By Jade Johnston
His name is Horace, and he will be our trusty stead for the evening. Horace is a 35 year old camel, and he is the alpha male of the herd, hence why he is leading the camel train tonight.
Broome, in Northern Western Australia is famous for two main things. The first is the iconic cable beach, one of the best places in Australia to watch the sun set. And the other, is the camel tours that are led up and down that famous beach.
The camels were originally brought to Australia to help build the infrastructure in the desert interior of the country. If it wasn’t for these camels, the Ghan railway, which spans from Darwin in the tropical North, to Adelaide in South Australia, would never have been built. When the camels were no longer needed, they were simply released into the wild. Now, with no natural predators in Australia, camel numbers are in the thousands. Some run wild, some are still used for work in the interior, and others are employed giving tours on cable beach.
Ships of the Desert is one of the main camel safari tour companies in Broome. They run several tours throughout the day, in the morning, afternoon, and at sunset. We went on one of the sunset tours, thus combining the two main things that Broome is famous for.
After telling us about the camels, and briefing us on how to mount and dismount the camels, the staff of Ships of the Desert helped us, two at a time, to mount our camels. Lauren and I were on Horace, at the front of the train. Despite having ridden on a camel before, nothing can really prepare you for the angular jolt you get when the camel stands up. You need to hold on tight and lean back, until your camel is comfortably standing.
Sam was leading the camel train today, as her assistants walked up and down the line, chatting with guests and taking photos of us and our camels. She told us about the camels, the business, as well as giving us some great tips about Broome.
As we turned around on the beach, and started to head back to the starting tent, the sun was starting to set. Families had come to the beach with their 4 wheel drives, and were enjoying a picnic as the sun set. We walked along the water’s edge with our camels, getting one of the best views of the famous Cable Beach sunset.
Australia wouldn’t be what it is today, without the help of the camel. And a trip to Broome would not be complete without joining Ships of the Desert to enjoy a ride and learn all about the camel and what it means for this country.
The Nitty Gritty
- Ships of the Desert operates camel rides every day of the week, and up to three times daily depending on demand. We definitely recommend the sunset tour.
- Each camel can carry up to two passengers, and rides range from $40 – $70 per adult.
Visit Ships of the Desert’s website for more information.
Our sunset ride was provided complimentary by Ships of the Desert, but all opinions remain our own.