Tuesday, July 29, 2008

12 Mile part II

You may have read my post about 12 Mile, the small farming area outside of Broome. Here are some more pics:

The bright green trees are all mangos as far as I know. One of the farms here is organic. Other people have bush plots.

Gantheaume Point

I finally got to visit Gantheaume Point on the weekend thanks to a very generous family I had only just met. This place is known for its lighthouse and dinosaur footprints visible in some rocks. The latter can only be seen at very low tides, so I didn't get to see them, but they have some casts of them higher up and I honestly don't think the clamber down the rocks at low tide would be worth it anyway. The colours, as you can see, are stunning, enhanced by the setting sun (but not by the smoke!)

This very eager and adventurous 2 year old led the way (along with her brave mum!), climbing up and down...

Quote of the week...

Oscar looking at pictures of Qantas' recent mid-air mishap:

"Mama, can we go in the plane without a hole in the side?"

I don't think his mum will object!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Better than Google maps

What, there's something better than Google maps??? Yes, yes indeed.
However, it does mean getting into an aircraft...a really small one!

View Larger Map

Above (courtesy of Google maps of course, and Sueblimely who told me how to include it on here) is the route I flew with King Leopold Air last week on a 4.5 hour scenic flight from Broome to Cape Leveque via the Horizontal Waterfalls and Buccaneer Archipelago.

You want me to get in that????!!!! Ah, yes.

After getting over the shock of how very small the aircraft was (6 seater, make that 6 very close together seats!), how young the charming pilot Liam looked (he assured me he had 500 hours flying under his belt) and remembering that I get terrible motion sickness (you would think this is not something one would forget about one's self) it was quite an amazing experience and something I will never forget.

Admittedly there were more moments of 'holy $^#&, what am I doing here???' for example, getting into the teeny-tiny plane, having the propeller start with the window open, seeing the dirt runway at Cape Leveque, the pilot taking his hands off the umm...steering thing to find me a spew bag (didn't spew thank God but would have felt much better if he'd kept his hands on the wheel!!)...oh, the list goes on.

<--The trusty steed on the pindan dirt at Cape Leveque airstrip

But I did take 700 photos! Hence my delay in posting them. I have whittled them down to a mere 478 (1.1GB), but I promise I won't bore you with them all (mum, you don't count!)

<--Something much bigger taking off

<--Similar craft flying beside us. Yes, that is our wing at the top of the pic!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What a busy day! It's all happening here!

Firstly the new radar was hoisted up on top of what had looked like a giant chimney, so I was running around trying to get photos in the early morning light while preparing my balloon. Unfortunately the computer decided to crash, so my balloon was late.

Then 7 microlights arrived at the airport. I am mates with the guy who flies them up here, Charles and he told me they were coming. Actually, I'd been communicating with one of them for a few days through their blog. They were stuck in Pardoo for a number of days thanks to strong winds. A few days late, but eventually they got here!

Another group of charity thrill-seekers, this lot are raising money for Leukemia Foundation UK and Royal Flying Docs by flying from Perth to Brisbane via Darwin.

Their website is here: http://www.youvegotwings.com/

These are interesting contraptions, and I don't know anything about them. I have been in Charles' just taxiing from the terminal to his hangar/house and I found the motor very loud.

But not as loud as the BAE Hawks that have been taking off from Broome this morning!

And apparently and Antonov is arriving in the next few days to deliver a new helicopter. It's all happening at Broome Airport, folks (and Darwin, according to Rowland)

...In with the new

Getting the dish off the truck from Melbourne

Attaching platform, the radar and the dish

Putting the dome over the giant pizza cutter
Out with the old, in with the new
(well not quite yet!)

Don't you hate it when 5 year olds are right?

I haven't posted in a little while, because my brain has not been working.

A few weeks ago a 5 year old told me that fish is good for your brain, and since I don't eat fish, I have a small brain.

The last few days I have been really brain dead. I couldn't log into my online bank account because I forgot my password (which I've had for many years), I forgot how much hydrogen to put in a balloon, and I had difficulty making salad. It was very frustrating.

But my brain seems to have come back now and I believe I'm more coherent.

On one of my days off this week I took my dog to the mangrove beach which is the closest to our house. I wanted to see it at high tide, but he was not so happy with this as there wasn't much beach left for him to run around on! One large stretch of sand he likes was completely inundated (see pic). He ran around and across the rocks at the side of this boat ramp, but to no avail. He was very upset!

Monday, July 21, 2008

what the...?

Was quite suprised to see this the other day. I couldn't see it from the office, because most of my view is blocked by planes, trees and buildings (it is meant to be an observing office).

I was a bit worried because there was nothing on the forecast, the upper air trace, synoptic chart etc. Later there were a few specks on the sat image. This cumulus cloud was one in a line, probably quite a distance away out to sea. They built up and then died down again. Impressive size for nothing much going on!


Andrea is...wearing a singlet, t-shirt, two long-sleeved tops, a hoodie and two pairs of socks!

Can you tell I'm cold??
It only got down to 12 this morning, but it's windy.

I am going to die in Perth!!! It got down to almost 3 degrees last night and is at 830am sitting on 8!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The End is Nigh

The time for my departure from Broome is fast aproaching.

My last shift here is in two Sundays time, and I fly back to Perth the following day. I will then be working in the office in the city (ie not observing).

So unless I find something interesting in Perth, I will be posting a lot less, otherwise all I will be writing is 'I'm boooorrrreeeeddd!'. I have only been into the city twice for leisure and once for work, so I should really do some exploring there.

It took me more than 6 months to begin to like living in Perth, and less than 2 weeks up here to forget that fact. So I guess I have to learn it again. I will be living in a new house, so hopefully that will help.

Good things about going back to Perth:
  • seeing my friends who have just moved there
  • seeing other friends
  • trying the coffee at Epic in the city
  • cheap(er) takeaways
  • Falafel souvlakis in Freo
  • Having my stuff (though not looking forward in moving it out of storage into the new place which will be smaller)
  • Visiting the new patchwork store near my old house which opened while I was away
  • Going back to Melbourne for a few days
It's going to be pretty cold for me down there, so I'm planning on wearing ALL my clothes at once until I get the rest out of storage and find them. And I'll have to buy some 'office worker' clothes, grrrr.

Attack of the grey nomads!!

It has happened.

Broome is in the midst of a plague...a plague of tourists.

The Peak season is upon us, and it's not pretty.

The caravan parks are in full overflow mode, with campers now taking over the oval and car park of the Youth Sports Centre (pictured), the Rifle Club and the Adventist Church's grounds, and probably still paying a premium.

The tech who comes up from Melbourne to work on the new building had to sleep in the office when he was here a few weeks ago because he couldn't get accommodation!

And the end of the WA school holidays isn't going to ease the pressure. The bulk of the people are the 'grey nomads', the baby-boomers (50+ year olds) who have taken to the roads in their new 4WDs and over-sized camper vans.

The roads are chaotic, particularly at round-abouts (we have a lot of these) because other states (Vic at least, but I assume others too) have different rules to WA with regard to indicating. What makes it worse is that West Australians don't seem to understand and/or follow these rules anyway, so round-abouts are always dangerous.

I would really like to know who's bright idea it was to resurface the main roundabout into/out of town/to the shops during the day, during one of the busiest weeks of the year. They should be shot. Poor workers had to stand around in the heat and dust for two days with their stop/slow signs directing traffic often the wrong way around the roundabout! As if motorists are not confused enough!!

Another thing that confuses motorists is that they don't need to give way to pedestrians in Chinatown. As a driver (well, a cyclist here, but I'm a driver elsewhere) and a pedestrian I think this is a good method. But you (as a pedestrian) still have cars trying to give way to you while you are giving way to them and holding everyone up.

Our neighbour owns a cleaning company and she says that they clean the supermarkets in the early morning, but at the moment, they are so filthy that they either need more staff or more time to get the job done. The supermarkets are always packed and advertising for staff. This weekend Coles have quadrupled their bread racks and stocked up on Coles-brand packaged bread to supplement their supply of other brands, and their fresh baked bread.

Last night was Staircase to the Moon again. And again I didn't bother going to the main viewing points to watch it. There was no way I'd see a thing! So I went to my 'secret' spot where the view isn't great, but it's quiet and free of camera flashed. But to my horror, it had been discovered by tourists (with cameras of course). Two foolish groups sat in front of their 4WDs which they parked at the top of the reserve which slopes down to the mangroves thus wasting the prime positions. Well at least the vehicles themselves got to watch a good show!

What really makes me laugh is when the moon starts to appear on the horizon (the best bit in my opinion), large and orange, glowing like the sun, you hear people hissing "shhh - it's starting" like it's a movie or concert you have to be silent for.

Mango Beer

Matso's Broome Brewery is an icon up here, most famous for the mango-flavoured and chilli beers.

It has regular live music (which you can hear at my house 5 blocks away when the wind is right!), and is always busy.
So far, I have tried the Man-Go Bier, Staircase Cider (both too sweet for me) and the Pindan Ale (excellent - just like an Irish Ale). I still want to try the Toad and the Blonde, but I really want more of the Ale.

The pub/cafe/restaurant has a prime corner position with views of the mangroves and bay. This site was Resident Magistrate's residence from 1900-1940.

The Matso's building and the Mangrove Gallery, which shares the site, were both moved here in the 1980's.

The Matso building has actually been moved twice. It was originally built as the Union Bank in 1910 (Broome's first bank). In the late 40's it was purchased and relocated by Streeter, becoming his second store. It was leased to Philip Matsumoto in the 70's (hence the name).

The Monsoon Gallery (right) was a pearler's residence. I went there to see an exhibition of James Ainsley's work, which you can get a peak at through the windows in the pic! This exhibition was of his paintings of the Kimberley and was spectacular.

This building has a central room encircled by what probably used to be the veranda (now glassed in). It still has the original Jarrah floorboards which now have quite a slope and a lot of character (ie bumps and dips!) to them, so it felt really strange walking around in there, especially when distracted by art!
The building belonged to Captain Gregory at one stage. He was one of the first people here to experiment with creating cultured pearls, but was forced to stop as the Pearling Association thought this would threaten their industry (which was based mainly on pearl shell, not so much pearls themselves). His equipment was destroyed by the police. Funnily enough, the industry is now based on cultured pearls, so he was way ahead of his time!
Captain Gregory also owned a pub which brewed its own concoction, called 'Shy-poo'. I'm glad Matsos didn't adopt this...don't think it would sell that well!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Happy bird

A while back I went to the exhibition opening at Broome Factory (art gallery) of Hiromi Ashlin's 'Happy Bird'.

Hiromi is a local artist who originates from Japan. I had already met her at the Broome Courthouse Markets where she sells her stunning earrings and pendants which are made of Japanese Wa-shi origami papers. I love Japanese designs, fabrics, papers etc, so I had to get some!

Her other artwork is also made of Wa-shi papers, and her exhibition consisted of probably millions of paper cranes! Some were all one colour (see photo below) and others used the brightly decorated paper which she uses in her jewelery. As well as cranes, there were origami boats and boxes, most of which were max 1-2cm in size.

Everyone at the opening was blown away and moved by her work, it wasn't just me. All but a few of her larger works were sold on the night!

Brisbane to Broome

<--Jon (left with Amos), myself and Steve

I have met some interesting people here in Broome. The guys camping in our backyard are no exception!

They arrived yesterday evening from Brisbane. So what, you ask?
They CYCLED from Brisbane!!!

Father and son, Steve and Jon have spent the last 10 weeks (and one day) cycling across the country from Brisbane to Broome in order to raise money for charities Plan and Beyond Blue.

Jenner and Rachel met them whilst camping in the Kimberley 2 weeks ago and invited them to stay. So we were their welcome party (sort of). Jenner did buy a bottle of Champers which was enjoyed by all!

We were expecting them to jump straight into the shower or bath for a good wash and then sleep. But this was not to be! No, they cooked us dinner as thank-you for letting them stay! So after riding 5500km+, they had enough energy (and left over food) to feed us!

There is a googlemap of their route at Sueblimely .

You can check out details of and reason for their journey, Jon's blog, and (more importantly) donate through their website:

Why Plan?
Jon has cycled through SE Asia and seen poverty first hand. He also did some service in Vietnam, building a house which he was saddened to find did not benefit the family, but cost them their income. You see, they made rice paper using a fire in their house which had been well ventilated, not having what we consider a 'proper' roof.

Jon wanted to raise money for an organisation which he knew really helped people. Through a lot of research, he found that Plan work to reduce child poverty and employ local people. Plan International is presently working with over 3.5 million families in 20,000 communites around the world.

They are very interesting guys, so it is a privilege to have them stay.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How green??

Today on local ABC radio, Brekie host Ben was promoting the new initiative by ABC called 'green at work'. The website has lots of energy saving tips and advice from the 'Green Guru' about cleaning toilets (among other things).

There is also a quiz game on there which asks you to rank 5 energy-saving methods in order of effectiveness. I can't load the game on my PC, but Ben made me his 'first victim' playing it over the radio.

It has jungle-like noises in the background (which made Ben very hard to hear over the phone), and ends with a picture of the world and how much you saved it. I got 3/5, so the grass was green, but the butterflies were killed by lightning.

I'd like to know how you go (if you can make it load up!)

Ben only got 1/5. He also tested other people on the show (rural reporter, other presenters, the Green Guru herself) and got people to text in what they got. Because I scored 'high' my name got banded around a bit because after every news update/other report, he'd explain what he was doing and what scores people got. So 'Andrea from the Weather Bureau' got mentioned a lot! It gave me incentive to keep listening while I was working!

The Green Guru got 3/5 too (even though she wrote it!), and another radio presenter managed to get 5/5, so good on her!

Check it out here: http://www.abc.net.au/greenatwork/

Meatworks II

I forgot to mention garage sales in my Meatworks post....

The people I live with look out for ads in the paper for upcoming garage sales around Broome, especially within Demco estate, hoping to grab great bargains.

And they do. It's amazing the stuff people get rid of. Our Italian leather couch was purchased days before a Demco sale took place (got to get in early!). The couple had decided to rent out their house, fully furnished. But instead of leaving their nice furniture, they were transporting cheap stuff up from Perth and selling off the good stuff as it would cost too much to move. Very strange. The couch was an anniversary present from wife to husband. Well, it's kind of good they're not attached to their 'stuff', but that doesn't mean much when you can afford everything.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Welcome to Meatworks Estate!

How insanely huge is this house?! This is in the new-ish Demco estate, aka Meatworks Estate (Demco was the meatworks company which was situated here until 1994). All the houses are well over $1 million. The apartments are a a bit less at $800,000.

Being an estate, the houses are all crammed together (this one is an exception but only because the next block is still empty) despite the price tags. There are also townhouses and units on the street behind the mansions.

According to Elaine Rabbitt a proposal was put to the council in '95 to turn the site into a 'prestigious resort development' fronting Roebuck Bay. This didn't happen, but it did become a prestigious residential development despite the fact that Broome residents didn't consider it to be a desirable part of town, the meatworks stench still fresh in their memories.

In her story of her childhood, Sally Bin Denim talks about fishing from the meatworks drain and how you had to be careful of the sharks that were attracted to the bay by all the blood washing out!

There are a few meatworks mansions on the market at the moment, so if you have a spare couple of million...! A few of the houses are on the edge of the dunes and would have a great view of the azure bay (and the port). Some may get a peek between the houses. The majority of houses wouldn't have a view, like this $1.8million 'Mediter-Asian Grandure'.
Sure you are in close proximity to the beach here, and also Town Beach, but neither are particularly nice! Meatworks beach (pictured right and below) is mostly rocks, many of which become very slippery when the tide goes out! I go there just because it is the only dog-friendly beach in walking distance, and also to collect sea-smoothed pieces of glass.
It isn't particularly well located, being halfway between town and the port and next to the Youth Sports Centre (or opposite it in the case of the first house!) and Caravan Park (the Youth Centre is also the overflow for the caravan park). It is surrounded by quite an expanse of bush, but that has a tendency to be set alight.

One thing about the estate, the banana palms grow really well!

sea plane

I've been meaning to get pics of a sea plane for ages, and this is as good as I've been able to get. To begin with, these planes looked really strange to me, especially when parked, because they seem so high! I'd love to see them landing on water.
By the way, no that isn't cloud in the first pic - it is a huge bank of smoke from a fire 40+km away.

Quaint Anglican Church part 2

I went back to the cute little Anglican Church, which I previously posted about, for a service. This meant I got to see inside! I wish I could have taken pictures, but I didn't think that would have been appropriate!

From the inside, what I thought was an extension, looks like an original part of the church, but according to the website they replaced the exterior cladding with colourbond. The altar area is divided from the seating by a stunning ornate carved railing (see pic from minister's site-->). There are plaques on the walls in memory of members who perished in the 1908 cyclone.

It actually feels smaller than it looks from the outside. The french doors still open outwards to allow air through, but they could have done with the fans on too! (Being the peak time in tourist season, the congregation had bloomed from the usual 30 to over 60 people, hence it was stuffy!)

I spoke to the minister's wife about the building and she said they'd had to jump through all sorts of hoops to get the wheelchair ramp put up the side because of the heritage listing.
In this pic you can see said ramp and also the doors/windows which open out. Without the ramp (ie on the other side of the church) there is a 1.5m drop from within the church to the ground. I was really surprised that there were no gates or barriers to stop kids falling/jumping out. You wouldn't want to fall asleep and fall sideways out of your pew if sitting by one of the open doors!