A great place to start any visit to Broome is to visit Chinatown, and walk down Johnny Chi Lane. The arcade runs between Dampier terrace and Carnarvon Street, and is easily found by its distinctive, Broome styled, entrance at either end. If you allow yourself a couple of hours to meander down the twisting lane you’ll emerge with a good insight and appreciation of Broome’s history, and how it evolved to be the popular tourist destination it is today.
In Broome’s hey day Johnny Chi ran a long soup kitchen from the site. Today the lane has been rebuilt in the style of architecture that typifies broom, and named to honour Johnny Chi.
Twenty story boards are spaced along the lane providing good insight into Broome’s early days. They are definitely worth taking some time to read.
There’s a mix of souvenir shops, clothing shops, art shops etc in the lane to browse through.
A free to use art table with supplies is located in the middle of Dampier street end of lane, and alongside it a second hand book cart. The second hand book cart sells donated books with the proceeds going towards animal welfare for the town. Broome doesn’t have a good reputation as far as animal welfare goes!
By the time you’ve finished browsing the shops, and reading about Broome’s history you’ll be in need of some refuelling. I’d suggest a delicious fresh juice or smoothie from Chi Mayi. The Green Reviver did the trick for me.
Broome has a colourful history, which coupled with its unique ecology explains why it’s grown into such a popular tourist destination. Some people, like myself, come here and fall in love with the place, a love affair founded on the amazing weather, the unique ecology, and the history. Broome has the ability to transport one back in time, to almost feel the buzz in ones bones of the frontier town Broome once was, to feel the deep, deep sorrow when learning about the cruel practice of Blackbirding….
The indigenous history, the pearling days, the wars, and the mung bean days off the 1970s have all played a part in making Broome what it is today. Some people hate Broome, seeing it only as an over priced, over populated touristy town. I’m sure those people have never taken the time to take a slow walk down Johnny Chi Lane. If they had, the history of Broome would have planted its seed, a seed that when fertilised with the unique colours and ecology of the surrounded landscape, and watered with a cooling dip in the turquoise waters of Cable Beach – well how can one help but fall in love with this little piece of paradise. I certainly have. What a pleasure it is to come here again, and again, and again….