It seems both completely normal and slightly inappropriate that my first post in more than a year is about travel.
Travel is something many of us have always taken for granted, something that has become extremely restricted and the stuff of daydreams since COVID-19 turned life as we know it upside down.
In June I headed to Broome in the Kimberley region of Western Australia for three nights. I heeded Tourism WA’s call to #wanderoutyonder and decided to chase the sun.
The trip was my fifth to Broome; each visit quite unlike the previous. My first and last were both while I worked as a journalist at The West Australian but in totally different roles.
My first experience of Broome was as a court reporter covering hearings during the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
My last trip was as a food writer and guest of the annual Shinju Matsuri Festival of the Pearl in 2018.
The June trip was pure relaxation; a mini break to replace a trip to Sydney cancelled due to COVID-19.
Although I have seen a fair amount of Broome’s sights, this time I booked a couple of tours with local operators. Working in tourism I have seen first-hand how COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the industry, so it was an easy decision to support local businesses.
I booked the Iconic 3 in 1 afternoon Tour from Broome and Around Tours, taking in Matso’s Brewery, the 12 Mile Bird Park and the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park.
Our friendly and knowledgeable guide Candy moved to Broome from Perth only a few years ago but you wouldn’t know it; she reels of facts and figures with the familiarity of a local.
The crocodiles really have to be seen up close to be believed. But not too close.
The other tour I booked was the Salty Plum Social Small Bar Walking Tour of Chinatown.
Both tours were booked via So Broome, operated by Robyn and Chris Maher. Robyn and Chris also host the Salty Plum tour, mixing history with Broome’s food and drink scene. Without revealing too much of the itinerary, it takes in a mixture of venues with differing atmospheres and menus, one of which I would never thought to visit on my own.
I first met Robyn and Chris during Shinju Matsuri in 2018. Shinju was on hold due to COVID when we visited but got the greenlight to go ahead with its 50th anniversary celebrations just after we got back to Perth. It’s a great festival and if I was free the weekend of August 30 I’d be up there in a flash.
The floating lantern festival, this year on September 4, is a magical experience.
Now, to the all-important Broome must-dos, or specifically, must eats!
The Good Cartel: we had coffee here all three days and breakfast twice. They use beans from Pound Coffee Roastery in O’Connor/Fremantle. Our favourite spot for a casual bite on the go (the dine-in facilities had not reopened while we were there).
The Aarli: so good we went three times (once on the Salty Plum tour). We devoured tasty, Asian-inspired small plates on our first night in Broome and couldn’t resist a return breakfast visit for the panko crumbed eggs. Why wouldn’t you?
The Mangrove Hotel: this venue underwent a massive transformation a couple of years ago and is the perfect spot for sipping cocktails or coffee while enjoying the views over Roebuck Bay of green mangroves, blue skies and pindan (red soil).
Zanders at Cable Beach: modern Australian menu, refreshing cocktails and what everyone really goes for – that amazing sunset view over Cable Beach. Taking fish and chips on the beach to another level.
Court House Market: A must for Saturday morning. While there’s not a lot of breakfast fare, you will find the award-winning Kimberley Coffee Company, lots of art and local jewellery and numerous food trucks serving up the full array of Broome flavours.
The Wharf is a great spot for enjoying fresh seafood on the water. Check their Facebook page to see if they have reopened or visit their new location in Sanctuary Road.
Note: Town Beach Cafe is another top breakfast spot we didn’t make it to this time. It has next to the fantastic new (and free) Town Beach Water Park.
For more information on Broome, hit up Australia’s North West or ask me a quetsion via comments.