Broome in Australia’s North West is a fascinating town where the outback meets the ocean. With its rich pearling history and industry, fantastic community, 22km world famous Cable Beach and superb weather, it’s a great place to hang out and explore.
Not only that, it’s the gateway to the Kimberley, one of the world’s last great wilderness areas and second in Lonely Planet’s must visit destinations for 2014. I was lucky enough to stay for a week, but if you’re just there for a couple of days, here are my top tips.
WHAT TO DO
Get Educated!: Broome is steeped in pearling history and I learnt so much about the whole process, from its dangerous and treacherous beginnings to the delicate science it is today. Pop into Cygnet Bay Pearls or the Pearl Luggers and listen to captivating stories of how it all began.
When in Broome…: The place has a great community spirit so join in with the locals. When I was there I was lucky enough to be part of the annual Dragon Boat Regatta with what seemed like the entire town’s population. There always seems to be SOMETHING going on, even if it’s just the local sausage sizzle you know it’ll be a good laugh.
Watch the sun go down: For an extremely unique sunset experience, take a ride along Cable Beach on an even-toed ungulate. The camel I was riding was called Jerry Hall. I know there was a funny story behind the name but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. Humps? Hmmm…modelling? No. Something about Mick Jagger?? Nope, it’s gone.
Don’t forget the popcorn: Fancy watching a movie? Outside? On a deckchair? Visit Sun Pictures, the World’s Oldest Outdoor Picture Garden. Bizarrely, what makes an evening here even MORE special is that the cinema is directly below the flight path of landing aircraft. So every now and then you’ll feel the need to duck!
Watch your step: For 3 days every month between March and October you can witness the natural phenomenon that is the Staircase to the Moon. It’s caused by the rising of the full moon reflecting off the exposed mudflats at extremely low tide – creating a beautiful optical illusion of stairs reaching to the moon. Quite a magical experience.
WHAT TO TASTE
Set your watch to Broome time: Relax and take it easy, there’s no need to rush around like a headless chook. Enjoy breakfast or an ice cold mango smoothie at Ra Ra’s Café, or head straight for lunch and an authentic taste of Egypt at local institution Pharaohs Kebab House.
Food with a view: A great spot for some tasty grub and a couple of cocktails is the Sunset Bar and Grill at Cable Beach Club. Slap bang on the beach, with a small green lawn out the front where events are held during the summer months of June – August. Unfortunately, I was a few days too late for the week long live operatic performances in the mini ampitheatre they’d erected.
Visit the market: Staircase to the Moon is often complimented by the local markets at Town Beach, showcasing Broome’s multicultural past (and very much present) with local flavours, crafts and talented entertainers.
Hang out at Matso’s brewery: …..and check out the local ales. Head Brewer Marcus L Muller also gives tours of the brewery, waves his arms around a lot, speaks extremely fast and obviously LOVES his job. My favourites are the very popular Matso’s Ginger Beer and the smooth, strong Smokey Bishop. “Grunty flavours with an ash tray focus” (Thanks Marcus, now put down those arms).
This year an event called A Taste Of Broome was held once a month between May and September and was a huge success. It’s all the good stuff. A big stage, local artists, musicians and dancers telling the story and history of the town and Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese and Indonesian food stalls representing the diverse community. It was blinkin’ good fun, so when they repeat it next year, get a ticket.
With a little longer: We visited Cygnet Bay Pearls on the last day of harvest and were treated to an exquisite eight course degustation feast, pearl meat was incorporated in every course with lots of other Western Australian produce. Kangaroo tataki, crispy crocodile won tons, steamed Exmouth sand whiting and Rottnest scallop were all complemented with matching Western Australian wines. Head chef Douglas Malcolm now offers this as a feature dining experience at Cygnet Bay and if I were you I’d book early!
Most people I speak to in Broome say they came here years ago for a week, loved it and haven’t left.
I can most definitely see why.
For more on my Kimberley adventures, have a read of these:
- http://tastewesternaustralia.com/mud-crabbing-monday/ [VIDEO]
- http://tastewesternaustralia.com/my-first-week-2/ [VIDEO]
Tips and Tricks
Getting to Broome
- Qantas and Virgin Australia operate daily flights from Perth to Broome.
Where I stayed
Start your day with local Kimberley flavours
- Try the fresh mango smoothie at Ra Ra’s, Kimberley Coffee Co coffee at Pinctada McAlpine House, or pearl meat under the Boab tree at the Mercure Broome.