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A daughter with the performance gene
She certainly didn’t get it from my side of the family. At her age I had performance anxiety when talking to a telephone answering machine (back in the day when we had answering machines, and not voice mail).
I blame her father’s side of the family. Not that any of them are famous, but where my side of the family is visually literate, his family is more musical and dramatic.
It stuns and awes me really. I am jealous.
There is no such thing as just a photo. Every photo is an opportunity.
There is no such thing as re-telling a story. It has to be acted out, and other people cast in supporting roles.
Jungle gyms are not jungle gyms. They are high wire and trapeze rigs.
I tingle with anticipation to see what she comes up with next. My daughter the drama queen.
Driving along Hamersley St towards town is kinda banal. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t travelled this route thousands of times over the last 10 years I have lived in Broome. But somehow the town looked a little different this morning.
Maybe it was the heavy dew this morning with its glistening sheen of droplets that was still covering every surface. It made the town look freshly washed.
Or maybe it was the time of day. I was heading in early, and as yet the full traffic chaos of 4WDs, mopeds and lost grey nomads hadn’t quite clouded my vision.
Whatever it was, I looked across Male Oval as I went around the corner near the old Checkpoint servo and suddenly was struck by the thought that there really is nowhere else like here. This is a beautiful little town with its white sheet iron shacks and sprawling open space, restaurants with paw paw gardens and a town centre that slips into a salty marsh, rimmed with higgledy shacks and piggledy tracks through the tidal stretches of ground.
When I travel elsewhere, I look around myself with ‘grass is greener’ eyes and test myself. Could I live here? I wonder. And always the answer seems to be no.
Broome, with its pindan that gets into every crack and crevice, daintily sits on the edge of the small peninsula that marks the top rim of the subtly astonishing Roebuck Bay. It doesn’t take long to drive out of Broome and hit the desert. But Broome itself is surrounded by water. Its big tides wash in and out, creating a different landscape every day of the week.
Maybe that’s the thing that I finally noticed. The town is not static. It’s so much part of its dramatic environment that it is constantly in flux. It’s visually arresting to drive down Guy street and look out at Roebuck Bay, not knowing what the sharp eye of the sun will illuminate.
It’s not just today, but every day I feel like I’m discovering the town anew. I understand now why when I fly in again across the bay, I can hear music in my head and smell the dirt. I can smell the dirt.
I may not have been born here, but this must mean I have pindan in my blood.
I decided to take the dog and the camera for a stroll.
I headed down along the fringe of mangroves that skirts Roebuck Bay from Town Beach back towards town. This short stretch is a favourite with the kids because it’s full of ‘treasure’.
As we step into the inlet at ‘the Catalinas’, ropes and rusted iron from over a century of industrial use by Pearling fleets sits lead-like in the mud. Occasionally boats still pull up here and use the old tyres as moorings. But these days, it’s the occasional fishing tinny or dog walker who is the more common visitor.
As we head north towards to the other side of the inlet, we have to pick through decades of brown glass. These ‘king browns’ that litter the sand like some kind of mine field aren’t even sold any more. This detritus must have been here for decades.
Among the jagged brown glass is some salt-washed clear or green gems that the kids love like jewels.
Occasionally we find shard of ceramic from the old Malay camp near the two big tamarind trees. Soy sauce bottles, engine parts, fishing net shreds are all seized upon like precious archaeology.
Further along we get to the little blue shack. It’s the last one still standing on the high edge near where the coast curves around and up to the hill.
All through the fringe of twisted, spreading mangroves are straight paths down to the open water of the Bay. Occasionally you’ll find a net strung across the path as the local mob wait for the tide to bring in the fish or mudcrabs. Maybe a blue-nose salmon will get caught while a bloke with leather soles on his feet picks his way through the mangrove roots with a long thin metal rod. With this rod he’ll heft out mudcrabs with their meaty fists.
My white feet are not built for the chopstick-like spears that are the mangrove roots. They push up through the mud in a splay of tiny spikes that prevent deep exploration into the heart of the forest.
The darkness starts to drop, bringing with it the dry season dampness that seems so incongruous in this arid desert-edged town. I turn and stare up at the sky briefly, watching the ibis wing in and squabble over roosts as the bats flap and fight their way out for the evening.
I make my way back home, whistling for the dog, happily coated in salt and sand, mud splashing and chest heaving. We’ve both had our adventures.
Gloria Swanston in Sunset Boulevard is one great face. And as this emotive montage shows, there is not much that can match the glorious and captivating power of the cinema portrait.
I found myself physically moving in towards the screen to get closer to these faces, with all their light, shade and cinematic resonance.
Self-portrait with palm shadowsJohn S Lens, Float Film, No Flash, Taken with Hipstamatic
The bush telly.
People think it doesn’t get cold in the Kimberley, but this year has been a cold dry. (which makes it sound like a beer)
John S Lens, Ina’s 1969 Film, No Flash, Taken with Hipstamatic
For the lovers of archaic technology.
I don’t own a VHS machine any more - I can’t even remember who we managed to palm it off onto. But there is still a stack of VHS tapes in the back of the cupboard. Including the original Star Wars. Not the new digitsed versions - bite your tongue!
Somehow these ARE still cultural artefacts that need to have a physical presence. I can’t quite get rid of that.
So here’s to the VHS geeks of the world - may you rule your shrinking domains with all the joy that analogue fuzz and clunky plastic provides.
Life for some
Jimmy Lens, Blanko Film, No Flash, Taken with Hipstamatic