Broome, a two and a half hour flight north of Perth, sits in the breathtakingly beautiful Kimberly region of Western Australia. Well known for its historic pearling industry, Broome has an incredibly interesting history and is brimming with delightful discoveries. First visited by a European in 1688, its famed pearling industry began in the 1880s with the harvesting of oysters for mother of pearl and then in earnest to what has become a major cultured pearl farming industry.
Japanese free diving specialists were the first to flock to Broome in support of the pearling industry, as is evident by the dedicated Japanese cemetery where 919 divers who lost their lives on the job, were laid to rest. Many more ‘salt water cowboys’ arrived from South East Asia from the Philippines and Malaysia giving the town a very unique multi cultural flavour as they bought with them a variety of traditions and flavours. Over the years the industry has become highly regarded producing some of the most pristine and beautiful pearls in the world.
With the onset of the mining industry Broome became one of the fastest growing towns in Australia and visitors are discovering its beauty and very special personality. The crystal clear waters and gentle waves of the 22km Cable Beach just 7km outside of town is an example of its dreamlike coastline. Drive the beach at low tide in a 4WD or take a more traditional form of transport, a camel ride at sunset. If you fancy becoming one with nature you’ll love the nude bathing area for a complete and total all over tan.
You can get a taste of the old pearling industry with a sail on Intombi, the state’s oldest pearling lugger. At more than a hundred years old this beautiful wooden pearling boat offers sunset sails or champagne brunches and is a great way to see the stunning coastline from the sea.
If possible time your visit to coincide with the full moon between March and October, and see it in a way unlike anywhere else in the world. The Staircase to the Moon is visible only three nights of the month and is a reflection of the full moon as it rises over the tidal flats of Roebuck Bay, appearing as a staircase over the water. Town Beach is the best place to view this natural phenomenon which also coincides with local markets, a nice accompaniment to what becomes a very festive experience.
Sun Pictures is listed as the oldest open air cinema in operation by the Guinness Book of World Records. Opening in 1916 this historic theatre saw the residents of Broome reclining in wooden deckchairs to watch silent movies and be entertained by colourful locals on piano and other entertaining performances. Daily theatre tours relay stories of nearly one hundred years of a fascinating show business history.
The Courthouse Markets are famous for the weekend feel and treasures created by local painters and artists. Take a Broome Heritage Trail walk, it’s a good way to absorb the fascinating history of the town but begin with the Broome Museum which has a most impressive collection of local memorabilia. Broome’s Chinatown is a thriving mix of history and great eateries, along with pearl showrooms and art galleries. Some of the old original corrugated iron huts still remain, now converted into shops and cafés.
Discover dinosaur footprints said to be more than 120 million years old at Gantheaume Point. You’ll also appreciate the spectacular bright red cliffs that drop into the emerald Indian Ocean and Anastasia’s Rock Pool built by a former lighthouse keeper for his wife who suffered from terrible arthritis.
A strong aboriginal art community exists in and around Broome and full day flying tours in conjunction with Kimberley Aviation can take you to the major centres at Fitzroy Crossing, Turkey Creek and Derby. You’ll not only be moved by the colourful creations and get a greater understanding of the work in relation to the surrounding country, seeing the majestic Bungle Bungles and Lake Argyle from the air is nothing short of stunning.
It’s a coastal town unlike any other in Australia, with a relaxed and chilled atmosphere, a transient nature combining its long multicultural history with spectacular natural surroundings. It’s not unusual to visit Broome and decide to stay longer, or maybe never leave.