Broome – the luxury pearling capital of Australia

Broome coastline

We arrived in Broome early afternoon. This time we chose a different caravan park. It was further away from the centre, but we had more space.

We had a long list of places to visit: ‘Staircase to the moon’, Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park, camels on famous Cable Beach, Chinatown and its pearling story, Matso’s Brewery and dinosaur footprints.

Problems with the car

We noticed that our Nissan Patrol had difficulties starting the engine. When it was cold there was no problem, but when it was warm it barely starts after a few coughs.

Another issue was we lost air conditioning and that was a problem because it was hot as hell. Our plan was to go to Perth and then take the ‘longest Australia shortcut’ to Alice Springs and later via Plenty Highway to Mount Isa and Cairns. We definitely needed an aircon.

Hema’s HX-2 Navigator

Explore Australia with Hema’s HX-2 Navigator, the ultimate GPS system for on and off-road navigation.

Hema HX-2 Navigator

So, we decided to leave the car at Broome Nissan service. They suspected issues with a fuel pump, but its replacement had to be approved by the Melbourne headquarters. The replacement costs was over $2000. 

Our car was taken away, so we hired a car to get around the town.

Broome - we had to hire a car
Broome – we had to hire a car

Staircase to the Moon

In the evening we went to watch a well-known phenomenon known as the ‘staircase to the moon’. You can watch it only 27 times a year (provided there is a clear sky) between March and November. In reality, it means many people gathered on the beach to shoot a photo. 

‘Staircase to the moon’ show starts in total darkness because the town turns off its lights for this occasion. People wait for a red moon to appear over the horizon. The stairs, or rather their illusion, are slowly appearing on the horizon. The full moonlight is reflected on the wet sand that is exposed at a low tide.

Broome - Staircase to the Moon
Broome – Staircase to the Moon

As if that was not enough, the scenery is a bit ghastly, because people sit between the tombstones of a very old cemetery. ‘Staircase to the moon’ is definitely worth seeing.

Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park

The next day we went to the zoo. I know, I know – boring. The problem was that we had to satisfy a very demanding three-year-old, but believe me, it was worth it.

Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park is located on the outskirts of Broome, 16 kilometres from the airport. It is mostly famous for its beast crocodiles. Many of these ancient creatures found their home in the park after being relocated from other areas.

Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park
Broome – Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park

Malcolm Douglas spent forty years producing famous adventure films and then he opened this park. Besides crocodiles, there are other interesting animals in the park-like: like dingoes, snakes, wallabies, parrots, cassowaries and owls

Marius had a barking conversation with a lovely owl, which only repeated: ‘woo, woo, woo’. Then, we watched over an hour-long crocodile feeding show. 

Crocodiles can be found everywhere in this park. And we could see really huge beasts. The crocodiles (we are talking salties) also have an interesting past.

Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park
Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park

For example ‘One-eyed Willie’ was shot in the head by police, survived and was trapped near Willie Creek pearl farm. Another one, ‘Cranky’ was trapped in Ord River. Apparently, he had a bad temper when caught and until this day remains cranky.  He fully deserves his name.

Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park

Every ‘famous’ saltwater crocodile has a label in front of the cage with all information about why the crocodile had to be relocated and how it was caught.

I think Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park is home to the biggest saltwater crocodiles in Australia.

Next destination – Cable Beach

Camels on Cable Beach

In the evening we finally visited the famous Cable Beach. There were dozens of people, camels and cars on the beautiful, wide beach. The sunset was spectacular. In the final stage, the sun hid behind a cloud of smoke and it looked like someone had painted stripes on it.

Broome - Cable Beach
Broome – Cable Beach

As Cable Beach is so famous people were doing different activities. We could see kids playing cricket and adults sipping beer, chatting and laughing. 

Nell wanted to ride camels. We see if her dad lets her ride them. So far, camels have only appeared on road signs, but I think we’re close.

Broome - Camels on road sign
Broome – Camels on road sign

We even got to see a wedding on the beach. It looked stunning. The groom had suit pants only to his knees, and on his feet something the average Australian cannot live without – flip-flops (commonly tongues). 

In the distance, camels were walking along the beach. Cable Beach really deserves a visit.

Camels on Cable Beach
Camels on Cable Beach

Chinatown in Broome – pearling industry

Chinatown is a historic centre of Broome. Its heritage is well known from the pearling industry that was boosting in the 19th and in the beginning of the 20th centuries.

We walked and learned a lot from its history. We saw two historic ships that were used to fish for pearls. The time pearling started, it was later identified as a great hardship and exploitation of indigenous people.

Broome - pearling industry
Broome – pearling industry

Pearls were obtained manually by divers that did not have any protection. We learned the first pearl divers were Aboriginal people forced to dive for shells, completely unprotected.

We had the opportunity to see many different diving suits. Nobody would use them now as they were really unsafe.

Broome - Old diving suite
Broome – Old diving suite

Later on, Japanese people dominated the industry and Asiatic, indigenous and European people gave Broome its cosmopolitan heritage. 

We also walked down the main street and visited some shops. Nearly all of them sell pearls.

Matso’s Brewery in Broome

We were told not to miss an opportunity to taste great local beer. Matso’s Brewery is famous for its fruit-flavoured bears like orange, berry, melon, lemon, mango. Also, they offer pale ale, ginger and chilli beers. The range is pretty good.

Broome - Matso’s Brewery
Broome – Matso’s Brewery

We decided to stay for lunch at Matso’s Brewery and we ordered fish and chips. There was an option to order a small glass of each homemade beer so this is what we did. We especially liked two beers: ‘hit the frog’ and a ‘mango beer’.

Dinosaur Footprints in Broome

Broome is one of the places in Australia where you can see real dinosaur footprints from species like sauropods, ornithopods and stegosaurus (Cretaceous period). 

So, this is where we headed the next morning. The dinosaur’s footprints can be only seen on a low tide around Cable Beach, Gantheaume Point and Reddell Beach. For the site, location visit the Dinosaur Coast Management Group website.

Broome cliffs around dinosaurs footprints
Broome cliffs around dinosaurs footprints

Unfortunately, when we arrived the footprints were underwater. We would have to wait for a low tide until the end of the month to see it.

The beach was beautiful as the white sand and blue sky contrasted wonderfully. 

Nell built three sandcastles and a lake. Not bad, because so far she destroyed everything we built, thus we saw some progress.

Nissan service in Broome

Nissan’s service in Broome did not impress us at all. At 5 pm we received exactly the same information as yesterday: ‘we don’t know what causes problems with starting the car, we will continue to test, it may take up to two weeks to work that out’. 

We wanted the aircon to be repaired asap, but it looked like the Nissan service in Broome only has basic parts. They sent us to Perth so we’ll continue to drive with the windows open. 

We thanked them and decided we would take our chances. If a car breaks down on the way, we have two independent insurances for such situations. 

After all, preparations were done, in the evening we just went to visit the town centre, and to see yesterday’s spooky graveyard in the daylight. The afternoon was perfect for another visit on Cable beach.

Evening at Cable Beach
Evening at Cable Beach

Port Smith

Everyone who we spoke to recommended a visit to Port Smith, so we decided that Port Smith will be our next destination. 

We drove over terribly monotonous plains that stretched for miles. Then, we left the asphalt road and made the final 20 km on the sand to Port Smith. 

The camping location was very nice. Lots of shade, lots of space, but we have 800 meters to the ocean, so we had to drive to go to the beach.

Port Smith
Port Smith

We tried to walk there once, but the sun was very strong and we didn’t repeat it. The beach disappointed us. It was tiny and surrounded by mangrove trees. 

We know who likes mangroves, and we were not impressed with this beach. In the evening, we were attacked by an invasion of sand flies, which wanted to eat us alive. 

That’s it, we are moving on to our next destination – 80 Miles Beach.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are there any markets in Broome?

The famous Broome Courthouse Markets are located in the heritage-listed Broome Courthouse gardens. They host up to 115 stalls and offer local produce, clothing, jewellery, artwork, and live entertainment. They trade on Saturdays (all year) and also on Sundays in the dry season (April – October).

What is Jetty to Jetty trail?

It is a Yawuru’s self-guided jetty to the jetty trail that comes from Streeter’s Jetty in Chinatown to the Old Jetty at Town Beach. There are 13 stops marked with signs with information about the Broome cultural and natural heritage. You can download the Jetty to Jetty app and follow and listen as you go.

Is it possible to fish from Broome Port Jetty?

Definitely yes. It is a great fishing spot where you can catch giants like tuna, mackerel, giant trevally or mulloway. Another place for great fishing is Gantheaume Point.

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4WD Equipment Checklist

GPS Navigator or compass

Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction

Tire Deflator – deflate tires quickly when going on dirt or 4WD

Air Compressor – inflate tires quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)

Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)

UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency

Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road

High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks

Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking

Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places

Additional fuel canisters

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