The simple thought of Broome conjures striking imagery – an awe-inspiring contrast of dusty red earth, sparkling blue water and pearly white sand. That rich colour palette grows even further each September
A celebration of Broome’s foundation as a world-renowned producer of South Sea Pearls, Shinju Matsuri is a carnival of colours, flavours and sounds, and a beautiful microcosm of the multiculturalism that has helped define Broome for more than a century.
The event itself represents a blend of cultures, too, having originated from three separate festivals: Japanese Obon Matsuri, Malaysian Hari Merdeka, and the Chinese Hang Seng.
Now in its 47th year, the nine-day festival (September 2-10) boasts a jam-packed schedule, featuring long-held traditions, hallmark attractions and community events, all bolstered by the remarkable landscape that surrounds the beautiful Western Australian town.
Program highlights include the Floating Lantern Matsuri (September 8), a unique and unforgettable experience focusing on reflection, recognition and remembrance. Launch your especially created lantern into the outgoing tide and feel the repose as you tributes float off into the famed Broome sunset.
The tranquillity continues the following evening with the Sunset Long Table Dinner, a delicious multi-course feast held on the iconic sands of Cable Beach as the sun dips below the horizon. The dinner is in only its third year, but is already one of the festival’s most popular events with tickets selling out fast in 2016.
Showcasing art, music, food, dance, crafts and heritage, the program attracts thousands of locals and visitors each year and recreates the very spirit Shinju Matsuri seeks to honour – the spirit that epitomised Broome’s peak pearl-farming days.
Global demand for pearls – originally the shells and later the jewel itself – from the late 1800s drove Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Malays, Indonesians and Europeans to the region hoping to enjoy a slice of the prosperity. They joined the local Aboriginal people working in the harsh but lucrative industry.
Such multiculturalism was unique at the time and the resulting harmony laid the foundations for the friendly, laid-back atmosphere you’ll find in Broome today.