This entry documents for my time here in Broome, Western Australia; a sleepy yet quirky town with hidden sights in every nook and cranny. Ranging from prehistoric dinosaur prints to camels that weigh over a ton, not mention Garry the aboriginal.
04.03.2013 - 27.03.2013 33 °C
Hello world! it's me again, so, have you missed me? Who wouldn't eh?, not a soul I know. Well I've instigated my own disappearance across the globe; completing a few 'photo tour tickboxes'. As I write this I currently reside in Broome, in Western Australia; sat on the veranda under a half moon with a foreign blend beverage pressed against my head to cool the 30 degree heat, and swatting bugs on the keyboard. Forgive me if the typing is a little off throughout this entry, a March Fly was sadly crushed under the weight of my index finger on the space bar, the rest is just my poor extent of vocabulary. I have only been in Australia for just over three weeks; this whole time has been spent trying to climatize so I have done little journalism or photography. This will be compensated for on the Facebook page as I document the natural phenomenon known in Broome as the 'Staircase to the moon'( I would Google it). Broome is a sleepy yet quirky tourist town; a mixture of allure and chaos, closely entwined by the outrageous Aboriginal's and crowds of backpackers thirsty for good times. The indigenous Australians seem puzzled every time I pass, probably due to my rather large head and tiny bag of bones looking like a figure from the monopoly board. On the contrary one decided to try 'pick pocket' me the other night; this was most probably induced by my amazing display for the local's known as "the worm";on the concrete dance floor as my knees took the brunt of it. Both nights out here have ended the same way so far, a sober return home; sat on the washing basket crying with some plasters and some anti-bacterial spray. My 1.2 liter Vauxhall Corsa has been replaced with a humongous 4x4 known only as 'The Yute' which also serves as my office. Although compared in size, one could almost be certain a kinder egg was driving from my tiny bald bonce popping over the steering wheel. Furthermore, I now drive a small petrol scooter looking something of a mod. Dead subcultures aside we move onto the crème de la crème of Broome, the white sand, the crisp sea air; Cable Beach. Cable beach in effect is where I am now employed; hence 'The Alternative Office'. This sandy haven is where I will spend the majority of my six months here, before heading to my tour of the USA. I know what you're thinking, who pays for photo's on a beach? which subjects am I photographing? animals yes, to be specific...camels. But work is a story for another time.
But let's start from my point of arrival, the pushing of human cattle onto the plane; my journey to Broome began after the Hong Kong tour. I arrived in Perth which after a long wait would take me to my home in Broome for the next few months. Any followers who previously read my tour of Hong Kong entry would know the troubles I endured just to be in China. This continued as gates in Perth switched from Sydney to Broome on several occasions, at one point both claiming to be using the same gate; number nine. I was far too entertained by the work of the late John Kennedy Toole and his book 'A Confederacy of Dunces' which my uncle had kindly given to me days before. Despite my weary pupils being glued to the pages, at intervals of chapters my head would almost subconsciously wander above the top of the book to ensure my gate was still number 9; like a suburban meerkat. Chapter four was lengthy, it made me laugh, mutter, and almost cry a little; resulting in my periscope of a head not realizing my gate had changed to number 11 with the last boarding call being made. This was no issue however as I carried on reading, kicking my remaining luggage across the hall in grunts with my cap on backwards; looking something of a degenerate Wayne Rooney if one didn't already exist.
As you blessed travelers know, the journey to our chosen destination is often the best part, with rare sights from the cabin windows and the sense of surprise for what's waiting there for us. For me it was my dear uncle Andy and his fiancee Sam, not to mention my new cousin baby Jaxon-Blake or "Jeebles". As opposed to lost luggage and sprints to a late flight, a grand victory. Despite leaving my UK home to live here for 6 months; touring other places in doing so, I always treasure family above all else. My uncle had moved out here some years ago. Alas, besides Christmas our family has been deprived of their presence in the sunny UK. After a long, lengthy eleven hour flight; my uncle put one arm around me in an awkwardly but warming fashion and said with a big grin "Hello Mate, Welcome to Broome!" as he picked out my luminous green luggage with the other hand. His accent had changed to a concoction of Australian, British slang which became comforting after the first minute. Samantha greeted me with hug and a tired Jaxon-Blake resting in between, it was the kind of relieved feeling you get when you aren't looking at a relative through a screen anymore via video chat. At that instance we left the airport for the long drive back to my new home; just a few hundred meters away. Upon landing on the small stretch of tarmac which apparently claimed status of being a runway, I couldn't help but notice just how small the airport was. One could almost mistake it for a warehouse or a large barn, the only thing that gave it away was the control tower; and of course the planes themselves. I hadn't even questioned at the time just how my family had gotten into the luggage hall, it was apparently open to the public. At the moment of knowing it's size I pondered thoughts of how I might return home from after my time in broome, from the airport; or whether I may have to recourse to a rubber dinghy and a compass, setting sail from the shores of Cable Beach to the USA.
The first thing I felt was the intensity of the roaring Australian heat, my exasperated condition had caused me to forget to take my outer layers off; I felt like a jacket potato wrapped in the yellow nylon jumper. As we passed through the streets of Broome, I noticed the huge contrast in terrain to that of my home in the United Kingdom. Humongous Boab trees lined the streets, like static elephant's reaching their trunks towards the heavens, as I said I was extremely fatigued at this point. The high street had an array of red and white shops lined across from one end to the other from local green grocers to pearling exhibitions. Broome boasts the ambiance of a small town life with added quirkiness with tales of bravery and treachery from the days of its pearling industry which to some degree runs today. Included in it's formation is Chinatown, hosting the oldest cinema in the world. I haven't yet been to any of Broome's attractions due to the lack of time. We drove through what seemed like a confounding estate of houses, an effulgent red dirt I now known as Pindan laces the contours of the land. The red menace soil is something you can never quite get out of your clothes. Coming from Chinatown, the airport lays on the left, with a vast array on nothing but outback on the right. During my flight from Perth to Broome it made me realize just how huge Australia really is to that of say; Europe.
Before I knew it I had arrived at what would be considered a holiday home to many including myself. My relatives home came complete with a pool, decking and outdoor lounge. Not to mention my room, fully equipped with a leather chair with a desk; for a travel writer such as myself I couldn't have asked for anything more. Sam & Andy had previously owned a camel farm just around the corner, operating tours across cable beach, just a few blocks away. However, with the arrival of our new family member, it proved too much. Samantha held on to the photography prospect of the business, accompanying another camel tour company on the same beach; known only as 'Broome Camel Safaris'. Sam needed a photographer for the tours, somebody to take away some of the work load, and here I am. Samantha is an outstanding intellectual, mother, and manager of my employment in her business. They wasted no time in taking me straight to the 'Broome Camel Safaris' farm, just after I had left my luggage at home. The farm was the hub of all things camel related. A stern protruding fence stood among the bushes as we drove across the red tracks of dirt; as we turned in through the gate, a sign hung on the fence with the words 'Broome Camel Safari's' "The camels in blue!" neatly drawn below it was the logo of the business; A train of camel's in the sunset which I had seen from some of Samantha's work some time ago. The large allotment of land was dusty; dessimated with old motor vehicles, some newer than others, a quad bike; desert beetle and even a public bus saying 'Out of Service'. My mind flowed with all the photographic potential these vehicles could provide. The next thing I heard sounded like the grotesque roar of a wounded bull, which turned out to be at least a dozen camels. I had never really seen a camel before, I knew of my family's work with them for the past couple of years in Australia. To one side was the calf's, the other half was retained by auburn giants, some lay clearing out their dullaa's in grunts( An inflatable sack which hangs from the roof of their mouths). Others were being trained by Alison the owner, the true camel lady of Broome. After I was introduced to Allison, Andy made his way until the yard and I took a ringside seat along with Sam and Jaxon. The camel's all looked with curiosity, their bottom lips hanging as they chewed the hay. Jaxon began to mimmick the camels chewing motions. Soon after, one camel in particular had a middle aged man on it's back, hidden under the large 'straw wok' looking hat was my uncle. He helped with the training of the camels to sit them up and down using Afghan commands such as "Hoosh!" and "Ibna!" the former sit and the latter stand.
As my eyes scanned across the plains, and the farm itself; it was a momentous feeling of reaching my desideratum after weeks of feeling lost back home. I had gone from pulling pints to potentially a camel farmer; at this moment in time anyway. Before this feeling of contentment could be fully exploited beneath the warm Australian sun, I was whisked into some old clothes and given a rake to get a feel for the job and the environment. This simply meant raking hay into a wheelbarrow, and emptying the contents as far from the yard as possible. This was to be accomplished with the aid of another chap. The man was indeed an aboriginal, named Garry. As it was my first encounter with an indigenous person I expected something a little more exotic like Miroslav for "eternal peace" or Kuparr meaning "red earth"; not Garry. Alas we shook hands and began with the work, myself in shorts and vest, Garry in thick white wash jeans and a black shirt; displaying his familiarity with the climate, in his own way mocking the petty sweat droplets rolling down my brow. Already I had began plunging the rake back and forth through the red pindan; striking a rock here and there. Every now and then I would here "Ibna!" or "hoosh down boy" as I looked up from my graft now and then. I tried working at a pace in which I was used to, but that was in a two degree climate. Today was thirty-two but I bared no exceptions; wanting to make a good impression to my new employer I had the reputation of my family in mind. Although training the camels was her first priority; her mind was set on taming the two ton wonders, not how fast I swung a rake. As I swooped the rake back and forth, I gingerly passed through the shrubs and bushes;the wheel barrow trundling in front. This was to dispose of the used straw, gingerly was an understatement as I had been told plenty of stories back home from relatives about the dangerous snakes found near the farms; King Browns for one. A cacophony of branches snapping sent me hurling towards the wheelbarrow due to my frivolous nerves. Only to be confronted by a kangaroo, the poor joey only wanted to see what the commotion was about. I had ran to the cargo container with whizzing metal spheres on its roof; grabbed my camera and snapped a shot before it ran off.
I felt beads of sweat rolling down my face, my face felt hot. In all of two hours work I had learned my first lesson from Australia; (1) Do not under estimate the heat.
A plunge in the pool back at the house eased my scalded face, like a cow prod being extinguished in a gaseous smog. My family's routine was fast paced, my dip in the watery utopia was short lived as I got showered, dressed, and headed out on the town for a taste of the night life in Australia. I was told by many that Broome is a place which is nothing like the rest of Australia, the quirky close-knitted town was appealing in the way that everyone knew one another. Including my family's friendship with the taxi driver, and the fish monger. Who I was later showing my marvelous drunken display of the worm. The bar I had been taken to was called "Roey's". A friendly local which hosted a wet t-shirt contest on the very day I first arrived. Upon entering, this was evident due to the sea of middle aged men; sitting in the shaded parts of the club. No doubt with camera's stashed upon their person, fiddling in their pockets for a happy ending with their thick ridged glasses; casting nothing but a reflection of the disco lights.
The work on the farm really had done a number on my face, giving my skin the texture of dried beef jerky. After seeing some photos taken that night of myself I had the appearance of two-face from the Batman comics. One side a sickly shade of red, the other side exposing a pale exported British face.
Some time after the show I don't really recall much, I recall dancing with a group of indigenous folk, laughing at one another's infamous dance moves as we made a poor oval of a dance circle.
I returned home, blind drunk, and began writing of the nights events in my leather bound journal; the result of this idea was found by my sober, droopy self in the morning, looking down in the journal at what looked liked the scribbling's of a moron.
Any person who has traveled long distance flights will know the horrors of jet lag, even after a couple of days I felt as though I were rocking back and forth on an invisible sea vessel. The transition to this new life was becoming more realistic than it's former surreal-feel. Still, small things over here seemed so bizarre, whilst in a clothes store the next day, the cashier said "its too warm in here I'm gonna have to close that door". This was unspoken of in the EU. The clammy;dank heat seemed to ooze its way through any doorway here. Days later, my uncle took me to Bard Creek; twenty-something miles away from the town and into the Australian outback. In the 4x4 I pressed my forehead against the air-condition chilled glass; observing the wonders of the outback as it whizzed by. I could imagine the blistering temperature outside, at a glance, giant termite hills possessed the figure of a static camel, sitting in the long grass. King brown's would scatter across the red dirt; narrowly missed by the lavish black tires of the 4x4.
We finally arrived at Bard Creek(Above) after the many twists and turns of bush. A dangerous atmosphere swayed in my mind of just how easy it could be to become lost in this vast land, the scariest part was that this was just a mere speck of Australia. As I stepped out of the car's arctic appeal I graced the red dirt with my sun screen spattered feet and began trekking down the small slope into the creek. I stepped along the sand where the tide had gone out ;leaving the seas contents in it's wake. As well as captivating blue skies and white sand threading in and out of the greenery of the outback; the ground seemed to be moving, pulsing even at every step me and my uncle made. Almost at the instance of seeing this phenomenon, hundreds of tiny black and red crabs began emerging from tiny holes all around us. These were called "Crazy Crabs", and to my surprise was allegedly a small group. The sounds of whining birds echoed throughout the creek, but those weren't birds. Andy told me it was the sounds of saltwater crocodiles, making their presence known ready to slide into the creek. But it was known alright; I ran out of the Creek, crushing as least many crazy crabs as possible, my frantic running/dodging made me look like the crabs themselves; my uncle strolled casually.
Myself and Andy drove back through the vast, dusty plains and drove up to the furthest points of Cable Beach; pointing out photo opportunities across the land, Andy knew a lot about the area which is Broome. The shores of West Australia had provided me with some awe-inspiring shots; as well as sea shells the size of footballs I had collected along the way. Hong-Kong had given me the idea of efficiency; so I used them as a foot rest whilst sitting in my arm chair, or the decayed ones as an ashtray for longs nights spent writing accompanied with a cigar or a sweet menthol tobacco.
Points of the land presented themselves on every corner of the horizon, Gantheaum point; Roebucks Bay, the list went on. All of them waiting to be explored, photographed and documented. For now I would try and find my bearings to send the documentation back home of these places, which at the time of writing this I have done some. Work has already presented itself with a hectic prospect and a rewarding finish after every 'shift' if you could call it that. For now I say goodbye until my next entry, which will document the natural phenomenon know as the "Staircase to The Moon", Prehistoric Prints and my personal escapades. Wherever you may be in the world, I wish you well and as always; thanks for reading.-R
If you want to read my tour of Australia so far you can follow my Travel Journal here by Googling: http://brighterside.travellerspoint.com/ or you can check out my Facebook page; Facebook: 'Brighterside Photography'. See you soon!-R