Thurs 20 June 2002—Sunday 23 June
On Thursday we had a business day. In the morning I went into town and tended to the shopping and email. I also reunited a phone book with its owner. I had found it on the beach the day before, and with a bit of educated guesswork and a few short calls we figured out who the owner was. She was rather suspicious when I returned it to her, and I probably would have had the same reaction; but I enjoyed the detective work and the excuse to explore Broome a bit more.
While I was out and about, Susie stayed with the girls and did school work in the caravan park. At sunset we went to Cable Beach and watched the sun set over the ocean. (For those who live on the East coast of Australia, this is quite a novelty.) We hung around for a dress rehearsal of the West Australian Ballet, which was going to be performed out the front of the resort the following evening. There was some wonderful dancing and music in between boring bits when the dancers went through their paces on the stage. It was bloody cold out there at night, so we were glad to get back to camp and warm up afterwards.
Friday was much the same. Susie went into town to pick up some photos I put in for processing the day before, and I helped the kids with their schoolwork. Susie barbequed some sausages for lunch in the afternoon; Clare went through her maths with Susie, and Ruby did a music lesson with me. We went down to Cable Beach to watch the sunset again, and had fish and chips for dinner. I came back to the caravan park with Ruby while Susie went to watch the ballet with Clare.
A guy in the caravan next to our site heard me playing the guitar and he came over and played a few songs for me. He was a Vietnam veteran from Sydney who was living the life of a grey nomad. I would have liked to play some more music with him, but his wife dragged him away to phone their children. When Susie and Clare returned from the ballet on the beach, they were shivering like leaves.
On Saturday we went to Broome Markets near the courthouse where we lunched on some very ordinary Asian food. We finally found the perfect 40th birthday present for Susie: an oval piece of pearl shell set in a silver wire, strung on a neoprene necklace. Susie is very happy with it, so it was worth waiting for.
After the market we visited the graveyards. The first was a Japanese cemetery, which was very orderly and sombre. Nearby was the Chinese graveyard, which was set out so as to accommodate rituals of some kind: there was a kind of pagoda where you could assemble a group of people. A little exploring revealed a narrow Muslim section in between, which was very unkempt and modest compared to the other two. Further along was another section that accommodated several large Aboriginal families. On some graves there were beautiful shell arrangements which had bleached under the Northern sun.
Once we’d had enough of the heat amongst the headstones, we headed to the port of Broome where there was an impressive pier that extended out into the bay for many hundreds of metres. This was obviously a popular fishing spot, and when we arrived, someone was loading a huge Spanish Mackerel into the back of a ute. With this promising omen we decided to try our luck, so we bought some bait for the two hand lines and took a position on the pier a couple of hundred metres out into the bay. .
To her immense delight, Clare landed a small fish almost immediately. The fishing was so enjoyable that I went off to the kiosk and purchased another hand line. I also caught some small fish which we used as live bait until I had to go and buy some new hooks and sinkers after losing some old ones on snags. Susan and Ruby lost interest and wandered off, leaving me and Clare to while away the afternoon on the wharf. There was plenty to see: sea snakes and eels, and a huge turtle that surfaced for air nearby. The drop off the pier was a very long one, which made landing fish rather difficult. Clare and I watched one man’s disappointment as he hooked a huge Trevally. He walked it back to shore along the pier but lost it while he was trying to land it with another fisherman’s grappling hook.
Clare and I chatted and fished until Susie and Ruby returned. Susie was in a bit of a state as she could not locate her mobile phone. We returned to the caravan park and turned the camp upside down to no avail, so she rang the phone company and put a bar on the phone. She spent the rest of the evening fretting about the enormous bill that someone might have notched up on her account. To date, she has no record of somebody making calls after her last call to Ro and Jay in Melbourne on Thursday night. We’ll have to wait longer to be sure, however.
The next day (Sunday 23 June) was spent finishing off the kids’ schoolwork, art and music, and posting it back to Sydney. We also packed for our trip to Cape Leveque the following day.