The butterflies start landing on us when we go into the alfresco dining area at Roebuck Roadhouse, 30 kilometers from Broome in The Kimberley. It gives a beautiful topical taste to our first foray into Australia’s far north. That, and the sticky heat that makes me feel like a light dress was heavy.

I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, but there is a je ne sais quoi about Broome that really appeals. The town is casual and relaxed, though well watered and tendered, despite the semi-arid environment it really does have a tropical feel.

We book into a campervan park on Town Beach and get a waterfront site. The tide is in at the moment, though there are huge tide variations here. The tide goes out 10 meters, exposing the mud flats. Apparently you shouldn’t swim in the ocean water if it’s the temperature of a warm bath or above, because that’s when the stingers are more likely to be out. Irukandji Stingers can be mild for some people, though for others they can be serious including seizures and agonising pain. Despite that, plenty of people are swimming and fishing in the ocean here. Susan finds a few hermit crabs on the beach while she’s looking for shells, much to all of our delight.

Travel blog Broome

Swimming with the manta rays at Cable Beach, Broome



We head into the China Town, the main part of town. We like the statue display as a tribute to the pearling industry that the town is founded on. The noise of a commercial aeroplane landing at an airport not far away startles us all. Several more go over head, and it feels like they are so close that we are on the tarmac at the airport rather than in the main street.

Travel blog Broome

Amy with a pearly worth $100,000…not sure how anyone could pay that much for a pearl, but hey, it feels really disturbing to be holding a tiny pearl and thinking it is worth as much as our campervan!



There are pearl jewellery shops up and down the main street. At the far end is Pearl Luggers, which also has a museum and rebuilt pearling luggers.

We pay to do the pearling tour, and enjoy looking around their displays and the old luggers first.

Travel blog Broome

The presentation is in their museum. We try on the old diving suits used by the pearlers, and hear that 1 in 4 divers died on their first dive. The suits were so expensive that the next diver had to wear the suit that previous divers had died in.

Travel blog Broome

Lucy wearing a diver’s helmet. The pearl divers wore these helmets until the 1970s.

Travel blog Broome

We get to try pearl meat, which is apparently a delicacy. It’s nice, but not fabulous.

We wander if there are any other tours and check but can’t see any in the region.  The other tours we see advertised around town are priced highly; boat and helicopter cruises around the Kimberley that seem to start in the low thousands and go rapidly north from there.

The weekend market is small and expensive. It’s much the same as a weekend market anywhere else in the country we’ve been. The kids head to a big tree to climb. Two Aboriginal boys, who are both about four are playing there with a little girl who looks like she’s only just started walking. Suddenly, the boys push the girl to the ground. I wait for their parents to come over and comfort her, or tell them off. No one comes. I can’t stand seeing such a little kid crying, and no one comforting her. I pick her up, thinking that she’ll probably struggle to get away from a stranger. Instead, she buries her head in my shoulder and cuddles in.

I’m worrying her parents are going to materialise, and not understand that I’m trying to help. I ask her where her parents are. She doesn’t answer. She doesn’t speak to us at all. She just clings more tightly to me. When she seems OK, I try to put her down, but she clings tighter to me. After a few attempts, I manage to put her down, but then she grasps my hand tightly and clings to nine year old Susan’s hand for good measure. I’m trying not to be judgemental, but it’s like she’s never known any affection in her short life. I ask a stall holder, “Where’s the lost children’s tent?”

He laughs and scoffs at me. “You aren’t from around these parts, are you? You’ll get used to it plenty soon enough. The black kids just wander, their parents might be anyway.”

I’m feeling at a loss, and I want to cry for the little girl. I just don’t know what to do. Susan is looking at me pleadingly, and I can’t just leave such a little kid to wander around. Surely she’s lost. Her parents must be frantic. I would be. Nope. When we finally found her parents about 30 minutes later, they don’t even acknowledge her presence, let alone ours. I’m disgusted.

Jarrad comes back then (he’d gone back to the campervan park to get the hats and sunscreen we’d so carelessly forgotten). Susan and Peter quickly fall over each other to tell him what has happened. He looks at me sadly and rolls his eyes. “Amy, you better get used to it. You can’t keep acting like that. It’s just the way it is.”

“But, I can’t just leave her!” “She wouldn’t let my hand go!” “She was so little!” Peter, Susan, Lucy and I are indignant, not to mention horrified at Jarrad’s matter of fact attitude.

“Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is up here. It sucks, but it’s true. You can’t put yourself in the middle. Someone is going to accuse you of kidnapping their kid if you do it at the wrong time.”

I walk off, clinging even tighter to Edmund. It seems wrong. I think Jarrad’s probably right, but it just seems so wrong and topsy-turvy that such a little kid is left to drag herself up. I hate the political correctness that refuses to intervene. I feel like crying, thinking of how grateful I’d be if one of my kids were lost that someone helped them. I hope our whole time in The Kimberley won’t be like this, because seeing kids uncared for is not something I can stand.

The next morning we wake up to a display of three dolphins swimming in the water close to the sand. One comes straight towards the sand and we watch it catch a fish, before it heads back to slightly deeper water. It’s my birthday, and it feels like a special display just for that.

The seafood platter at a restaurant over looking Cable Beach to a mango beer and ginger beer at the locally brewed Matsu Brewery and tapas. What a great day!

Travel blog Broome

We tried our best to finish this huge platter, but just didn’t make it. It tasted so good, though, that we were both ridiculously uncomfortable afterwards.

The only thing that would have made it more amazing would have been if Staircase to the Moon was as spectacular as it is famed to be. Instead, it was more like a single step than a staircase.

Travel blog Broome

Not quite sure what all the fuss is about with the Staircase to the Moon … but I guess Broome have marketed it well, and it’s known for this rather underwhelming sight.

Travelling Australia in a campervan since 2009 with our four children aged 4, 7, 10, and 11. We are a family living on the road. Stopping to work in rural and remote towns as we need more money, we love this lifestyle. The four kids are homeschooled as we work our way slowly around Australia.

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About Amy and Jarrad

Travelling Australia in a campervan since 2009 with our four children aged 4, 7, 10, and 11. We are a family living on the road.
Stopping to work in rural and remote towns as we need more money, we love this lifestyle. The four kids are homeschooled as we work our way slowly around Australia.


  1. Sarah W says:

    That little girl would have made me cry too :(

  2. What a dear you are…to give that little girl some love. My heart is aching for her. I do hope you won’t get used to it…it’s a terrible thing to accept.

    I am sad we missed all the fun sights in Broome that you seem to have found…I don’t recall a thing about pearls. I think Broome was eclipsed by the Northern Territory – the delightful park ranger at Keep River, soaking in Florence Falls, the black wallaroo at Kakadu and Darwin…perhaps my favorite Australian “pearl”. We missed the stairs there, too. But still saw the most brilliant sunset I’ve ever seen & had the most fabulous salad of my life at a museum cafe there :-)

    • Amy and Jarrad
      Twitter: livinontheroad

      I think there are just some places that we really enjoy.

      I don’t think I could ever accept that. I think it’s so sad that there are really no answers. If she was a white kid then the Department of Children’s Services could feasibly do something. Aboriginal kids generally don’t get that intervention, though, because no one wants another “stollen generation”.

  3. beth mclean
    Twitter: RoadToNowhere2

    Amy you had better prepare for Outback NT. The living conditions are harsh. I learnt to back away as getting to close can put your own children at risk. Shame it has to be this way.

    • Is it the parents that put your kids at risk or are the kids themselves quite violent?

      My 2 year old daughter got kissed by a 3-4 year old boy in the playground the other week. I was so shocked (and so angry) and I swooped in as soon as I realized what was happening. But I do wonder what his home life must be like for him to do something like that.

  4. You really feel for the kids. You can understand why some of them grow up living such troubled lives. I thank God everyday that I have the opportunity to be such a good influence on my kids.

    I don’t think we should ever let ourselves “get used to it” but then I haven’t yet been to Broome. We are planning to go to NT and Qld on our trip. Maybe I will look at shooting across to WA and Broome. I have ALWAYS want to go to the Kimberlys but I am worried it will be too off road for us.

  5. Happy birthday! I wish I could have helped you out with that seafood platter!

    • Amy
      Twitter: livinontheroad

      Thanks Barbara. Believe me, that seafood platter tasted even better than it looked. Particularly the salt and pepper calamari rings, and I don’t usually like calamari rings.

  6. Lisa Wood
    Twitter: newlifeonroad

    Oh – not sure I could handle the little one wondering around and no-one watching out for her. Not sure I could handle giving her back and walking away – such a scary thing! What about her wondering off and someone taking her?
    The campervan park sounds amazing – and that seafood platter looks so very yummy. Happy Birthday :)

    • Amy
      Twitter: livinontheroad

      It’s absolutely terrible to see, Lisa. She was such a sweet little thing, too. The apathy of the locals is terrible, it’s just shrugged off as what “they” do. It is a very different community.

  7. It looks so beautiful… but what a heartbreaking experience with the little girl there.

  8. Amy
    Twitter: livinontheroad

    Broome is absolutely stunning. I really do like Broome a lot. I don’t think I could afford to live there as the restaurants are way too good but expensive.

    I’m not sure I could cope with seeing the breakdown in culture and society like that little girl, either.

  9. Gap Year Escape
    Twitter: gapyearescape

    Such a sweet story. You’re right, there are often times you feel that you should help but then you don’t feel you can or people will judge you.

    Broome looks and sounds amazing though. I wrested with the idea of going to the west coast and I didn’t. Clearly an error. Great post!

    • Amy
      Twitter: livinontheroad

      The west coast has some beautiful parts, but it is a really long way between things to see.

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