Broome is sometimes perceived as an expensive destination. Let’s face it, it’s a long way from Perth and it’s a really remote spot, but once you get to know the town, you’ll find there’s plenty to do that doesn’t break the bank.
Guest Post contributor, Rosemary McGuigan, has uncovered 5 self-guided activities that cost very little, if anything, and today brings us 5 almost free, rather lovely, things to do in Broome.
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Staircase to the Moon
Number one on our list is Broome’s ‘staircase to the moon’ which is well known amongst travellers, and especially those on the big trip around Australia. Many visitors plan their stay to coincide with this natural phenomenon.
The ‘staircase’ is created when the full moon rises over Roebuck Bay at very low tide and the reflections of the moon on the rivulets of water on the mudflats creates a ‘golden staircase’ to the moon effect.
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For three nights each month, between March and October,and when the moon is full, thousands of visitors gather at vantage points on the shores of Roebuck Bay to witness the ‘staircase’. With cameras, smartphones and iPads poised, everyone tries to capture an image of the moonrise.
It is not an easy image to capture; we have tried and mostly failed over the years. People forget to turn off the flash on their device which results in an image of the darkness, or the back of someone’s head, but not the moon! It is easier to buy a mounted or framed image from one of the professional photographers, some of whom have galleries in Chinatown or market stalls.
The two best places to view the ‘staircase’ are the Mangrove Hotel, perched high on the landscape with sweeping views of Roebuck Bay, or Dampier Creek and the coastline around to Broome Port. You can have a meal and a beer at Mangrove (as the locals call it) while waiting for the moonrise.
Alternatively, Town Beach also provides sweeping views of the bay and the moon rise. To add to the atmosphere, Broome’s market community set up their stalls of delicious foods and wares. Grab something tasty for dinner and wait for the moon to rise.Get in early though as both venues get very busy on these nights.
View the 2015 Staircase to the Moon dates and times here.
Self-Guided Walk through Chinatown and Old Broome
Broome is flat with few undulations and has good pathways. It’s a perfect place to explore on foot or bicycle.
For the cost of less than a cup of coffee, purchase a copy of the Broome Heritage Trail booklet (available from the Broome Historical Museum), and self-explore the many historic points located around the ‘old Broome’ area.
Decked out with a broad-rim hat, sun protection, comfy walking shoes and bottle of water, you can take in as much or as little as you want. Some of the sites have changed significantly from their original and without this helpful guide you may not be aware of the history. The guide will direct you on an enjoyable journey of discovery about some of Broome’s historical sites – and get some gentle exercise along the way!
Town Beach is a favourite escape for Broome locals and not a place many visitors find. It is tucked away at the end of Robinson Street in the ‘old Broome’ location. With shady lawns, café, boat launching ramp, picnic tables, BBQs, pioneer cemetery and 180 degree sweeping view of Roebuck Bay, it is a perfect place to laze away a sunny day.
There is a short stretch of sandy beach where the kids can paddle, but it is not a place where we swim. With the boat launching ramp at one of the end beach, that can get busy with vehicle movements, and with the rapid tidal changes, there can be quite a distance between the beach and water deep enough to swim. Or if the tide is in and lapping the high tide mark, there is a significant drop as soon as you enter the water.
The Shire of Broome has built a fabulous water playground which is open from 9am-5pm each day except Tuesday. Parents can sit and relax in the shade while the children cool off and wear themselves out splashing around.
Broome Historical Society Museum
Also located in the Town Beach precinct at the end of Robinson Street, is the Broome Historical Museum which is open daily most of the year. We liken the Museum to Doctor Who’sTardis…it looks little on the outside, but it seems much bigger on the inside and has an enormous store of history. The Museum’s building started life as a general store in the early 1900s but became the Customs House and Bond Store in 1903. In the 1980s the Shire of Broome purchased the building and in 1981 it opened as the museum.
The Broome Historical Museum features history of the pearling, luggers, exploration, good times and tough times, shipwrecks and the Japanese attack on Broome in World War II.
Like many regional museums, Broome’s museum relies on a dedicated group of volunteers. Show your support and visit. You will be amazed by what you will learn!
Located opposite the Museum is a cafe and if you do not have your own transport, the town bus stop is located 50m from the front door. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to visit this little gem of Broome.
Located on Hamersley Street and situated between the Mercure Continental Hotel and the shores of Roebuck Bay is Bedford Park which is the site of Broome’s War Memorial. Each Anzac Day thousands of residents and visitors join together for the Dawn Service and to pay their respects.
The interpretive shelter provides some information about the Japanese attack on Broome. Visitors tend to drive past this little park without realising that it has a few surprises. There are a number of historical monuments and plaques to discover amongst the varied palms and boab trees and you can take a rest on the benches.
Broome’s newest memorial is literally across the road from Bedford Park. Dedicated in 2010, the 3 metre bronze statue is that of a female diver coming out of the water with a pearl shell in hand. This statue is dedicated to the women who have contributed to Broome’s pearling history for over a century.
The statue is dedicated to and acknowledges the women who were exploited as divers along the coastline south of Broome. Called ‘blackbirding’, Aboriginal women were kidnapped and forced to work on the pearl luggers where they dived for pearl shells in deep water, often without breathing apparatus. It is a sad fact that many of the women drowned and it is not a happy part of Broome’s history.
Author Bio: Rosemary McGuigan is the owner of Best Of The Kimberley, an accredited agency for travel, tours, accommodation and more in Broome and The Kimberley. Images, unless otherwise stated, are courtesy of Rosemary McGuigan. Connect with Rosemary on Google+.
Has anyone been to the north west town of Broome? Why not tell us your favourite spots.