Stroll along Cable Beach astride a camel while taking in a spectacular sunset in beautiful tropical weather.
Camels, or “ships of the desert” as they’re commonly known, have made an enormous impact on Broome and are a photographers’ favourite, featuring in countless promotions and advertisements. And you can forget what they normally say about camels (cranky, bad-breath beasts) because, after an hour on top of your trusty mount, a bond will develop that’ll have you wishing you could take one home.
There are four camel operators on Cable Beach “north of the rocks” – a three-minute stroll from the main Cable Beach car park. A range of rides is available from 30 to 40-minute morning rides, when vehicle traffic is lighter, to sunset rides of up to one hour.
The ride is a 5kph meander along the shore just above the tide, with operators providing insightful commentary on the lifestyle of camels and how they survive in their natural habitat.
Each camel operator is a little different and has remarkable stories to share. They can be identified by their different saddle blanket colour, which makes for a great kaleidoscope effect during the afternoon when all operators are out in force.
Red Sun Camels has been operating since 1991 and boasts the “longest and most photographed camel train” with up to 18 camels in tow. With bright red saddle blankets all marked with the camels’ names, the Red Sun train is a sight to behold.
Owners John and Janet Geappen bought the business in 2001 and said it was meant to be a seachange. John, a paramedic, and Janet, an interior designer, have experienced a “huge” learning curve but now couldn’t do without their 21 camels. Often seen on their rides is a young camel in training who is more than happy with the extra attention before and after the tour.
Alison Bird from Broome Camel Safaris has been living and working with camels since 1983 when she lived in the Pilbara outback. She moved to Broome in 1990 and, after working as a manager for a camel operator, set up her own business in the mid ‘90s.
Alison likes to reward both her passengers and camels at the end of each ride, with guests getting an opportunity to feed their mount a carrot before saying farewell. She offers 30-minute afternoon rides at 3pm and a full sunset ride at 4pm (times vary according to sunset times). Look out for the blue saddle blankets.
Steve Madden operates Cable Beach Camel Safaris and is in his second year of operation. He first worked with camels in 1983 in Alice Springs and then established Red Sun Camels in 1991 before selling it to John and Janet in 2001.
He has had a varied and interesting affiliation with camels, which at one stage involved training racing camels for Sheik Mohammed Maktoum, the crown prince of Dubai. He is also credited as the first person to complete a solo crossing of the Simpson Desert with three camels in 1984 without communication and carrying his own food and water.
The longest operating camel ride in Broome is Ships of the Desert, now in its 25th year, which picks up guests in the Cable Beach car park, where a small coach transfers you to the company’s camel farm.
After mounting, the first part of the ride travels through the sand dunes, before you emerge on Cable Beach to witness the stunning sunset. If you want to enjoy a different perspective, you can choose to ride at twilight.
Children are welcome to enjoy camel rides. As a general rule, children aged between five and 16 are charged a discounted rate and have their own seat. Children five and under sit on the lap of a parent and are charged as an observer at $10.
Book a tour:
Cable Beach Camel Safaris. One-hour morning rides cost $40 per person and one-hour sunset rides cost $45 per person. Call 0414 457 788.
Broome Camel Safaris. 30-minute afternoon rides cost $25 per person and one-hour sunset rides costs $65 per adult and $45 per child. Call 0419 916 101 or visit www.broomecamelsafaris.com.au.
Red Sun Camels. 40-minute morning rides cost $30 per person and one-hour sunset rides cost $45 per person. Call (08) 9192 7423 or visit redsuncamels.com.au.
Ships of the Desert. One-hour sunset rides cost $40 per person and one-hour twilight rides cost $40 per person. Call (08) 9192 6383.
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