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(the fight is half the fun anyway). If the jetty
is crowded, try the rocks on the southern
side of the jetty. If you head offshore you’ll
rarely be disappointed – the plane wrecks
in Roebuck Bay are a good place to start,
as well as Dampier and Crab creeks. In the
open water, there’s mackerel, tuna (May to
January) and sailfish (June until September).
When in Broome, pearls are a girl’s
best friend. Learn more about how this
mysterious gem is cultivated by taking
a tour or driving to nearby pearl farms,
where you can head out on the water
and see the oyster beds close up, or
take a chopper for an aerial view. Learn
how oysters are harvested and hear how
Broome’s pearling industry came to be.
The farms will also teach about the pearls
once they’ve been harvested, how to care
for them and, of course, the ins and outs
of purchasing them. Once you’re the full
bottle, you’ll be well-equipped to browse
the streets of Chinatown, which are lined
with jewellery showrooms. Don’t be afraid to
shop around and try on different strands to
see which ones are best suited to your skin
tone. If you are fascinated by the history, it’s
worth visiting the Pearl Luggers grounds (in
the heart of Chinatown) where you can see
two fully rigged and restored pearl luggers.
With a diverse landscape and many scenic
campgrounds, it’s no surprise camping is
so popular in this region. Close to Broome,
the Broome Bird Observatory offers a great
chance to wake up in the bush among the
local birdlife at Roebuck Bay ($15 per person
per night, (08) 9193 5600. There are creature
comforts such as toilets, hot showers,
barbecue area and the Shadehouse (a fully
equipped dining shelter with great views of
the birdbaths). Further north, the Dampier
Peninsula is undoubtedly awesome for
camping, and has several free campgrounds
with fantastic views. A 4WD to get around
is advisable when travelling the peninsula
(you might have a bumpy ride in parts if
you’re towing a caravan) but you’ll be able
to reach some sites such as James Price
Point with a 2WD. With bright red cliffs that
border the white beach, James Price Point
is heartbreakingly pretty, and is a great first
stop on the cape (camping here is free of
charge). There are sensational views from
the camping areas, and by the water there’s
plenty of life in the rock pools. Another free
site is Quondong Point, on the same turn
off to Willie Creek Pearl Farm. Great fishing,
campgrounds perched atop the cliffs, tide
pools with fresh oysters (keep an eye out
for octopus), and whales breaching are just
a few of the things you’ll find. If you’re after
more than the basics, Kooljaman at Cape
Leveque boasts a restaurant and bar (only
open in the dry season) plus safari tents and
cabins. Bear in mind Kooljaman is incredibly
popular in peak season, so bookings are
a must. Middle Lagoon is always a good
option for some peace and quiet – there’s
great snorkelling (keep an eye out for clown
fish) and you can fish for squid straight off
the beach. There are also campgrounds at
Barred Creek, Coulomb Point, Gnylmarung
Retreat, Mercedes Cove, Pender Bay, Chile
Creek and Goombading. TIP It’s BYO
everything (and take rubbish with you) at
several sites on the peninsula, including
James Price Point and Quondong Point.
CAPE LEVEQUE | The
bordering cliffs and sandy beaches
at Cape Leveque are an exhibition of
earthy colours against the ocean, making
the site popular for photographers.
The cape is home to Kooljaman Indigenous
Wilderness Camp, where you can embrace the local civilisation and book a cultural
activity. Flexibility is key, especially in the wet season when there are fewer visitors and
the activities are run by demand.
ONE ARM POINT (ARDIYOOLOON) | The welcoming Aboriginal community
has embraced tourism and the locals are happy to show visitors how to fish, trap mud
crabs, and live off the land. You can also tour Australia’s only trochus hatchery, where
there is intriguing one-of-a-kind art and jewellery on sale.
BUCCANEER ARCHIPELAGO | Consisting of up to a thousand islands at low
tide, the spectacular scenery of the archipelago is littered with rainforests, beaches and
reefs, with a diverse aquatic ecosystem. The powerful tides create horizontal waterfalls
that can be viewed by tour boats and planes, and the ancient rock art of the Aboriginal
people who inhabited the islands for thousands of years can still be found today.
CYGNET BAY | Australia’s oldest operating pearl farm, which is still family owned,
has plenty to offer visitors. For accommodation, the safari tents will keep you in touch
with nature, but are more luxurious than a standard tent. The Giant Tides Tour on
a high-powered boat is an exhilarating experience; don’t expect your hair to stay
expertly groomed during the journey. For a more relaxing boating experience, there
are tours that explore the surrounding archipelago islands and oyster beds.
BEAGLE BAY | Experience a little outback spirituality at the quirky Sacred Heart
Church, which boasts an altar encrusted in a mosaic of tiny shells and mother of pearl.
Make sure you show your appreciation with a small donation, and bear in mind that
the visitor areas are only open on weekdays.
LOMBADINA | The local Aboriginal community owns a flourishing tourism
business, which covers accommodation and ocean-orientated tours, such as
snorkelling, kayaking, mud crabbing and boating charters. Remember to respect
traditions at all times, and if you aren’t sure if a route or destination is open for
visitors, it’s always best to ask.
A Cygnet Bay tour to the Sunday Islands
(photography Cygnet Bay Pearls).
Old pearling luggers on Dampier
Terrace (photography Simon McBeth).
The cliffs at Cape Leveque.
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