Pearl Masters arrived in the early 1870s and diving began in Roebuck Bay, quickly making Broome the pearling capital of the world.
Japanese, Chinese and Islanders were the main divers, along with some local aboriginal people. They braved drowning, the bends divers paralysis and the storms that wrack the Kimberley in the cyclone season. The beautifully elegant Japanese Cemetery has over 900 graves of Japanese people, most of them pearl divers.
The history of pearling in Broome is well documented in the Broome Museum, along with other history of Broome and the Kimberley region.
Pearling luggers made a romantic sight as they tied up alongside Streeters Jetty in Broome until relatively recent times. The foreshore was lined with open sided sheds, with massive mounds of pearl shell, waiting to be processed.
Nowadays, the streets of Broome are home to some of the worlds top pearl jewellery stores and a trip to a pearl farm is an interesting and informative way to spend a day in paradise. And an excellent place to purchase a treasure from the depth of the Indian Ocean.
A tour of Willie Creek Pearl Farm, 38km north of Broome, will uncover the mysteries of cultured pearl farming and treat you to some amazing colours and outback scenery en-route.
Many years ago, as we admired the palm trees that graced her beautiful gardens the widow of the renowned Pearling Master, Captain Gregory, reliably told us the romantic tale of the palm trees. The Captain had brought the palm trees to Broome ofrom far-a-way places for her, when she first came to Broome as the young bride of the Master pearler.
Some of the exotic homes of the Master Pearlers have been saved and are part of the fabric of Broome still, as the gallery alongside Matsos Microbrewery and the fabulous Lord MacAlpine boutique Accommodation.