Thursday, 30 August 2012

Broome Time

The waves approached the shoreline with what appeared to be apathy, lazily slumping on the sand with an audible “puffff” as if the strength to reach solid ground took all the effort the water had. They didn’t dump on the sand in so much as slide onto the vast expanse of hardened beach. The tide was still on the way out - eventually to become eight metres - and it increased the distance to the water from the cliff every second. It receded so quickly you almost had to run into it to get wet, chasing the languid lukewarm water into the receding ocean.

The breeze, tender and gentle, was sucked into the warming land from the ocean as the sun baked the red earth, drawing in the cooling air. Above me, the fronds of the palm tree clatter laconically, every effort momentous, exhausting.

I lay back down on the grass, the cool green leaves in the shade providing a comforting mattress to while away the hours. My book lay beside me, the bookmark still stuffed halfway through the first chapter. There was a good chance that I wouldn’t finish the chapter, let alone the book. The heat, the culture, the lifestyle - it drew out all energy. Even my eyes needed to rest.

I lay on the grassy hill above Cable Beach, the café behind me selling beer and ice creams - in similar quantities I noticed - which only stiffened my resolved to grab one of each. If I could be bothered moving at all that is.

Welcome to Broome.

A place where life slows down - like the air is treacle and things just moooooove slooowwwer.

For the locals, there is no such thing of course. Life here is like life anywhere - there are livings to be made, families to raise, jobs to go to, schools attended and so on. But for the blow-ins, the tourists, life is in slow-mo.

Grey nomads flock here for six months of the year, filling the caravan parks to capacity with their Coromals, their Jaycos and their Paramounts. Oversized 4WDs, predominantly Landcruisers, dump their vans in the parks and then take to the town’s streets, hogging the car parking and creating an obstacle at every turn. Outside their vans, the nomads set up their pot plants - a couple of dozen palms, tomato plants and maybe a few herbs - a garden away from home, mobile oasis.

European tourists arrive in the thousands in the months April through to October - usually under 30 years old, beautifully tanned skin, barely-there clothes and full of nonchalant sensuality. Thousands of miles from home, a constant summer, and liberal sexual attitudes…it all adds up to the holiday by which all future ones will be judged. The time of their lives.

Broome-time takes over from real life. Things happen slooooow, life moves mega-slooooow. It’s a million miles from the rest of the world. It’s a different planet, an alien capsule separate from the rest of humanity.

Many words come to mind for this place - tranquil, paradise, oasis…it’s all that plus more. It’s culture and lifestyle. It’s a melting pot of Asian, Western and Aboriginal heritage - a fusion that creates uniqueness.

Anyone who ever comes here wants it to stay this way.

You don’t change Broome…Broome changes you.

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