Like a paste jewel set in a tiara of natural splendours, Broome clings to a narrow strip of red pindan on the Kimberley's far-western edge, at the base of the pristine Dampier Peninsula. Surrounded by the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean and the creeks, mangroves and mudflats of Roebuck Bay, this Yawuru country is a good 2000km from the nearest capital city.
Broome's cemeteries are a stark reminder of its pearling heritage, which claimed the lives of many Japanese, Chinese, Malay and Aboriginal divers. Today, Broome's pearls are still exported around the world, produced on modern sea farms.
Cable Beach, with its luxury resorts, hauls in the tourists during the Dry (April to October), with romantic notions of camels, surf and sunsets. Magnificent, sure, but there's a lot more to Broome than postcards and tourists are sometimes surprised when they scratch the surface and find pindan just below.
Broome's centre is Chinatown, on the shores of Roebuck Bay, while Cable Beach and its resorts are 6km west on the Indian Ocean. The airport stretches between the two; the port and Gantheaume Point are 7km south.
The Dry's a great time to find casual work, in hospitality or out on the pearl farms. In the Wet, it feels like you're swimming in a warm, moist glove, and while many places close or restrict their hours, others offer amazingly good deals as prices plummet.
Each evening, the whole town pauses, collective drinks in mid-air, while the sun slips slowly seawards.
The last frontier: adventures in north Western Australia
Lonely Planet has produced this article for Qantas. All editorial views are those of Lonely Planet alone and reflect our policy of editorial independence and impartiality...
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Best of the Dampier Peninsula
With its turquoise lagoons and burnt-crimson cliffs, ancient footsteps and historic shell middens, Australia’s remote Dampier Peninsula is home to a number of Aboriginal Australian communities who welcome travellers t...