Built on the pearling trade, these days Broome is a popular holiday hub and gateway to the wild Kimberley region.
By Fleur Bainger
Broome’s rich and colourful history has created a multicultural melting pot that is reflected in the town’s welcoming and laid-back feel. Warm temperatures and palms deliver a tropical vibe that fits perfectly with the many holiday resorts and the stretch of white sand known as Cable Beach.
- Watching the sunset on the endless sandy stretch of Cable Beach
- Trying on the perfect white orbs of cultured Broome pearls
- The trip of a lifetime – cruising the Kimberley, departing from Broome
How to get there
Things to do and top attractions in Broome
See extraordinary Cable Beach
With its 22 kilometres (14 miles) of more soft white sand than you can imagine, Cable Beach is, for many, the main reason they’re drawn to Broome. The water is warm and flat, with gentle, ankle-height waves the only disturbance to the expanse of horizon-hugging blue. Its name harks back to 1889, when a long undersea telegraph cable connected northwest Australia to Indonesia, opening up communication to the world. These days it’s synonymous with sunset camel rides. Watching the sun descend over the water is a must-have experience.
Lay your head in style
Broome is blessed with a wide range of resorts, hotels, B&Bs (bed and breakfasts) and budget stays. Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa is the only accommodation that sits right across from the ocean, eight kilometres (five miles) from central Broome. The luxe resort grounds are filled with fragrant frangipani trees, pandanus palms and boabs, linking several casual-to-chic restaurants, bars and cafés, two huge pools, a L’Occitane-partnered spa and an impressive collection of art. The Billi mixes safari tents with white-on-white apartment-style villas, Pinctada McAlpine House is a secluded, private residence and the family and budget-friendly Broome Beach Resort is a comfortable option.
Sample local cuisine
Given Broome’s warm and often humid climate, the locals are regularly seen eating al fresco beneath wide verandahs, on open decks or beneath tropical palms. Matso’s Broome Brewery is a favourite, as much for its mango craft beer as its smoked barramundi. Meanwhile 18 Degrees specialises in creative share plates and excellent cocktails. Zensai at Cable Beach Club is the place for a special night out, or for a casual café lunch with a mango smoothie, go to the Wild Mango Café.
Hold a cultured pearl plucked fresh from the sea
Without the discovery of pearl shells in the 1800s, Broome might not even exist. That's how vital the industry has been to this town. Visit Willie Creek Pearls, a working pearl farm where you can take a two hour ecotour of its aquatic beds and learn about the industry's astonishing history. Or venture further afield to Cygnet Bay Pearls, a working pearl farm four hours north of Broome, where you can take a tour or "sea safari" and stay for a night or two in a memorable beachside setting. Of course, you can also shop for pearls while you're here. Pop in and try on a string of white or gold-hued spheres at Kailis, Allure, Willie Creek, Jewels of the Kimberley and Cygnet Bay Pearls showrooms.
Embark on an epic Kimberley cruising adventure
Cruising the Kimberley’s mottled red cliffs and stretching out your arms under a splintering waterfall is something only the lucky few get to do. All the luxury cruise boats to tour the coastline depart from Broome, making it a popular place for the cruise set to relax pre and post trip (and purchase last minute bottles of Champagne). After pulling away from the town's proud white jetty, the boats pass thousands of islands before reaching ochre cliffs and lonely beaches. Passengers visit breathtaking rock art, spot giant boab trees and learn about the region’s amazing geology, returning with a new sense of calm mixed with wonder.
Spot rare snubfin dolphins on an ocean cruise
Even documentary-maker David Attenborough has scanned Broome's turquoise Roebuck Bay for the chance to spot snubfin dolphins. They're a rare type of dolphin, with a rounded nose and fins. Broome has the largest known population on earth of these cute-looking mammals. While watching them on TV is good, seeing them in reality is far better. Join Broome Whale Watching on a three-hour morning or sunset Roebuck Bay Eco Tour.
Explore Broome on an Aboriginal walking tour
Local Aboriginal man Bart Pigram, of Narlijia Cultural Tours, leads fascinating, two-hour walking tours through the heart of Broome. Using historic maps, he'll tell you the history of the town's main street and Chinatown district, weaving in tales about the pearling industry, which favoured Aboriginal women as divers. As he explains the significance of the landscape to his people, the Yawuru people, you’ll cover about two kilometres (1.2 miles) on mostly flat ground.
Marvel at a moonlight staircase to the sound of a Didgeridoo
From March to October the light from each full moon makes the mudflats at Roebuck Bay look like a set of gleaming stairs rising into the night sky. This natural phenomenon is known as the Staircase to the Moon. There are several vantage points around town, but for a special experience go to the Mangrove Hotel, where the magical warble of a didgeridoo resonates through the air as the moon rises. Grab a cold drink, order dinner and relax in the hotel's summery setting of lush lawn, white tables and chairs and strings of fairy lights. The moon experience is free.
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