The White Divers of Broome
The true story of a fatal experiment.
Author: John Bailey
First published: 2001 This edition: 2015
Format: Softcover 301 pages
In 1912 Broome was as much Asian as Australian, filled with the smell of unfamiliar spices and a babel of competing languages. The town thrived on the hugely profitable, and extremely dangerous pearl shell industry, using Asian labour that was cheap to hire, and easy to replace. It was a frontier town, where racial tensions simmered uneasily between whites, Asians and Aborigines.
In that year, twelve British Royal Navy-trained divers and their tenders were sent to Broome, urged on by a Federal Government deep in the grip of the 'White Australia' policy and anxious to rid the country of the last remaining Asian 'taint.' Their task was to master the perilous art of pear-shell diving, and overcome the Asian stranglehold on the pearling industry.