Perched on the edge of the wild Kimberley region, where the desert meets the sea, Broome, Western Australia, lies in the far north-west of the country. Here a fierce sun bakes the rust-coloured earth, known as pindan, while spinifex, sand and scrub surround the edges of the warm, turquoise sea.
I’ve had the good fortune to live in Broome twice, for a few months at a time, although both times it was during the summer’s wet season. While many opt to visit the place in the cooler, more idyllic months of winter, I found there are a few advantages to the heat. Not only are there no crowds, the land comes alive, as animals emerge from the hills and rain and cyclones descend for added character.
There’s also savage lightning storms during the summer and once I even saw a palm tree bend close to a 90-degree angle. Iron coated walls of pindan also glow in the murderous heat, creating a stark contrast with the often silky aqua sea. It’s harsh country, and camping here in the height of summer with the flies, ants and scorpions is not for the feeble.
It’s also very old country, as a renown dinosaur footprint reveals itself at low tide, while further north lies currently the largest dinosaur footprint in the world, which, according to the ABC, belongs to “a brontosaurus-type dinosaur”. Have a good look around Broome and maybe you’ll notice, as I did, that the place feels like it’s witnessed many stories in its time.
It also has a strong indigenous connection which rears its head through fierce protesting over the mining of sacred land and in the many historical and cultural connections with the region. Other locals include the ta ta lizards that dash around town and the townsfolk that are on “Broome time” – a sluggish pace typical of tropical areas. So leave your city mind behind and don’t expect your café meals in a hurry.
Broome, Western Australia, is a striking, yet wild and unusual place, unlike anywhere else on earth. It’s a land where the sea, the desert, the weather and even time itself appear to muddle themselves in uncompromising fashion, and the locals seem comfortably moulded to its ways.