Australia For Visitors > Broome, WA

Western Australia

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Broome is a small and isolated town facing the Indian Ocean in the northwest of Western Australia. It is famous for its beautiful tropical beaches and pearls and mother-of-pearl.

The discovery of pearl shell (mother of pearl) back in the 1880s led to a pearling boom in the area. At its peak, in 1910, Broome has 400 pearling luggers at work, serviced by 3000 men looking for mother-of-pearl.

Old Pearling Luggers, Broome (image)

Old pearling luggers in Broome

Broome at that time supplied 80% of the world's mother-of-pearl, which was used in various fashion items (for example, buttons for women's garments) and novelty products.

The crews of the luggers were a multicultural lot, hailing from many different countries such as Japan, China, Malaya, the Philippines, Arabia, and the East Indies. Diving for pearl shell was dangerous and often fatal work, and local cemeteries have hundreds of graves with inscriptions recording the names of men from Japan and other Asian countries.

Look at the faces of the residents walking the streets of today's Broome and you will see their multicultural origins. Broome has its own Chinatown in the old port area. Various languages can be seen on the town's signboards. Even the payphones have notices in a number of Asian languages.

With the sealing of the coastal highway from Perth and the tourist development carried out by British businessman, Lord McAlpine, Broome is no longer quite as isolated as previously.

Some of Broome's attractions include:
- Cable Beach
- Gantheaume Point
- Broome Historical Society Museum
- the cemeteries: Pioneer Cemetery, Japanese Cemetery, Chinese Cemetery
- Broome Bird Observatory

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Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)

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