The unity of white gal iron.
Broome is a small town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, 2,200 km north of Perth. The rationale for it's establishment in 1883 was to provide a port for the pearling industry. Specialist Japanese divers flocked to Broome to work on the luggers or the shore based activities that supported harvesting the waters around the town for pearls, and the graves of 919 Japanese divers are a testament to their early role in the pearling industry.
These forty year old photographs taken show the remaining blocks
of original one and two storey houses and shops from earlier
times. These groups of houses are unique in Australia in the
visual unity brought about by the use of that quintessential
Australian material, corrugated, galvanised mild steel sheeting, or
'gal iron' as it's usually called in the vernacular. Walls and
roofs have been painted white to reflect the heat, windows are
often protected by gal iron hoods and one building that was used as
a Chinese temple has wind scoops on the roof to divert air into the
a device common in Sind (Pakistan) and some of the Gulf states but rare in Australia.
The proximity of the houses and their simple geometry allied with a single wall and roof cladding material painted white provides a telling example to Oz suburbia of the attraction of visual unity rather than everyone trying to look different from their neighbours.