Nestled along Australia’s remote northwest coast, the town of Broome serves as the gateway to discovering the rugged Kimberley region’s abundant natural attractions. From the iconic Staircase to the Moon phenomenon to swimming in remote gorges carved through ancient stone, Broome provides countless ways to experience the Outback’s untamed beauty, and is one of our series of articles on the best small towns in Oz.
Check out my guide to Port Douglas here, and the article on the best things to do in Strahan here.
Key Takeaways – Things to Do in Broome, Australia
|Staircase to the Moon
|Optical illusion in Roebuck Bay during full moons
|Ancient sauropod tracks visible at low tide
|Gibb River Road
|Rugged 660km 4WD adventure through the Outback
|Wolfe Creek Crater
|Huge meteorite impact site with views from the rim
|Bungle Bungle Range
|Beehive rock formations in Purnululu National Park
|Iconic long stretch of white sand and turquoise sea
|Swim in idyllic gorges like Bell Gorge and Windjana Gorge
|Diverse wetlands ideal for birdwatching
|Ride camels along Cable Beach at sunset
Exploring the Natural Wonders and Outback Adventures Around Broome, Australia
Witness the Magical Staircase to the Moon
Image (c) davlinrig.blogspot.com
One of Broome’s most sought-after sights occurs for only a few days each month under the glow of a full moon. As the moon rises over exposed mudflats in Roebuck Bay at low tide, its reflection creates the stunning optical illusion of a mystical stairway climbing to the sky. The ethereal effect only takes place between March and October and has become synonymous with Broome.
Local markets set up to take advantage of the ideal viewing, offering front row seats to watch the transition. Browse handmade crafts and souvenirs from indigenous artists before grabbing dinner from the delicious array of international food stalls while taking in the show. Don’t forget to book your Staircase to the Moon tour or scenic flight well in advance, as they fill up fast during peak season.
Roebuck Bay itself provides a vital stopover for over 150,000 migratory shorebirds annually, including species travelling all the way from Siberia. Avid birdwatchers flock to the wetlands searching for rare sightings. Make sure to bring binoculars and field guides to identify the many species flocking to the mudflats and mangroves.
Marvel at Ancient Dinosaur Footprints
Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Francesca de Freitas
For a glimpse into Broome’s prehistoric past, head to Gantheaume Point at low tide and step back in time 130 million years. One of the world’s most remarkable fossil sites reveals sauropod dinosaur tracks imprinted in an ancient reef exposed along the shoreline. Up to 130 individual prints have been identified so far, representing at least five different dinosaur species.
The site is only accessible during low tide periods, so be sure to confirm suitable times before heading over. Sturdy shoes are a must when treading on slippery rocks, but the chance to stand where titanic reptiles once lumbered across soft sand is worth getting your feet wet. Interpretive signs explain the different dinosaur species believed to have left their lasting marks.
After exploring the dinosaur footprints, cool off with a refreshing swim at nearby Anastasia’s Pool. The natural tidal pool offers the perfect spot to unwind and reflect on this humbling glimpse into the distant past before the dinosaurs went extinct.
Immerse Yourself in the Kimberley Outback
Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Neerav Bhatt
For an authentic taste of the remote and rugged Kimberley wilderness, venture inland from Broome on the legendary Gibb River Road. Winding for 660km through the heart of the region, the former cattle route has become one of Australia’s ultimate Outback driving adventures.
Hire a 4WD vehicle in Broome and load up on supplies for a week or more meandering along the Gibb, leaving sealed roads behind in favour of red dirt tracks. Camp beneath endless stars in national parks and station stays and spend your days exploring secluded gorges. Plunge into croc-free swimming holes at seeping Bell Gorge or El Questro’s Zebedee Springs. Scramble through tunnels and enjoy loom views at Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek.
Local tour operators also offer Gibb River Road expeditions for those who prefer not to tackle the challenging road on their own. You’ll journey into some of the most remote country on the continent far from city crowds to experience the Kimberley’s vastness first-hand.
Gaze Down into the Wolfe Creek Crater
Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Harclade
Journey deep into the Outback to Wolfe Creek Crater National Park, home to one of the most impressive meteorite impact sites on Earth. An immense iron meteorite crashed here over 300,000 years ago, leaving behind an eerie crater measuring around 850 metres across.
Aboriginal Dreamtime stories tell of two rainbow snakes forming nearby waterways Sturt Creek and Wolfe Creek. To the Jaru and Walmajarri people, the crater is Gandimalal, or the place where one of the snakes emerged from the ground.
Walk the rim trail for views down onto the crater floor 50 metres below. The slopes lining the crater rise as high as 35 metres in spots, almost like standing on the edge of a giant bowl gouged into the earth. You’ll soon appreciate the massive force required to leave such indelible scars spanning hundreds of metres wide and tens of metres deep.
Behold the Bungle Bungle Range from Above
Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Jon Connell
A scenic flight over Purnululu National Park provides the ideal way to fully grasp the scale and beauty of the park’s iconic landmark – the beehive-shaped domes of the Bungle Bungle Range. Flights depart from Broome, Kununurra and the park itself to soar over the layered sandstone spires rising from the tan savannah.
Stripy bands of orange and black rock curve into towers up to 250 metres tall, creating a landscape unlike anywhere else on the planet. Look closely and you’ll see giant striped domes towering higher than Uluru, broken by lush gorges carving their way through the ancient stone layers.
After your flight, continue exploring Purnululu’s wonders on a guided bushwalk through Piccaninny Creek or Cathedral Gorge, where towering rock walls create an amphitheatre-like atmosphere. The area’s remote location and later World Heritage listing kept the Bungles hidden from the outside world until the 1980s, but the landscape was known and used for over 20,000 years by Aboriginal inhabitants.
Relax on Broome’s Pristine Cable Beach
Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) John Dolan
Broome has many natural wonders to discover, but no trip would be complete without spending days lounging on its most famous stretch of sand – the iconic Cable Beach. Spanning 22 kilometres of coastline on the fringe of the Indian Ocean, the beach lives up to its reputation with sea views framed by red pindan cliffs, camel trains ambling by, and some of Australia’s most stunning sunrises and sunsets.
The pearl-white sands and turquoise waters create ideal swimming and lounging conditions during the Dry Season between May and October. Just be cautious of Irukandji jellyfish which may be present in the water during the Wet Season between November and April.
Early risers will have miles of nearly empty beach to themselves as the sun peeks above the horizon each morning. Return at dusk to watch the setting sun melt into the sea with a picnic spread and camera ready. Let the gentle waves rejuvenate you as you stroll along the water’s edge and look forward to whatever excitement awaits around the corner.
With endless natural beauty and Outback adventures, Broome provides the gateway to experiencing Kimberley’s remote and rugged landscape. Let the region’s abundant wonders inspire your own escape into the northern Australian wilderness.