Broome’s ‘Festival of the Pearl’ Shinju Matsuri returns

The annual Shinju Matsuri festival returns to Broome this year, taking over the Kimberley town with a series of events and cultural celebrations from Saturday, August 17 until Sunday, September 1.

Shinju Matsuri, which is Japanese for ‘Festival of the Pearl’, has been a celebrated fixture of Western Australia’s regional events calendar since its inception in 1970. The festival originated from three cultural festivals—the Japanese Obon Matsuri, the Chinese Hang Seng, and the Malaysian Hari Merdeka—which celebrates Independence Day from British rule in 1957.

Shinju Matsuri rekindles the excitement and romance of Broome’s early days as a world-renowned producer of South Sea pearls, when the Japanese, Chinese, Malay, Koepangers, Filipinos, and Europeans flocked to Broome in the late nineteenth century to be a part of this prosperity. This unique multicultural population of pearl industry workers joined with the local Aboriginal people and Europeans to work on up to 400 pearling luggers that sailed out of Broome.

Each year, the people and businesses of Broome come together to celebrate the heritage and history of the town. The volunteer Board of Shinju Matsuri is community-driven, viewing the festival as a platform to educate and enlighten people about Broome’s cultural heritage. Their goal is to pass on this knowledge to young people and new arrivals, ensuring that Broome’s distinctive and diverse identity is recognised and preserved for future generations.

Shinju Matsuri kicks off on Saturday, August 17, with the Opening Ball at the Shinju Matsuri Festival Hub at the Town Beach. A modern take on the historic Shinju Ball, the event will include live music, dinner, and drinks under the starlit sky of Roebuck Bay.

The Chinatown Feast is a starlit Hawker-style dining event with a Kimberley twist. Held in the heart of Chinatown on Wednesday, August 21, it’s an opportunity to tantalise your taste buds with a selection of dishes from Broome’s finest food vendors, with entertainment from roving performers and live musicians throughout the evening.

Festival favourite, the Pearl Meat Cook Off, is making its return to Pearl Luggers in Chinatown on Friday, August 23. Delight your taste buds as you try a selection of pearl meat dishes from Broome’s best chefs as they compete for the title of 2024 Pearl Meat Cook Off Champion.

Experience the spectacular Floating Lantern Matsuri on Sunday, August 25. This is a ticketed event for the whole family and includes access to the Floating Lantern Festival Hub, one lantern kit per person, a drink on arrival, and a special menu of Japanese canapes served throughout the evening.

Arriving for the first time in 2024 is Shinju Matsuri’s very first Cable Beach Sunset Cocktail Party. Taking place on the iconic beach on Friday, August 30, guests will enjoy a delicious canape menu designed with local ingredients and seasonal produce, as some of Broome and WA’s best DJs get the dance floor pumping until late.

Indulge in an opulent night dining under the stars at the festival’s premier dining event, the Sunset Long Table Dinner on Cable Beach on Saturday, August 31. Renowned as one of the most exclusive dining tables in WA, the dinner is the most anticipated Shinju Matsuri event each year, with an exciting menu inspired by Broome’s rich cultural tapestry that showcases local ingredients and seasonal produce from the region.

The program also includes a Family Fun Day, a Float Parade and dance performances at the Carnival of Nations event on Sunday, August 18, as well as pearl grading classes, all-ages events, art exhibitions and more throughout the two weeks of the festival.

Shinju Matsuri festival takes over Broome from Saturday, August 17, until Sunday, September 1, 2024. For more info and to buy tickets, head to shinjumatsuri.com.au

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WA Embraces Outdoor Adventure Tourism

Tourism Council WA has welcomed the State Government’s $165 million Outdoor Adventure Tourism Package for National Parks, trails, and marine tourism, announced today.

In 2023, there were 1,823,000 Western Australians who visited a National Park, botanical park, or went bushwalking while holidaying overnight in WA. These were the most popular activities for Western Australians on holiday, after dining out, and were even more popular than visiting the beach.

Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall said visiting National Parks was the most important and popular attraction for Western Australians, as well as for international and interstate visitors.

“Visiting National Parks is an important part of Western Australians’ lifestyle and culture, and adventures and experiences in National Parks are critical for driving tourism and jobs in regional WA,” Mr Hall said.

“We particularly welcome the $3 million in funding to re-open the Gloucester Tree, however further funding is needed to re-open visitor attractions such as Penguin Island wildlife encounters and to properly maintain current National Park facilities, so they can always remain safe and open for Western Australians.”

Mr Hall said Western Australia had to maintain its current nature-based tourism offerings and create new exciting outdoor adventures across WA’s National Park system.

“Western Australians are craving outdoor adventure experiences such as ziplining, rope courses, mountain biking, jet boats, marine tours, camping and overnight trails. Western Australians don’t want just things to see, they want things to do things in our National Parks,” he said.

“It is critical for the State Government to maintain and expand adventure tourism activities in our National Parks and support nature-based and adventure tour operators who provide access and amazing experiences for Western Australians.”

Tourism Council WA had previously called for public attractions funding in its pre-State Budget submissions, to be used to maintain, develop, and recycle “State Significant” public attractions on public land.

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Jilgu National Park created in Mid West-Gascoyne region

A new national park has been created in the Mid West-Gascoyne region, following the implementation of an agreement between Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation and the State Government.

The creation of Jilgu National Park—which spans 102,000 hectares of scenic mulga country interspersed with rugged hills and watercourses—means 2.6 million hectares of new conservation estate has been created under the Government’s Plan for Our Parks initiative since 2019.

As part of the Indigenous Land Use Agreement, Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation will jointly manage Jilgu National Park and the existing Collier Range National Park with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

This means five Traditional Owners will be employed to care for Country, with future investment in nature-based tourism and other economic opportunities also a possibility.

Jilgu National Park was formerly part of the Waldburg pastoral lease purchased by the Government for conservation more than 20 years ago.

The park is home to many species of native wildlife, including black-flanked rock wallaby, western pebble mound mouse, long-tailed dunnart, brush-tailed mulgara and peregrine falcon, as well as three priority ecological communities which are not protected in any other reserves.

“The creation of Jilgu National Park is an important contribution to our Government’s target of conserving five million hectares of land under Plan for our Parks,” said Environment Minister Reece Whitby. “This incredible cultural landscape deserves to be celebrated and the Cook Government is proud to be a part of a shared effort to protect this area.”

“It’s a special day to be on Country for this historic announcement,”added Mining and Pastoral Region MLC Peter Foster. “I’m proud to be part of a Government that recognises and empowers the Traditional Owners of Jilgu, who have a crucial role to play in managing and conserving this amazing country. The biodiversity and beauty of this area are second to none, and this agreement will ensure the country continues to be properly protected and cared for by the people who know it best.

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