Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kicking back(packers) in Broome

So here I am in Broome for a few days of rest and relaxation before heading back to Melbourne. Beaches, coconut palms, pure white sand - perfect.

My first impressions are that it's flat - very, very flat. Broome sits right on the edge of the coast; it's basically a sandy outreach between the sea and the salt pans. The dirt is incredibly red, and the water of the Indian Ocean is an astonishing turquoise, kind of aquamarine colour - I've never seen anything like it. It's truly the stuff that postcards are made of.

Broome is also windy - which is novel, after Kununurra which most definitely wasn't. Kununurra is meant to get one wet day in the month of May, and at last count I think we had at least eighteen, which is some sort of record. It certainly wasn't the weather I was expecting .... I wanted a month of sun! Not a month of persistent rain, the kind of rain that Melbourne hasn't seen for years. And it was  rain combined with heat, too, so everything just sweltered, and the landscape developed this kind of wet and tropical smell, of things gently rotting. And on the days that weren't raining, the air just hung there - sodden with humidity, moist and enervating - what I would have given for a sea breeze like the ones here in Broome, to sweep it all away.

Broome is also positively infested with backpackers - in the very short time I've been here I've heard more European accents than I can count. There are Aboriginal faces too, but locals of all kinds are greatly outnumbered by the tourists. There are tourists in Kununurra as well, but while I was there they were mainly of the grey nomad variety - older Australians, and fewer overseas visitors. Here in Broome, everyone is 21 years old, long-limbed and tanned, and European. It feels a bit like I'm in Ibiza. Broome ordinarily has a population of around 16,000 static citizens, but in the tourist season - which started yesterday - it swells to around 48,000. I wonder how the locals feel about that? Tourism can be both a blessing and a curse.

Tonight I'm off to the Sun Cinema, Australia's oldest outdoor picture theatre, and I'm going to see Bran Nue Day, the Aboriginal musical with Jessica Mauboy in it.

Did you know it was filmed in Broome? And there's even a scene at the cinema itself - so it feels like the best place in the world to watch it.

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