Broome is a quirky little outback town on the Dampier Peninsular along the dramatic Kimberley coast of north-west Australia. It is a beautiful pearling centre with a complicated and unique history.
Before visiting Broome I knew very little about the town and what to expect of the place, other than it being somewhere Western Australians visit during their winters and rave about. It didn't take long before I fell for Broome too.
Willie Creek Pearl Farm
The Willie Creek Pearl Farm lies at the northern end of Cable Beach, 35km north of Broome and offers a fascinating insight into modern pearl farming, as well as explaining how pearls are cultivated. After an introduction to the process, visitors are then taken out on the water to see some pearl trays in the creek, and if they are lucky, to catch a glimpse of the resident crocodile.
|Introduction to pearl farming at Willie Creek Pearl Farm, Broome, Australia|
The History of Broome
The Pearl Luggers experience offers a thorough tour of Broome’s history. You can see restored sailing vessels (luggers), try on a diving helmet, experience the weights carried by divers and worn on their boots, look through old photographs and sample some pearl meat. There are also several statues around town that share part of the town’s history as well as separate cemeteries for the Japanese, Chinese and Muslims who once lived in the area.
|Try on a diving helmet at Pearl Luggers, Broome, Australia|
Staircase to the Moon
Time it right and you can enjoy the Staircase to the Moon phenomenon during your visit to Broome. For a few nights each month between April and October the full moon, when seen across the mudflats of Roebuck Bay casts a reflection that looks like a staircase. Local markets are held in the evening on those nights. Contact the Broome Visitor Centre to check dates.
|Staircase to the Moon, Broome, Australia|
Beyond the port and about 7km south of Broome Gantheaume Point is a series of striking red cliffs rising above the turquoise sea. At extremely low tides dinosaur prints estimated to be over 100 million years old are revealed. There is also a rock pool called Anastasia’s rock pool, which was built by a lighthouse keeper to soothe his wife’s arthritis.
|Gantheaume Point, Broome, Australia|
Broome’s famous Cable Beach is a vast stretch of white sand to the west of town that hosts spectacular sunsets. Camel safaris are offered at sunset along to the north of the beach, which is also popular with locals who take their cars onto the sand to enjoy the sunset.
|Broome Camel heads home from Cable Beach, Australia|
Local arts and crafts are available at the markets held amongst the Baob trees in front of Broome Courthouse on Saturdays and also on Sundays during the wet season. Broome specialties include pearls, aboriginal art, clothing and homemade soap.
|Courthouse Markets, Broome, Australia|
Sun Pictures in Broome offers the ultimate outdoor cinema experience, with rows of deckchairs available to relax beneath the stars and take in a movie. The openair picturehouse is very old and right in the centre of Broome’s historical centre, Chinatown.
|Sun Pictures, Broome, Australia|
Amongst all the resorts off Cable Beach is a little peaceful corner. Buddha Sanctuary is a a quiet garden for meditation, yoga and tai chi. There is a large Buddha beneath a pagoda in the garden and a yoga studio offering classes. It is open in the mornings and evenings.
|Buddha Sanctuary, Broome, Australia|
Once the home of Broome’s brothels and opium dens, Chinatown is now the commercial centre of town and the streets today are lined with cafes and boutiques. Highlights include the Kimberley Bookshop, offering lots of informative reads about Broome, and the various pearl galleries where it is possible to spend a small fortune.
|Chinatown, Broome, Australia|
It wouldn’t be Australia if encounters with dangerous animals weren’t offered. Local residents include crocodiles at the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park and various bird species at the Broome Bird Observatory.
Despite its relatively small size, Broome is a very diverse place offering a wide variety of experiences. The area experiences two seasons, the dry running from April to October, and the wet. Broome is more lively during the dry season (Australia’s winter) but prices are also higher then.
Have you visited Broome? What was your favourite thing about Broome?
Photo credit: Lin Padgham