A few weeks ago Mark and I were having lunch and a bit of a moan about the cold, wet weather. “Let’s go to Broome for a quick excursion”, we thought and before I knew where I was I had booked flights and accommodation. All I had to do was make a wardrobe, because, of course, I didn’t have a thing to wear! The clothes are going to be my next post because this one was getting rather large. I thought I’d give you a whistlestop tour round Broome and its environs.
Broome is a beach resort town in Western Australia’s Kimberley region and is roughly 2,500 kms from Perth, which equates to a 2.5 hour flight. It sits on the Indian Ocean and one of the highlights is the white sands of the 22km-long Cable Beach, which offers amazing sunsets every single evening. Local camel tour operators take advantage of the long beach and beautiful sunsets and we played tourist and did a tour. I chose the company that uses rescue camels (the owner gets them from the abattoir and stations) and I couldn’t have been happier. Look at that face!
Every camel has an Arabian name and they only understand Arabic commands, which is a nice touch. I wore one of my Mum’s handpainted t-shirts that formed part of my dress like Frida Kahlo challenge.
The sunset is amazing to see from the back of a camel
and here is the whole camel train. We are fourth camel from the front.
Afterwards we get to feed the camel a carrot, which is the camel version of chocolate apparently. How adorable is this camel?
We took a flight out to the horizontal falls and I loved the shadow of the seaplane in the ocean – it looks a bit predatory.
The horizontal falls are actually best viewed from above. They are created by the movement of the tides squeezing between two narrow gorges, pushing the water into rapids which rush through the gaps extremely fast. David Attenborough described these falls as one of the greatest natural wonders of the world.
We sat at the edge of one and the boat was doing 12 knots just to stay still! The tides in the Kimberley can reach more than 10 metres which occurs over six and a half hours from low tide to high tide and vice versa, and the direction of the flow reverses each day, with a small window of time where it is absolutely still. The effect of the waterfalls is created by the tide building up in front of the gaps faster than it can flow through them and there can be a four metre high waterfall between the bays.
The drop between the upper and lower levels was 1.5m on the day that we did the trip which is the limit of the boat, so the boat pilot has to be pretty skilled as that gap is very narrow!
Part of the tour is checking out the sharks. These are Tawny Nurse sharks (Mark told me they were Horny Nurse sharks and I got a bit of a surprise when I googled this!) This is a family that obviously know food is going to be delivered and they start swimming into the enclosure.
There was an opportunity to swim next to the sharks in a shark and crocodile proof cage, so I was in! The only thing to be careful of is not sticking fingers through the bars as these sharks have four rows of teeth and use a vacuum system to suck their prey into their mouths. Once in, things aren’t coming out! The cage is very deep – I’m standing on a bar to look over the top.
I have a bit of a thing for rock formations and these blew me away. Imagine the compression required to create the waves in these rocks.
Crocodiles are constant companions, you would not want to fall out of the boat!
I had felt a little sad thinking that we missed the Shinju Matsuri festival, which is a large festival held in August, celebrating the heritage and culture of the region. It is known as the “festival of the pearl” and my sister’s wedding was part of the festival in 1976, which was when I was last there! Imagine my delight when I realised that the closing night was the first night of our holiday and it was taking place right outside our accommodation. There were food vendors, entertainment, a giant dragon weaving its way through the crowds
and fireworks, which we were able to watch from our verandah.
Such a treat as I love fireworks!
Believe it or not Broome is home to the world’s oldest operating picture garden, and it is quite the experience.
The outside is still original and there is quite a lot written about the history of the building.
The picture gardens are, as inferred by the name, basically outdoors, with the audience sitting in canvas deck chairs. It’s a huge amount of fun with everyone chatting to each other. Everyone except us turned up with pillows as I hadn’t realised how uncomfortable the seating would be, but, ever resourceful, I found some vinyl cushions at the back of the theatre and Mark and I were able to watch the film in comfort.
We had no choice about the film we would see, which happened to be “Tea with the Dames”. I was a bit anxious as to how Mark would react to it, but he loved it, especially given the setting. I was a tad surprised when planes flew over extremely low as the airport is only a couple of kilometres away. I did try to get a photo, but was always caught unawares.
I managed to find a shop that has been selling fabric for 150 years! It also sells wool and some gorgeous Aboriginal prints that are produced in Melbourne. The prints are very tropical, not surprisingly, and now I’m sorry I didn’t buy any with those big flowers.
The beaches in Broome are amazing. There are several where we were the only people around. We visited Gantheaume Point which, at low tide, reveals dinosaur tracks in the red rocks. Unfortunately the tide was too high when we were there, but we think this is an excellent reason to return another time. There is a dinosaur print in the local museum as some muppet chainsawed one out of the rocks and took it away. Luckily he was caught and the print was returned to the community. This area is well worth visiting even without the tracks, as the rock formations are stunning.
The museum is well worth a visit and has a lot of the local history captured within its exhibits. Pearling is a major part of the cultural history of the area, and many of the artefacts are centred around this industry.
Another beach where we were alone was Riddell Beach where I found these completely undisturbed patterns created by the Sand Bubbler Crabs. The crabs produce bubbles as part of their digestive systems and the designs in the sand can only be described as art. Look at how smooth the surrounding sand is.
I adore the fact that there are such massive contrasts – from the red cliffs and turquoise seas
to white sands and turquoise seas. This is where the Willie Creek pearl farm is located.
There is a bit of everything at Town Beach, which is located at walking distance from the centre of town. How glorious are all the colours?
Broome is dotted with Boab trees, which are only found in the Kimberley region. They are related to the Baobabs found in Africa and there is a theory that the seeds floated across the Indian Ocean and took up residence. There are boabs which are 1500 years old or more, which makes them the oldest living things in Australia. Aboriginal people used them for shelter, food and medicine. They provided landmarks and meeting points, and sometimes the hollow ones became impromptu prison cells.
Visitors to Perth can see a Boab in person in Kings Park, as the Aboriginal people from the Kimberley gave one as a gift to the Noongar Aboriginal people in Perth. It is a mighty specimen, around 700 years old, and I featured it in this blog post. This is just one of many, many Boabs we saw on our wanderings around the area – you can see why they are sometimes referred to as bottle trees.
Although it sounds as though we were pretty busy, we feel as though this was the most relaxing holiday we’ve had in years. Our most common view was this one – sheer bliss!