The Pearl in the Rough – Broome
Posted on December 12, 2011 by sguese
Broome might be in the Australian Outback, but it is also decidedly varied. The pearling port is also a seaside resort, one that mixes influences between Australia and Asia. In the old days, Chinese and Japanese pearl divers would come to Broome to work the pearling luggers. With them, they brought their distinctive Asian architecture, reflected in many of Broome’s structures today. Just a few kilometers from the Great Sandy Desert, you wouldn’t expect Broome to be so popular. However this pearl in the rough is shiny indeed.
Broome’s Pearling History: Understanding Broome comes by considering its pearling history. Pearling in Broome began in the 1880s. By the 1990s, Broome’s waters supplied 80% of the world’s mother of pearl. The pearls of Broome are known throughout the world as South Sea pearls. Early pearlers in Broome hailed from Japan, as can be clearly seen at the Japanese Cemetery in town. The cemetery shows just how dangerous pearl diving was and is.
Going to Court: While Broome’s history is inextricably linked to pearl diving, the town has other prized pearls so to speak. The elegant old teak courthouse is one of those treasures, built in 1889. The Courthouse was originally constructed to house staff from the Eastern Extension Australasian and China Telegraph Company. The underwater cable linked Broome to Java, coming ashore at the famous Cable Beach. To appreciate the Courthouse, come here on Saturday when markets are held in the gardens.
See the Staircase to the Moon: One of Broome’s proudest phenomenon is its Staircase to the Moon, only visible from March to October when conditions are just right. The natural phenomenon occurs around three nights each month, when the lights shimmer from the beach in a ripple pattern towards the full moon.
Learn more about Broome’s pearly history at the Broome Museum: If you haven’t had enough of Broome’s pearly side, visit the Broome Museum. The museum contains a collection of early photos documenting the town’s multi-cultural history due mostly to the pearling industry. There are exhibits telling of the pearling industry, highlighting the act of pearling and the luggers.
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