Broome – Chinatown

26th June, 2015

One of the reasons for our extended stay in Broome was the need to have the Landcruiser serviced before we tackle the Gibb River Road. We had no trouble getting a booking at Broome Toyota and duly delivered the vehicle to their service centre at 8.30am on Friday. Their courtesy bus dropped us off in Chinatown so we decided to use the early start to take a self-guided walking tour of the Chinatown quarter before the day began to heat up too much.

We had been given a brochure containing a map when we enquired at the camping store about replacement water filters and among all the information the brochure contained was the walking tour guide.

First stop was Streeter Jetty, the original rough bush timber jetty was built in the 1880s and has been repaired and replaced several times. Trolley rails once aided the offloading of pearl shell and the resupply of the pearl luggers. The now unused jetty was in a fairly poor state of repair and we had to watch where we put our feet in case we went through a rotten piece of timber.

The original Roebuck Bay Hotel was built in 1890 and rebuilt in 1904. Although undergoing many changes over the ensuing years the façade with its wide verandah and corrugated iron room remain.

A row of boutique shops

Johnny Chi Lane has wall plaques all along its internal length telling tales of the history of Broome.

Napier Cottages built in the very early 1900s as a Japanese boarding house with a single storey at the front and double storey at the rear.

The original Broome lockup built in 1894 of concrete and iron remained in use until the 1950s.

Another typical example of early Broome architecture, built in the 1890s, once again with a single storey at the front and double storey at the rear and corrugated iron cladding.

Sun Picture Gardens, built in 1916, a single storey three sided timber framed structure clad with corrugated iron with a high twin-peaked roof. It is one of the oldest operating picture gardens in Australia.

Built in the 1890s, the original use for this building is unknown. Its distinctive design consists of a central room surrounded by shuttered verandahs and a unique wind scoop that draws cooler air from outside and is set on masonry stumps to avoid tidal flooding.

One of the wall plaques in Johnny Chi Lane explaining how pearling came to Broome.

The following sculptures are grouped together in the centre of Chinatown and depict the core cultures that developed Broome as a pearling centre – Japanese, Chinese, English and the deep sea Pearl Diver.

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