Broome was high on my list of places to visit when we planned this trip. It’s an old pearling town in the north of Western Australia, right on the edge of the Kimberley. Ever seen those photos from Australia of camels on the beach at sunset? That’s Broome.
“We should probably stay five nights,” I told Jared. “If not longer.”
Then I looked at the expensive caravan park prices and decided to reserve judgement until we arrived.
We stayed at the Roebuck Bay Caravan Park intending to go unpowered, but all that was left was a $48/night powered site. It had a sliver of sea view so I couldn’t be too mad, and as soon as we unpacked the tent I put on my suit and ran straight down the hill into the inviting blue water of Town Beach.
It was lucky I did, because Broome’s crazy tides receded an hour or two later to reveal a wide stretch of squelchy sand.
“If you see the blue, best go right in,” our English expat neighbor said. “The sea in Broome don’t last long, but it comes back eventually.”
Over our stay I was fascinated to see how drastically the tides swept in and out, revealing hidden mangroves and seashells. The Visitor’s Centre reports that if you go to Gantheaume Point at tides below 2.16m, you can find dinosaur prints. I was skeptical, but we decided to check it out.
Gantheaume Point is a rocky headland that drops dramatically into the sea. The rocks are a deep red, almost orange, and they look amazing against the Indian Ocean’s blue waters. We first went at high tide and returned at 6:45am the next day to scope out the dinosaur footprints.
I couldn’t believe how much rock shelf was exposed compared to the deep water we’d seen the day before. After a few minutes of pointing out every hole in a rock, wondering if it was a footprint, we noticed a small crowd of people about 200 meters away.
Sure enough, there they were. DINOSAUR FOOTPRINTS. I was so taken with them, these very clear three-toed footprints fossilized in the rock for 130 million years.
There are supposed to be others out there, but without a clear idea of location and the rapidly rising tide, we headed back up the cliff to dry ground.
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Broome is also where you’ll find Matso’s Brewery. They’re known for their ginger beer but I fell pretty madly in love with their whole range. There’s a mango beer that actually tastes good and not super-fruity, a chili ginger beer with just the right kick, and a refreshing pale ale.
Matso’s did not pay me to say this. I just really like their beer.
What I did not like were the invisible midges that feasted on me in their beergarden. I didn’t realize they were biting me (thanks beer) but hideous itchy welts popped up on my legs and arms the next day as a reminder. If you go, cover up or perfume yourself with bug spray.
After Matso’s we walked into town and stopped for a drink at the Roey. The outside of the bar looked like an old-time saloon, with a rickety wooden verandah and people who openly stared at us.
Jared ordered the beers from the bikini-clad bargirls, and I slowly realized I was the only woman in the bar who didn’t work there. The others were all male, wearing hi-vis work shirts and hunched over the bar. It wasn’t until later that we learned we’d gone into the sports bar, not the main Pearler’s Bar, which sort of explained the alternate universe. Sort of.
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Broome is divided into two main areas, town and Cable Beach. We stayed in town and drove the 5 kilometers over to Cable Beach to catch the famous sunset camels. There are a couple of bars overlooking the beach that would be great sunset drink spots, but we took Patrick right down onto the sand with the other 4 wheel drives.
In the photos, the camels always look so unusual and isolated, reinforcing Broome’s reputation as an in-the-middle-of-nowhere place. In reality, there were three different groups of camels marching along the beach, being chased by people with cameras and iPads to get That Photo.
Despite the camel paparazzi (of which I was undoubtedly a part), it was stunning. Broome is the kind of place that you could slowly sink into. Once you did, it would be easy to believe that the rest of the world had ceased to exist, that Broome was it.
In the end we only stayed three days, but I definitely could have stayed longer.