I visited Broome waaay back in December 1999. It was hot and very humid and the pool at our hotel offered no relief it was so warm. I wasn’t into hiking yet so took on no challenging walks. I rode a cranky camel that bit me on the leg. I learnt about the treacherous lives of pearl divers and saw fossilised dinosaur footprints. And Cable Beach has always stuck in my mind as one of the most amazing stretches of coastline in Australia.
I would love to go back one day, in cooler weather, of course, and explore the Kimberley region. There is some amazing hiking to be done, Bungle Bungles to be seen, coastal trails to follow and rivers to be cruised.
This guest post by Rosemary McGuigan, owner and operator of Best Of The Kimberley, the holiday and tour planning specialists in Broome, Western Australia, takes us on a journey exploring five easy and top walks in Broome.
Dust off your trainers! Broome’s flat terrain, paved footpaths, firm, sandy beach and dry, sunny winter weather is perfect for walking. With a water bottle, shady hat, good walking shoes (or bare feet on the beach) and a couple of dollars in your pocket to enjoy a treat along the way, here are five of our favourite walks in and around Broome.
1. Cable Beach to Gantheaume Point return
Distance: 5kms each way
Time: allow approximately 2-3 hours
Warning: check tides
Family friendliness: Suitable for ‘beach buggy’ type prams that can handle the sand and suitable for kids from ages 5 and up (depending on their walking ability)
A stroll on any beach is a favourite way to spend some time; feeling the sand between your toes and dipping them in and out of the waves as they caress the beach; feeling the breeze in your hair and listening to the sea, has got to be good for your soul.
Cable Beach with its broad, 22kms stretch of sand is hard to resist for a walk. Not a forced march – although you will see some hardy souls jogging.
A favourite walk is from the main swimming area near the vehicle access ramp to Gantheaume Point – a distance of approximately 5kms each way – depending upon the tides.
Tides are a guiding influence on beach activities in Broome and we suggest the best time to take on this walk is first thing in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat of the day and getting sunburnt.
Exploring the sands and what may have been washed up on the high tide does bring surprises – there are some amazing marine creatures, corals, driftwood or shells to be found; occasionally the odd sea snake too – but do not touch these! And keep your eye offshore as there will undoubtedly be some lively marine life, such as mantra rays, schools of fish, dolphins and whales between June to September.
Make sure you take plenty of water for this walk as there are no services available along the way.
If you don’t want to walk both ways, get dropped off at the Gantheaume Point beach access ramp and walk back. If you do not have wheels during your stay in Broome, remarkably, Broome’s fabulous town bus service also includes a drop off at Gantheaume between May and mid-October on the first service each morning. You can download the bus timetable from the Broome Bus website or there are copies available at Broome accommodation.
Of course, you have to walk the whole way but you will be surprised how you get a couple of kilometres along the beach without really noticing!
One of the joys of walking along Cable Beach is that there is virtually nothing built on the dunes to detract from the beauty and peace.
2. Town Beach to Chinatown
Time: allow half a day for exploring
Family friendliness: Pram-friendly paths, though you might need to take the little person out at the cemetery and museum for better access. There’s also a water park and play park your kids will love.
Strolling from Town Beach (located at the cul-de-sac end of Robinson Street) to Chinatown is only a distance of 2.5kms but we suggest it could take you at least half a day to explore the sites of interest along the way.
We recommend starting at Town Beach Café on the shores of Roebuck Bay for breakfast, lunch or a coffee. Just a few metres across from the car park is a small but locally important pioneer cemetery which overlooks the Bay.
Although there are only a few graves, they are of historical significance and some have links to present day Broome. (Broome’s main cemeteries are located on Port Drive, near the corner of Cable Beach Road).
The Broome Museum and a further five-minute walk along Hamersley Street where you will find Broome’s newest sculpture. The ‘Women in Pearling’ bronze statue overlooks Roebuck Bay and acknowledges the indigenous women who were exploited as pearl divers along the coastline during the ‘blackbirding’ days in the early 20th century.
Enroute to Bedford Park is the remnants of one of Broome’s old pearling sheds. This old store has withstood dozens of cyclones over its life and it is amazing that it is still standing. It was dressed up and used for the outside shots of the pub in the movie ‘Bran Nue Dae’ and is also occasionally used by local photographers as a backdrop for wedding photos.
Directly across the road is Bedford Park, the home of Broome’s ANZAC memorial. Here you will you will also find monuments to more of Broome’s history dotted around the park. There are also a few seats in the shade so that you relax and enjoy the view across Roebuck Bay.
Crossing the road again, is Matso’s Broome Brewery & Café, one of the locals’ most popular eateries. You cannot walk past Matso’s without calling in for a coffee or a taste test of Matso’s award winning brews, depending upon the time of day of course!
From Matso’s and just 200 hundred metres along Hamersley Street is the Broome Courthouse and gardens where the Saturday and Sunday markets are held. This historic building was originally known as Cable House and its historical background is available at the Broome Historical Museum.
Nearly there! Chinatown is just a further five minutes’ walk from the Courthouse where you can spend some more time exploring or take a taxi or town bus service back to your accommodation.
3. Minyirr Park
Time: 30 minutes to 1-2 hours – or more!
Family friendliness: Not pram friendly but suitable for kids
Nestled behind Cable Beach is Minyirr Park, a significant place to the local Indigenous people. It is also a place that is home to important remnant vine thickets, bush tucker, berries, fruits, bird and animals.
There are three distinct trails to follow and explore the landscape behind the dunes where there are pockets of remnant rainforest, bush tucker and the occasional wallaby. The trails are marked on most tourist maps of Broome. You should allow anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours or more, depending how much time you want to spend in the park.
Our favourite walk starts near the Broome Surf Club building. Cross the little bridge that covers the bush drain and immediately turn left onto the trail. Follow this trail for a short distance where it will split into the Lurujarri Trail (look for the orange topped wooden bollards) or Minyirr Trail (green topped bollards) – you can take either trail. Continue walking south winding your way behind the dunes for a while before joining one of the coastal trails (blue topped wooden bollards). The blue trails criss-cross the other trails and lead you across the dunes to the beach and you can then return to the Surf Club.
There are some great views of the beach looking west and Broome town looking east, from the tracks as they pass over the top of the dunes.
4. Riddell Beach
Location: 20 minutes’ drive from Cable Beach holiday accommodation
Duration: 1 hour beach walk
Family friendliness: Not pram friendly and not suitable for children under 7 years due to beach access
One of Broome’s hidden secrets is Riddell Beach, which is a spectacular 1.7km beach named after Captain Riddell who was murdered by his crew during a mutiny in 1899.
Riddell Beach is located between Gantheaume Point and Riddell Point on the end of the Broome peninsula. There is no formal access to this beach. You will need a vehicle to get to Riddell Beach via Kavite Road, which is unmade and can be quite corrugated at times, so careful driving is required. Check that any hire vehicles can be driven on this road.
Kavite Road is a coastal track that runs between Gantheaume Point Road and Port Drive. Along this road are numerous informal tracks where you can park your vehicle and make your way to the beach via unmarked tracks.
Care must be taken in accessing the beach. Knowing the tidal movement is important before heading for a walk on this beach. On the beach you will find spectacular red bluffs fringing the beach and at low tide the beach can be hundreds of metres wide. Often there is not another person around. If you need a little solitude, this walk is perfect!
It is a great place late in the afternoon when the setting sun makes the red bluffs glow.
Although Riddell Beach is within the Broome town site, there are no facilities close by so pack plenty of water and snacks.
Location: Broome CBD
Duration: As long or as little as you like.
Family friendliness: Pram friendly and suitable for kids
A guided walking tour with a true Broome local as your guide is a great way to gain more detailed historical facts and information, but a self-guided walk with the help of a copy of the Broome Historical Society’s publication ‘Broome Heritage Trail’ for just a few dollars, will give you an insight into historic Chinatown.
There is also the modern Chinatown which has been built in the same theming as the old and with pearl galleries, photographic and art galleries and much more to explore. A casual morning or afternoon walk, discovering and browsing the old and new in the block that is Carnarvon Street, Short Street, Dampier Terrace and Napier Terrace, you won’t have too far to walk – and there are cafes and bars for refreshments along the way!
Combine self-guided walking with Best Of The Kimberley’s ‘Best Of Broome‘ holiday package and really discover what makes this fascinating town tick. There is so much to see in this stunning part of Australia that you’ll want to go back every year.