Broome, Western Australia things to do: Six of the best sights

PEARL LUGGERS

Over a century ago, Broome's waterfront was busy with some 400 pearling ships. Now you can inspect two of the few survivors, settled among the mangroves just behind Chinatown. Don't be deceived by their sleek and beautiful lines, though. The adjacent museum doesn't flinch from describing the dangers of pearl diving and the forced labour that many Aboriginal and Asian workers endured. The oxygen hand pumps and copper helmets once used by divers are among alarming exhibits. This is a good place to get an overview of Broome's colonial history and the importance of the pearl business in its development. See pearlluggers.com.au

CHINATOWN

SHD Travel, Apr 9. Broome, Sun Pictures outdoor cinema. Supplied by WA Tourism

Photo: WA Tourism

This must be the world's tiniest Chinatown (which was also a Japanese and Malay town), but it has the requisite red lacquered gates and hanging lanterns, while photographic signboards along Johnny Chi Lane testify to its authentic history, which dates to the 1880s. In the last couple of years, Chinatown has undergone a multi-million-dollar revitalisation that has seen it adorned with public art. The corrugated-iron buildings that once housed gambling dens and bordellos have been transformed into craft shops and eateries. Don't miss Sun Pictures (above), the world's oldest outdoor cinema, established in 1916 and still showing movies. See chinatownbroome.com.au

CABLE BEACH

Late afternoon camel ride on Cable Beach, Broome. xxbroomewa broome wa six of the best ; text by Brian Johnston ; SUPPLIED via journalist ; No syndication ; credit: Tourism WA ; 

Photo: Tourism WA

Cable Beach stretches for kilometre after golden kilometre where Australia ends and the turquoise Indian Ocean begins. It may be Broome's most obvious attraction, but there's a reason for that with lovely white sands, gentle waters, romantic camel rides along the shoreline and a fabled sunset fireball. A cruise in a restored pearl lugger is another way to enjoy the spectacle. You may also get active by hitting the surf, or following walking trails through the red sand dunes of Minyirr Park, where an Indigenous tour adds a cultural element. See visitbroome.com.au

GANTHEAUME POINT

Aerial view of Gantheaume Point, Broome
xxbroomewa broome wa six of the best ; text by Brian Johnston ; SUPPLIED via journalist ; No syndication ; credit: Tourism WA ; 

Photo: Tourism WA

The southern end of Cable Beach rucks into a promontory of worn-down, bright orange sandstone that contrasts brilliantly with a sapphire sea in which you might spot passing dolphins or migrating whales. The rocks are encrusted with plant fossils and, most dramatically, 125-million-year-old dinosaur footprints, though these are only visible at low tide. Gantheaume Point is a good place for a rock scramble or for viewing the sunset. Local youngsters leap off the rocks or swim from the beach, although there's no lifeguard. The racecourse with its red-dirt track is a hoot when country races are in full swing. See australiasnorthwest.com

WILLIE CREEK PEARL FARM

Couple enjoying the informative pearling history presentation, at the Willie Creek Pearl Farm, located just north of Broome xxbroomewa broome wa six of the best ; text by Brian Johnston ; SUPPLIED via journalist ; No syndication ; credit: Tourism WA ; 

Photo: Tourism WA

Take a tour at this cultured-pearl farm 40 kilometres outside Broome and you'll find out how a speck of sand in an oyster ends up – with considerable value added – on a supermodel's neck. You'll see the seeding of oysters in the hatchery, then get out on the water to learn how the oysters are nurtured and harvested. While you're at it, you'll get a good idea of the coastal environment, with its mangroves and bird life; you might even spot wild horses. This is a slick operation on Australia's raw edge, so expect to finish in the showroom. See williecreekpearls.com.au

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ROWLEY SHOALS MARINE PARK

Rowley Shoals Marine Park, near Broome  xxbroomewa broome wa six of the best ; text by Brian Johnston ; SUPPLIED via journalist ; No syndication ; credit: Tourism WA ; 

Photo: Tourism WA

Okay, these aren't actually in Broome but considerably out to sea from it but, while you're here, don't miss the opportunity to get out to one of Australia's best dive spots. The chain of coral atolls – visible only at low tide – is teeming with life, from creatures that enjoy pond-like shallows to mightier denizens of the deep that lurk along the sponge- and fan-encrusted reef canyons and drop-offs. There are over 200 coral types, and nearly 700 species of fish. Snorkellers will enjoy it too. You can also fish in certain zones for sailfish and marlin. See parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

Brian Johnston travelled courtesy Coral Expeditions.

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