From glorious sunsets and outdoor cinema to historic Aboriginal art, here’s our pick of some of the best things to do in Broome, and beyond.
Watch the sun set on Cable Beach
Yes, this is a predictable Broome thing to do. And yes, it’s more than likely that you’ll be sharing the beach with telephoto lenses, tripods and trains of camels. But this deeply West Australian experience is an essential part of any visit to Broome. While resisting the urge to take a snap for social media is pretty much impossible, this spectacular sunset really should be appreciated with your smartphone in your pocket.
Get on the water
Join one of the daily turtle kayaking tours run by Broome Adventure Company and not only are you likely to spot a turtle or two (as well as manta rays and an abundance of fish) but you’ll also experience the best of Broome’s waterways. The fast-moving tides reveal and conceal secret beaches and caves as well as bring natural rock pools to life.
See a movie
Broome’s man-made attractions are no less impressive than its natural ones. Sun Pictures, the world’s oldest operating open-air cinema, is arguably the best-known of the town’s charming throwbacks to the past. In addition to screening films under the stars, morning tours of the cinema are conducted during the dry season.
From one set of stars to another, Greg Quicke’s Astro Tours are an entertaining introduction to the joys of astronomy. Taking full advantage of Broome’s crystal-clear skies, these informative evenings are – to quote host and charming Gandalf-lookalike Greg Quicke – all about “intensely practical astronomy” and are pleasingly low on jargon.
View Aboriginal art
Aboriginal artwork is another way visitors to Broome can connect meaningfully with the Kimberley. Housed in a century-old bungalow, the Short Street Gallery maintains a robust exhibition calendar and acts as an agent for Yulparija artists based in Bidyadanga, a community some 200 kilometres south of Broome. Intrepid wanderers, on the other hand, can download a self-drive Kimberley Aboriginal Art Trail Map and explore the art centres, studios and galleries in the region.
Broome can get hot so it’s important to keep cool. Hotel pools and beach swims aside, a frosty beverage at a local watering hole is a proven way of beating the heat, especially at Matso’s Broome Brewery. Named after the area’s pioneering Matsumoto family, the brewery is synonymous with both Broome and Broome time. And once you’ve finished that mango beer on the verandah, The Roebuck Bay Hotel on Dampier Terrace – known locally as The Roey – is another quintessential Broome establishment.
While it’s very easy to spend an entire long weekend discovering Broome, the town also serves as a gateway to the rest of the Kimberley. True, driving is one way to explore the region’s 423,000 square kilometres of ancient land but the time-poor might appreciate the speed and spectacle of a charter flight. Your pilot could, for instance, get you from Broome to the red-dirt airstrip at Cape Leveque, the northernmost tip of the Dampier Peninsula, in 45 minutes.
Once there, you could visit Cygnet Bay Pearls, Australia’s oldest pearl farm. Alternatively, you could spend your entire day exploring the area’s red ochre cliffs and enjoying the warm ocean water.
The ebb and flow of the ocean is even more pronounced in this part of the world, with water levels capable of rising and falling up to 11 metres in some parts of the Kimberley. At Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago (by plane, it’s about an hour from Broome), these tides manifest themselves as the Horizontal Falls – a sight that David Attenborough has described as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”. While the violent exchange of water between two nearby gorges photographs beautifully from the air, there’s nothing quite like a high-speed jet-boat ride across the Jules Verne-style whirlpools; the folks at Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures can help with both.
SEE ALSO: Where to Stay in Broome
This story was originally published on 1/5/2016 and updated 8/8/2019