Staying Alive in Broome, Australia
Western Australia: How to Visit Broome and Not Get Eaten, Poisoned, or Killed
Broome in Western Australia is one of the roads less traveled. Its uncharted red rock deserts, breathtaking white sands, and turquoise waters, laced with stories of Dreamtime from Aboriginals, will have you feeling less like a tourist and more like an explorer.
However, Australia has a penchant for attracting some (probably a majority) of the deadliest animals on the planet, so participating in activities with the least likelihood of resulting in a call home to your family are highly advisable.
When to Go
Broome is popular amongst Australian tourists and things really pick up during Australia’s autumn and winter (April-September); however, the best time to visit Broome is towards the end of March, when the rainy season is nearing its end and you can secure more affordable hotel and car rental prices, as well as significantly improved weather.
Swimming at Broome’s Cable Beach during this time is also not advisable unless you have Stinger suits or an interest in pouring vinegar over Box Jellyfish stings. The vinegar works on disabling only the venom that hasn’t yet been released into the blood stream. More simply stated: Box Jellyfish Can Kill You.
How to Get There
Flights to Perth are available from all of Australia’s major cities and the flight to Broome is an additional 3 hours from Perth. All of Australia’s domestic carriers fly to Broome on a daily basis, multiple times a day, so securing a flight should be easy. Most hotels will have free shuttles to and from the airport.
Where to Stay
Stay at The Frangipani rather than the more popular 5 star Cable Beach Club. The hotel is within walking distance to Cable Beach, but is half the price at about $120 AUD per night with all the amenities, including gardens, a pool, verandahs, and yummy food. Nothing is likely to kill you here.
What to Do
Cable Beach in the Morning: Walk the beach a little after dawn when you will spot tiny sea creatures chasing the tide back out to sea. You can marvel at the Picasso worthy designs of hermit crabs that hide in the sand and burrow their way out by rolling hundreds of tiny sand balls, creating marble patterns throughout the beach. You may even stumble upon an octopus that has washed up unable to get back to the sea.
Pick one up and throw it back into the ocean; you’ll save a life and they are harmless (Really, I mean it.) Keep you eyes open because Black Stingrays can be seen spreading their wings above the water near the shore. Don’t go chasing after them though. Remember Steve Erwin? The Stingray’s venomous spine CAN KILL YOU.
Cable Beach in the Evening: Spend the evening watching the sunset as thousands of rainbow colored dragonflies beat a symphony with their wings over your head. Better yet, do that all…but on a camel! Camels were brought to Australia to transport goods across the deserts and now explorers can ride them through the sands.
Rent a car, or hire one as they say in Aussie slang, and hold on tight as you take a 3-hour, 200 km drive north through the rugged Outback to the red cliffs of Cape Leveque. Pit stops are limited, actually there are none, so stock up on sunscreen, water, and food. The drive through the Outback presents numerous photo opportunities, but don’t stray off Cape Leveque Road into the bush as the snakes, spiders, and frogs are no joke-they Can Kill You.
Anyone seeing a pattern yet? Along the drive to Cape Leveque are numerous Aboriginal communities that will allow you to venture through for a small fee of $10 AUD payable to the community center. Lombadina is highly recommended and you can pick up Aboriginal craft goods, such as canoes and jewelry.
Bypass the One Arm Point community where the beach is polluted and where the Aquaculture Hatchery is open only if someone feels like coming in. For more information on both Cape Leveque and Lombadina, visit their website.
Upon reaching Cape Leveque you will enter a tourist park. Go to the information center at the top and grab a map to find out the best way to drive down towards the red cliffs and sandy dunes. Take in the breathtaking contrast before you of white sands, an azure ocean, and red jagged cliffs.
Park the car amongst the sand dunes, lay out a picnic and enjoy.
You are likely to be one of the only people on the beach, so make most of your time by running around naked and doing whatever else you’ve ever wanted to do on a deserted beach. Swimming is safe in the warm and tranquil waters of Cape Leveque, but a crocodile or two have been reported and these, of course, Can Kill You.
Where to Eat
The food at your hotel will get a bit pricey, but renting a car will allow you to travel into town to scout cheaper options. Maccas (aka McDonalds) and Eagle Boys Pizza were fan favorites, but there are also Italian, Chinese, and Modern Australian options.
Justyna Surowiec is a Polish native, who moved to America when she was 6. She has spent the past year living, working, traveling, and trying not to get bitten by something poisonous in Australia. Justyna recently returned to New York City and writes commentary on politics, economics, and society. You can visit her blog at www.expatathome.com