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Broome provides a base for some serious WA relaxation

May 17, 2006
Broome provides a base for some serious WA relaxation

It is sunset over the 22 kilometre stretch of white sand that is Broomes Cable Beach and a small crowd gathers to watch as the sun, now a disc of deep red, sinks into the Indian Ocean.

One or two people linger at the waters edge, refusing to relinquish the day, while a trail of camels stroll along the sand, giving visitors one of Broomes most famous experiences a sunset camel ride.

Cable Beach is one of Western Australias most popular beaches and one of the most compelling reasons to visit Broome. Sitting just 18 degrees from the equator, Broome has a year-round warm and tropical climate, which encourages relaxation and an outdoors lifestyle.

As the crowds of peak season dwindle and the first rains breathe new life into the landscape, Broome is also an exciting and increasingly affordable summer getaway.

Broome presents some great opportunities to relax and unwind. This exotic town was once the pearling capital of the world and drew its population from a range of nations including China, Japan, Malaysia and the Middle East whose people flocked to the shores of Roebuck Bay in the hope of making a fortune.

Some did and others werent so lucky, but this colourful history has resulted in the multi-cultural feel Broome has today. At Sun Pictures, the oldest operating picture garden, visitors enjoy a movie from a deck chair under the stars.

This open-air cinema has withstood the ravages of war, cyclones and king tides to become a distinctively Broome experience. It is, is like something out of a Somerset Maugham novel. Set amongst waving coconuts and fragrant frangipani with overhead fans whirring in the still night air, the atmosphere for film viewing is both authentic and romantic.

The climate has played a major role in the architecture of the town.

Shower time King George Falls, courtesy Tourism WA
Shower time
King George Falls,
courtesy Tourism WA

Many of the older buildings have wide verandahs, fine latticework, shutters and corrugated iron roofs to allow cooling breezes to flow through, as well as to cope with heavy rains.

Broome hit the limelight with the discovery of gargantuan dinosaur footprints. Stegosaurs are just one of the families of dinosaurs that have been officially identified, and their footprints can be seen at Gantheaume Point on a low tide.

Surrounded by natural attractions and beaches that could rival any other in terms of simple beauty, space and cleanliness, Broome draws travellers.

Attractions include a crocodile park, 18 - hole fully grassed golf course, outdoor amphitheatre for cultural events overlooking Cable Beach, museum, restaurants - many with an Asian influence and a wide range of accommodation as well as art.

Pearl diver from the past, courtesy Tourism WA
Pearl diver from the past,
courtesy Tourism WA

Broomes art galleries display a range of artworks.

The bold colours and unspoiled wilderness of the Kimberley is just part of the attraction for artists who choose Broome as their base for creativity. And the Shinju Matsuri Festival in August each year is a celebration of Broomes cultural diversity.

Broome is famed as a showcase for some of the worlds biggest and best pearls. In Chinatown, the old pearling centre of Broome, there is a wide selection of glamorous pearls on display in classy emporiums.

One of the major challenges for the Kimberley is educating visitors to the Tropical Summer between October and March. The relative temperature, rainfall and humidity of Broome and Kununurra are compared with Cairns and Bali.

But a stay in Broome can prove that an adventure holiday doesnt necessarily mean roughing it. Vivid sunsets, a balmy climate make Broome an ideal spot for some serious relaxation

Lake Argyle, near Kununurra, courtesy Tourism WA
Lake Argyle, near Kununurra,
courtesy Tourism WA

Inland from Broome, the rains provide some incredible natural scenery including the thundering power of the waterfalls in the east Kimberley. The cascading waters of the Mitchell Plateau and King George Falls are perhaps best accessed by air.

There are several local aviation companies operating from Broome and Kununurra which offer a range of scenic airplane and helicopter flights, including tours over the World Heritage listed Bungle Bungle massif in the Purnululu National Park.

The thousands of huge beehive-shaped mounds of the Bungle Bungle are striped in orange and black colours; these sandstone mounds rise majestically from the red earth and are one of Western Australia's most significant natural features.

Kununurra is the Kimberley's gateway from the east.

Broome pearl, courtesy Tourism WA
Broome pearl,
courtesy Tourism WA

It offers access to an enormous variety of unique and colourful Kimberley adventures.

A pleasant, modern town, Kununurra is also one of the biggest towns in the region with about 6,000 residents. Many local tour operators use this as a base for their Kimberley excursions and offer a range of exciting activity options.

From Kununurra visitors can explore the 300-million-year-old sandstone cliffs of the Hidden Valley National Park which is also known as Miramar by the Aboriginals.

Take a cruise on Lake Argyle. With its 1,000 square kilometres (386 square miles) it is more like an inland sea than a lake. This vast body of water has formed its own eco-system with many examples of native flora and fauna.

Winjana Gorge NP, off the Gibb River Rd, courtesy Tourism WA
Winjana Gorge NP,
off the Gibb River Rd,
courtesy Tourism WA

Book a tour of the Argyle Diamond Mine. The mine produces some 34 million carats of diamonds per year... that is more than one-third of the world's total production and includes the rare pink Argyle diamonds. Another main town in this area is Wyndham.

Although its population is only about 850 people, it is still a significant centre with a port that services the huge cattle industry, the Ord River Irrigation Project and many mining companies. Above Wyndham is the towering 365 metres (1,200 feet) summit of the Bastion Range.

From the Five Rivers Lookout visitors can enjoy a magnificent view over the King, Pentecost, Durack, Forrest and Ord Rivers. Another spot worth a visit is The Grotto with its natural waterhole that is ideal for swimming.

The Kimberley has a tropical summer and dry winter and this diverse climate changes the landscape from season to season. Whichever season visitors choose the wide horizons, ancient gorges, picture-book rock pools and pristine beaches, make the Kimberley a special place.

Amazing Bungle Bungle view from the air, courtesy Tourism WA
Amazing Bungle Bungle
view from the air,
courtesy Tourism WA

Travellers need to treat this vast and rugged area of Australia with respect at all times. During the tropical summer it can get very hot and visitors need to carry sufficient provisions to allow for an outback adventure.

To drive through the Kimberley, visitors have two options. Either travel on the Great Northern Highway which is the main sealed road or the four wheel drive only Gibb River Road passing through some of this country's most remote, but spectacular territory.

Whether visitors decide to travel by conventional vehicle or 4WD drive, the journey can be taken in either direction from Broome or Kununurra.

The Gibb River Road covers 670km from Derby to the junction of the Great Northern Highway between Wyndham and Kununurra. The Kalumburu Road links the Kalumburu Aboriginal Community and gives access to the Mitchell Plateau.

Broome crocodile Park, courtesy Tourism WA
Broome crocodile Park,
courtesy Tourism WA

Call into one of the Kimberley Tourist Bureaus to get up to date information on road conditions.

Please take care Your vehicle:

Vehicles should be thoroughly checked before departure. Breakdowns in the Outback can be costly and dangerous.

High clearance vehicles and 4WD are strongly recommended to gain access to the best attractions of this region.

Towing caravans is not recommended on the Gibb River Rd.

Carry effective tools and essential spare parts.

On the road: The best time to travel the Gibb River Road is in the dry season, from May to November. Roads may close quickly during the tropical summer from December to April.

  • Be self sufficient - carry ample food and water.
  • Beware of straying livestock and wildlife.
  • Take extreme care to prevent bushfires.
  • Travel at no more than 80 kph. Sudden, unexpected changes in the road condition are frequent.
  • Exercise caution at river crossings
  • Leave station gates as you find them.
  • Give way to road trains.

Ganthaeme Point, Broome, courtesy Tourism WA
Ganthaeme Point, Broome,
courtesy Tourism WA

Crocodiles There are two species of crocodile in the Kimberley. The saltwater or estuarine crocodile is dangerous. The freshwater or Johnston Crocodile is considered harmless.

  • Treat all crocodiles over 1.5m as dangerous.
  • Saltwater crocodiles can be found in either salt or fresh water long distance from the sea.
  • Do not swim canoe or use small boats in estuaries, tidal rivers, deep pools or mangrove shores.

For more information on Broome contact the Western Australian Visitor Centre on 1300 361 351.

Editors note GoSeeAustralia thanks Tourism Western Australia for assistance with this feature and the pictures which accompany it.

Dinosaur footprint, Gantheaume  Pt, Broome, courtesy Tourism WA
Dinosaur footprint,
Gantheaume Pt, Broome,
courtesy Tourism WA