Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Quick Lesson in Politics, Voting and Running Polling Booths

Day 1 of Matt being the OIC of Broome Pre Poll Voting Centre (which was to cater for any and everyone who was eligible to vote within Australia who happened to be in Broome), he and the other 2 staff were completely innudated by all of the other travellers (like us) who happened to be here!  I was immediately signed up as well and the kids sat up the back (in the cool air con) and did their school work, read, did craft, watched a movie, etc. 

We all had a steep learning curve of understanding how it all worked and went about our training online.  Whenever it was quiet enough, usually around "sundowner hour", I finished work and took the kids "home" to our tent to get rid of their physical energy on their scooters while I cooked tea. 

Occassionally it didn't work out that way..

It has been a very long two weeks, and I have to say that we have the most tremendous kids, and Matt ran the most awesome centre given that none of the staff had ever done this before.  We had a huge nuimber of people come through our doors, much, much more than expected by anyone, but we did it! So much so that we even made the news!

Election day was quieter than the others as we only had interstate voters, yet the count kept us there until 11pm, then we were there the next day to package all up to get it onto a tiny plane to Geraldton. 

Incredible to be part of this amazing election, and now that I have done the count, I have learnt so much more about how the House of Representative preferences work.  So next time you vote, really think about it, because it all does matter, every number! 

Now we are tired.  Recovering.  All of us.  We are having a week in Broome to put our things away, tidy up, sort our things out, pick up our SOLAR PANEL that we ordered (yes even more exciting), and try to remember that we are "travelling family" not a family living in Broome.  Then we are hitting the Gibb.  It's getting hot over here, and only going to get hotter.  Plans will be reviewed, but that's OK, that's travelling.

Getting down at the Rodeo amongst the Boab Trees in Derby

A quick trip to Derby (250km up the road) for a great little bit of work for Matt found us staying at Bill's place which made us reminisce of our place back home with all of the odd bits and pieces in the garden.  We felt quite at home as gnomes at the bottom of the garden there.  Wonderful birds to look at and all sorts of plants to look at.

Matt was flat out working for the three days that we were there as a roadie for a wedding gig and an indig band gig at the rodeo.  He took the kids along him to the rodeo for one of the days to really absorb the atmosphere.  Three words:  "they loved it".

The other day, the boys and I checked out Derby Kimberley School of the Air, the old Gaol (and felt the sadness there), strolled around the hot and dusty town, sat under a boab tree or two and passed the time by. 

Of course we also had barra fish and chips on the jetty at sunset...does anyone come to Derby, and not do it?

We loved the heat and dustiness of Derby.  It is a much redder town than Broome (and hotter).  Boabs serve a real purpose of shade and they are magnificent against the sky.  This is the first town we have gotten to however, that we have been told, you mustn't swim in the water. Crocs.  Eeep!

It was a quick trip as we had to get back to Broome for our 2 week stint for Matt working as the OIC (Officer In Charge no less!!) for the Pre Poll Voting Centre for the Federal Election....but that is another story!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Learning New Skills and Seeing Old Friends at the Broome Bird Observatory

We arrived at the Broome Bird Observatory just in time to grab a really big hug from our friends who we haven't seen since Blackwood River National Park (down in the South West of WA) in April and then run on down to the beach for some "Cannon Netting" fun. 

Now for others (like me) who have never done this before, it may seem really cruel.  People lurk in the shadows for about 2 hours waiting for the shorebirds numbers to increase then suddenly, with a cannon, release a net over the birds.  The birds are then covered with a huge shade cloth, then carefully, carried one by one to a portable cage to be classified, counted and tagged.  All in the interests of understanding birds and their patterns.

waiting for the message to move

front line has the message to move

birds under the net and shadecloth, being handed to "runners" (people like me) to take to cages

bird being taken to cage

The kids were terribly excited, especially because they were picked to be on the "front line" which meant that they had to run down first.

After about 1&1/2 hours of this Matt & I realised that we needed to go as it was beginning to rain, and we had not had lunch (it was now 3pm) and we hadn't set up.  As it turned out, they did not finish until 5.30 that  night.  379 birds were netted and tagged that day.  Apparently that is a mammoth effort (especially when there were only about 20 people there).  Roebuck Bay,  a place of world significant in shorebirds.  I learnt something.

Great to catch up with Fiona and Darren, Amber and Jaxen.  The kids had a blast, and we ate, drank, talked and smiled. 

Tuesday saw us going back into Broome (did I say that we were leaving Broome) to get Frank's stitches out.  The nurse said we would have to come back in again the next day...would we ever leave Broome?

The boys really got into the bird watching and the "Bird Log" which happens at 6pm every evening there and you name the number of each species of birds that you have seen that day.  I was glad that the boys were not making up species that didn't belong there.

Darren is a great coach for them with birds, his knowledge is incredible and they really listen to him.

Tuesday we got a call about a job in Derby for Matt helping as a roady for a gig for the Rodeo for this weekend (6-8 August).  Great opportunity.  We decided to go for it.  Not long after, we got another call from Trac (see previous entry) about a job back in Broome working for AEC for the election.  Given the state of the funds, and the price of fuel, and food, we decided to spend another 2 weeks there.

So what if we have been in Broome for .... 2 MONTHS????  ok, a little moment in Derby, One Arm, etc, but really, this is a long time.  Never mind.  We are going with the flow of it.  It is warm and lovely.  At least we can swim here (not Frank yet) and we can always change our plans (I am not sure we really had any anyway!).

Another peaceful day in the observatory with our lovely friends, then goodbye to them, then off to Derby.

a few classic broome moments

Sunrise at the overflow

To finish our time in Broome while we were hanging around there, we went down to Cable Beach and lay under one of those numbered umbrellas, then John scooped up a pearl from in the sand!  It is yet to be discovered whether it is of any value of not, if not it is our treasure.

We also met up with Jen, my sister-in-law's friend, Trac and had a Barbie at Town Beach and chatted with a local who joined us and took home some of our leftover tucker for his mob.

The boys continued to do some beading, I cut the hair for the neighbours (and got some pocket money! yippee!), and we went down to Gantheum Point for a sunset dinner with all the other locals (or were they also tourists....).

(Frank's leg before leaving Broome)

Felt a little sad to leave, however, time to go and see other things, excited about seeing our very good friends, the Wallaces who we were meeting at the Broome Bird Observatory (OK, we were not going very far).