Broome is located in the north-west of Western Australia, on the northern side of Roebuck Bay, on the Indian Ocean. A small port, Broome was settled and rose to prosperity with the discovery of rich coastal pearl oyster beds in the 1860s. The town was officially founded in 1883 and was named after Sir Frederick Broome. It became a magnet for pearl-divers from across Asia, until pearling declined in the 1950s in the face of stiff competition from the plastics industry. Some pearl harvesters remain, and cultured pearls are farmed nearby.
The tidal range in the area can be up to 10 m (33 ft), which means the town overlooks large mud flats and mangrove swamps rich in wildlife. Visitors are attracted by the town's beaches and the "Golden Staircase to the Moon", a seasonal optical illusion caused by moonlight reflecting off the exposed ocean floor. During low tide, dinosaur footprints can be seen in the ocean bed at Gantheaume Point, west of the town.
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