Broome, I have to tell you, is wonderful! The airport is almost in the middle of the town right next door to the shopping mall. My friend, Robin, who lives near the airport says she has become used to the noise of aircraft landing and taking off. Apparently there was a plan to move the airport further out of town but the locals didn’t want that to happen.
Not only is the airport in town, so is the jail (correctional facility as it is called around here). Sun Pictures, the world’s oldest picture gardens, is also in the centre of Chinatown. We sat and had an excellent coffee at a nearby cafe and an aeroplane nearly took Roland’s eyebrows off! He has extremely bushy, white eyebrows (for the Aussies, think: Robert Menzies but more so).
First impressions of Broome included a man sleeping under a tree next to the town oval, warm sunlight, friendly locals passing out pamphlets and maps and a group of bronzes that told of Broome’s history. The Roebuck Hotel over the road and, oh, a ‘unisex’ public toilet.
I would have liked those photos to be next to each other but haven’t quite mastered that yet. Anyhoo, that is Roland with the bronze of an early pearl diver and me standing next to an Oriental man who was part of the first pearl industry in Broome.
We saw the biggest pearl ever, in a glass case – not for sale. It had a lovely pinky sheen and was, indeed, very large. The pearls, even the little ones, were so beautiful. I have a string of pearls from my mum but have given them to Kath as I’m not really a wearer of jewellery, apart from cheap earrings – the only good ones that I have, have been given to me … like the silver beauties from Donna.
Robin took us to Town Beach which is where people go to watch the ‘stairway to the moon‘. We had coffee at the cafe overlooking the beach and watched the tide go out and the mangroves emerge from the water. I looked for a salty but no luck. The beaches are really dangerous in summer with salties and stingers. Even the sharks avoid the salties!
Town Beach is a magical spot. Broome is one place in Western Australia where you can watch the sun rise and set over the ocean. This disorientated Roland who has an amazing sense of direction. For me, well, not knowing left from right at the best of times, I just accept it otherwise it makes me giddy and I have to sit down and have a glass of wine.
We took a drive out to the race course. The Broome Races are big at this time of year. People travel from all over to be there. It seems to me that Broome people know how to entertain and enjoy themselves.
The dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point were not in view as the tides dictate when you can see them. My toe was really painful at this stage so I wouldn’t have walked down to where they are in any case. The colours of the rocks against the blue sky and the blue ocean has to be seen to be believed.
Robin introduced us as ‘The Boat People’. Interesting that, although there were over 1,500 tourists from the Sun Princess, many of the shops in Broome still shut at 3.00pm! It takes more than earning a buck to live the Broome life.
Cable Beach is one of the best known spots in Broome. We were fortunate enough to watch the two caravans of camels come down to the beach to take tourists for rides. Some of the camels are beginners and don’t actually carry tourists, they are there to learn how to do it.
Driving round Broome we saw amazing displays of bougainvillaea, frangipani and a couple of Bismarck Palms. Roland went back to the ship before I did and I spent a little while with Robin. We didn’t remember about visiting the Japanese Cemetery before it was too late but I’ll visit that when we return to Broome next year.
Back to the Sun Princess, weary and happy. Next stop Benoa in Bali. Roland’s first taste of Bali! Oh my!