If you’re uninitiated, the town of Broome is more than 2,200 kilometres north of Perth in the far-flung Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Its home to the world-famous Cable Beach. It’s also tropical, relaxed, and full of genuine people from all kinds of backgrounds who share a mutual love for their Kimberley home.
And it’s hands-down my favourite place to holiday.
“Do you want me to pay you?” I half-joked with my client when she confirmed I’d been looking after MC duties at the upcoming Sunset Long Table Dinner.
I didn’t realise at the time that I’d landed myself in Broome for my first ever Shinju Matsuri Festival - and not one, but two of the town’s most bucket-list worthy events.
Shinju Matsuri is Japanese for “Festival of the Pearl”, one of Australia’s longest running festivals. Over nine-days dozens of events paying tribute to Broome’s cultural diversity, it’s pearling history and of course, natural beauty.
The festival culminates with two contrasting, yet equally astounding Broome events: The Floating Lantern Matsuri and the Sunset Long Table Dinner.
I learnt quickly that Shinju Matsuri is also about eating food, and lots of it!
Events like the Pearl Harvest Yum Cha celebrate the influence the generations of Chinese, Malaysian and Japanese people who have lived & worked in Broome.
Now for those items for your bucket-list.
The Floating Lantern Matsuri, at Gantheaume Point, honours Broome’s pearling history: remembering the Aboriginal, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian and Philippine divers, many who lost their lives at at sea in search of precious pearls.
Literally hundreds of people turned out to decorate lanterns and float them out to sea in memory of their own loved ones. The sight as they descended upon the ocean front at Gantheaume point: awe-inspiring.
The Sunset Long Table Dinner is one of the final events of Shinju Matsuri, and it’s all about letting your hair down as you enjoy a uniquely Broome experience: fine dining on Cable Beach.
Guest celebrity chefs Adam Liaw and Marion Grasby were each on hand to serve up a dish that made the most of local produce.
While entertainment came in several forms - eclectic tunes from local musicians, live opera singers in the sand and a stunning Broome sunset.
I left Broome with a full belly, full heart and a list full of events I’d love to attend again in Broome - thank goodness Shinju Matsuri is back again next year!