Capturing her story in all its globetrotting glory, Julie Kember is proud to announce the arrival of her album Million Lives. As the title implies, Kember has woven her experiences throughout the album, documenting her trials and triumphs over the years through honeyed melodies and honest yet inviting lyrics. The album’s somewhat title track Lived A Million Lives is wonderfully autobiographical – a musical retrospective diary. Driving the song is the same power that fuels all of Kember’s work: love.
Julie Kember’s Top 5 memories of her shack days in Leeman, WA
- The track winding back to our family shack: My uncle laid the foundation for a two-story shack in 1985, and our whole family pitched in to make it our second home. Situated on the edge of a cliff with endless views of the ocean, it had all the basic comforts of home – even a fully working stove and a flushing toilet which we would fill with sea water collected with rope and bucket over the cliff edge. No TV for us in those days – and we didn’t miss it. Over time, ten shacks were erected in our Bay, mostly owned by fellow Eneabba residents, who like us, took pride in their environment, respected the fauna and flora and always kept the area free of rubbish.
In 1990, the local shire deemed that all shack owners had to pay rates. Regardless of our willingness to comply, the shire later made the decision to remove the shacks from along the coast. In 1993, they issued an order for all of the shacks to be pulled down. It was a sadbh loss, but how lucky we were to have made so many happy, healthy, family memories.
Setting the net – what a marathon: Every time we went to the shack, Dad’s fishing net came with us and we were all involved in setting it in the ocean. I remember standing on the shoreline holding onto the rope which was attached to a heavy anchor whilst Dad and Mum walked the length of the net out to sea. When it was time to check the net, two would go out in the dingy, clear the net of fish, and set it again. We caught mullet, tailor, herring, whiting, blowfish and plenty of seaweed! My job was to pull the weed out of the net and Mum and I would mend the holes made by sharks and seals trying to eat the fish. Oh, and then I had to help clean and scale the fish. It was a big job, but they sure tasted good!
Reef walking collecting Bailer shells: I remember struggling to get up when the alarm went off at 5am, but I knew how sad I would be if they left without me. With bucket and gidgee, we would walk for miles along the exposed reef, trying not to get caught as the tide came back in. Mainly we would look for Bailer shells which Dad took home, buried in the back yard and then scrubbed up. I would paint the dead ones and Dad would make lamps out of the shiny healthier ones.
The amazing Pinnacles: Located 200km north of Perth, the Pinnacles were only a 25-minute drive from our shack – we visited these on several occasions, and I remember being amazed by the thousands of limestone formations of all shapes and sizes, some standing up to four metres in height. Residing in the Nambung National Park, the formations are believed to be a part of a lost city with records dating back to 1650!
Campfires & Sing-along songs: My last favorite memory is of sitting around a campfire with our neighbors playing our guitars and singing along to classic country tunes and rude ditties. When the spoons came out, it was even more fun. Nights such as these were where my love of music first begun. I was so lucky to have experienced the freedom and beauty of the shack days.