Roadtrain into Broome
We have been busy in Broome the last few days. Boating on the water looking for pigmy spinner dolphin, attending community meetings for families and NO GAS, watching a movie in the croc farm, learning as much as we can about this community and its workings. The people in Broome have been warm and open to us about their way of life, their culture and their fears for the future. And it is clear to me that people in Broome will fight for their way of life even when the slow decay of culture and their environment are potentially accelerated by the proposed LNG plant at James Price Point. You can see it here and here from the Facebook pages of Broome-Familes and Save the Kimberley.
But coming from the US, we are always fearful of the larger corporation’s power to take control of a community and force change. Like a Kimberley roadtrain – a fully loaded, three-trailers-full of cattle, barreling down a two lane road at breakneck speed – this development is unstoppable without consequences. Everyone is concerned about the impact of this proposed $40B plant just north of town. And there is much to lose.
We talked with 3rd generation Broome residents about their childhoods, their freedom, the role of the land and sea in their daily lives and cultural traditions. And each said that culture was slowly slipping away for their children even now. Everyone felt that the James Price Point LNG plant could turn romantic and restful Broome into a “Gas Town” similar to that of Port Hedland, the “Ore Town” 500 km south of here in the Pilbara. There, thousands of fly-in/fly-out workers switch over every two weeks, small businesses are pushed out by rising rents, and corporate housing developments overtake a town where the only real remaining restaurant is a McDonalds. Reasons to be scared.
Part of our exploration up the Western Australia coast was to see the country, meet the people and learn of its bounty. We have seen dugongs, manta rays, whale sharks, humpbacks, snubbie and pigmy dolphin, pearl farms, massive tides, beautiful sunsets and lunar eclipses. We have met scientists, environmentalists, songwriters, artists, cooks, guides, fishermen, divers, astronomers and famous singers, newspeople and some cool kids. We are committed to our original mission here of citizen science with our partners at Murdoch and Duke. But it feels now like we have more partners, at every place we have been – Coral Bay, Exmouth, Broome, Cygnet Bay. I think we will swing for the fence here and jump in and do all we can to help protect and preserve country. And this word “country” means something special here. Not sure I have ever felt “country” in the US either in my home state of North Carolina or in Wyoming, a place similar to NW Australia in many ways. I need to know more.
We have much to share from our travels. Andy is working on several short videos of all the interviews, the boat trips and meetings, brekkys at the Aarli and vibrant sunsets. I will continue to post up pics and stories. Thanks to all the people we met here: Lars, Kristy, Simon, George, Mark, James, Bruce, Ali, Martin, Alan, Tanya, Mitch, Alex, Lachlan, Frazer, that incredible fisherman in Exmouth Harbor and everyone I failed to mention. We shall return soon.