Western Australia is special for many reasons. It is home to diverse cultures with food to match, stunning beaches and arguably the world’s best sunsets. So what do you call a concentrated dose of the above? An event that embodies a quintessentially Australian lifestyle. One that embraces community, harmony and the love of food, life and people.
The festival is an interactive exhibition of sculptures and installations by West Australian artists. The art interprets Broome’s multicultural nature and the town’s link to Asia. The annual Shinju Matsuri (Japanese for “Festival of the Pearl”) originated from three cultural festivals – Japanese Obon Matsuri, Malaysian Hari Merdeka, Independence Day from British rule in 1957, and the Chinese Hang Seng.
In the late 1800’s, Broome was a world-renowned producer of South Sea Pearls. The affluence of the pearl industry attracted the Japanese, Chinese, Malay, Koepangers, Filipino and Europeans to this region to work with the local Aboriginal people on up to 400 Pearling Luggers that sailed out of Broome.
In its 46th year, the festival is a true testament to the character and cultural heritage of Broome.
In the wake of traditional welcomes from Elders and cultural leaders, the nine-day festival kicked off with the ceremonial waking of Sammy the Chinese Dragon. Sammy’s eyes were uncovered by a member of the Broome community – the oldest man of Chinese descent, born in Broome. This simple act symbolised the start of celebrations, which brought together more than 50 different nationalities represented in the Broome community.
Long Table Dinner
Fusion cuisine has become second-place in modern dining.
This year, the lantern-lit Cable Beach dinner was prepared by Malaysian-born, Australian-raised, Sydney chef Adam Liaw. He was born to an English-Singaporean mother and Hainanese Chinese father.
The multi-course dinner featured the very best Kimberly produce, with delicacies like mud crab, barramundi, rangeland beef and Broome’s unique pearl meat.
And to top off this unique dining experience, visitors experienced a spectacular ocean view. Two lucky Kleenheat customers each won two tickets to this Sunset Long Table Dinner (worth $500 each).
The Floating Lantern Matsuri on Cable Beach was a special moment of reflection, recognition and remembrance. Visitors created their own lanterns that they launched into the outgoing tide.
The act of releasing lanterns indicates the carrying of prayers, wishes for peace and messages of hope to honour the memory of loved ones. The lanterns offer gratitude for life and recognise the spirit of friendship and love.
Attendance to the Floating Lantern Matsuri was free, with lantern kits on sale for $15 each for those wishing to participate.
Broome’s most memorable week finished with a bang – an epic fireworks display that concluded a spectacular festival. Visitors took advantage of the mix of fabulous market food stalls and danced the night away with fantastic music performances.
Until next year, The Shinju Matsuri has left behind some long-lasting memories, with the promise that it will return once more to capture the hearts and minds of those living in and travelling through Broome.