Broome, western australia

Today ZigaZagers we’re going on a magical mystery tour to Broome, way up in the north west of Western Australia.

I’m going to take you with me on a unique motorised ‘trike-limo’ to view a staircase to the moon, and then (Yay!) we’re off for a cooling beer at the  most remote brewery in WA.

So please … buckle up, and step with me … on a magical mystery tour way behind the looking glass in Wonderland.

Them Pearls from Broome, Western Australia

westerm-australiaSome of you will have already read about Willie Creek Pearl Farm (8 Weird and Wonderful Things about Pearls) and the reason why every girl really needs a pearl, so now it’s time to head away from the creek along the red gravel road so corrugated in places it could shake your fillings out head back to the little outback town of Broome.

You might also like: Top 15 Amazing things to do in Broome, North Western Australia

Time for a cooling beer or a cocktail, don’t you think?

western-australia Matso’s Brewery is touted as the most remote brewery in the world and I’m not going to dispute that.

It’s situated close to the beach and sports a lovely verandah with shady wind sails to keep you protected from the blistering sun as you sip beer or dine in al fresco splendour at the restaurant.

The building itself has an interesting history. In 1910 it was originally constructed as the Union Bank and since then it’s been moved three times. In 1986 it was moved to its present position, trading as Matso’s Store, then in 2000 the idea came about to produce good quality craft beer on the premises.

I really enjoyed the Mango Beer and the Ginger Cooler, but the Chango was something different (Mango and Chilli). It had one enormous kick, like a mule, and certainly gave me an appetite.

And so it came to pass that at Matso’s we met Sunrise TV presenter, James Tobin who was doing a story about Broome, and yes I had to have my picture taken with him – ahem, well wouldn’t you too?


We also met Rich Keam who arguably had the best job in the world at the time. He won the chance to taste his way around WA for six months  and we met him on his 21st day of munching and tasting as WA’s Taste Master. He admitted to having put on a bit of weight, but lucky Rich is long and lean, so hopefully he didn’t end up waddling back to Portsmouth in England at the end of it all.

Secretly I wonder if he ever went home.

We chatted about England and Devon where I come from, and he promised to visit us in Bunbury too, but the talk soon turned back to Broome’s attractions and it’s famous camels on THAT famous stretch of beach : The Camels of Cable Beach

Rich Keam and one of my Broome travel mates, the gorgeous Carolyne Jasinski from @FootlooseJazza . Carolyne is a clever cookie … check out her Apps for iPhones & iPads: Kangaroo Island Travel Guide  and Rooms4U South Oz or for Android Phones and tablets: Kangaroo Island Travel Guide and Rooms4U SouthOz

A motorized trike and acting like rockstars

As we leave Matso’s Brewery an odd looking trike turns up.

Is it a car? Is it a bike? Is it a limo?

Well, it’s a bit of all three!

It’s apparently the only trike limousine in the world and it was built in 2000 – on the back of a Harley Davidson, and we all shriek with joy when we get closer. The hatch door opens up to four seats in faux leather, surrounded by real wood fittings, a perfect wooden mini bar complete with lollies, strip lighting for night-time revellers, music, and two open air seats high on the back – what a view!

Broome, Western Australia

Grub Lollies

So come with me please as Roger, the owner of Broome Trike Tours drives us around the town pointing out places of interest. First we’re taken past Sun Pictures the oldest open air picture garden in the world, and then on around Chinatown before Roger hands out his handmade lollies that contain crickets, mealie bugs and witchety grubs.

Still with me?!

We look at them in disbelief, only seconds before fellow Broome traveller, Mr Jasper, unwraps a lolly and beams a little wickedly as the girls squirm.  It takes him about an hour to reach the grub, which he declares is ‘nutty’ tasting.


But wondrous things don’t stop happening. Next, Roger hands us a Little Bird Flower.

“Can we eat it?” asks Mr Jasper as he puts it in him mouth at the exact moment that Roger says “Yes.”


It’s such a pretty little thing, that although I watch Mr Jasper munching with some intrigue, I can’t quite come to eat mine.

I was so taken with this little flower that I failed to pay attention to the chat about it.

So later I Google’d ‘bird flower’ and it’s name comes up as, “Euphorbia bracteata, an Indonesian flowering plant with pretty blooms in the shape of dainty sparrows.”

We stop several times, and Roger brings out tasters of his home brewed exotic bush liqueurs from Kimberley Bushtucker Liqueurs  and instructs us in various bush tucker food items, such as the Gabinge which is a local fruit containing the richest form of vitamin C known to man. One fruit the size of an olive is equal to about 50 oranges. We try one, it’s not very nice, but hey, it’s medicinal!

At Minya Park, Roger encourages us to try the fruit from the Bloodwood Tree. “Aborigines eat this fruit for morning sickness, it tastes a little like an apple,” he tells us.

Gantheaume Point looking away from Anastasia’s Pool across to Cable Beach

During the trike tour we pass various places of historical interest from the Port, to the Town Monuments, Streeters Jetty, the big Boab tree and Anastasia’s Pool at Gantheaume Point. Anastasia’s Pool was created amongst the rocks by the former lighthouse keeper for his wife Anastasia who suffered from arthritis and believed the salt water which filled the pool at high tide had possible healing properties.

The beautiful colours of the Sedimentary Sandstone at Gantheaume Point

We finish the tour with a very rock star ride along the long stretch of white sand on Cable Beach.


Heads turn, people point and smile. We wave and brandish flutes of bubbles as the warm breeze blows through our hair and we stand up and take in the view feeling just a little bit like celebrities.

Fast facts about Broome gleaned from Roger

  1. “60 – 90% of the A grade pearls in the world come from Broome
  2. Matsos is the most remote brewery in the world
  3. Boab trees can live up to 1000 years
  4. Broome is in the top 5 of bird observatories in the world and many migratory birds visit the wetlands
  5. 6 different species of dinosaur lived in Broome and you can see their footprints at Gantheaume Point
  6. Aborigines have a contract with Nasa for the astronauts and supply them with Gabinge fruit.
  7. The pearling industry was the main economic driver for many years, and during this time Broome was known for its mother of pearl buttons which were exported to Europe in great quantities, and mother of pearl was also used to make the handles, popular back then, on kitchen knives.


A staircase, the moon and a dark starry night

The day ends with a natural phenomenon that softens the hearts of even the most hardened cynics.


At The Mangrove Hotel I know a didgeridoo will be heralding the rise of the moon, as tourists skulling Matsos Beers and chilled wine will be shaking themselves free of city trappings and entering the natural world where the phenomenon Staircase to the Moon will quieten their banter with the wonder of it all.

Tonight thought we are with a crowd of people, standing on a ridge at another watch-point at Town Beach, gazing out into the blackness of the night, not yet under the light of the silvery moon.

Mr Jasper finds an App on his iPhone which tells us exactly where we should be, and how many minutes until the moon rises, and it’s dead right. We find our spot, too late to get front row seats, which turns out to be a bad move because the front row refuse to sit down so photography is difficult. Anyway, none of us had brought along tripods which, take note, are absolutely essential if you want to have any success in getting a good shot.

I feel a tingling anticipation as the first slit of the moon appears over the horizon, a tiny white streak against a sea of black. Ahh, the wonder of nature in a living breathing landscape where there’s not a high rise building in sight. Bliss.

Stillness. There’s a hush as we all stare in awe at the harvest moon, which is a deep blood red, slowly rising into the inky sky as if pulled by an invisible string. The silence is almost mythical and in my mind I can hear that didgeridoo at The Mangrove Hotel, as Aborigines celebrate their culture too.

Then quiet. Until one of our group breaks into song and under our breaths for no explicable reason we’re suddenly humming “Da doo do Da” by Sting and the Police.

It’s as if we’re celebrating the weird and the wonderful and the incongruous of this magical place far far beyond and behind the looking glass in Wonderland.

Heading past the the interpretive signage at Gantheaume Point there is a well worn track which leads to a cast of dinosaur footprints. The real dinosaur footprints are preserved in reef rock visible only at low tide.

Fast Facts about Broome

  1. Staircase to the Moon happens when the full moon rises over the exposed mudflats of Roebuck Bay when the tide is very low, creating an optical illusion of a staircase stretching to the moon. This event happens during March to October for 3 nights each month.
  2. Matso’s offer 1 hour brewery tours if you’d like to find out how it all works at the brewery
  3. There are dinosaur footprints dating back 130 million years at Gantheaume Point. If the tide is low you can see Anastasia’s Pool which was built by a former lighthouse keeper for his wife, Anastasia who suffered from arthritis.
  4. If you want to find out more about the pearling industry visit Pearl Luggers and take a look at two of Broome’s last remaining wooden pearling luggers, and view items from the early perilous days of deep sea pearl diving.
  5. For pearls try Willie Creek pearl Farm – do a tour, enjoy a demonstration, take a boat ride of the creek, have refreshments at the café overlooking the creek and book a personal helicopter tour as an optional extra.
  6. The world’s largest fine quality round pearl was grown at Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm in 2006.
  7. Just north of the rocks on Cable Beach is a nude beach.
  8. William Dampier first landed his barque Cygnet in Broome’s shallow bay to repair its leaks in 1688. He returned to chart the area in 1699 in a frigate called HMS Roebuck.

Disclaimer: My trip to Broome was courtesy of Qantas and The Mantra Frangipani.

To read more about The Mantra Frangipani you might like … Why basking in a Bali style resort in Broome is good for the soul

One of the two beautiful pools at the Mantra Frangipani where spacious and modern self contained units are set amongst tropical gardens.

For more travel stories: Budget Traveller’s Sandbox, and Noel Morata

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  1. What a fun tour, Johanna! I would most definitely like to go for a cruise in that trike-limo 🙂 But, I would pass on those homemade bug lollies ha, ha! The fruit from the Bloodwood Tree I would try though. I never played a didgeridoo or seen one in person but would love to…I think they are soooo cool! And all under a harvest moon? That would be a great night. Glad you had an awesome time! 🙂

  2. I got really excited at the thought of joining you for a beer. I’m brave enough to try the mango chilli one – I have never drunk flavoured beer, but this is the second mention I’ve read today of it. That red soil at Gantheaume Point is so startling against the blue ocean. I had forgotten you were from Devon. We stayed on a farm near Dawlish over winter 35 years ago and often think about returning.

  3. What a gorgeous photo of you and James Tobin (I have a secret crush on him!) The colours of your photos at Gantheaume Point were amazing. I think that is what I loved about Broome – the vivid colours of the ocean, red earth and blue skies. It sounds like you had a fun time there 🙂

  4. Wow Jo! What an adventure! Makes me really want to plan a trip to Broome! Like the look of the trike-limo! But not those lollies :/ Haha!
    Matsos is one of my fave ginger beers and the Mango Beer is not bad too 🙂

  5. Yes, I’m a Devon dumpling, Jan! Ah, wonder if you will return to Dawlish, I’ll have to hook up and give yous some insider North Devon secrets! Me neither, I didn’t like the thought of flavoured beer, but Matsos do it so well.

  6. Hello Mike, ha ha yes those bug lollies were a bit suspect! Great talking point though 😉 Yes, the bushtucker fruits are interesting to try, and we are lucky in WA to be able to have access to some unusual ones that we might not otherwise get the chance to try.

  7. Hi Nat, I can just see you aboard the trike-limo – glass of champas to hand, but yes not with the bug lolly! Broome really rocks as a destination, so much more to do than you actually think. I thought it was just a jumping off town for the Kimberley but it’s so much more than that. Oh gosh, I could kill a Matsos Ginger Beer right now – it’s fab, hey!

  8. Thanks Kathy – but I was feeling a little bit dishevelled and could have done with a bit of lippy and BB cream because yes, James is gorgeous in person, and despite the fact that I’m so old and battling grey I was a little bit starstruck! Thanks for your compliments about my photos of Gantheaume Point, the colours there are formidable, beautiful to photograph.

  9. Jo, you are just hysterical! I loved this article… and pinned the trike to a board of ‘must do;s’! How much fun did that look.

  10. What a fun outing you took us on! Love that limo. And your photo is great — I do love your comment above, “. . .I’m so old and battling grey. . .” A friend and I met for coffee yesterday at a Starbuck’s near techie offices. . .oh, sigh, what better way to realize how overweight and old (and fighting grey) we both are!

  11. Greetings Jo. It’s always wondrous to hear about Broome. I just loved my first visit there, and would love to go again. Matsos and those camels. How does one beat that? Now you introduce grub lollies. Sounds like another delicious reason to visit. Ahem, Mark.

  12. Hi Wanda, the grub lollies certainly added quirky to the quaint! Broome is full of surprises! Hope you return one of these days and bring back some stories for ZigaZag too 🙂

  13. Hello Jackie, thank you! Yes, the limo trike was such fun and a lot of laughs ensued in amongst the learning about Broome too. Oh gosh Stabuck’s near a techie office – the worst. Thing is gorgeous twenty somethings all look like 12 year olds at my age 😉

  14. Thank you Jane, the trike trip is a whole lot of fun and an unusual way of seeing Broome. Thanks for popping by, and oh, your tours to the Kimberley look like a lot of fun too 🙂

  15. What a strange bike/limo and cool at the same time, along with those samplers you were offered. That was quite an adventure Jo, what fun!

  16. Glad you enjoyed Noel! Yes it was a lot of fun, from start to finish. Just one of those magical days that don’t happen very often 🙂

  17. Probably so, Debbie! Glad you enjoyed a look-see if not the real thing 🙂

  18. What a fascinating tour you had in Broome. I love the trike limo. Scenery is stunning. Certainly was a magical mystery tour! I would have passed on the lollies.

  19. Ha, Ha me too Donna! In fact I’m not sure that I still don’t have my grub lolly somewhere or other! Yeeeuw!

  20. A great write up and promotion for Broome Jo. That trike tour looks like fun. We saw the WA native Green Birdflower, crotalaria cunninghamii, growing in a river bed in the Pilbara few weeks agao. I wonder if this is the birdflower you were given. It certainly looks the same.
    ps gorgeous sunset and staircase to the moon pics. You are making me want to go back to Broome.

  21. Johanna, Wow! I want to have a day just like this one. It sounds adventurous, quirky, and dreamy all at once. Broome here I come!

  22. What a wild limo! Yuk, grub lollies. We found scorpion lollypops in Arizona. Wouldn’t want to eat either one of them.

  23. That’s interesting Carole! And there was I thinking they were unique to Broome! Ever been had?!!lol! But yep, the trike limo trip is one for fun!

  24. Thanks, Marilyn. It was quite the magical mystery tour for sure 🙂

  25. Scorpion lollies? Oh my @gypsynesters! I wouldn’t eat one either 😉

  26. Thanks Jill – I wonder if it is the same flower – do you have a photo?

  27. Thanks Betsy! Yes, not too many affirmatives coming for those grub lollies. Thanks for your compliment about the moon shot … it turned out better than I thought it would, but really a tripod is necessary.

  28. I definitely need to bookmark this post in case we ever make it back to Western Australia. My husband has a research collaborator in Perth, so although we’ve never been to Melbourne, we’ve been to Perth twice. Broome looks like a very fun (and beautiful) place. I’d love to see those moon-rises. (I’m a night person, so moon-rises suit me better than sunrises which I hear can also be beautiful). 🙂 That trike limo is a piece of work. It reminds me of tuk tuks in SE Asia as far as the motorcycle part goes, but it looks a whole lot more comfortable and safer.

    PS: I’ve disabled CommentLuv for this comment in favor of a blast from the past. If that’s not OK–hit delete!

  29. Hello Suzanne, and yes I do hope you get to Broome because it is such a different place. As a night person you’d enjoy the moon rise! No problem with the blast from the past, will pop over now now!

  30. Wow! What an interesting post! I have only been to Australia once, but did not eat lollipops with bugs or see trike limos, or any of this! So amazing! I also really loved the bird flower.

  31. Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it

    I will be showing that amazing Harley trike limo to my motorcycle lovin’ sons and relatives. I’m amazed that it runs with only one wheel in front. That moon and bird flower just blows my mind. What a gorgeous trip and fun story.

  32. Thanks Neva! Yes, that Harley limo trike is one for bike-lovin’ boys for sure 😉

  33. Haha Suzanne! I know, generally not the norm for a trip down-under. Thanks for popping by today 🙂

  34. Oh, I so want to ride in the trike limousine and I’ve made a note on our “things to do list” when we arrive in Australia to begin our travels (tentatively 2016). And, if I’d had a job as a traveling food taster like Rich Keam, I never would have felt the need to retire early!

  35. Oh! Exciting that you will be travelling in Australia in 2016, Anita. I know, I think we’d all believe we’d have died and gone to heaven with Rich Keam’s amazing job 😉

  36. What an awesome trip! I’d feel like a celebrity/rock star too riding on that trike-limo. It’s such a great concept and it looks so neat. Now, I want to try a Chango. This area is just absolutely stunning. Love that sunset photo and the the staircase to the moon.

  37. Absolutely amazing post! I have never even heard of Broome, but I’m fascinated. I would love to have my photo taken with James Tobin and post it everywhere I could think of 🙂

  38. Ha Ha! Thanks Michelle! I know I had to resist the temptation to do that 😉

  39. Hi Mary – there are so many novel things to try in and around Broome – def worth a visit if you can 🙂

  40. Sophie @ Sophie's World

    That trike! Only in Oz. You Aussies are so crazily, wonderfully inventive. Sounds like a fab tour all round. My image of Broome is of a romantic, slightly hippie-ish kind of place, very laid-back and cool in every way.

  41. What great coverage Johanna. Would love to go for a ride in that limo anyway, what a head turner. Colors in your photos are really lovely- especially Gantheaume Point.

  42. Thanks Alison – I can’t recommend Broome enough for a holiday 😉

  43. Haha! You’ve got Broome wrapped up in that comment, Sophie! I don’t think I could have posted anything better 😉

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