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Published September 9th 2012
School holidays in Broome?
As beautiful and fun as it looks- photo Brian Cresswell
It would be tempting to lie back here every evening except just across the road is one of the world's most famous sunsets.
I tell the kids, " Cable Beach was named after the underground telegraph cable laid between Broome and Java in 1889." But they are too gobsmacked by the prospect of a camel ride to listen.
All of Broome is at the beach. In big cities day's end means fighting traffic to get home to dinner and a big screened TV. Here the day's labour ends when you back your four-wheel drive into the shallows. The locals bring out their tinnies and the largest screen of all -- a 22km beach sunset. You are lost in nature's wide screen -- gushes of rose and purple and on others skeins of lemon, lilac and pink. All in high definition.
Other ways to enjoy this famous setting are cocktails at the nearby Sunset Bar (get their early) or drinks down further at the Surf Life Saving Club or a simple picnic where the kids can do cartwheels in the sand.
Broome also has the Staircase to the Moon. This amazing phenomena is when a full moon corresponds with a low tide casting golden rungs of moonlight over the mudflats of Roebuck Bay. As my son says "It's as if the man in the moon is letting down a rope ladder."
Staircase to the moon
There is a viewing deck at the Mangrove Hotel. Lights are switched off and the crowd drifts trance-like towards the edge of the large terrace. The only sounds are the notes from a didgeridoo – rising in crescendo as each rung pierces the blackness.
You can also view the phenomena from the night market above Town Beach. It is a festive affair, with local handicrafts and woks with fragrant Asian dishes. We grab beers, some curry laska and a private viewing spot and watch old Moonface unfurl his rope ladder.
Broome Meteorological Office provides another perspective of Broome's sky.
The kids have heard locals tell stories of cyclonic winds where concrete slabs are tossed like corks and shipping containers roll like tumbleweeds. Here they get to see more concrete evidence. There are photos and charts that dramatically portray Cyclone Rosita when she passed nearby in 2002, buffeting Broome with 154km-winds. Phone (08) 9192 1211 for opening hours.
Yet another celestial view is offered at the Sun Picture Theatre. Seating is outdoors in low slung deck chairs. My children find the scene overhead more exciting that the movie. We are directly under the flight path to Broome airport. Above are the underbellies of planes, like gigantic insects with hundreds of flashing eyes bearing down on us.
If we were watching Pearl Harbor it would be sensaround aviation. But that might not please townsfolk who remember Broome's own Pearl Harbor.
On the 3 March 1942, nine Japanese fighters loomed on the horizon. The flying boats in the bay were like sitting ducks and their fuel tanks exploded under fire. Rolls of smoke obscured the sun. Seventy people were killed and 24 injured.
We learn this on our Broome Hovercraft Tour when we skim past the site of the wreckage. I am there for the history but the kids much prefer the pilot's antics as he shoots across the water and chucks doughnuts.
We speed out to Gantheaume Point where dinosaur footprints, over 130 million years old are preserved in the rocks. Even my kids admit that that kind of history is pretty cool.