Sunday History Photo / WA

Submitted: Sunday, Dec 21, 2014 at 08:16
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Broome is a coastal and pearling and tourist town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, 2,240 km North of Perth.
It is often mistakenly thought that the first European to visit Broome was William Dampier in 1688, but he only visited the north of what was later named the Dampier Peninsula. In 1699 he explored the coast from Shark Bay to La Grange Bay, from where he headed north leaving the Australian coast. Many of the coastal features of the area were later named for him. In 1879, Charles Harper suggested that the pearling industry could be served by a port closer to the pearling grounds and that Roebuck Bay would be suitable. In 1883, John Forrest chose the site for the town, and it was named after Sir Frederick Broome, the Governor of Western Australia from 1883 to 1889.

On 14 December 1882 he was appointed governor of Western Australia, and assumed office in June 1883. He visited England in 1885, when, with the "view of extending knowledge of the resources of what was at that time a little known colony", he read a paper on "Western Australia" before the Colonial Institute, H.R.H. the Prince of Wales taking the chair.
His term as governor of Western Australia was marked by great extension of railways and telegraphs, and general progress. When the colony was preparing for responsible government, Broome acted as intermediary between the Legislative Council and the British secretary of state.
Sir Frederick Broome finally left Western Australia in December 1889, on a mission to England in connection with the Constitution Bill, and his tenure as governor ended in September 1890. One source states "Disputes with his senior officials tarnished Broome’s reputation in the Colonial Office. He was transferred to serve as acting governor of Barbados in the West Indies and, in July 1891, was appointed governor of Trinidad. He died in London in 1896 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery.
Each year Broome celebrates this fusion of different cultures in an annual cultural festival called Shinju Matsuri (Japanese for festival of the pearl) which celebrates the Asian influenced culture brought here by the pearling industry.
Broome was attacked at least four times by Japanese aircraft during the Second World War, and the worst attack was On March 3, 1942, nine Zero fighters and a reconnaissance plane swooped down over Broome, killing 88 people (mostly civilians) and destroying 22 aircraft.

The West Australian mining boom of the 1960s, as well as the growth of the tourism industry, also helped Broome develop and diversify. Broome is one of the fastest growing towns in Australia.

In 1889, a telegraph undersea cable was laid from Broome to Singapore, connecting to England. Cable Beach was named in honour of the Java-to-Australia undersea telegraph cable which reaches shore here, Cable Beach is situated 7 km from Broome along a bitumen road. The beach itself is 22.5 km long with white sand, washed by tides that can reach over 9 m . The beach is almost perfectly flat. Caution, is required when swimming from November through March as box jellyfish are present during those months. There have been cases where crocodiles have been sighted off the shore, but this is a rarity and measures are taken to prevent these situations. Four wheel drive vehicles may be driven onto the beach from the car park. This allows people to explore the beach at low tide to a much greater extent than would be possible on foot.
The town has an deep history based around the exploits of the men and women who developed the pearling industry, starting with the harvesting of oysters for mother of pearl in the 1880s to the current major cultured pearl farming enterprises.
At first, aborigines were blackbirded (enslaved) and forced to dive naked, with little or no equipment. Especially pregnant girls were used as these were believed to have superior lung capacity. In 2010 the Shire of Broome and Kimberley commissioned a Memorial to the Indigenous Female Pearl Divers.

When slavery was abolished, Asians and islanders were given the dangerous job instead. Especially Japanese were valued for their experience. The riches from the pearl beds did not come cheaply, however, and the town's Japanese cemetery is the resting place of 919 Japanese divers who lost their lives working in the industry. Many more were lost at sea, and the exact number of deaths is unknown. The Japanese were only one of the major ethnic groups who flocked to Broome to work on the luggers or the shore based activities supporting the harvesting of oysters from the waters around Broome. They were specialist divers and, despite being considered enemies, became an indispensable part of the industry until World War II.

I wish you all a Merry and Safe Christmas.


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Reply By: B1B2 - Sunday, Dec 21, 2014 at 10:54

Sunday, Dec 21, 2014 at 10:54
G'day Doug,
I prefer the 1897 PO to the 1959 version.
Nice work through the year,

have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Dec 21, 2014 at 11:52

Sunday, Dec 21, 2014 at 11:52
I agree Bill, the 1897 building has character , and looked good.

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Reply By: Member - i'machocoholic - Sunday, Dec 21, 2014 at 11:59

Sunday, Dec 21, 2014 at 11:59
Another fantastic read, Doug, great work! With my soft spot for the Kimberley it was good to see a pic of Frederick and Mary. When I was doing some research a while back, I found the Barker River was named after Mary (it's the river that runs alongside Mt Hart - great camping!), and the town of Wyndham was named after their son. It seems the whole family got their name put to something up that way :-)

Merry Christmas to you and I hope Santa brings you lots of good stuff.
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Reply By: Member - Gordoneski (WA) - Tuesday, Dec 23, 2014 at 01:28

Tuesday, Dec 23, 2014 at 01:28
A great post.... Merry Xmas... :-)
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