Johnny Chi Lane

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….

11 thoughts on “Johnny Chi Lane

  1. I too have been quite fascinated by Broome, and have been lucky enough to have visited there a few times. There is a really interesting book called “Broome Time” by Anne Coombs and Susan Varga. It was published way back in 2001 but is worth trying to get hold of. They consciously went to live in Broome for a year, to experience it in all seasons, and from more than just a short term tourist perspective, and wrote a kind of diary of the year. They really got well into the Broome society. One of those books I re-read regularly.

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    1. I’ll look out for it. I read one a few years ago called, Why Broome. It was a collection of short individual stories on why people settled there. For some it was as simple as their car broke down there.

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  2. We enjoyed learning the history of Broome. It is such an interesting place and the scenery is stunning. I think when travelling we have to accept that some places will be more touristy than others but I don’t remember Broome being particularly busy. We were there late September which may have been the reason but it was quite lovely and we enjoyed it very much.

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    1. It’s a gorgeous place. The peak tourist months are July and August, but this year I think it’s continuing on a bit longer than usual. It is quieter now though than we arrived three weeks ago. There’s such a lot of history here. You’re right, some places will always be more touristy than others, and with good reason. They usually get that way only because there’s so much there of interest.

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    1. I hope you like it here Miriam. Some people don’t enjoy it all. It’s getting hot now though. Mr Tilly is really feeling it, off his food, and just a bit under par. We’ve decided to leave two days earlier, so are leaving tomorrow morning.

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      1. Thanks Chris. Time will tell but we like to scratch beneath the surface and get to know a place so I have a good feeling about it. Sounds like we’re going to miss you unfortunately. We’re heading into the Bungle Bungles tomorrow and yes, I know what you mean about that heat. It’s pretty intense and must be a struggle for our four legged companions. Take care.

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