Broome, on the north-west Australian coast, is a true tourist town, and that’s often enough to make some travellers want to bypass it altogether. But, in my opinion, that would be a real mistake. While there’s not a huge amount to do during the day (unless of course you’re happy to lounge on beautiful white sandy beaches for hours on end), if you time your visit right, you’ll want more evenings and nights here than you probably have.
Staircase to the Moon
One of the most famous attractions Broome has to offer is the Staircase to the Moon. A quick internet search will produce millions of photographs of this phenomenon, and will definitely get you putting Broome down on that bucket list. For ten months of the year, two to three days a month, the rising full moon coupled with a very low tide reflects off the sand plains below, creating a ‘staircase’ effect from the ripples in the sand. It’s quite an experience to sit waiting (with a few hundred other people) for the sun to go down and the moon to rise above the horizon. However, if you don’t have a decent camera and lens, don’t even bother taking out that camera phone. No fancy smart phone is going to do the sight any justice (remember all those awful blood moon photos? yep). So just sit back, relax, and enjoy the view. Then go and browse the nearby market stalls (if you haven’t already) for some tasty dinner or dessert, souvenirs, or maybe even one of Broome’s specialities – its pearls.
Broome’s Dinosaur Footprints
This extreme low tide also exposes attraction number two – Broome’s Dinosaur Tracks. Take the short drive out to Gantheaume Point either very early in the morning or late in the afternoon (ten points if you guess which option I went for) and go explore the rock pools for many-millions-of-years-old dinosaur footprints embedded in the rock. Guided tours are available, and give a much greater insight into the tracks, as you’ll more than likely overlook many of them, their shape not being entirely obvious. But some you can’t miss – the three-toed prints look straight out of Jurassic Park. What makes the whole area even more memorable is the setting sun over the ocean, the sky pink and gold, the rocks and cliffs behind you turning a deep scarlet colour. There’s nothing like seeing something that old with your own eyes to make you feel very young.
The third reason I urge you not to miss Broome is not time-sensitive, but is available every day of the year. The stunning Cable Beach, running for 22km along the western side of the peninsula, is beautiful during the day, but it’s in the evening that it’s really worth seeing. To the north of the rocks, the ever-popular camel tours are run, with the sunset tour the most popular option. Take a picnic dinner and head down onto the sand (mind all the 4WD vehicles, though) in time to watch the camel trains plod past the setting sun, creating dark silhouettes against the colour-strewn sky and ocean behind. I went here twice, mainly because the first time I managed to forget the memory card for my camera. But I’m glad I came the second time anyway, because I was treated to a very different sunset than the previous evening. A light haze covered the horizon, meaning that the sunset created a pastel palette in the sky, rather than the usual vivid reds and golds. Both are beautiful in their own way.
So there are my top three reasons why Broome should not be missed. There are other activities to keep you occupied if you’re interested – fishing, cruises, pearling tours, a few museums, etc., as well as several monuments around town in memory of the area’s deep ties to Asia through it’s pearling industry.
Free camping? I’ve got you. Free showers (cold) are available at Cable Beach, the library in centre of town has loads of power points and free wifi (even when it’s closed), and the McDonalds has great free wifi too (and you certainly won’t be the only traveller with a laptop there). The closest free camp to town is about 25km back out the road to Derby, in a large gravel pit off the road. I wasn’t the only one using it any of the fours nights I spent there, so you won’t be alone.
Make sure to Google the dates of the Staircase and dinosaur tracks – you really don’t want to miss them!
Is Broome on you bucket list? Have you been and agree or disagree with what I said? Tell me below!
Welcome to This Wild Life of Mine (previously known as Life of Dearbh)
When a love of travel meets a passion for wildlife…
I’m a zoologist who explores the world while working for conservation organisations. I write about my experiences in the hope of inspiring others to follow their dreams and see the beauty of this earth – in a responsible and ethical way.