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This week’s guest post for the ‘Day-to-Day’ series comes from Katie, an American expat who’s currently working and living in Broome Australia. If you’re an expat and interested in sharing the day-to-day details of your city, shoot me a message at thepaperplanesblog @ gmail.com.
I’m currently based in Australia, working and traveling my way around the country on a working holiday visa. These days, I’m living in Broome, a small town in Western Australia. I hadn’t heard of Broome until a few months ago, but my reasons for moving here were simple enough. After four months in Melbourne, I knew I was ready to flee the winter. I wanted to live someplace warmer and smaller, a place from which I could easily explore the west coast after a few months of working to save up money. I adore Melbourne but I wanted to see an entirely different Australia, and Broome is exactly that.
Broome is a tourist town, which makes it a popular base for backpackers on working holiday visas to work and save up money. The tourist season here runs from May to October. Here, that’s the dry season, and it means beautifully warm, sunny days and cooler balmy nights — perfect summer weather, in other words, just as most of Australia’s major cities are heading into winter. Broome’s population triples during this peak season. My friends here tell me that when the wet rolls around in October and brings with it stifling heat and humidity, the town empties out. They say the vibe is completely different, and I’m planning to stick around long enough to experience it for myself.
I work in hospitality, serving and bartending at Matso’s Broome Brewery, a restaurant popular with both locals and tourists. The restaurant overlooks palm-fringed mangroves and turquoise water, a view for which I’m especially thankful since I spend so much time there. Since the restaurant is open from 7am to 11pm, my schedule varies wildly. In general, I work forty to fifty hours a week over five or six days. It’s a good job and gives me flexibility to focus on writing and blogging during my off time, but it does make sticking to any sort of routine a challenge.
I’m doing Broome in true backpacker style, living at a hostel full-time. It wasn’t my intention when I moved here, but I actually love it. The best part? I live right next to the world-famous Cable Beach. It’s truly one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen, which is saying something considering I lived in Thailand last year! The fact that I live here astounds me everyday, and I spend as much of my free time at the beach as I can. I try to make time for morning runs on Cable Beach, or at sunset if I’m lucky enough to have the night off. Living at a hostel means that there’s always heaps of people down for a beach day (the community of travelers here is truly amazing), and bonfire nights happen at least a few times a week. When I’m not hanging out at the beach with hostel friends, I’m usually writing in a shady hammock — definitely one of the best places I’ve ever called my office.
Living at Cable Beach means that I have to ride my bike to work. Having a work schedule that always changes from day to day and week to week, these bike rides are one of my favorite little routines, a constant ritual. I especially love riding home at night. The stars frequently amaze, and on at least half of my rides home, I’ll spot a wallaby or two hiding around the edge of the bush or jumping across the street.
Broome is small, but while day-to-day life might get repetitive working here, there’s still a lot to explore locally. I’ve spent a day at the races and visited the markets a few times, witnessed the Staircase to the Moon (a monthly phenomenon when the moon rises over the mud flats at Town Beach) and gone cliff jumping at the staggering red- and azure-painted Ganthieume Point. Still on my list: whale watching, kayaking, hunting for dinosaur footprints and making camping trips to a few beaches outside of town. Let’s just say there’s enough here to keep me busy for a little while!
I plan to be in Broome through the end of October, when I’ll head down the west coast to explore the beaches and national parks between here and Perth. It’s a trip I’ve been planning on for awhile now, one of my biggest travel priorities for my year here in Australia. As excited as I am to return to full-time travel, though, I really couldn’t be more content with the way my day-to-day life is unfolding here in Broome. It’s a special place, a truth underscored by the number of travelers who arrive here intending to relax on their way through only to find themselves basking in the glow of yet another Cable Beach sunset a month later. Broome is the kind of town that demands you linger, a hammock that invites you to sink in for a little nap and then begs you stay, at least for a little bit longer. Broome is a feeling I’ll hold onto, an easy lifestyle I know I’ll look back on and relish. For now, this is exactly where I want to be.