Feature

The battleground of Broome

Green Lifestyle magazine

On the north-west coast of Australia, Broome is a thriving town of contrasting colours and industries, from eco to destructive.

Broome

With the second biggest tides in the world, the Kimberly plays host to some spectacular beach sunsets.

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

Broome

Broome and surrounds have some of the most amazing geological formations.

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

Broome

The accommodation, for humans and green tree frogs alike!

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

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It’s a landscape of contrast, where the red dirt peninsula lulls over onto white sand beaches and starkly juxtaposes the sharp turquoise water and bright cobalt sky. A long road from anywhere – a north-western offshoot on Australia’s coast – Broome is kicking around under jaw-dropping sunsets as the largest town on the Kimberley.

The Kimberly coastline boasts the second biggest tides in the world at up to 11.8 m, resulting in their well-known spectacular sunsets over the Indian Ocean, with the full moon causing an extremely low tide that draws professional photographers from around the world to capture it’s reflection in iconic ‘staircase to the moon’ images.

Broome embodies the laid-back attitude of north-west Australia, with artists and miners happily sharing the same watering holes. Originally a pearling port that drew in Chinese and Europeans looking for their fortune, Broome is now a friendly, multicultural hub. The 22 km of pristine sands at Cable Beach draw in international and Aussie tourists, but locals are also lured to this same beach at least a few times a week for lazy evening sundowners on the beach with their dogs.

Quiet escape

In the middle of little else at all, 120 km south of Broome is the luxury camping sanctuary of Eco Beach Resort. With no TV, radio or newspapers, and sparse phone reception escape from the outside world becomes a cinch, with massage, yoga, whale watching and just good old relaxing taking its place.

One of the best things to be said for camping anywhere is feeling a connection to the landscape. Here, more than ever, the morning belongs to the birds, the sand to the crabs and evidently, the bathroom to the green tree frogs.

Best of all, your stay can be experienced with a decent dose of good karma. Elevated boardwalks made from sustainable materials protect the sandy soils from erosion and allow the wallabies to graze undisturbed. The naturally-ventilated eco tents each have their own solar panel to run LED lights and heat the shower, and all the waste water is recycled responsibly.

Industrial threat

An industrial gas plant has been proposed at James Price Point just north of Broome, home to one of the world’s biggest humpback whale nurseries and some of the best-known examples of dinosaur footprints. Former Greens leader Bob Brown recently joined Sea Shepherd in Broome to highlight the negative natural, social and economic impacts of the factory. “Gas factories and whale nurseries don’t mix. I’m for the whale nursery. Gas factories can go somewhere else, the whale nursery can’t,” says Brown. Tourism is crucial to Broome’s economy – the population triples during tourist season. A recent report by The Australia Institute found that the gas hub would significantly harm tourism, and that an alternative location near Derby or offshore should be considered.

The Essentials

Getting there
Direct domestic flights to Broome leave daily from Perth, and about twice a week from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin. Eco Beach is just over an hour’s drive south of Broome.

Staying there
Eco Beach’s Eco Tents (pictured above) are $165–$270 per night and includes use of the central BBQ area with some appliances. Internet is available at reception. www.ecobeach.com.au

Food stops
Certified organic and situated on a commercial organic farm, 12 Mile café serves up great fresh Malay inspired food, influenced by Broome’s multicultural background. 08 9192 8552

Matso’s Broome Brewery serves refreshing ginger, mango and chilli beers overlooking the emerald green waters of Roebuck Bay. www.matsos.com.au

Activities
Eco Beach runs free sustainability and wildlife tours daily. Whale watching cruises run between July and September for $120pp. Turtle hatching conservation programs run from November to January.
Sun Pictures Outdoor Cinemas claims to be the world’s oldest outdoor cinema, and is open every day except for Christmas day.

More info www.broomevisitorcentre.com.au