Broome is a pearling and tourist town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, 2200 km north of Perth. The year round population is approximately 14,000, growing to around 30,000 during the tourist season. Broome International Airport provides transport to several regional and domestic towns and cities.
Broome is a historical pearling town situated in the Kimberley region in Western Australia. It is developing as a tourist resort, popular with Australians, in the dry season (from May to September). In the dry months the weather is ideal. It has sunny days with temperatures around 30C and balmy evenings and nights when the temperature fall to the low twenties.
The town is situated on the Indian Ocean and the main beach, Cable Beach, is a beautiful expanse of golden sand. The sunsets on Cable Beach are magnificent and can be enjoyed on the beach or from one of the restaurants on the esplanade.
The population of the town expands from about 12,000 in the wet to a high of about 30,000 at the height of the tourist season. The camping grounds are booked out pretty early and accommodation can be hard to find at the height of the season.
The town has an interesting history based around the exploits of the men and women who developed the pearling industry, starting with the harvesting of oysters for mother of pearl in the 1880s to the current major cultured pearl farming enterprises. The riches from the pearl beds did not come cheap and the town’s Japanese cemetery is the resting place of more than 900 Japanese divers who lost their lives working in the industry. Many were lost at sea and their number is unknown.
Cable Beach is situated 7 km from town along a good bitumen road. The beach itself is 22.5 km long with beautiful white sand washed clean daily by tides that can reach over nine metres. The water is crystal clear turquoise, and the gentle swells hardly manage to topple over as they roll up onto the almost perfectly flat beach. Caution, however is required when swimming from November through March as stingers are present during those months.
Four wheel drive vehicles may be driven onto the beach from the car park. This allows people to explore the beach at low tide to a much greater extent than would be possible on foot. Sunset camel rides operate daily along the beach.
Cable Beach is home to one of Australia’s most famous nudist beaches. The clothes optional area is to the north of the beach access road from the car park and continues to the mouth of Willie Creek, 17 km away. Located directly east of Cable Beach over the dunes is Minyirr Park, a coastal reserve administered by a collaboration of the Shire of Broome and the Rubibi people.
Being situated on a north/south peninsula, Broome has water on both sides of the town. On the eastern shore are the waters of Roebuck Bay extending from the Main jetty at Port Drive to Sandy Point, west of Thangoo station. Town Beach is part of the shoreline and is popular with visitors on the eastern end of the town. It is also the site of the famous stairway to the moon where a receding tide and a rising moon combine to create a stunning natural phenomenon. On stairway to the moon nights, a food and craft market is operated on Town Beach.
Roebuck Bay is of international importance for the millions of migratory waders or shorebirds that use it seasonally on migration through the East Asian – Australasian Flyway from their breeding grounds in northern Asia. They feed on the extensive intertidal mudflats and roost at high tide on the red sand beaches of the Bay. They can be seen in the largest numbers in summer, but many of the younger birds remain throughout the first and second years of their lives. The Broome Bird Observatory on the northern shore of Roebuck Bay was established by Birds Australia, and opened in 1990. The purpose of the observatory is to study the birds, learn how to protect them, and educate the public about them.
Although it is in the tropics, Broome technically has a low-latitude semi-arid climate (BSh). Like most parts of the Australian tropics, it has two seasons: a dry season and a wet season. The dry season is from May through November with nearly every day clear and maximum temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius.
The wet season extends from December through March, with maximum temperatures of around 35 degrees Celsius, rather erratic tropical downpours, and high humidity. Broome’s annual rainfall average is 550 mm, 75% of which falls from January through March. Broome is susceptible to tropical cyclones, and these, along with the equally unpredictable nature of summer thunderstorms, play a large part in the erratic nature of the rainfall. For instance, in January 1979, Broome recorded just 5.4mm of rainfall while in the same month of 1997, it received 910.8mm.