This post is for the Amex Shop Small program.
This is the first of many posts on Broome.
Because it is our favourite place in Australia. Evident by the fact we stayed five weeks here – the longest of any place on our trip so far. We originally planned for at least two, but as soon as we drove in I felt that connection to a home and I knew I needed to stay longer.
My soul craved a little rest and nourishment and Broome gave me that. I think I cried days before we were even due to leave. It is a truly magical and unique Australian town.
So let’s kick off with Broome Town
Broome is really split between Cable Beach and Broome town, which is comprised of Town Beach and Chinatown. Broome Town is walkable and has many amazing cafes, restaurants, boutique shops, and fantastic views.
During the heyday of Broome’s pearling industry, the pearlers (many from China, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Europe) would arrive back on shore cashed up and head to the opium dens and billiard halls of Chinatown.
Now, Chinatown is Broome’s main shopping district and is only a couple of streets.
It’s a fascinating mix of Colonial and corrugated sheds next to colourful Asian architecture. Town Beach is only a couple of kilometres from Chinatown along the mangroves of Roebuck Bay.
Where to Shop Small in Broome
I’m proud to support the 2014 Shop Small movement which is dedicated to supporting the small businesses that are the heartbeat of our community.
You know the ones – the family businesses, the start-ups, the independents, the small businesses that give our neighbourhood its colour and its convenience. Local is the way we love to travel and Broome has amazing local businesses.
I’ve been asked by American Express to share my love for small businesses and I’ve chosen to feature Broome.
More people need to know about this beautiful little town. Go on over to www.shopsmallaustralia.com/walks and take a look at my Shop Small Walk map, which you can print out and take with you while exploring my must try and must buys!
We created a handy map of the first eight of our suggestions to help you explore Broome town. Of course, you don’t have to do these in order, whatever makes sense for your schedule and needs. If you have several days in Broome then switch it up and linger longer at each place.
You can download a copy of the American Express Shop Small Walk for Broome, made by us by clicking here.
I have numbered each stop as it corresponds to the map.
1. Town Beach Cafe
OMG. Have you ever seen more divine breakfast views then this?
You cannot even imagine the beauty of it until you’re standing in front of it. Town Beach is the place to come for breakfast. There is a kids playground here, which will help you to relax while they have fun.
Our must try is the Eggs Florentine.
We do recommend coming here at high tide to get the full turquoise colour of the water, but do return at low tide as well. The tide goes so far out you can walk out on the squelchy mud flats. On really low tides you can walk a kilometre out to the wreckage of the World War II flying boats, sunk during the bombing by the Japanese.
Broome is such a fascinating place. Bombed by the Japanese in World War II, yet they were also a very important part of establishing the pearling industry in Broome. The Japanese cemetery in Broome is the biggest one outside of Japan, home to more than 900 Japanese pearl divers.
Broome just forgives, embraces and accepts.
If you are in town for the Staircase to the Moon then you can come down to Town Beach to watch the spectacle as the moon rises above the mud flats shining its light upon it so it looks like stairs leading up to it. I think the viewing of it was more fun from the Mangrove Hotel.
2. Matso’s Brewery
You know a brewery is good when you’re drooling over yourself to get back there as you can still taste their ginger beer ten years after – and you don’t even like ginger beer.
Matso’s is a real treat. It has some of the best micro-brewed beer in Australia. There is a lovely beer garden you can sit in with a few climbing trees for the kids.
The ginger beer competed with the mango beer as my favourites and the most refreshing summer drink you could hope for. Craig was fond of the Pearler”s Pale Ale. As for cider, both the mango and ginger cider are equally as good.
There’s also a chilli beer for the spicy people in the house. And it’s a great spot for lunch or dinner and I recommend the quinoa salad – exceptional.
3. Mangrove Hotel
Holy Hell. I’m sure that is what Craig and I said as we walked through the doors of the Mangrove Hotel out to the beer garden and saw these views.
What the? I can’t believe we never came here before (before as in when we lived on and off in Broome from the pearl farms).
I think it’s possibly my favourite place in Broome and cannot be beaten for lunch time views. You have the deep red earth, the dark green of the mangroves, the sparkling turquoise water of Roebuck Bay. It’s just CRAZY beautiful.
It’s also lovely of an evening as the sun sets and is a fantastic spot for Staircase to the Moon. There was a didgeridoo playing the entire time the moon was rising which made it seem more spiritual and ethereal.
And apart from all of that, they also do incredible food.
Our must try is the venison chorizo, slow cooked cherry tomato and goats cheese pizza. The popcorn chicken is another locals pick.
4. Cygnet Bay Pearls
Broome has a rich pearling history. In case you weren’t aware, Craig and I worked on a PasPaley pearl farm at Kuri Bay in the Kimberley region ten years ago.
Pearls are a little close to our heart and we don’t think you should visit Broome without exploring more of this history.
One place to do that is Cygnet Bay Pearl Farms. It is the oldest working pearl farm in the region with a farm at Cape Leveque, a two hour drive from Broome.
But, in Chinatown you can visit their showroom and learn a little more about pearling. At 11am on weekdays a free pearl harvesting demonstration is done, which is interesting to watch if you have no idea about the pearling industry.
While you are here you might want to pick up some pearl jewellery. Now my pick, which won’t break the bank too much, is a keshi pearl or a pearl shell. I just love pearl shells, maybe because my job on the pearl farm was to lovingly scrape the barnacles off hundreds of pearl shell each day to keep them alive. They are really pretty and an affordable souvenir.
I also love keshi shells because they are as close to a natural pearl as you can get and they are unusual shapes. They don’t have the perfect roundness of the cultivated shells and I think true beauty lies in unique imperfection.
5. Shady Lane Cafe
Tucked into Johnny Chi lane is a relaxing and shady respite form a day of shopping and walking in the Broome heat.
Trust me, it will wear you down, especially with two kids. Sink into the comfy couch and order yourself a Tropical Dream juice made from orange, mango, banana, pineapple, strawberries and coconut cream.
This gave me the energy to continue exploring with the girls.
6. Red Dirt Photography
Broome and the Kimberley region has some of the most beautiful and colourful landscapes in the world. If you just want to feast on stunning photography, visit the Red Dirt Photography Gallery, owned by local photographer Nigel Gaunt.
We highly recommend the full day Broome and Surrounds photography tour. The girls and I gave this to Craig as a birthday present and he enjoyed a very full and productive day learning how to better capture the gorgeousness of this country. (lots of red pindan soil and turquoise water was captured, by the way)
7. The Good Cartel
The best vegetarian nachos I’ve ever had. Bold statement but entirely true.
My yoga teacher, and several of our Facebook fans, said this was the place to go for coffee. They were not wrong. It’s a funky, eclectic cafe next door to the indoor cinemas. It’s kinda tucked away on the edge of a car park.
Seating is outside on milk crates with striped and colourful cushions chucked on them and small tables. Every Sunday they have live acoustic music only enhancing the chill factor. It can get hot as you are outside, but there are big fans to help cool you down.
The coffee is good and they have drive through as well. Just pull up in the car park and the waiter will run out to take your order. Too cool! God I love this town.
8. Sun Pictures
This became a Saturday night date for the girls and I. Sun Pictures is the world’s oldest operating open-air picture gardens.
Don’t expect anything glam here, this is total Broome style, sitting on some deck chairs or lying on the grass of the tropical garden gazing up at the big screen.
Just try not to let the stars distract you. And I really hope a plane comes into land while you are there. It will freak you out and you’ll think the Japanese bombers are coming all over again. The plane almost scrapes the top of the roof as it comes to land at the airport behind the cinemas.
The cinemas show two movies every evening and is a must do activity in Broome.
Other things to do in Broome Town
The Dragonfly Cafe is located in the historic Hashimoto House. They do a great breakfast and the coffee is good. It’s a good place to watch the slow-paced Broome town life go by.
Broome Saturday markets
You must try the Kimberley coffee while there – it was one of the best in Broome. There was also a dress shop that sold such beautiful and cheap clothes for girls. The girls each picked out an outfit with their birthday money of only $10 each.
They have live music and food as well as stalls offering sparkling crystals, hand-blown or painted glass, lanterns and plates, clothes, scarves, photos, paintings and ceramics.
Town Beach Pub
If you want to experience a little Kimberley fun, head to the Town Beach Pub at 6pm on a Sunday night. Not only will you get a deliciously huge $17 roast dinner, but you can join the fun of the hermit crab races.
If you’re like our Block Shopper friends, you’ll walk out of there with the $80 pot from race two.
If you like good food, incredible wine and tapas 18 degrees is your pick. This restaurant came so highly recommended to us from other traveler’s and Trip Advisor’s that we decided to check it out with some new friends.
I’ve never really been big on tapas but this hooked me in. The food was extraordinary and I could not decide which was my favourite dish. They were all so good. But my pick is the crispy shrimp cake, smoked paprika dressing, coriander, lime, house smoked salmon.
Mollie Bean Coffee
Technically, this mobile coffee drive through van is halfway between Broome town and Cable beach. It’s worth driving past the Japanese cemetery where you’ll find them and ordering a coffee form the car window. Service is friendly, fast and efficient and the coffee well worth the drive there.
Don’t forget to download the Shop Small Walk map here.
Plan Your Trip to Broome
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We’d love to hear your experiences or favourites in Broome?
Or if you haven’t been, where is your favourite place to shop small in your local area?