Four Days in Broome
After 14 years working for the same company, I’d finally decided it was time to try something new. Having been seconded to my new employer for the past eight months, I was already well embedded in the company and was keen to get started on a few projects. Blinded by my excitement of starting my new job, I decided to only take a few days off between jobs. A decision I would regret later when I was well into relaxation mode and ‘Broome time’.
Being based in Perth, Western Australia, I considered my options for a five day holiday. A popular getaway option is Bali, but after my last trip in March, I’d decided that Bali was no longer on my holiday destination list. While not solely due to the news story a few months prior where restaurants and street vendors were accused of serving dog meat, it didn’t help. I’d decided it was time to branch out and try something new(ish), preferably a destination where you can drink the water without worrying about getting a stomach bug. After a short consultation period, I’d narrowed it down to Exmouth and Broome. While Exmouth and its whalesharks and great diving was very appealing, based on the accommodation option available in Broome, I thought it ticked more boxes for my ‘in-between jobs’ five day holiday.
One issue with travelling within Western Australia, which has been a hot topic in the news lately (summary of article – it’s cheaper to fly from Perth to Japan than to fly to many regional towns including Broome), is the expensive price of flights when travelling within the state. While you can fly round trip to Bali for about $300 (or less if you book during airline deals – I’ve flown as a couple to Bali for less than $300 return for the two of us), flights to Broome are much more expensive. While I used my Entertainment Book deal through Virgin Australia, I managed to get a roundtrip for just over $700. When it comes to hotel accommodation, Broome provides few options for less than $300 a night.
My flight was in the morning, the day after my last day at EY. Needless to say, I wasn’t in my best form in the morning and slept for the majority of the 2 hour flight to Broome. Getting close to landing, I opened my window and after my eyes adjusted to the glare of the midday sun, I looked out my window to be greeted with this sight:
Landing into Broome at the same time as three other flights and also during a day of regional horse racing, the small fleet of Broome taxis were fairly stretched and with the taxi queue fairly long, it took about 45 minutes to get a taxi to my resort.
A note on Broome taxis – despite the short distance of pretty much all trips, taxis are expensive! Expect to pay $15 for a five minute taxi ride. If the time table works for you, consider the Broome town bus, especially if you’re travelling solo. One way tickets are $4 per adult.
I digress …
While the aim of the trip was to have a relaxing few days soaking in some sun, I still managed to take in a few sights. This post covers off the highlights of my four days in Broome. If I missed any of your favourites, please leave me a comment below so I can add it to the list for next time!
The white sand of Cable Beach stretches for about 22km, so you will be hard pressed not to find a patch of sand for yourself. With major tide variations, the beach looks completely different if you visit at different times of the day. Check the tide maps here.
Located at the popular area of Cable Beach and next to the surf lifesavers, Beach Hut Hire rents out umbrellas, two different types of beach loungers, snorkel gear, boogie boards and stand up paddle boards. For $25 you can rent an umbrella and two lounge chairs for four hours or $35 for the full day. While I normally stay away from renting equipment, I couldn’t resist and did this two days in a row. The Kimberley sun is strong and having the shade when it gets too hot is priceless. And let’s face it, I was in Broome for the beach and ocean time. The water temperature in August is about 22 degrees, so very fresh!
Besides the endless beach, Cable Beach is also known for its camels. There are a few companies that provide several tours each day, with the sunset tour being the most popular. To take a tour or to see the camels, if starting at Cable Beach Resort, head to the beach and turn right. You’ll see three companies with representatives ready to book a camel ride. Otherwise, you can book before you arrive in Broome contacting the companies directly.
If the thought of riding a camel doesn’t interest you, there’s always the option of watching the camels from the beach. As long as you head north along the beach from the Cable Beach Resort, you’re guaranteed to see them!
I have to admit being on the camel was pretty scary at first because you’re fairly high off the ground. Once I got over that, it was a really cool experience, though I recall being a bit sore by the end of it! Add in the sunset over Cable Beach and it’s a bucket list item ticked off!
Here are links to a few Camel ride operators. If you want a single camel ride down the beach, all operators provide a similar service. Check out all the operators if you’re looking for more bells and whistles to see what else they have on offer.
Gantheaume Point is located at the southern end of Cable Beach, about a 10 minute drive from Cable Beach Resort or a 7km walk along the beach. The area is known for its dinosaur prints that can be view by climbing down the rocks at low (2m) tide. Since I didn’t have a car, I opted for Broome town bus which goes to Gantheume Point from the Cable Beach area once a day (the first route of the day). The bus drops you off at the entrance to the beach which is also next to the Broome Turf Club. The bus doesn’t return to the area until the next morning, so you either need to call a taxi to return to your accommodation, or walk along the beach like I did.
After getting dropped off by the bus, you have to continue down the dirt road for another 500m to reach Gantheaume Point. I didn’t know this, and walked to the beach, turned left and followed the water until I realised I was going to have to climb up a cliff. I ended up finding a path through the bush back up to the road and continued from there. Despite being momentarily lost, the beach between the road to Cable Beach and Gantheaume Point is worth the detour and it’s pretty easy to find your way back to the road.
Sights at Gantheaume Point include the lighthouse and the lightkeeper’s house as well as 130 million year old dinosaur prints. The original prints are only viewable at very low tide. For those who don’t time their visit for low tide, there are replicas to view higher above sea level. I looked around when I visited and couldn’t find them. Let me know in the comments below about how to find them for next time!
I visited the area around 8am and I had the entire area to myself for almost a half hour. It is such a unique area, with the bright orange rock formations and the turquoise water. It really is difficult to describe.
After taking in the pretty at Gantheaume Point, I had the rather hot walk back along Cable Beach to my resort. By the time I was finished, it was pretty hot, so I recommend an early morning stroll if you’re looking to walk along the beach. There is no infrastructure along the full 7km stretch, so bring water, hat and plenty of sunscreen!
Seeing as this was my “I’ve just quit my job so I want to treat myself before I start my new one” trip, I decided to splurge on a day trip to Horizontal Falls. To read about my day trip in more detail click here. The trip was a once in a lifetime experience and I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to experience a very unique natural phenomenon and also doesn’t have a fear of flying!
Staircase to the Moon
My trip happened to coincide with the Staircase to the Moon, a natural phenomenon that occurs three days per month during March to October. For a list of dates in 2017, click here. I have to admit that the beauty and emotional reaction of watching the of the moon rising caught me a bit off guard. Prior to seeing it, I only knew that you watch the moon rise with the tidal flats in the foreground, so it looks like a staircase up to the moon. Wanting to have a couple drinks, we went to Mangrove Hotel to watch it (highly recommended for its beer garden area). They had didgeridoo music playing, creating a bit of atmosphere and then as the moon rose and the ‘staircase’ appeared. It really was quite an emotional thing to see. Unfortunately there were plenty of people also watching it, but through their cameras trying repeatedly to take a photo of it. Needless to say, using a flash on a camera to take a picture of the moon rising wasn’t working. The woman in front of me tried 20 plus times and then eventually gave up. So besides the ridiculous tourists distracting others with their flash and phone screens, it was pretty epic!
I spoke to a few people who had planned their trip to Broome to make sure they could see it, which prior to seeing it, I would have thought was a bit odd. But after watching it, I’m a convert!
Coinciding with the Staircase to the Moon, are markets with the same name. Located at Broome Town Beach (about 15 minutes walking distance south of the Mangrove Hotel), the markets have a variety of food options and stalls selling things like jewellery, clothing, wood art and coffee. We had a decent and reasonably priced meal here while listening to a busker playing guitar. If you’re looking for alcoholic drinks, you might want to stop in at the nearby Matso’s Brewery, a Broome-must visit, especially if you like ginger beer (and mango flavoured ginger beer), such as these that we bought at Zander’s Cable Beach.
Broome Courthouse Markets and Broome town centre
The Broome Courthouse Markets operate Saturday mornings all year and Sunday mornings from Easter weekend until October. Of all the markets I’ve been to, these are on the higher end of the scale. There are lots of artists, jewellery, food options and even thai massage (I couldn’t help myself – and the price is much cheaper than at their store location in town). They are definitely worth a walkthrough if you’re in town on a Saturday or Sunday.
Broome’s town centre is fairly small, so it doesn’t take long to explore. There are a variety of decent cafes, mostly located on Carnarvon Street and Dampier Terrace and the laneways in between the two streets.
While the town area is called China Town, don’t expect to be overwhelmed by Chinese food options. The town received its name due to an influx of Asian immigrants when pearling was very popular in the late 1880s. Besides cafes and restaurants, you’ll also find a number of high end pearl stores, a local photographer and a variety of beachwear and clothing shops. You’ll also find a decent sized Coles supermarket, which will be useful for stocking up on groceries if you’re self-catering.
Accommodation and Dining
On this trip, I’d booked a one bedroom apartment at Seashells Broome for the four nights. The one bedroom apartments are in single block at the rear of the property and away from the massive swimming pool. I was more than fine with the location, since I didn’t feel like being woken up by a bunch of kids wanting to swim at 7am 🙂 The apartment was very spacious, clean, and my little piece of heaven for four days. I would return to Seashells without hesitation.
The resort is set just off the main road that heads to the beach. There is a bus stop 50m from reception, the walk to the beach takes less than 10 minutes, with another 5 minutes to Cable Beach Resort. There is a very popular restaurant next door called the Zookeepers Store. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and their coffee is excellent. The dinner options are some of the best in Broome, though the portions aren’t overly generous. I especially enjoyed their breakfast options, and the service was friendly and welcoming.
Besides visiting the Zookeepers Store multiple times, other restaurants we visited:
- Divers Tavern – very popular pub with TVs for sport, a bistro serving generous portions of pub style favourites and another external “beach bar”. On the night we ate at Divers, the Miss Broome 2017 competition was on!
- Green Mango – an ok cafe in Broome’s town centre
- Zanders at Cable Beach – the location is fantastic being directly on Cable Beach. The food was hit and miss, but the beers were always cold!
- Cable Beach Sunset Bar – we grabbed a prime table for the sunset and had a couple cocktails, taking in the view, including the camel trains heading home for the evening. The cocktails are pricey, but the view is superb.
Overall I loved Broome and getting immersed into “Broome Time” was a real treat. With only a short two hour flight from Perth, it’s an excellent option for a short, relaxing getaway.
Have you visited Broome? Are there any sights that I missed? I’m always looking for ideas and feedback.
I visited Broome in August 2017.