Broome is a pearling town situated in the Kimberley region. Broome is over seven hours from Port Hedland and over 2000 kilometres north of Perth. In 1879, the pearl shell (pinctada maxima), the largest of all such shells, was discovered here. Broome had at one time a fleet of 403 pearling vessels.
The fishing fleets were destroyed by the military in World War 2, for fear of their falling into enemy hands. Now Broome specializes in cultured pearls. The town centre of Broome is small and easy to locate and has a Chinatown. Many shops sell pearls. In Dampier Terrace, just on the edge of Chinatown, are two restored pearl luggers.
Broome has an unusual appeal, partly very aussie outback and the other part has a strong sophisticated asian feel. A more different outback Australian town is hard to imagine. The pearling history of Broome resulted in a true multi cultural feel in the area, so that there are very upmarket restaurants and seaside resorts mixed with outback stations, and of course tourists from all ends of the earth.
Broome Courthouse Markets
The Broome Courthouse Markets operates all year on a Saturday and on Sundays from April to October. There is a limit of 100 permanent sites on Saturdays and most of these are filled by members who trade most of the year. More than 80% of the products sold on Saturdays are hand made locally in Broome and availability of casual stall sites is extremely limited.
Products include fresh produce, photography, honey, preserves, indigenous and contemporary art, many hand-crafts, clothing, jewellery and a diverse range of freshly cooked food. Buskers entertain the crowds with music and performance. The relaxed atmosphere, shady trees and lawned areas make the Courthouse Markets the ideal place for visitors and locals to mix and sample the quality and range of products available from the local area.
Broome Crocodile Park
If you fancy checking out some crocs for an hour you can tour through here. This park is owned by one of Australia’s well known adventurer and film makers Malcolm Douglas. Cable Beach Road (08 9193 7824).
Cable Beach is 22 kilometers of white sand. It is named Cable Beach because it was here that the cable for the international telegraph line disappeared into the sea. Located 6km from the Broome township it is a mecca for sun lovers in the dry season and has a seaside resort feel. However in the wet, November through to April, the water is a no go zone due to the deadly stingers.
This refers to the area in the middle of town that has a very asian feel with restaurants, souvenir shops and pearl boutiques.
Further south from Cable Beach is Gantheaume Point, where there are dinosaur footprints, 120 million years old, in the rocks.
This art gallery has a large selection of Aboriginal and European artworks, as well as sculptures pottery carvings, books, a cafe and a boutique brewery. This is all housed in a historic pearling master’s house. 60 Hamersley Street (08 9193 5811).
This is a tour of a pearling museum, where you can browse two restored pearl luggers and the pearl displays as well as hear commentary by former pearl divers. 31 Dampier Terrace (08 9192 2059).
Sun Picture Theatre
The Sun Picture Theatre claims to be the world’s oldest operating picture garden, established in 1916. There is no roof!
Town Beach on the Roebuck Bay shore has the remains of the flying boats which were bombed by the Japanese during the war are visible at very low tides.
Willie Creek Pearl Farm
This pearl farm is located 38km North of Broome. Here you can learn all about the delicate processes of pearl farming as well as purchase pearls and tips on what to look for when buying. You must book your tour here in advance and it’s best to get a coach out to the farm (08 9192 6000).
Broome’s Pearling Lugger Experience – Sail on the 106 year old wooden lugger the Intombi, which worked out of Broome at the height of the pearling industry. You can sail at sunset and enjoy a gourmet meal or choose the Champagne Bruch Sail. A relaxing yet exciting trip but don’t forget you hat sunscreen and camera. Paula Duggan
Purely Unreal Kimberley Dreamtime Adventure Tours – Leaving from Broome “Purely Unreal” Kimerley Dreamtime Adventure Tours have one and two day trips to the surrounding areas. Enjoy your tour in 4WD vehicles that seat 16, go on a camel tours and visit rock-art sites, and learn about bush foods, medicines, station life and much more. Paula Duggan