Since arriving in Broome we have swum every day at Cable Beach no matter what else we have done.
Sunday night was a concert and fireworks display at the Cable Beach amphitheatre to mark the end of the Shinju-Matsuri-Festival of the Pearl and the putting to bed of the dragon for another year. This amphitheatre is in a really beautiful setting, grassy green banks merging onto the beach. A single lane road runs through it to enable cars to drive on North Cable Beach but this was closed for the festival. Of course this being the tropics twilight is very short here.
Shane and Jill’s son Joe with wife Lisa and son Eddie have arrived here for a holiday. On Monday night we all went to Cable Beach to watch the sun go down. Took some wine and prawns and drove along the beach about a kilometre. The sunset over Cable Beach is a fantastic sight, there would have been about thirty other vehicles all doing the same.
There is a development just north of Broome, on the west side of the Dampier Peninsula, that is very divisive in the community. Broome started as a pearling base but these days it is a tourist mecca and those with an interest in the tourist industry and environmentalists fear that the James Price Development will have a detrimental effect on Broome. It is a huge development, a two and a half billion dollar (that’s right billion not million) gas hub development. Gas from the East Timor Gas Field will come ashore here for processing. This development is only 50 kilometres from Broome and during development around two thousand workers will be required. Whilst most of these workers will probably be fly in – fly out workers their presence will have a huge impact on Broome. Everywhere you look in the town there are signs and banners against this development. So on Tuesday we decided to go and have a look at James Price Point for ourselves.
The road diverges from the Cape Leveque road and is more a sandy track than a road. At this junction is a protest camp but they seemed to be all asleep when we went past. First off we called into the Willie Creek Pearl Farm. This is a one of the largest tourist enterprises in Broome with a base in Broome and buses that take tourists to the “farm” for a look at the pearl industry. Whilst we were there several of their tourist buses arrived and staff swung into what was obviously a well rehearsed routine. Tourists were taken out in a boat to be shown pearl shells on buoy lines. However to us it looked a bit phoney with no real infrastructure you would expect to see in a producing farm. We asked one of the workers about this and they admitted the “farm” was in fact a tourist business and did not produce any pearls. They purchased their pearls from other producers. Despite this they happily sold ‘Willie Creek Pearls’ to tourists. All a bit fake and phoney.
We then proceeded further north up the coast. Quondong Point turned out to be a beaut spot to camp and we have marked that as a future camp spot. Lots of camp spaces (free) right on the beach. We then went to James Price Point. Another protest camp set up here. The West Australian premier has described James Price Point as ‘rubbish country’ or some such similar term. This is plainly ridiculous as it is typical Kimberley coast, wonderful beaches, red dirt cliffs and rocky reefs. There was already a jack up rig just offshore with several large work boats and what looked like an accommodation ship. This rig is apparently doing seismic surveys of the sea floor. It really was a beautiful place but unfortunately with the money involved it is almost certain this development will go ahead.
Coming back there was activity at the protest camp. A convoy of vehicles with Woodside Petroleum workers had been stopped and were not being allowed up the road. There seemed to be a large number of protesters, both European and Indigenous. Don’t know what the outcome was as we went on our way back to Broome for another swim at Cable Beach.