- Red earth, white sand and wide blue sky
- Coast life
- Cocktails, cruises and camel rides
Rugged, remote and rich with history and culture, coast-hugging Broome offers a unique mix of world-class natural beauty and small-town charm.
An exotic outpost in the isolated Kimberley region of north-west Australia, few places in the world are blessed with Broome’s trifecta of wildly beautiful beaches, cultural diversity and fascinating heritage. Broome’s wealth was built on mother-of-pearl, when the shell of the pearl oyster, Pinctada maxima, was used to make buttons. At the industry's peak in 1912, more than 2,000 Japanese, Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Koepanger (Timorese) and Pacific Islanders worked here. Two world wars, followed by the introduction of plastic buttons in the Fifties, brought the local pearl-shell trade to an end, but the rise of cultured pearling (in which pearls are grown artificially within farmed oysters) has breathed fresh life into the town's love affair with luxury. Believe the Brumours and add this romantic getaway to your wish-list.
In town during a full moon? You’re in for a treat. Staircase to the Moon is a unique phenomenon occurring at low tide from March to October when a full moon rises over the exposed mudflats of Roebuck Bay, creating the illusion of steps. Join the throng watching it from Town Beach and browse the nearby night markets, or wander to Roebuck Bay and immerse yourself in the eeriness of the moon slowly rising over the ocean, turning from deep red to bright orange to white.
- Your chances of flagging a ride down are slim, so book in advance with Broome Taxis (www.broometaxis.com.au; 131 008), Chinatown Taxis (1800 811 772) or Pearl Town Taxis (1800 622 433).
- Tipping culture
- Tipping between five and 10 per cent is appreciated in cafés and restaurants. Round up taxi fares to the nearest dollar.
- Siesta and fiesta
- The laid-back way of life affectionately dubbed 'Broome time' extends to trading hours in this seaside town, with few establishments open late. Most shops are open 9am to 5pm (supermarkets keep going until about 9pm). Restaurants take last orders at about 9pm and some are shut from Sunday through to Tuesday, so call ahead to check.
- Packing tips
- Tailored shorts to take you from beach to bar to camel back.
- Recommended reads
- John Bailey chronicles the Australian government’s attempt in 1912 to replace Asian pearl divers with British Royal Navy divers in The White Divers of Broome. The Master Pearler’s Daughter is spice queen Rosemary Hemphill’s memoir of her childhood growing up in Broome in the Twenties and Thirties.
- Regional specialities
- Delicate and firm, the texture of pearl meat is somewhere between a regular oyster and abalone. Sample it on a Pearl Luggers tour (www.pearlluggers.com.au) or at restaurants. The region’s fresh barramundi, threadfin salmon, mudcrab, mackerel and snapper also loom large on menus. Broome abounds with juicy mangoes, served in beer form at Matso’s Brewery (www.matsos.com.au), or try mango wine and mango pie at the Mango Place (www.mangowine.com.au), a mango farm 18 kilometres north of Broome.
- Australian dollar (AU$).
- Time zone
- GMT +8. There's no daylight saving in Western Australia.
- Dialling codes
- Country code for Australia: +61; Broome: (0)8 (drop the zero if dialling from overseas).
- Do go/don't go
- Peak season is during the dry season from May to October, when days are fine and temperatures range from the high 20s to low 30s (Celsius). Fewer tourists visit Broome during the wet (November to April) when it’s hot and humid, but storm chasers and wildlife watchers will be delighted by this fertile tropical time.
Don't go home without...
riding a camel on Cable Beach. On the swaying back of these gentle giants, there’s nothing else to do but marvel at the view and give in to Broome’s slow-moving way of life. Three companies offer rides thrice a day: Ships of the Desert (+61 419 954 022; www.shipsofthedesert.com.au), Red Sun Camels (1800 184 488; www.redsuncamels.com.au) and Broome Camel Safaris (+61 419 916 101; www.broomecamelsafaris.com.au).