|Rock formation, Broome, Western Australia|
Blue and red landscapes are often associated with other planets, abstract art or young children.
But head to remote Broome in Australia's north-western corner, and the gateway to its Kimberley region, for a distinctive real-life landscape in which red and blue form a predominant part of the scenery.
The ocean's characteristic blue hue from white clay in the water combines with the red Pindan rock and soil in a gob-smacking hit of colour that ensures a visit to Broome will be unforgettable - and if you haven't already been, inspiring you to compare the cheapest flights online!
|Red Tide at Broome, Western Australia|
While the colour is intrinsic to experiencing Broome in July when temperatures are at their glorious best, it's not the only reason to visit.
But I defy you to experience these 5 fabulous Broome attractions WITHOUT respect to its marvellous colours!!
1 The Beaches:
|Cable Beach with Gantheaume Point in the distance, Broome, WA|
The chances of finding a spot for yourself on Broome's world famous Cable Beach are better than average.
This stunning curve of sand so white it hurts your eyes stretches for 22 km so despite the Australian winter tourist season influx of travellers jostling for position at the cafe above, there's more than enough room on the sand below.
But if even the sight of other tourists on the beach is too much, go for absolute solitude just a few kilometres north, through the laid back community of Coconut Wells and over the dunes to the beach.
|Coconut Wells Beach - with Dune Buggy Track! via Broome, Western Australia|
Oh, all right.
There's a Dune Buggy track or two. And a couple of people WAAAAAY further down the beach. And a few shags* on a rock.
But you've got several kilometres to yourself. OK?
2 The Bay:
|Roebuck Bay at Broome Bird Observatory Western Australia|
It's a long hike through the mud to the Catalina float-plane wrecks that only emerge from Broome's Roebuck Bay at very low tide.
So I didn't do it.
But I didn't need to. A drive to the world famous Broome Bird Observatory on the shores of Roebuck Bay, where thousands of migratory wading birds flock along the bay's RAMSAR-listed shores along with the twitchers** trying to spot them, uncovered something FAR more intriguing.
|After a couple of dunkings ...|
In the rapidly rising 9 metre tide, one of the Southern Hemisphere's highest, we spotted what looked like a car roof down amongst the mangroves. It WAS a car roof. Actually, two! In retrospect, it's possible that the person driving an uninsured 4WD along the sands of the bay at low tide couldn't have anticipated being irretrievably bogged up to the axles. But the person who tried to pull him out???
But watching the unfolding drama of a double-car-extraction from soft sands between high tides was just a distraction from the pleasures of the Bay. And the Bird Observatory.
A tour to see Yellow Chat, one of Australia's rarest birds; a dawn ramble to the ocean through a dense tropical mist; scenery so superb even the most amateur*** photographer's shots look good; Snub-fin dolphin sightings from the observation platform; and an array of shorebirds so dense it takes a telescope to sort them out!
|Rocks at Roebuck Bay, Broome Bird Observatory|
Back in Broome watching the world reknowned 'Stairway to the Moon', where the moon rises over the Bay is a must see! Initially sceptical – it's just the moon rising over the sea as seen anywhere else in the world where the moon rises over the sea, right? - the real thing stopped my cynicism dead!
And if there's no car in the bay for entertainment, maybe the Catalinas are worth a visit instead! They're probably just as interesting. No, REALLY!
3 The Point:
|Rocks at twilight, Gantheaume Point, Broome, Western Australia|
There's no best time of day to visit iconic Gantheaume Point, just up the road from Cable Beach, but with its red Pindan soil and rock forming a dramatically different landscape.
At high tide, watching swimmers leaping from the red rock into a sea so blue it looks like it sucked all the colour from the sky looks like a scene from a movie set. And at low tide – approximately 9 metres lower – the rock platforms emerge from the sea, exposing strange rock gardens full of exotic corals and dinosaur footprints.
|Blue and Red at Gantheaume Point, Broome, Western Australia|
The brightness of day where the sea sparkles against the rocky Bingle Bingles around the Point from the lighthouse contrasts with the incredible twilight as the orange sun plunges into the Indian ocean and the rocks turn to fire.
There's always something happening at Gantheaume Point.
So visit any time. BUT ... be warned! The High tide/low tide/daylight/twilight scenes are SO different you'll want to experience all of them.
HHHMMMmmm... perhaps it'd be easier just to spend the whole day there?!
|Sunset at Gantheaume Point, Broome, Western Australia|
4 The Pictures:
If like me, you're a sucker for world exclusives, have a night at the movies in the world's oldest operating picture gardens – where the entertainment isn't all up on the big screen!
After admiring the movie memorabilia lining the walls since its official opening as Sun Pictures in 1916, cinema-goers take their seats and don their jackets. The relative coolness of a Broome evening shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.
Because despite the ~29°C July daily maximum temperature, is IS winter!
|Cinema Patrons take their seats, Sun Pictures, Broome|
But after the sun sets and darkness falls over the open-roofed theatre and the show starts, there's another surprise in store. WARNING: Skip the next paragraph to avoid spoilers …
Watching the generally unremarkable cinema advertising is interrupted without warning as a low flying passenger jet only a few metres above the screen screams into Broome airport. Accompanied by the odd shriek – or two – from patrons unaware of the special acoustic qualities of this unique combination of landing jet and open-roofed building!
Photos? C'mon! Do you REALLY think my shutter-button finger was THAT quick?
Luckily, one of Australia's most intriguingly scenic public amenities blocks with an ever-changing backdrop is right at hand below the big screen!
Don't miss it!!
5 The Pearls:
|Willie Creek, via Broome, Western Australia|
Visitors unaware of Broome's history can get a clue to its heritage from the many dead giveaways pointing to its previous life.
Like the pearl showrooms and sales outlets jockeying for position in the main shopping precincts. The well preserved pearling lugger in Chinatown's main street. The Japanese and Chinese cemeteries where hundreds of pearl divers are now at rest and commemorative statues and plaques in the main street. The inclusion of pearl meat at some of the eateries And the staggering array of pearl-related products on offer at the weekly markets!
Yes, it's impossible to ignore the rich pearling heritage of this beautiful city, the jewel of the Kimberley coast.
|Blockade en route to James Price Point, Kimberley Coast, Western Australia|
So when we were thwarted by an anti-mining blockade from our drive north up the coast to controversial hot-spot and whale nursery James Price Point, Plan B kicked in and we arrived at Willie Creek Pearl farm ready for action.
Which it delivered!
Although, as a recovering aerophobic, my scenic helicopter flight over the magnificent estuary system glowing with colour and light could have ended badly. But distracted by the staggeringly picturesque landscape unfolding beneath, my amateur*** photographic instincts completely counteracted any lingering thoughts about crashing to the ground and dying a horrible death.
|Willie Creek and surrounds from the air, via Broome|
Euphoric after the successful touchdown, I just had to buy myself a little
souvenir! Who knew (or cared!) that the $9 black seed-pearl ring I
selected was from the children's section? While it might not be to
everyone's taste, the showroom had plenty of REAL jewellery
and pearl-related artefacts for pearl purists!!
After a snack from the Willie Creek cafe, I was ready for another helicopter flight ...
… but decided to wait until next time!
|Port Jetty, Broome, Western Australia|
I see a repeat performance of ALL these experiences somewhere in my future. But don't leave all the good times up north downunder to me! Start right here, right now! Compare the cheapest flights online … and I'll see you somewhere up there on a sunny July Aussie winter's day!!
It's a date!!
|Gantheaume Point by Day! Broome, Western Australia|
* Shag (in this context) = Cormorant
** Twitcher = Bird Watcher
*** Yep, that's me!