Herewith, the penultimate post in what has turned out to be a bit of a marathon travelogue series from down-under…
After lunch after our morning adventures on our last full day here, it was finally time for some retail therapy!
But not in the traditional sense of mall-traipsing + inevitable food-court submission, naturally; no malls in Kimberley. No, it’s a very specific type of shopping – of just one product. Can you guess yet?
Guys (males) – I’d recommend doing this spot of shopping either without the wife/girlfriend/daughter, or without credit cards or cash. Preferably with neither! For the product on offer here doesn’t come cheap…
The product is… the pearl! Pearls are industrially produced here at Leveque Cape.
It goes like this:
Locals here catch oyster shells, implant inside them a foreign body (I forget made of what), then put the shells into net cages and put them back in the sea. Several years later they open up the shells to find – da, daaaa – pearls!
The meat left over inside the shells is fed to hungry tourists here, and beautifully cleaned up and finished shells are also sold to them once they’ve had their fill of the oysters. Nice little side line :).
Check these pearl-farming pics out:
What woman in the world could resist those?
And what would she do to make sure a pearl she fancied was swiftly purchased? Clue: bone up on Chinese diplomacy. I couldn’t make a purchase anyway as I’d forgotten my wallet back at the ranch! I made up for that slip-up back in Broome at a jeweler’s :).
Some of the prices are eye watering. This one here for example costs a cool 86,100 Australian dollars (~65,000USD)!
Incidentally, by far not all pearls are big, round, smooth and without defects. Asked why some are small, the pearl farmers answered clearly and understandably: ‘The oysters just get lazy’ :).
I still don’t get how they’re able to choose the particular shells that have perfectly round and smooth pearls inside – which is just what they did when we were watching. They must able to just tell by how ‘healthy’ the oyster shells seem…
And that’s where I’ll finish in this series of posts – finally! – reporting to you about our own Kimberley experiences. In the next and last post in the series – a review of some of the attractions there that we didn’t get round to checking out for ourselves (after all, Kimberley is colossal, and we were there just three days)…
All the photos are here.