Broome and the Kimberley in Eight Days
Craig Makepeace is co-founder of YTravelBlog.com, where he and his wife Caroline publish travel tips and personal stories from their travel experiences. They know Broome well, having travelled the area and lived there for six months. Situated at the top end of Western Australia in the Kimberley, you can fly directly to Broome from Perth, Melbourne or Sydney. If you prefer a road trip, Broome is a 22-hour drive from Perth. Broome is best visited from May to October.
Caz and I lived in Broome for six months back in 2004. We got work in a pearl farm off Kuri Bay, where Caz’s brother was working at the time. Then when we did an 18-month lap around Australia, we spent another five weeks there. Broome is amazing. It’s our favourite town in Australia from our travels.
When you’re there you feel like you’re a world away from anywhere. It’s very unique – an exotic Asian flavour mixed in with the Australian outback – and such incredibly vibrant colours. There’s the red earth, the green mangroves and the turquoise water. And it has a really chilled, easy-living beach vibe. They call it “Broome time” – everyone’s on “Broome time”.
For anyone that has some time to travel around Broome and the Kimberley – maybe eight days or more – here’s what you must see.
Broome’s got a lot of things going for it, but the highlight would probably be Cable Beach. It’s one of the best beaches in the world, with sand dunes rolling down to the flat, white sand that leads into the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. It’s also a long, wide beach, so it’s perfect for beach cricket, walking or running – in fact it’s so wide at low tide they even have an annual polo game there.
You can visit the 4WD area in the northern part of Cable Beach, or take a sunset camel ride along the sand – you can’t do that many places around Australia. And if you’ve never seen the sunset over the ocean before, Broome does sunsets better than most. We spent many balmy nights under a palm tree watching the sun go down. It’s incredible.
Willie Creek Pearl Farm and Gantheaume Point
Willie Creek Pearl Farm is just a bit out of Broome, heading north towards Cape Leveque. Spend the day here taking a tour of a working pearl farm, then head to Gantheaume Point. This is another great place for a spectacular sunset, with views all the way down Cable Beach. Go at low tide and see the track with fossilised dinosaur footprints.
The Horizontal Falls
We’d never heard about the Horizontal Falls before living in Broome. The half-day trip by seaplane will take you over some absolutely amazing scenery. You take off over Cable Beach and fly up the Kimberley coast, then over the Buccaneer Archipelago. This has something like 800 small islands and is so picturesque. Then you fly over the Horizontal Falls and land on Talbot Bay.
The Horizontal Falls are basically two bays separated by an escarpment, with a narrow gap in between that you can go through in a speedboat. You drop from one bay to the other in the boat – it’s an incredible experience.
The Kimberley and the Gibb River Road
Broome is the gateway to the Kimberley region, and the Gibb River Road is paradise for four-wheel-drivers and people who love camping. The road starts out of Derby, which is just a couple of hours east of Broome.
You can easily spend a week along here visiting stunning waterfalls, gorges and vistas – places like Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek, Galvans Gorge, Bell Gorge and a little further up you’ve got Mitchell Falls, which is pretty famous. It’s a beautiful spot with incredibly diverse scenery. You can be standing up on a vista and because of the boab trees it’s almost like looking across an African savannah – the only thing missing is the animals.
Back to Broome
After a week exploring the Kimberley, you’ll want to return to Broome for a couple of days of rest and relaxation. Roebuck Bay is beautiful at high tide, and the Mangrove Hotel is one of my favourite spots to have lunch. There’s a great beer garden there, where you can sit outside and admire the vibrant red, green and turquoise colours of Broome.
One of my other favourite places in Broome is Matso’s Microbrewery. They’ve got a really nice ginger beer that’s gluten free (which keeps Caz happy), a mango beer, a chilli beer and (my favourite) a ‘Pearlers Pale Ale’. And, almost as importantly, their food is good as well!
If the cold and wet of winter on the east coast is getting you down, I’d definitely recommend escaping to Broome. May to October is the best time to visit – the water temperature is perfect and the weather is beautiful.