Dive deep into Broome’s fascinating pearling history at the Pearl Luggers Museum, an expansive collection of diving artifacts situated on a replica tidal jetty. Learn about Broome’s early history, when the news of the riches of this frontier town spread around the world and enticed migrants to its shores. You’ll also hear dark tales of peril beneath the water’s surface.
Begin your learning experience at the Pearl Luggers Museum with a tour. You’ll see two magnificently restored original pearl luggers overlooking the mangrove-dotted Dampier Creek, where the hunt for the South Sea pearls began in the late 19th century. A knowledgeable guide will take you on a journey through history with an informative presentation and you will also see a short documentary that features rare archival footage from 1949.
During the tour, the pearling industry’s dark secrets, including the use of enslaved indigenous divers in the 19th century, will be revealed. Find out about the diverse nationalities who flocked to Broome with hopes to make their riches overnight and found a dangerous trade in a wild boomtown. Hundreds of divers were killed while working in the depths of Roebuck Bay. The divers’ legacies live on, however, as the multicultural influence of the Chinese, Japanese, Malay, Filipino and Pacific Islanders made Broome into the culturally rich town it is today.
See original diving artifacts, such as antique “hard-hat” diving helmets and hand-powered air pumps. Visit the pearler’s store and showroom to browse South Sea cultured pearls, model luggers, pearl-inlaid pendants and a range of books about the pearling industry. At the end of the tour, you’ll be treated to a complimentary sample of Pinctada Maxima pearl-shell meat, a delicacy from the depths of the ocean.
The Pearl Luggers Museum is only accessible with the guided tour. Tours operate daily and last approximately 1 hour. A café located on-site is open seasonally. Telephone or visit the museum’s website to book tours and check opening times. The museum is located in Chinatown, where Broome’s pearling rush began.