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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Willie Creek Pearl Farm, Western Australia

Willie Creek is the only pearl farm open to the public in Broome. If you drive yourself out to the farm, 22 kms from town, it's half price but if you prefer, they will pick you up at your accommodation and bring you home.

After learning all about the seeding of the pearls, we enjoyed a delicious morning tea, they make fresh damper for every tour which lasts for 2 hours. Then we went out in the boat to see the farm operations and we also saw their resident crocodile sleeping on the bank. Lastly, we were taken into the showroom to see all the different pearls we had just learnt about and I would guess that most people bought something. Very clever business strategy indeed.

Highly trained technicians can earn up to $100,000 for three months work performing the delicate seeding operation and a good technician can seed 500 oysters a day. To qualify, applicants must first hold a marine biology degree and are then apprenticed for five years. These highly skilled people will then move around the world to other pearl farms in Tahiti, Indonesia and Hawaii.

Our guide told us that 14 vehicles have been sucked into the sand here this year, one was a brand new four wheel drive with only 500 kms on the clock. The tides come in so quickly, people leave their cars and go fishing only to find when they return they are partly submerged in water. They are impossible to pull out and in time, the sand slowly swallows them up completely.