Exotic, exciting, unusual, enchanting... all of that and more is Broome, the old Kimberley
pearling town on the far northern WA coast about 2200km north of Perth.
William Dampier is said to be the first European to visit the shores of Roebuck Bay in 1688, but there were certainly other Asian visitors before this, braving the Indian Ocean to hunt Broome’s waters for turtles, dugongs, pearls and trepang (beche-de-mer). In the early 1900s, Broome produced more than 80 per cent of the world’s mother of pearl, and the world’s largest pearl shell, pinctada maxima, was exclusive to Roebuck Bay.
Today Broome is one of the largest producers of cultured pearls in the world and you can get a grip on a local industry that generates more than $500 million a year in sales by visiting the Willie Creek Pearl Farm, on the fringe of town.
The Japanese Cemetery is a shrine to the 900 pearl divers who lost their lives off here, while Malcolm Douglas' Broome Crocodile Park, the Bird Observatory, and the Historical Society Museum all have plenty to show and say about this unique corner of Australia. Game fishing charters are readily available and tournaments are held regularly.
Broome is an upmarket tourist destination, boasting one of the world’s great beaches in Cable Beach and a mixed-race character that could be a world model.
- Shinju Matsure - Festival of the Pearl (August-September), National Indigenous Art Awards (October)
Things to do
Swimming - tropical waters contain stingers that can be potentially dangerous. Observe signs and wear protective clothing. Avoid water in warmer months from November to May.
Museums and Galleries - Pearl Emporium, Historical Society Museum in Old Customs House, Captain Gregory's House Art Gallery, Aquaculture Discovery Centre,
Chinatown - fine pearl showrooms, retail outlets and cafes
Shell House - with one of the largest collections of shells in Australia, Guy St
Cemeteries - Chinese Cemetery, Japanese Cemetery for graves of early pearl divers and Pioneer Cemetery
Cable Beach - for Camel Rides and relaxation on the beach
Malcolm Douglas's Crocodile Park - go and watch them at feeding time
Staircase to the Moon - natural phenomenon where light reflects of mudflats looking like a staircase climbing skyward (March to October)
Gantheaume Point with its 130 million year old dinosaur footprint
Tours - 4WD Safaris, Cruises, Scenic Flights and Float Planes over the archipelago and beaches
Broome Bird Observatory - for hides and bird watching in a rich mudflat area. Curlews, Sandpipers and migratory birds from Siberia and Northern Asia
Willie Creek Pearl Farm - tours available
Find out more about the Kimberley region of WA