 1910 and especially 1912 and much of the town needed to be rebuilt then and also following the wars after it had been neglected, so I doubt anything from Japtown still exists. Although, I read somewhere that a canopy from the original Japanese club is still around.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Building Broome

Broome is full of 'interesting' buildings. Because it has had a lot of people from Asia working in pearling since its creation, Broome has tried to incorporate a pseudo-Chinese type architecture. Most of it is tacky and some places only go as far as painting things red and green and having a few dragon statues (See Broome Motel below). Central Broome is called 'Chinatown', my guess is because it was largly developed by Chinese store owners (or perhaps they just made it for the tourists). I must take a photo of the phone boxes and bus stops - ultimate tacky way of trying to make Chinatown look more like a 'chinatown'.

Broome is built out of corrugated iron - a wonderful invention for up here because it's too far to bring wood from the southwest. But there is only so much you can do with corrugated iron. Or so I would have thought.

The stunning drive-through in Chinatown. I wonder if they store things inside that huge roof...

<-- Council Offices - very tropical

strange Chinese-influence building at the Civic Centre (or maybe it is the Civic Centre - who knows)

Shops and Chinese thing at the entrance to a laneway

Broome Retravision!

Westpac Bank

Shopping in Short Street, Chinatown:

Decking and tropical trees at the youth hostel, and palms and chinese-esque decor of Broome Motel (I don't think you can see the dragon statues)

Some interesting new houses. Lots of purple in this estate.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Gone with the wind

Andrea is...getting blown away!
Today it is windy. Very windy. Dust is blowing off the building site next door right over our instruments, so I’ve had a call from the forecasters asking why our visibility (as measured by an instrument called a vis metre) is fluctuating so much, and is it really only 4km. At training school we were told to pretty much ignore the output from this because it’s generally unreliable especially when grass is being mown or vehicles are going by. The visibility is fine, except where the vis metre is. And around the large helicopters before they take off!

I don’t want to go outside to do obs because all I can smell and taste is dirt. Yuck. Might put on my hydrogen safety gear (long coat which covers head and mouth, gloves and goggles)!

Unfortunately a lot of the airport is dust and sand at the moment because of other building works going on. They are building more hangars in an area that is subject to high tides (during very high tides the airport perimeter fence becomes part of the bay!) so they have had to build the area up. They have dug a huge pit on the other side of the office to the new building to source the dirt. So it’s always a bit dusty with the trucks full of dirt driving up and down.
To the right is a picture of a wick on a thermometre inside the Stevenson screen which you may be able to see in the picture above (white box). This was only changed two days ago and we usually change it every three days, but it was so filthy I had to change it this morning (note: it's meant to be white!). I checked it again a few hours later, and the new one is almost as bad!

Back at work this weekend. I didn’t do much on my days off. I didn’t go to the beach, so I feel quite unfulfilled.

I worked on a handbag using stunning orange silk brocade and realised how difficult working with silk is. I have done 3 days work on this bag which should have taken 1-2 days and it is driving me insane! Took some pics of my other bags (above) to put on ebay.

I have had an order for a bag put in by a friend which is exciting!

I spent the week looking forward to this weekend as the family I live with were going camping which meant I could have the house to myself (after work of course), the possibility of bringing the dog to work, and having a break from KIDS!! But Jenner, while playing soccer, tore a hamstring (he had two other injuries last week) and so the camping trip is off for 2 weeks. No peace for me!!!

by the light...

Andrea is...meant to be figuring out manual settings on her camera

Experimenting with my new camera, I got some ok shots of the full moon rising over Roebuck Bay the other evening. The first one shows the 'Staircase to the moon' effect where the light is reflected off the water and mud flats. It wasn't really as dark as it looks in the picture, so the effect was not very pronounced. It would have been better last night if it wasn't for all the cloud. Tonight it should be good though.

If it isn't, there will be lots of disappointed tourists!

I went to see it last month and was overwhelmed by the volume of people who had turned out. Lucky I road my bike, because there was no car parking for blocks. They hold a market in the park near Town Beach which is pretty much just the same stuff as the Saturday market (jewellery, paintings, photos, pearls, souvenirs) but with more 'Staircase' themed jewelry and crap. I wanted to get some food there, but it was all the same over-priced, unappetising stuff as the weekends. Yum $8 for a plate of fried-rice and salmonella from a van. They probably sell the left-overs from the weekends.

Most people were too busy saving their spots on the beach to look at the market. I ended up sitting somewhere where you couldn't actually see the moon at all and had to move to the spit, which was full of people, and peer between heads. If that wasn't bad enough, everyone was taking flash photography! There should be a warning to epileptics because the constant flashes produce a strobe light effect. I had a headache already, so I left pretty quickly, my eyes still blinded.

By the time I found my bike in the dark and headed off, cars were already tearing away, perhaps trying to beat the rush, but actually creating one. It was like when I used to go to the football with my dad - if you knew who was going to win, you'd leave at the start of the 4th quarter to beat the crowds. I guess they knew how it was going to end.

I am meant to be going to see it tonight in full, so I need to go and read my camera manual.
P.S you may be able to watch it too on this website: at 7.30pm WST (9.30 EST) 21 June.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One-stop shop

This is Wing's. Perhaps it should be called a 'variety' store (but then it might get confused with Fong's which sells food, kitchen and camping stuff, shoes and souvenirs).

Where else but Wing's can you get a Chinese meal while on the internet and looking at art and buying cheap imported Chinese handbags and jewelry?

And then next door there is this sign:
Now that would be a good combination in one store (they are actually 3 separate stores so it's not as exciting)
And then there is "Streeter's". This business dates back to the late 1880's, operating as a general store, butchers and later also as a petrol station. These days one part of the store is Mitre 10 hardware and the other part is a newsagents plus fabric/sewing store. It also sells t-shirts and other souvenirs (must be a requisite of stores here).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tide's in

Yesterday I decided to walk Amos in the morning, instead of waiting til it cools down in the evening, which it hasn't been doing. We walked to Town Beach which does not allow dogs so walked through the carpark and to the spit where everyone stands to view 'Staircase to the moon'.

I was greeted by a pleasant surprise - the tide was in! What a difference this made - Town Beach actually looked nice. The first pic below is at high tide and the second and third at low tide.
The water was an amazing blue-green and so clear.
The photos are laid out funny cos I'm playing with Picasa rather unsuccessfully!

Back to the beach

I haven't been to Cable Beach for a while since discovering Reddells and other dog beaches. As it turns out, further down Cable Beach from the $5/hour umbrellas and lobster coloured tourists, there is a dog beach. You have to park on the side of the new main road that skirts around the town to the port and follow a path to the dunes. Then you have to climb over the dunes. By the time you reach the water (low tide, so quite a hike) you really need a dip to cool off! The dunes are stunning and this part of the Beach is much nicer. I don't think we saw anyone else in our time there! We had hundreds of metres of sand to ourselves. Amos had a bit more of a swim and also clung to me for dear life when I'd pick him up to give him a break and let him catch his breath.

The following day I went back to Cable Beach, but much further down, near Gantheaume Point (I'll put up a map one day!) where there is mooring for boats. Dogs are also allowed here, but so are cars unfortunately so it turns into a big parking lot for the weekend boaters. It's a real shame because turtles nest on this beach, but there are no signs up warning of this.

I was here to go sailing (!) which I haven't done before. I was going on a 'Hobie cat' which can fit 3 people on its trampoline surface. They are the type that you harness on to and lean out the side to increase speed. Luckily we didn't have to do that!

It was a fairly nice ride, although the wind did stop at one stage so we were stuck drifting with the current. We stuck our heads over the side and could see a bit of reef and rocks on the bottom. We saw one or two fish but that was it. I started getting sea sick then but was able to lie down until we found some wind and got back to shore.

I left Amos with someone on the beach, and when he found I was gone, he went and waited under Wendy's car until we came back! I guess he figured we wouldn't forget him then!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

On the road

Last week, after working the usual 3 days over the weekend, I realised I really needed to get out of Broome before I went mad. So Rachel, Oscar, Amos and I took the 4WD for a spin up to a place called Quandong.
<-- Barred Creek -->

The first stop was the stunning Barred Creek, which was much bigger than I expected. It was a beautiful colour, lined with mangroves and apparantly filled with crocs (sadly I didn't see any!)

We decided to attempt the tracks from Barred Creek to
Quandong, but as both Rachel and I are directionally challenged, and hadn't brought a map, we soon headed back to the main road. This was much bumpier but also much wider.
<--4WD tracks-->

Arriving at Quandong, we found quite a number of camper vans. There were a few small groups of people around, making the beach
busier than Reddell's in Broome. It seems people come up here to 'get away' (it's only an hour away), but everyone has had the same idea. Wouldn't like to try coming here on a long weekend!

<-- If you look closely, you can see Amos tearing along Quandong Beach.

Quandong is lovely, and I just can't get enough of white sand and expanses of the blue sky and crystal clear ocean. The red dirt track and bush on the way up are even nice. I thought I would be over the red red dirt, but I still love it.
And I will be reminded of it ever more by my once-white sneakers!