Broome – A Pearl of a Destination by Melissa Locke
What started as a pearling town in the remote north of Western Australia in the 1880s has since grown into one of Australia's premier tourist destinations. Broome is easily ranked by Australians, especially those on the west coast, as one of the country's best places for a holiday. With some of the world's best beaches, a premier pearling industry, camel tours and plenty of the Kimberley's red desert to explore it is no surprise people flock here every year. Testament to its popularity is the town's annual population swell during peak tourist period, when a country town of 15,000 people transforms into a bustling tourist Mecca of 40,000. You can experience the magnificence of this unique destination via Travel West's Air Safaris range.
Located in Western Australia's far far north Broome is about as isolated as you can get. It is usually accessed by plane, with the 2200km drive there from the state capital of Perth taking close to 24 hours of non-stop driving. Yet this isolation is one of Broome's unadvertised attractions. Visiting Broome is like visiting the end of the earth. Situated in the Kimberley it is surrounded by red earth desert quintessentially Australian. The Kimberley is one of the most unique natural environments on earth, with red desert meeting gaping ancient gorges intertwined with mighty rivers. Flying over this landscape, it will feel like you're anywhere but Earth.
A Rich Cultural History
Settled more than a century ago on the back of a pearling industry promising wealth to any and all Broome has a rich history of migrants that has made it probably the most multicultural regional centre in Australia. From the original Aboriginal Yawuru inhabitants (who occupied the area for thousands of years before settlers arrived) to Japanese pearl divers and European settlers the town proudly boasts a myriad of cultures that seem to intermix with an ease seldom found elsewhere. Today the town is rich with multiculturalism, with populations of Indonesian, Malaysian, Chinese, European and Aboriginal people all living side by side. This has resulted in a friendly bush town unusually rich in world culture and full of personality.
From Pearling to Tourism
After pearling, tourism is Broome's second biggest industry and it easy to understand why. The distinctive natural features of the Kimberley surround it, yearning to be explored, while the town itself is full of fascinations. The white sands and blue waters of the seemingly endless Cable Beach (it's more than 22km long!) stretch into the distance along the coast, so named after a telegraph cable connecting Western Australia to Java was laid there in 1889. The beach is one of Australia's most famous, and is known for its sunsets and camel tours. A live webcam even runs from the beach 24/7, tempting those stuck behind desks or struggling through a cold winter. Punters get to soak in the sun setting over the ocean here as part of a Travel West Air Safari itinerary, after spending the day enjoying the sights of the Kimberley. Cable Beach sunsets are one of Australia's most recognisable – and bucket list worthy – experiences. Just don't expect to swim there from November to May when the water is chock full of box jellyfish.
Get an Insight into Pearls
In Broome pearling has become more than just a lucrative industry valued at more than $150 million a year. It has become part of the attraction for visitors in itself. Two old reconditioned pearl luggers, presentations on pearl diving and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Willi Creek Pearl Farm have all become must-see attractions for eager tourists. During a Travel West visit you will get to learn about pearl diving and see displays of the magnificent jewellery, in what Graham and Deb reckon is one of the highlight days of their entire Air Safari tour of Australia. Just remember that all Travel West tours are proudly smoke-free, so get some help to quit before setting off so you can enjoy the smells, tastes and sights of this unique region to their fullest. A day in Broome with Graham and Deb finishes with a sunset over Cable Beach and dinner before flying back to Kununurra. A day you will never forget.
Weather Forecast: Just Hot or Hot and Wet?
Being in the far north means Broome is part of the Australian tropics and can get quite hot. Temperatures at 45C are not unknown. The seasons are split roughly into two – the dry and the wet. Both are hot and temperatures can reach 30C all year around. The dry season generally runs over Australia's autumn, winter and spring (April to September) and entails clear skies and temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s. The wet season roughly matches to summer (October to March) – and has hotter days, humidity and sporadic downpours. Broome's weather is at its best from April to October, which is the town's peak tourist season. It is not uncommon for the town's caravan parks, holiday resorts, backpacker hostels and hotels to sell out during the peak season and then sit idle over the wet season. Yet wet season or dry season, the charms of the Kimberley and Broome promise to blow any visitors away. This is truly a place like no other.