Broome’s Festival of the Pearl – Shinju Matsuri

Broome’s Festival of the Pearl – Shinju Matsuri

The lustre of pearl drove the colonial development of Broome in the 1870s and remains a major industry to this day.

Prior to this for millennia the aborigines used and traded mother of pearl shell and used it for decoration and ceremony.

This Riji is the carving of pearl shell shell unique to the North East Kimberley.

These pieces of Riji are part of an exhibition called Lustre the history of pearling in Australia.

The Shinju Matsuri celebrates the role of the pearl in Broome.

The festival integrates culture of Japanese and Chinese pearl divers who came here over a century ago and made Broome home with indigenous and colonial history.

The lantern festival at Cable Beach captures a Japanese Tradition.

The street parade is led in a burst of colour and energy by the Chinese Dragon.

The Shinju festival also offers lots of exhibitions street music and art.

There is a beautiful projection down at the Town Beach

But it was the Riji that totally captivated me.

So I took a long ride, over 200km each way to the top of the Dampier Peninsula.

Over made roads and some thick sand roads

To meet Bruce Wiggan, a local elder and master pearl shell carver at his studio.

Aboriginal art tells a story. This piece tells the story of the making the laws of hunting between local tribes. These laws, this agreement bought harmony.

I’m now the keeper of this beautiful piece of Riji and it’s story.

A place that kept my spirit vibrant during the long Lockdown

A place that kept my spirit vibrant during the long Lockdown

At the end of my street is Newport Lakes

A 33 hectare urban forest created in the 1970’s from an old bluestone quarry

What a wonderful vision of the then Local Government Council to create this haven in what was then a very industrial suburb devoid of open space.

Only about 12 kilometres from the centre of Melbourne

The fate of the quarry was sealed when the digging hit an underground spring and the lake was formed.

Over the the four months of the Melbourne lockdown I have walked the trails of this urban forest.

Seen the changes as winter turned to spring and now as summer approaches.

The trees in blossom

The resident black swans with their cignets

The flock of Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos that came for winter and went back bush in the Spring. Unlike us terrestrial animals free to fly to and fro as they please.

The bird life by the lake is vibrant wattle birds, butcher birds all too quick for amateur wildlife photographer like me

But this little blue wren wasn’t shy and struck the perfect pose.

The hard bluestone walls that surround the lake loom large and bare the cracks from the many explosions that were used to extract the bluestone.

Those cracks now form handholds for climbers to practice their skills.

And in the rock faces there is the subtle marks of human presence

Mosaics of the birds in the park

And as the days got longer and warmer and summer is only an month or so away

The Blue Tongue Lizards come out to bask in the sun.

Walking in Newport Lakes and cycling on the Williamstown bay trail (posts here, here and here.) have made me appreciate my local space very much. How lucky I am to have access to these elements of nature in a big city.

After for months of lockdown in the City of Melbourne the restrictions that have kept Melbournians separate from the rural areas of the State will be lifted in a few days.

The Mighty Breva will roam again across the local countryside, on the coastal roads and over the windy mountain passes.

But before I sign off my local explorations

A pelican in flight a couple of evenings back down at the Koroit Creek estuary.