This is a guest post by Melissa James with additional material by Andy Higgs
When it comes to beautiful small towns, Australia certainly has its fair share. From the charming Port Douglas to Avoca on the Central Coast, there is never any shortage of places to go if you want to escape to a place that’s a little more quaint than the big cities.
Aside from the multitude of the offerings the east coast has, Australia’s west coast also has some spectacular small towns for every tourist to explore. The next time you’re in Australia, add these spots in Broome to your itinerary for a trip you will never forget.
Roebuck Bay – Staircase to the Moon
Image (c) davlinrig.blogspot.com
You’re far from the suburbs of Eucalypt and Cranbourne North here. Roebuck Bay is a massive marine embayment with beaches, mudflats, and mangroves, so you will have plenty of places to explore and run free. From birdwatching to fishing, there’s something for every tourist here; plus, if you time your visit well – between March and October during the full moon – you can witness the majestic sight of what appears to be a pathway ascending to the sky during low tide. Okay, you do need to use your imagination a little but this natural phenomenon is very popular and is caused by the full moon rising over the exposed tidal flats of Roebuck Bay. The first two days of Staircase to the Moon generally also play host to the Staircase to the Moon markets where you can sample local produce and a variety of international food, buy hand-made souvenirs and enjoy the sounds of local entertainers. Roebuck Bay is also famous for having the greatest diversity of shorebird species of any site on the planet – around 150,000 of these birds visit annually.
Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Francesca de Freitas
If you’re after something a more historical, make the short trip from Roebuck Bay to Gantheaume Point. Here, during low tide, you’ll be able to see 130 million years into the past as you gaze down at the dinosaur footprints preserved in the reef rock. Although most places of this kind host no more than three different types of dinosaur footprints, five have been identified around Broome. The footprints can be viewed at Gantheaume Point when the tide is below 2.16m. Take care as the rocks are steep and can be slippery – wear sturdy shoes and don’t try to find the footprints after dark. If you want to relax, the nearby Anastasia’s Pool is a natural spa pool where you can unwind after a long day of sightseeing.
Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Neerav Bhatt
Covering over 400,000 square kilometres, the Kimberley Outback is one of the true Australian experiences. With the Indian Ocean on one side, the Timor Sea up north, and the Great Sandy Desert in the south, the Kimberley is an entire world away from the high-rise buildings of Sydney and Melbourne. The area is referred to as a wild, lonely and inaccessible place and often called ”the last frontier” – but it is in fact easily accessible for visitors. The best way is to hire a 4WD vehicle and drive the famous Gibb River Road, leaving the tarmac behind for the 660km unsealed route between Kununurra and the West coast through the middle of the Kimberley Outback and visiting some the most beautiful and remote areas of the world. Make sure you are properly prepared by checking with one of the Kimberley visitor centres about the state of the road and what to expect. Try a self-drive package which includes all the necessary instructions, directions, maps and even camping equipment you need to follow a preplanned schedule. Or take advantage of the 4×4 bus service along road – a multi-stop ticket allows you to hop on and off as you please and stay in the wilderness as long as you like.
Wolfe Creek Crater
Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Harclade
For a spectacular natural wonder it’s hard to beat the Wolfe Creek Crater, the second-largest meteorite crater on earth after Meteor Crater in Arizona. Measuring some 850 metres across, the crater was formed about 300,000 years ago when an immense iron meteorite crashed to earth. Yet the crater was only recognised as such in 1947 during an aerial survey of the area. The Jaru and Walmajarri Aboriginal people call the crater Gandimalal and have known of its existence for thousands of years. A Jaru story tells of two rainbow snakes moving across the land to form Jurabalarn (Sturt Creek) and Ngurriny (Wolfe Creek). Gandimalal is the place where one of the snakes came out of the ground. The walls of the crater are as much as 35 metres tall in places and the crater floor is more than 50 metres below the rim. It is believed that the Wolfe Creek crater was only up to 120 metres deep, but over time sands blown by the wind have gradually filled the crater floor – it is now only 20 metres below the level of the surrounding plain.
Purnululu National Park
Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Jon Connell
For that true ‘back to nature’ feeling the Purnululu National Park is the perfect place. Located in the Kimberley region, the park covers almost 240,000 hectares of remote area managed as wilderness. It includes the Bungle Bungle Range, a spectacular landscape of sculptured rocks containing fabulous examples of beehive-shaped sandstone rising some 250 metres above the surrounding savannah. These pillars are a stunning black and orange striped colour and have formed over a period of 350 million years. It’s a unique place to visit and has World Heritage site status. You can take a flight over the Bungle Bungle range from Kununurra or Broome, or even better try an open-door helicopter flight from within Purnululu National Park itself. The pillars remained hidden from the outside world until 1983 but the area had long been used by Indigenous people during the wet season when plant and animal life was abundant. You can stay overnight in the park -perhaps camping under the stars and hike to Cathedral Gorge, Echidna Chasm and other hidden gems, take a 4WD safari and immerse yourself in over 20,000 years of Indigenous culture – just make sure you don’t miss your flight back home!
Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) John Dolan
One of the highlights for any Australian tourist is the beaches, and Cable Beach will put Bondi to shame. Spanning 22 kilometres of white sand, the world famous Cable Beach is the perfect place to go to relax, unwind, catch up on your tanning and swimming, or simply pass the day away. The pristine sands and clear, warm tropical waters of the Indian Ocean make for a perfect day of relaxation. Cable Beach has beautiful swimming conditions throughout the Dry Season, with life guards operating from April to November. Be aware than from November to May the waters around Broome can be home to the small, poisonous Irukandji jellyfish so do pay attention to warning signs around the area and listen to instructions from life guards.If you get there early enough, you can see one of the beautiful sunrises or sunsets that Cable Beach is renowned for.
About our guest author:
Melissa James is a traveller who loves exploring the world. She’s currently saving up for a trip to Bangkok where she hopes to ride an elephant.