Western Australian family owned & operated business Willie Creek Pearls shares the wonders of Broome’s deep history and the journey of the Australian South Sea Cultured Pearl from shell to showroom. Discover the owners, the Banfield family’s secrets to success.
“Every day is an adventure in the pearling industry,” says Robert Banfield, Chairman/Owner of Willie Creek Pearls, who lives and breathes the splendour of Broome’s highly sought-after Australian South Sea Cultured Pearl.
The brilliant colours of the Kimberley are reflected in the turquoise tidal estuary of Willie Creek with its stark contrast to the pindan soil. This is home to the picturesque Willie Creek Pearl Farm, located only 38 kilometres north of Broome, where the Banfield family first began Willie Creek Pearls in 1994.
Robert says, “family is the backbone of the business and the key to its success”, with three generations working side-by-side in the vertically integrated business that operates in six industries: commercial pearl farming, tourism, hospitality, jewellery, manufacture and retail.
“Our commercial pearling operation harvests up to 10,000 pearls each year and having a dedicated team lead by our Pearling Master, Paul Birch enables us to control the quality, husbandry and the complete pearling process,” he says.
Willie Creek Pearls have been educating and inspiring thousands of visitors a year, to uncover the history, mystery and story of the pearling industry. Their multi award-winning tours include the Willie Creek Pearl Farm Tour, Discover Broome Tour, Helicopter flights, Live Pearl Harvests and much more in Broome and Perth. It is these combinations that complete the pearling journey and showcase The Pearl of Western Australia.
“It’s a paradise in an isolated part of the world and a beautiful place to bring people to show them the wonders of the pearling industry,” says Robert.
The tides, temperatures and nutrient rich waters off the coast of Northern Western Australia create the ideal environment for the Pinctada maxima oyster to produce the best and largest pearls in the world; Australian South Sea Cultured Pearls. The average pearl harvested by Willie Creek Pearls ranges between 9mm to 16mm and on occasion up to 20mm, which can retail for up to $75,000. Willie Creek Pearls have seven jewellery showrooms between Perth and Broome.
“The oysters are very precious,” says Robert. “They require dedicated nurture and care during the husbandry process - you only get out what you put in.”
And that’s a mantra that applies to all areas of the business. He says the support of the fantastic staff has been exceptional, through the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The family couldn’t have done it without them, and we value our amazing team more than ever.”
“Achieving the stunning lustre Willie Creek Pearls are renowned for is all about balance and a healthy, happy environment,” says Robert – which is not unlike their business model. Being a member of the Qantas Business Rewards program and using their American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card helps them achieve this.
Willie Creek Pearls’ immersive oyster farm and pearl harvest experiences have been pivotal in establishing the trusted Western Australian-made and family-focused brand. It's why customers come back, Robert explains.
Using the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card has also helped streamline business for the diverse customer base both in-store and online.
“We love our American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card. Not only do we benefit from having our own business Card, our customers are also rewarded for using their American Express Card when purchasing our quality Australian product.
The flexibility of up to 51 days to pay for purchases1 and no pre-set spending limit2, so that your limit may grow over time with your purchase patterns, are key benefits for businesses using the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card.
“The American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card is generous with its limits [there is no pre-spending limit], so we also pay some of our bills using the Card,” says Robert.
Living in the magnificent, yet remote, Kimberly region means a lot of travel is required to operate Willie Creek Pearls.
“Earning points using the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card is very useful in helping offset these travel costs,” says Robert.
“At every opportunity, that’s the first card we use, and we use it to book all our Qantas flights. All of our leadership team have cards too.”
In fact, businesses can have up to 99 Employee Cards at no additional cost3 with all points earned credited to the Primary Account, which means you get to choose how you redeem them.
"Businesses can also earn triple Qantas Points on flights4, access domestic and international travel insurance for you, your partner and employees holding Employee Cards”5 and access two domestic Qantas Club Lounge passes each card membership year.6
Card Members earn 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 on everyday business spend; 0.5 points per $1 on utilities, insurance and government payments; and 2 points per $1 spent on Qantas products and services such as Qantas Flights, Qantas Wine and Qantas Insurance.7
Earn up to 1.25 Qantas Points per dollar spent on everyday business spend, uncapped.7
1 Depending upon when you make a purchase, when your statement is issued and whether or not you are carrying forward a balance on your account from your previous statement period.
2 No pre-set spending limit does not mean unlimited spending. Your purchases are approved based on a variety of factors, including current spending patterns, your payment history, credit records, and financial resources known to us.
3 Employee Cards: American Express approval criteria apply. Subject to Terms and Conditions. Fees and charges apply. This offer is only available to those who reside in Australia. Employee Card Members must be over 18 years of age. The Business, the Primary Card Member and each Employee Card Member are jointly and severally liable for all Employee Card spending. Terms and Conditions apply.
4 A business must be a Qantas Business Rewards Member to earn TRIPLE Qantas Points for business. The TRIPLE Qantas Points for business are only available for American Express Qantas Card Member when the Card is used to make an eligible Qantas flight booking. An eligible flightOpens external site means a domestic or international flight which has a Qantas 'QF' flight number on the ticket that is purchased in Australia; is operated by Qantas, Emirates or American Airlines; has a ticket number commencing with '081'; and is booked and travelled for business on or after the date the business registers for Qantas Business Rewards. Exclusions applyOpens external site. TRIPLE Qantas Points for Business is not available in conjunction with any other rebate, Corporate Fares Agreement or discount arrangement with Qantas. A Member's ABN and traveller's Qantas Frequent Flyer number must be quoted at the time of booking to earn Qantas Points for both the business and the traveller. Qantas will allocate 3 times the number of Qantas Points to the business under the Qantas Business Rewards Airline Reward Scheme terms and conditionsOpens external site. The maximum number of Qantas Points that can be earned from flying by a business with the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card is 4,000,000 per membership year as per the Triple Qantas Points for business benefit terms and conditionsOpens external site.
5 American Express Card Insurances are subject to terms, conditions and exclusionsOpens external site. The complimentary travel insurance cover is also subject maximum age limits, pre-existing medical conditions and limits and is available when you use your American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card to pay for return domestic or international travel. American Express Card Insurances are underwritten by Chubb Insurance Australia Limited (ABN 23 001 642 020, AFSL No. 239687) ("Chubb") and are subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the American Express Card insurances policy of insurance between American Express International, Inc. (ABN 15 000 618 208, AFSL No. 237996) ("AEII") of 12 Shelley Street, Sydney 2000 and Chubb.
6 Provided the Primary Card Member is a Qantas Frequent Flyer and has registered their Qantas Frequent Flyer number with your business' American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card, your business is eligible to receive two Qantas Club Lounge Invitations each anniversary year of Card Membership once your business makes an Eligible Qantas Purchase on your American Express Card during that year. Eligible Qantas Purchases are Qantas passenger airfares with a QF flight number purchased directly from Qantas Australia that appear on your Card statement, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Business Rewards or Qantas Club membership, joining or annual fees. Excludes purchases from Jetstar. Within 1-2 weeks of the Eligible Qantas Purchase, two Qantas Club Lounge Invitations will be assigned to the Qantas Frequent Flyer account nominated by the business. Visit the Complimentary Invitations Portal to access invitations, link it with an eligible Qantas flight booking or find out more information. Qantas Club Lounge Invitations are valid for a single visit by one guest to a Qantas Club Lounge and must be used prior to their expiry. Invitations are subject to the Qantas Club terms and conditions and are not valid for Qantas International First Class Lounges, the Qantas Chairman's Lounge, Qantas Domestic Business and or oneworld® alliance partner or associated lounges. Qantas Club Invitations cannot be carried forward to any subsequent year and must not be sold, they may only be transferred as allowed by Qantas. Invitations may be revoked or withheld if your business' American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card account is not in good standing, if the Eligible Qantas Purchase is refunded in full or if you have not complied with these Qantas Club Invitation Conditions, the Credit Card Terms and ConditionsOpens external site or the Qantas Club Lounge Access Terms and Conditions.
7 Qantas Points are earned in accordance with and subject to the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and ConditionsOpens external site. Your business will earn 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 of everyday spend, which does not include annual fees, late payment fee, fees and charges for travellers cheques and foreign currencies. Your business will earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent at participating merchants classified as "utilities" including gas, water and electricity providers; "government" including the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Postal Corporation, federal/state and local government bodies; and "insurance" excluding insurances offered by American Express. Your business will earn 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on the following Qantas Products and Services purchased on the Qantas merchant account (i.e. directly from Qantas): Qantas passenger flights (with a QF flight number), Qantas Holidays, Qantas Branded non-airfare products, and Qantas Frequent Flyer and Qantas Club membership joining and annual fees. Excludes Jetstar. For the full list of exclusions, please refer to the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and ConditionsOpens external site.
We acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work, live and fly.
We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.