In Broome, my life revolves around two things: work, and Cable Beach. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve planned to spend my days off writing or researching or doing laundry only to find myself wandering down to the beach instead. Sometimes I’m distracted by friends heading there to relax with some beers or catch the sunset (or both!); just as often, I go by myself, usually on a whim.
What can I say? When Cable Beach calls, I don’t even try to resist.
A couple of days ago, I ended up at the beach on one of those impulses. It was early afternoon and I didn’t have to work until five, so I thought I’d spend a few hours finishing Anna Karenina in the sand. It wasn’t meant to be. Clouds have recently cropped up in Broome’s skies, a welcome change from its usual clear blue expanse. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of them. Too inspired to sit still, I made a quick trip back to the hostel for my camera, set my Spotify to shuffle Flume and went on a walk.
The tourist season in Broome is quickly winding down, and with it the crowds at the beach have started to dwindle. (Honestly, though, I’ve always been kind of blown away by the relative un-crowdedness of a beach this gorgeous. Back in the States, a beach of equal fame would surely draw hordes of visitors. Then again, Broome is a long way from anywhere else in Australia! That’s WA for you.) Still, there were plenty of people around, from solo stand-up paddle boarders and sunbathers to people playing cricket and backpackers partying. This is why whenever I’m asked for advice about what to do in Broome, I think mostly of Cable Beach — you hardly need to go anywhere else!
Cable Beach has a lot of things going for it, but surfing is not generally one of them. Lately, though, the ocean’s given way from calm and glassy to some easy-breaking waves. There have even been regular group lessons recently, groups of Skittle-bright kids practicing their paddling and riding in on the baby waves. I hear that the surfing gets a little better around here toward the wet season, but that is also, unfortunately, when poisonous little jellyfish called Irukandji start encroaching on Cable Beach. Right now might just be the sweet spot — beginner-friendly surfing without the risk of painful box jellyfish stings.
I haven’t given either surfing or stand-up paddle boarding a try here yet. So far, I’ve stuck to saving money on the rentals in favor of walks, runs and lazing in the sand instead. Still, I’ve promised myself a go at both before the Irukandji scare me off! One of these days…
Cable Beach is famous, too, for another attraction I’ve yet to experience: camels. While they’re most definitely not native to the country, Australia actually has more camels than any other country in the world. They were introduced way back in the 1800s to carry goods across the Outback, but ever since trains replaced the need for them, feral camels have become a something of a pest across Australia. In Broome, though, they’ve found their place. Everyday, the blues, reds and yellows (the three tour groups here) make their way down to the beach for camel rides down the beach at sunrise and sunset. I have one of those “only-in-Broome” moments every time I happen to cross paths with them. This was the first I had my camera on me.
As much as there is to do around Cable Beach, the truth is that simply being here is usually enough for me. I didn’t grow up by the beach. Living in Thailand last year, I was lucky to be able to escape to Ko Samet in just a couple hours any weekend I wanted. It was the greatest luxury. Back home in the States, the closest I ever lived to the beach was in Chesapeake, Virginia. My family made the most of living by Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks back then, but after a few years, we traded the coast for Indiana, Ohio and a short (but glorious!) week’s vacation at the beach each summer. Even my love for living across from St. Kilda Beach in Melbourne earlier this year pales in comparison to this.
For me, living at Cable Beach is still a novelty and a wonder. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I relish every minute I spend on this beach, and I’m not about to take it for granted. I’m also not sure how I’m ever going to survive not living at an incredible beach for the rest of my life, but hey — we’ll cross that bridge when we get there! For now, I’ll let Broome keep spoiling me.