Only got a couple of days to get to know a new city? Our Big Five City Guides can help. We break each destination down into culture, history, dining, shopping and relaxation must-sees and dos. Gayann Walker checks in from Broome...
The sheer ancientness of the Kimberley in Western Australia’s far northwest becomes abundantly clear when you visit Broome.
A climb down the red sandstone cliffs at Gantheaume Point at the lowest of tides reveals fossilised dinosaur tracks, believed to be well over 100 million years old. Evidence of nine different species of dinosaur has been found in this area alone, and that’s just one tiny piece of the vast Kimberley region.
Broome is well known as the gateway to the Kimberley, but equally it’s a popular holiday destination in its own right. Amazing beaches, great food, an eclectic mix of local characters and a relaxed vibe are all part of this remote town’s charm.
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Best times to visit Broome
Broome is a year round destination, with weather patterns that are similar to the Top End. There are two distinct seasons — the Wet and the Dry. The Dry runs roughly from May to October and is characterised by minimal rainfall and low humidity. You’ll enjoy warm to hot days and balmy nights throughout this period.
The Wet stretches from late October to late April, and is characterised by higher temperatures and rainfall (including some pretty spectacular monsoonal thunderstorms), and therefore higher humidity. Accommodation prices are generally lower during the Wet, however it’s worth booking well in advance for school holiday travel in either season.
Top cultural experiences in Broome
This may be a remote corner of Australia, but there are plenty of cultural things to do in Broome.
During a full moon, nature turns on a spectacular evening show of its own. The phenomenon is known as the Staircase to the Moon. During extreme low tides, Broome’s coastal mud flats become exposed in the evening, reflecting the path of the rising moon in dramatic fashion.
Once the moon is up, head over to Sun Pictures — Broome’s historic outdoor movie theatre, which has stood front and centre on Carnarvon Street in Chinatown since 1913. Sun Pictures still shows Hollywood blockbusters and art-house films under the stars.
Theatre Kimberley offers an extensive annual programme of theatrical productions and circus shows, while the annual festival of the pearl — Shinju Matsuri — celebrates the cultural heritage of Broome through visual and performing arts. Held annually in August, the festival includes events such as the floating lanterns display, concerts and a sunset long-table dinner prepared by celebrity chefs.
Throughout winter you can catch A Taste of Broome — a food and craft market with live entertainment, or don your fascinator and sharpest suit for the Broome racing season and Broome Cup Carnival.
Broome for history lovers
Broome’s rich history is on display for all to see.
Start with a guided city tour of the key historic landmarks — both natural and man-made. See ancient rocky outcrops and period buildings of note, and hear fascinating tales of Broome’s colourful past from a local guide.
History buffs will love the Broome Historical Society Museum. Housed in a number of heritage buildings (including a refurbished sail manufacturer’s warehouse), the highlights of the collection include World War II memorabilia, exquisitely carved pearl shells, and an international shell collection that captured the particular attention of Queen Elizabeth herself.
To learn more about local Indigenous culture and history, take a day tour to Cape Leveque. You’ll visit a number of Aboriginal communities and enjoy lunch at the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm.
Great places to eat in Broome
It’s said that 57 languages are spoken in the shire of Broome — and when cultures collide, the result is amazing cuisine.
The quality of local produce is simply exceptional. Think fresh mangoes, Cone Bay barramundi (farmed off the North West coast), Yeeda beef, and pearl meat — a true Broome delicacy.
Get a broad taste of the best of the region at The Aarli, where you’ll be dished up plates of delicious coconut beef ribs with prik nam pla and grilled roti bread with peanut and chilli sambal.
Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa offers a variety of dining options overlooking iconic Cable Beach and the view of the setting sun sinking into the Indian Ocean is quite stunning. Have dinner here at least once during your stay. Zensai gets great reviews for its Japanese cuisine, while Rambutan does hawker-style street food from across Asia.
Back in town, Dragonfly Café is a great casual dining option and you can watch the world go by from the porch. Broome Natural Wellness is the spot to head for smoothies, fresh salads and vegan fare.
Where to shop in Broome
With a long history as a pearling centre, a visit to Broome would not be complete without shopping for some serious bling.
In Chinatown, head to Shekki for swimsuits and cover ups that will have you looking resort-ready in no time. Around the corner, Nowhere Else But Here carries a beautifully curated selection of women’s and children’s clothing and accessories.
The Broome Courthouse Markets take place every Saturday (and Sunday from Easter through to October). Held in the grounds of the Broome Courthouse, the markets have a creative feel and offer an impressive array of arts, crafts, clothing and jewellery.
Ways to relax in Broome
You’ll find yourself feeling relaxed and refreshed after just a day or two in laid-back Broome.
There’s nothing more revitalising than a morning swim at expansive Cable Beach. In the afternoon, head for Matso’s Broome Brewery for a locally-brewed pint or a guided tasting with the brewmaster.
Make your way back to Cable Beach at sunset for Broome’s signature experience — a camel ride along the 22-kilometre sandy strip. If riding high on the ships of the desert isn’t your thing, you can watch the sun set with a cocktail in hand at Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa’s Sunset Bar & Grill.
There are plenty of options for those that want to immerse themselves in the age-old splendour of the Kimberley. Book a 4WD day tour to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek. At 300 kilometres east of Broome, it’s a big drive to the Windjana National Park — but well worth the long day.
You can also head off the coast on a snorkel trip. Overnight tours are available to fabulous Rowley Shoals, which offers pristine snorkelling opportunities and the chance to see whales, turtles and dugongs.
Broome is the starting point for the Lurujarri Heritage Trail — a nine-day walk that stretches 90 kilometres up the Dampier Peninsula to Coulomb Point. The Goolarabooloo people host these guided treks several times a year.
Do you have any tips to add to our Broome travel guide? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Gayann Walker is a Perth-based freelance writer with a passion for travel, adventure and a good feed. Born in Boston, Gayann has lived in Perth since moving from the Gulf Coast of Florida in 2010. She has a diverse travel style that varies from rugged adventures (such as climbing Mt Kinabalu and roughing it in the jungles of Borneo) to relaxing on beautiful beaches and sipping cocktails. Gayann has travelled extensively through Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States.