8 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Broome
Basking under a tropical sun and bathed by turquoise seas, Broome is a remote tourist town and a gateway to the natural wonders of the Kimberley region in the north of Western Australia. The scenery along this stretch of coast is stunning. Striking blue seas splash against red-hued coastal cliffs, and a startling diversity of shorebirds dot the tidal flats of Roebuck Bay.
The town was once the pearling capital of the world luring many Japanese, Malay, and Chinese divers who came here seeking their fortune. Today, visitors can explore this fascinating history in the town's museum or on a popular pearl farm tour. Outdoor adventures run the gamut, from sunset camel rides along the sweeping shores of Cable Beach, to fishing, kayaking, whale-watching, and scenic seaplane tours of spectacular Horizontal Falls.
1 Cable Beach
Stretching for 22 km, Cable Beach is an iconic strand of dazzling white sand and turquoise sea. The beach takes its name from the communications cable laid between Broome and Java in 1889. Today, four-wheel drive vehicles trundle along the beach as sun seekers search for the perfect patch of sand - and there's plenty to go around. Be sure to bring an umbrella or awning; the beach sizzles in the heat of the day. From November to May, dangerous irukandji jellyfish inhabit the waters, but swimmers can paddle along the shore at other times of the year.
Sunset camel rides are one of the top activities here and many travel brochures feature photos of silhouetted figures padding along the shore on these graceful beasts. After a day on the beach, sun lovers can refuel at the restaurant and café. Keep an eye on the tides; they can vary by as much as 9 m.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Broome
2 Horizontal Falls Scenic Flight
For an adrenalin-packed adventure, it's hard to beat a scenic seaplane flight to the magnificent Horizontal Falls. The falls are actually seething tides squeezed through two narrow gorges. Trips typically entail a 90-minute flight along the red cliffs and rocky islets of Western Australia's northwest coast to Cape Leveque and then a water-landing on Talbot Bay. From here, passengers usually board a jet boat for an exhilarating cruise through the falls. Shark feedings and shark swims add to all the excitement (swimmers can view the action from the safety of a shark cage), and a picnic lunch on a pontoon tops off the day. Be sure to check the tides for the best conditions before planning a trip.
3 Staircase to the Moon
About two or three days a month between March and October, locals and tourist flock to Town Beach for a mesmerizing site. When a full moon rises over Roebuck Bay, its reflection gleams off the vast tidal flats creating an optical illusion that resembles steps ascending into the dusk sky. The Mangrove Hotel overlooking the beach is a great vantage point. During the first two days of this popular phenomenon, Town Beach hosts the Staircase Markets where shoppers can stock up on handmade gifts and sample snacks from around the world (cuisine ranges from Thai and Chinese to laksa, satay, and pizza). Live music lends a festive ambiance. At other times, Town Beach is a local's favorite with a popular café where mom and dad can relax while the kids run wild in the adjacent water park.
4 Gantheaume Point
The striking contrast between the red cliffs and eye-popping blue sea of Gantheaume Point, is sure to impress even veteran photographers. The point lies south of Cable Beach, about 6 km from town. At low tide, dinosaur footprints, reputedly more than 130 million years old, are barely perceptible in the exposed reef, but visitors can view a plaster cast of them embedded into the top of the cliff. Those hunting for the footprints in the intertidal zone should wear appropriate shoes for clambering over the rocks. A lighthouse overlooks the Indian Ocean and, at the end of the road to Gantheaume Point, lies Anastasia's Pool. The former lighthouse keeper carved this small rock pool so his arthritic wife could bathe. It's a lovely spot to soak on a hot day. To the left of Gantheaume Point is a great fishing beach.
5 Malcolm Douglas Wilderness Wildlife Park
Cuddle a baby crocodile, see the rare cassowary, or commune with kangaroos. At the Malcolm Douglas Wilderness Wildlife Park, about a 15-minute drive from Broome, animal lovers can enjoy close-up views of some of Australia's quirkiest and most formidable creatures and learn about their habitat and behaviors. Wallabies, dingoes, snakes, and lizards also inhabit the park as well as a range of feathered critters, from emus to cockatoos and kookaburras. Stay for the croc feeding at 3 pm when some of the largest crocodiles in Australia demonstrate their surprising agility as they lunge for food. About a 5-minute drive from here, 12 Mile Bird Park features an array of exotic and indigenous birds representing 80 different species.
Hours: Open daily 2-5pm, closed Christmas Day
Admission: Adults $35, children (5-15yrs) $20, family (2 adults and 2 children) $90, concession $30
Location: 16 km out of town on the Broome Highway
6 Broome Historical Museum
All newcomers should pop into the Broome Historical Museum for an overview on the town's fascinating history. Though small, the museum features informative exhibits on the pearling industry, cyclones, Broome's One Day War, seashells, and displays of aboriginal artifacts. Allow a couple of hours here to fully absorb all the history. Kids can embark on their own learning adventure with the museum's quiz. Those who are particularly interested in Broome's pearling history may want to visit the Japanese cemetery where a tall column commemorates the Japanese pearl-fishers who lost their lives in a cyclone in 1908.
Hours: (June-Sept) Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat and Sun 10am-1pm, (Oct-May) daily 10am-1pm, closed 21 Dec-20 Jan
Admission: Adult $5, concession $3, children (12-17yrs) $1, children under 12 free
Location: Robinson Street
7 Sun Pictures
Recline in a deck chair under a star-spangled sky and enjoy a movie at the oldest outdoor cinema in operation. Sun Pictures, in the heart of Broome's Chinatown, screens a couple of movies a night, and it also has an interesting story of its own. The cinema was born in the early 1900s as a store owned by the Yamasaki family. The family happened to love movies, so they converted part of their shop into a little Japanese playhouse. In 1913, a pearler purchased the building and transformed the store into a cinema. Sun Pictures welcomed its first official audience in 1916 with a silent movie and has been screening movies ever since, despite frequent tidal flooding over the years. Today, the cinema is heritage-listed and a levy tames the tides. Before the movie, film buffs can pop into the small museum and browse the cinema memorabilia.
Admission: Adults $17, concession $13, children $12, family (2 adults, 2 children) $55
Address: Carnarvon Street, Broome
8 Pearl Farm Tours
Broome was once the pearling capital of the world, and visitors can discover how local pearl farms culture highly acclaimed South Sea pearls during a tour. Willie Bay and Cygnet Bay farms both offer popular tours, which demonstrate the entire process: from the initial oyster seeding to harvesting and grading. Tours are via land, sea, and air, depending on the tour operator and each traveler's time constraints. Of course, no visit would be complete without an opportunity to purchase some of these South Sea beauties as a souvenir. In downtown Broome, visitors can pick up some beautiful pearl jewelry at the many stores in Chinatown.