Having been to Broome twice now I can attest that it is The perfect Easter getaway. While most of Australia is wearing raincoats, Broome is a summery 30 plus degrees celsius with blue skies that stretch forever and thousands of frangipani and bougainvillea in full bloom.
By late April / May the ocean cools down to a perfect 25-26C and this marks the retreat of box and irukanji jellyfish.Irukanji are tricky little critters being small and translucent so not much was known about them until recently except that the Aboriginal people called them “the invisible death”. However jellyfish cannot survive in such “cool” water so there is nothing to fear .
Everything about Broome is so wild, expansive, dramatic and brimming with life.Tides move up to 12 meters so the beach itself looks extremely different at various times of the day. The water is extraordinarily blue and addictively wonderful to swim in. Fish,birds,insects and other animals are everywhere.
Don’t let this abundance of life scare you though. It is not like snakes,sharks,spiders and crocodiles are waiting to ambush an unsuspecting tourist on every corner. Still , there are crocodiles. Lazing in the sun,immobile until provoked then SNAP! Quick as bullets.No i didn’t see them in the wild! If i had i’m sure i wouldn’t be telling this story.Have you seen those teeth? No we saw them at the Malcolm Douglas crocodile park,the proper way,like pussies.This conservation park gets the very mean aggressive crocks that attack humans and livestock around the country ,ones generally not behaving like civil crocodiles in the wild.They are punished thus and sent to the park to amuse hoards of tourists ,excite the children,breed and die. The offspring is reared until they are 3 years old and then they are killed and their skins are crafted into souvenirs at the park and the very best is sold to Hermés, the french luxury fashion house . Crocodylus porosus, the saltwater crocodile is considered the best species for luxury goods because it’s skin has exquisite texture,scale and pattern even though only a small portion of belly skin is used.Thus it can take 3 crocodiles to make one Birkin bag!
First year we visited we stayed at the Cable beach resort.A mix of traditional Kimberley housing,grand Chinese pavilions and other Asian influences, this resort is as multicultural in style as Broome itself. Boasting the best position of any hotel in town, right across Cable beach, you can relax at it’s pub while watching the sunset. The grounds and gardens this hotel occupies are large and beautiful with lush blooms all along the pathways , although the hotel itself and particularly the pools could do with a revamp. We stayed at the Spa Deluxe bungalow which was charmingly historic and woke up seeing the resident wallabies hopping on the lawn in the morning , which of course was a huge delight to our daughter. Don’t miss having a romantic meal at the Club restaurant!
Second time we visited Broome we were childless, having left the apple of our eye with her beloved granny while we lapped up freedom. So we decided to stay somewhere new and Pinctada resort fit the bill. This is a brand new resort that is the 5 star competition to Cable beach resort. Even though the resort itself is a few minutes walk from the beach and is pretty compact overall , the rooms were well appointed, staff were lovely and the spa had some amazing traditional Aboriginal inspired treatments. The pool was modern and so was the restaurant and bar. Also any resort that uses completely natural products in their bathroom wins points from me.Try the local pearl meat in the hotel restaurant!
Now about the pearls !The pearls here are of such exquisite form and beauty they are lauded the world over. In fact Broome owes it’s beginnings to the pearling industry, more specifically to the giant North West pearl oyster the Pinctada Maxima.This new species was first discovered in 1861 by the crew of the ‘Dolphin’ at Nickol Bay.The size of the shell was massive in comparison to any other shell available and caused a sensation in European and American markets.In 1860 the first settlers came to the North West and struggled to make a living from sheep. They lived with dingos,drought and sometimes hostile Aboriginal tribesmen. Most of them learned that there was more money to be made in the pearling industry.In 1881 modern pearling began and so did the history of Broome and by 1914 Broome was supplying 80% of the worlds Mother of Pearl. It was the most cosmopolitan town in Australia and pearl shell was selling at a world record price.1000 whites, 3000 Japanese and some Chinese and Malay people lived there thus Broome had the largest population in the North. These days if you would like to buy some remarkable pearls just pop into a Paspaley or Linney store in town.
However pearl meat is only the beginning when it comes to eating in this town. Truthfully we were utterly spoiled by the food in Broome. The Aarli bar is amazing for gremolata crusted threadfin salmon (a local species of white fleshed salmon) and incredible gooey fetta zucchini fritters among other tapas , Wharf restaurant for the famous barramundi wings and incredible spicy local crab ,Noodlefish (when open!) is so great for innovative delicious Thai food ,Cafe Carlotta (now Cafe d’Amour) has some good wood fired pizza and Azuki does some interesting japanese food. If you want to make a trip out of town 12 mile organic cafe serves Malay inspired food in a lush setting of mango and papaya trees.Because of Broome’s multicultural history every kind of cuisine is well represented and I’m sure the freshness of ingredients, especially the seafood renders the food so delicious .We ate and ate and always lustily thought of the next meal.Consequently whenever i think of Broome I salivate like Pavlov’s dogs.In fact I wish I could order a bucket of those barramundi wings right now!
A wonderful day trip or a stay is to be had at the Eco beach resort, some 130 kilometers south from Broome. Since the highways are so straight and the speed limit is 110kms, this is a scenic ride not to be missed. The expanse of the wilderness and the sky is mind boggling and Eco beach is truly beautiful with many native animals living on resort’s site .A great day trip , but make sure you don’t miss lunch!
If you fancy seeing a movie why not do so at the oldest garden movie theatre in the world, the terribly romantic Sun pictures. Just don’t forget the insect spray while lounging in the deck chairs.
One thing not to be missed is camel rides on the beach at sunset.These processions up and down the beach sure were a hit even though my bum got chaffed.I was expecting some sort of mutiny from our 2 year old daughter but she happily bobbed for an hour on a camel’s hump.And no their humps do not carry water in them! The camels just have a really good way of not needing so much water to survive as their kidney’s recycle water so well.They sound like Chewbacca and all have individual personalities and history.Some are caught wild and brought to Broome for training and some come from around the country and various posts.They even have a special park where the old camels are fed and cared for for the rest of their lives after they are retired. Sounds lovely! Not to mention that my camel was a famous movie star. He was one of the lead camels in the “Australia” film , also starring Nicole Kidman.
And then there were the sunsets …each different,each setting over the indian ocean like a languid orange octopus.There is even a name for it : Broome time.It’s kind of like a spanish siesta but with a roaring glowing sky. I wish it were Broome time all the time.