It goes without saying that Broome is a pretty magical place.
And that’s without even mentioning the dinosaurs, dragons and camels. I realise that camels may not be on quite the same level as dragons and dinosaurs, but I needed a third creature and Broome doesn’t have unicorns.
Or does it?
No, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.
I’ve been thinking about Broome quite a bit recently. I’ve got a lot of friends who have recently returned to WA for a brand new season in the Kimberley, and it’s about this time last year that I headed out on my first trip with Kimberley Wild.
Broome is one of Australia’s best kept secrets. Don’t get me wrong, it becomes a bit of a tourist trap in the dry season, but it’s still relatively undiscovered. And that’s part of its appeal, so please don’t all flock there at once…
So here are some of my reasons why Broome is so great.
Camels at sunset
Not only is Cable Beach recognised as one of the best beaches in the world (now, that’s a judging panel I would love to be on), but you can also enjoy it at sunset on camelback.
Nevertheless, if camel-riding isn’t for you or you’re a poor backpacker, it’s just as beautiful to sit back and watch the procession pass you by (and it’ll probably be a little less smelly).
Dinosaurs at low tide
At the end of the 22km Cable Beach, there’s Gantheaume Point, and if you head there just before low tide, because you’ll want some time to explore before the tide starts coming in again, you’ll be stepping back in time. Cue the Doctor Who music.
Preserved in the sandstone are dinosaur footprints from about 130 million years ago. I know, it’s crazy… And you may say they’re just footprints or it’s just a load of old rocks, but it gave me a little shiver to imagine that I was sharing footsteps with dinosaurs.
Dragons in September
I’m afraid the dragons in Broome are seasonal. If you want to be able to catch one of these rare sightings of Sammy the dragon, you’ll have to be in Broome for the full moon at either the end of August or beginning of September. The Shinju Matsuri Festival is a Broome-speciality and originates from three cultural festivals – Japanese Obon Matsuri (Buddhist festival to honour the dead), Malaysian Hari Merdeka (Independence Day from British rule in 1957), and the Chinese Hang Seng (don’t ask me what this is – I tried Googling it and only got endless pages on banks and stocks.). Shinju Matsuri means ‘Festival of the Pearl’ in Japanese and has been going strong in Broome for over forty-five years to bring together those three festivals and celebrate the end of the pearl harvest. You can enjoy the parades, the floating lanterns on Cable Beach, the Sunset Long Table Dinner, the Closing Ceremony and fireworks, and many many more exciting things going on over the ten-day event. I got to see the floating lanterns and the closing ceremony just before I left Broome, which was a lovely way to say goodbye.
So that’s the camels, dinosaurs, and dragons sorted, but Broome has even more than that going for it…
Wrecks at the beach
If dinosaur footprints in the shallows weren’t enough for you, then at super low tide you can also spot World War II flying boats. You can only see them when the water in Roebuck Bay is 1.3m or lower, and that apparently only happens about twenty times a year. To get to them you have to start walking an hour before low tide, and head roughly southeast for 1.5km (about 30 minutes) or take a special hovercraft tour. The wrecks are there because, in March 1942, the Japanese launched an air raid on the anchored fleet. Unfortunately, eighty people also died in the raid, mostly Dutch, who were fleeing from the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia), and who had stopped in Broome to refuel. This is one of the few things I didn’t get round to doing while in Broome, so I’ll just have to live vicariously through you.
Open-Air Cinema at night
Sun Pictures is the world’s oldest picture gardens still in operation, and it’s where I watched the new live-action Jungle Book last year. It was pretty idyllic watching a film set in the jungle in a deck chair under the stars, listening to the wind and the birds in the trees, and watching the real life geckos crawl across Bagheera’s face.
Staircase to the Moon at full moon
Just add it to the growing list of things you’d be lucky to see anywhere other than Broome. Between March and October every year, for two to three days a month during the full moon, you can witness the Staircase to the Moon. This phenomenon occurs when the full moon rises over the exposed tidal flats of Roebuck Bay and causes a striped ladder effect up to the base of the moon. I wouldn’t recommend trying to climb it though…
And you can enjoy the music and stalls of the Night Market while you wait.
Broome also has an incredible local brewery (Matso’s), a bird observatory, a crocodile park, Magabala Books, markets, pearl farms, and astro tours. It’s full of lovely people and great food, and if all of that wasn’t enough, it’s the gateway to here…
Oh, and here…
Need I say more?