Half a year in Broome and I was in love with the place! Where else can you ride camels, search for dinosaur footprints and try on historic pearl diving helmets all in one day?! There are a lot of things to do around here and this small town, in the far North-West corner of Australia, has such a unique charm that I would recommend it to any backpacker wanting to find somewhere off-the-beaten East coast track. Complete with International airport, you could even complete your farm work on one of the pearl farms in the area, for something a bit unusual.
Broome is hardly undiscovered, with the population of the town doubling in dry season, but this beautiful area needs longer than a day or two to appreciate it. Large Boab and palm trees line the red dirt streets and Cable Beach stretches on as far as the eye can see. Travelling during the wet season provides its own beauty, with the heavy thunderstorms rolling in over the ocean, the humidity and lack of crowds. But as the year goes on into the drier months, Broome really comes alive, with wonderful markets, live music and parties to keep you going for life! Here are just some of the wonderful attractions this town has to offer:
Riding camels on Cable Beach
When I first arrived, I booked onto one of these camel-riding tours right away. Catching the local bus to Cable Beach, I was overcome by the beauty of the long stretches of sand, tall palms and a train of camels waiting for us. It is a wonderful experience and the camels have such character! At the time, the tour gave me a complimentary set of pearl earrings to take home. If you can’t bring yourself to ride one of these beautiful creatures, admiring them from a distance as the sun sets into the ocean is a free alternative.
Watching the sunset over the ocean
This is best done at Cable Beach, though Gantheume Point also spectacular sunsets. Grab some friends and a case of beer, park the four wheel drive up on the beach and watch the sun sink into the ocean, creating startling colours in the sky.
Staircase to the moon
This magical natural phenomena occurs when the full moon rises up over the mud flats of Roebuck Bay to create an illusion of a staircase up to the moon. The Mangrove Hotel is a great vantage point. It only happens at certain times of the year, so its worth researching if you want to see it. On the first staircase to the moon of the year, Town Beach hosts some wonderful markets, where I remember trying the most amazing laksa I had ever had in my life!
Picnics at Cable Beach
With a few beers in the esky and a bag of snacks, what better way to enjoy a sunny afternoon than lazing about on the lawns at Cable Beach?! If you a fancy a cocktail or a meal later on, there are several restaurants and bars to choose from, but it’s just as nice to take a cider down to the beach and watch the sun set over the ocean.
The Outdoor Cinema
The oldest outdoor cinema still running in the world today, this wonderful historic attraction shows new releases, but you get to enjoy them sitting under the stars in a deck chair. It is common to hear a small aeroplane flying over head during the movie – you just need to use your imagination for what the characters on screen are saying during this interruption! Be prepared to bring a pillow and plenty of mosquito spray, as the bugs are chronic! The cinema also runs day tours, for those interested in the history of the building.
The Weekend Markets
Situated around the Historic Broome Courthouse, these markets really kick off in the dry season, where you can sip on fresh mango shakes, eat a selection of delicious Asian food, admire the pearl jewellery for sale and listen to buskers strumming their tunes, as you lie back on the grass in the shade of a palm tree and enjoy the atmosphere. If you’re into arts and crafts, food or simply enjoying market vibes, the Broome markets do not disappoint.
Pearl Luggers Tour
Right in front of the Roebuck Hotel, there are a number of pearl luggers on show. These large boats were previously used to take divers out, scouring the oceans for precious pearl shells and their treasures within. You can take a tour of the museum and even get the chance to try on a heavy diving helmet, which was worn in the early days. I cannot imagine how difficult these divers’ jobs must have been.
Due to the pearling history, a lot of Chinese families came to Broome in the early days to seek their fortune. Hence, there is a Chinatown here, in the far North-West of Australia! You can expect to find lots of souvenir shops here today, as well as several cafes.
This is a lovely spot to go for a picnic, as there are several large, shady trees. I used to go running up to Town Beach and stop for a while to admire the ocean views. The contrast between the bright blue ocean and red dirt land is stunning and I could watch it for hours.
Very near Town Beach, it’s well worth popping into the museum. With a small $5 entrance fee, learn about the old pearling days and how World War II affected this remote corner of Australia. There is lots of memorabilia from the early days. I find it fascinating that such a tiny place has such a big history connecting it to the rest of the world.
On low tide, you can try your luck spotting the dinosaur footprints! Yep, for real! It takes a while to find them, so I would recommend going with a large group. And, to be honest, the footprints were not as big as I’d hoped! Still, it’s a bit of fun! If you prefer, enjoy watching a sunset over the ocean from these fabulous red rocks.
Watching the storms roll in at the Mangrove Hotel
I used to sit up here with friends, cider in hand and a bowl of fresh prawns before me, watching the storms roll in over the mud flats of Roebuck Bay. It is a magical view point and leaves you with a feeling of inspiration and excitement (and that’s not just the cider talking)!
Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park and Animal Refuge
If you want to get up close and personal with these ancient and dangerous beasts, yet not be eaten, this crocodile park, located just outside Broome, is a must! Some of the beasts are HUGE! You can also see lots of other native Australian wildlife, like dingoes, kangaroos and colourful parrots. Learn how to recognise the crocs, so you don’t become their dinner! They have been known to stroll along Cable Beach and they are lethal when hungry.
The Roebuck Hotel (better known as the Roey)
This historic pub consists of the general bar, the sports bar and the Pearler’s restaurant. Old photos line the walls inside, where there are plenty of pool tables to keep yourself occupied, or if you need some cool air (if you can find any up here), head out onto the old timber verandah. Better still, check out the sports bar, the best place to be on a Thursday night! Complete with live Dj’s and the infamous Wet T-Shirt Competitions, this night is always packed. For a quieter evening, Pearler’s Bar and Restaurant provide civilised conversation over a meal and, if you’re lucky, some live music. The Roey certainly holds a lot of fond memories!
Another favourite, situated out near Cable Beach, this is the other best option for a wild night out. With huge fans on the ceiling and a large stage for live music, every weekend is a great weekend here at Divers. At the start of the year, it hosts the Saltwater Music Festival, hosting musicians from far and wide. I was lucky enough to play a set at Divers one evening, before the energetic beats of Caravana Sun took centre stage. They kept us dancing until the sun came up! If you need a break from all the shenanigans, head next door to the air conditioned bar to grab a parmi and a beer.
This microbrewery provides a wonderful selection of unique, tropical beers. My favourites are the mango beer and the ginger beer! You can order a taster of their entire range, feast on meals from their fabulous menu or order from the curry hut, situated in the outdoor drinking area. Set in a lovely old building, you can choose to eat indoors, out on the verandah or in the beer garden, beneath the palm trees.
Murphy’s Jam Nights
On Tuesday nights, Murphy’s Irish Pub runs jam nights, for all those budding musicians. I used to spend nearly every Tuesday night there, with my hoard of supporters from the hostel! Just turn up, put your name down on the list and then jump up on stage when its your turn. St. Patrick’s Day at Murphy’s is also a stand-out event. The place is decked out with Irish coloured balloons and most of the drinks are coloured green!
The Kimberley Klub
The KK, or Kimberley Klub hostel, situated in the centre of town, a short walk from the International Airport, was where I ended up staying for my entire stay in Broome. Five months in a hostel is a long time, I know, but the place felt like home and the people felt like family. There were lots of long term residents like me, working and partying in Broome, and we all shared a twelve bed dorm! It was a lot of fun. If you are not checked in, you can visit the bar here and enjoy their many parties. During my time, we had fun dressing up for themed parties, some of which included: Fluoro, White, Bedtime, Nineties and Karaoke! Complete with a swimming pool, outdoor eating areas and volleyball court, this was a fabulous place to stay.
Midnight beach parties
When party season really kicks off, there’s nothing like a beach party to last you until dawn! After a night at Divers Tavern, we would join the hoards of backpackers stumbling up the sandy dune tracks in the dark. It seemed like a long trek, but as we climbed over the top of the dunes, we were greeted with pumping tunes, fire twirling and a wonderful party. The only problem with these affairs was the rubbish left afterwards – if everyone were to clean up after themselves, I would encourage these amazing events to continue!
Karma boat parties
During dry season, these boat parties are where the backpackers are at! They are quite pricey, but well worth the fun. Pumping tunes, lots of drinks, swimming nets and dance floors, be prepared for some blurry memories the next day!
If you time your visit well, you can get yourself glammed up and enjoy the Broome races. These are a great event, though I’m not usually one to frequent horse races. Afterwards, a free shuttle bus can take you back to Diver’s Tavern to continue the party!
You will only discover this van if you are a night owl, wandering home late at night from the Roey! This van, situated under the large Boab tree, offers a delicious selection of cheap post-drinking meals, like burgers, satay chicken and their infamous ‘Bakwan’ – a kind of deep fried dumpling. Cheap and effective, the Bakwan Van is always the last stop of the evening!
If you’re still bored, you can hire a four wheel drive, take a tour or even jump on a tiny aeroplane to see the spectacular Kimberley region from the air. Some places worth visiting include Cygnet Bay and Willie Creek Pearl Farm (where you can learn all about the process of farming pearls), Cape Leveque (only accessible via four-wheel drive, with spectacular red rocks and beaches), Quondong Point or Barred Creek (remote beaches, bumpy red dirt roads).
I was particularly impressed by an aeroplane tour with Broome Aviation, which took me over the Buccaneer Archipelago, out to Windjana Gorge, Bell Gorge and across some of the most remote, yet spectacular scenery I have ever encountered. It is highly recommended if you can possibly save for the fare – you will get to appreciate Australia in an entirely new light.
Have you been to Broome? What are your favourite memories of the place? Please leave your comments below!