Broome's Claim to Fame - Cable Beach

The Site of the Staircase to the Moon

One of the world's biggest travel websites, Trip Advisor, recently published a list of the world's most beautiful beaches. Included in the top ten was Cable Beach at Broome, Western Australia. The only other Australian beach on the list was the Whitsunday Island's Whitehaven Beach, off the coast of Queensland. Cable Beach gets its name from the telegraph cable laid between Broome and Java in 1889,

Trip Advisor has 20 million members and over 40 million visitors a month so the recommendation carries some merit. Other beaches included in the top ten list were Aitutaki Lagoon and Muri Lagoon in the Southern Cook Islands, Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island, India, Piscine Naturelle Ile des Pins, New Caledonia, Thong Nai Pan Noi, Ko Phangan, Thailand, Yapak Beach (Puka Shell Beach) Boracay, Philippines, Ngwe Saung, Yangon, Myanmar and Pantai Geger, Nusa Dua, Bali.

Camels at Cable BeachCredit: Wikimedia - Author Nachoman-au

Camels on the beach at Cable Beach, Broome

At Australia's National Travel Industry Awards run by the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, the Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa won the Best Hotel/Resort category. The Resort won the same award in 2008 but has since undergone a $3 million renovation. There is now a new mini-golf course and a water playground. There have been improvements made to the family pool. Facilities which have always attracted patrons are the spa, gym and butler-served suites.

Cable Beach has incredibly turquoise blue water and incredibly white sand against a backdrop of the red pindan colour of the Kimberley. The beach is 22 kilometres long and a favoured spot from which to watch the sun slowly set over the Indian Ocean on a balmy, tropical night. North of the beach access road from the car park is the 'clothes optional' area. This nationally famous nudist beach continues for 17 kilometres to the mouth of Willie Creek. The sands are washed clean by tides that reach over nine metres, leaving boats stranded on the sand until the next tide.

Directly east of Cable Beach is Minyirr Park, a coastal reserve which is jointly administered by the Shire of Broome and the Rubibi people.

Pearls in oyster shellCredit: WWalas

Raw pearl in oyster shell

Broome is on a north/south peninsula and thus has water on both sides of the town. Town Beach is part of the coastline on the eastern end of the town and is the site of the famous Staircase to the Moon. A receding tide and a rising moon create an amazing natural phenomenon with the illusion of moonlit steps rising into the heavens. The bay here is known as Roebuck Bay and is of international importance as part of the East Asian-Australian Flyway for migratory waders or shorebirds. The largest numbers are seen in summer. The extensive intertidal mudflats are an important foodsource.  At high tide they roost on the red sand beaches of the Bay. The Broome Bird Observatory is set in pindan woodland. It was opened in 1990 with the aim of studying and protecting the birds while also educating the public.

Broome has a typical tropical climate with a wet and a dry season. From April to November, temperatures hover around 30oC. From December to March, maximum temperatures are around 35oC, with erratic heavy rains and high humidity. Tropical cyclones and summer thunderstorms are always a threat.

Broome has an interesting history. A pearling industry has continued since the 1880s when oysters were harvested for mother of pearl. Various ethnic groups flocked to Broome to work on the pearling luggers. The town has a Japanese cemetery where the graves of 919 Japanese divers give testament to the hazardous nature of diving in the early days of the industry. Many more perished at sea.

Part of the Broome CemeteryCredit: Original uploader was Tiles at en.wikipedia

Japanese cemetery at Broome

During World War II, Broome was bombed from the air at least four times by the Japanese. The worst raid was on 3 March 1942 when 88 people (mostly civilians) were killed.

Being such a long beach, Cable Beach is never crowded. Whether you just want to laze in the sunshine, hire a jet ski, take a boat cruise or sit back and sway along on a sunset camel ride, Cable Beach will accommodate you. It is 7km from Broome along a good bitumen road. The nine metre tides roll gently up onto the almost perfectly flat beach. Four wheel drive vehicles can be driven on the beach allowing exploration of the beach at low tide a much easier option than on foot.

With so much that is perfect, what is the catch? The catch is the presence of box jellyfish which are present in the water from November to March. Caution is needed during those times. Very occasionally crocodiles are sighted off shore.

The mining boom and tourism has helped Broome become one of the fastest growing towns in Australia. Today cultured pearls are one of the major enterprises of the town.

Another of the attractions at Broome is the Cable Beach Amphitheatre. Opera Under The Stars this year featured husband and wife team, bass Wade Kernot and Western Australia's own Emma Pearson. The amphitheatre has swaying palm trees and the ocean as a backdrop and is a popular venue for a wide range of cultural events during the dry season. It is also a great place to picnic and watch the sun go down.