Broome is located in the northern part of Western Australia. It’s a small, sleepy little seaside town with not much to do except lounge around in the sun. The heat and humidity can get unbearable, and the phrase “broometime” is often used to describe the city’s sluggish pace.
The city was founded in the 1880s as a pearling town and named after the territory’s governor. The pearling industry thrived here on the backs of exploited Japanese workers, and the 900 graves in the Japanese cemetery are a testament to that. Today, the pearl industry has moved on to pearl farming. If you are so inclined, you can take a tour around a few of the pearl farms that have spread out around the city.
Today, the area’s mining boom has created an influx of people into the city. However, the city survives mostly on tourism dollars, and relies heavily on the dry season surge. During the dry season, the population of 14,000 swells to 30,000.
The city is filled with foreign tourists and Aussies who have come to relax in the amazing weather. The tiny town center is filled with shops and restaurants that cater to everyone’s tourist needs. There are a few good restaurants around and an outdoor movie theater. However, overall I thought the town center was a little too geared towards taking my money and lacked any real character.
The highlight of the town is Cable Beach. The beach is named after the undersea cable from Singapore that made landfall there. Cable Beach is 14 miles of white sand goodness. Tides of over 9 meters wipe the sand clean every day, and it’s so big that you’ll never find it crowded. There are some ancient dinosaur tracks at one end of the beach, and the waves are pretty good for surfing.
Another reason to stay all day – the beach faces due west, so the sunsets are superb. Sitting out on the wide beach watching the sun dance downward is a great way to finish off your day. Many companies offer sunset camel rides along the beach. I believe wine is included too.
During the wet season, though, be aware that you need to watch out for jellyfish. They’re deadly! Keep an eye out for posted warnings.
Besides Cable beach, a major tourist draw in Broome is the Staircase to the Moon. During the dry months (and only the dry months), the rising full moon creates an optical illusion of a staircase as the light reflects off the mudflats in Roebuck Bay. It’s a pretty cool sight to see and people from all over flock to Broome for this dry season event. There’s even a special market set up for it.
Broome is also close to the Kimberlys, a region filled with national parks, a desert, gorges, and waterfalls. It typifies the Australian outback.
The region is best known for its gorges, which are best viewed after the wet season ends. This is when the roads are passable again and the streams and waterfalls are still swelled from the rain. The area is only “open” during the dry season, as the roads and area become impassable during the wet season. You can take helicopter tours over the area during the wet season, but they are grossly expensive.
Overall, Broome is a sleepy little town that caters a lot to tourism. In the dry season, the town can get a little too busy as everyone comes to enjoy the cool weather, beaches, and escape the cold of the southern part of Australia. Accommodation and tours need to be booked far in advance, and restaurants are always full. It’s much better during the wet season.
But, that being said, Broome’s location makes it a great spot for a relaxing beach holiday and, if you’re there during the dry season, a trip to the Kimberlys.