A big year for our news breakers
Broome kicked the year off by recovering from the costly impact of cyclone Hilda on December 27, with damages running into tens of thousands of dollars.
NT flights up and running
Thousands of passengers were able to access direct flights between Broome and Darwin after Airnorth relaunched its non-stop link. The company said the decision was being driven by an increase in tourism in both locations.
Public backlash forced the State Government to reverse its decision to close School of the Air, a move that was welcomed by remote communities across the region and Member for Kimberley Josie Farrer.
CCTV cameras deemed a success
Broome police and Shire praised the cameras installed in the war on alcohol-fuelled violence, after a review showed the incidents had plummeted.
Town gathered for Australia Day
Despite the fireworks being canned, huge numbers turned out at Town Beach for celebrations on January 26, where firefighter Phil Leach was named community citizen of the year.
Low-pressure system wreaked havoc
Although it never evolved into a cyclone, a tropical low caused widespread flooding, damaged roads, cancelled flights, closed the Great Northern Highway and left supermarket shelves bare. Supplies were flown into a number of remote communities that were left isolated, including Beagle Bay.
RSL stripped back service
The local RSL branch went back to basics after going into administration.
Education initiative rolled out
The State Government introduced the multimillion-dollar Kimberley Schools Project into 10 schools across the region to increase attendance and engagement in some of the country’s most remote schools.
Big switch-ups in education
As children returned to school for the 2018 year, Mathew Burt took over as principal of Broome Senior High School, while the University of Notre Dame Australia Broome campus was also under new leadership, with Sarah Cordiner appointed head of campus.
Big tick for revamp
The long-awaited Chinatown Revitalisation design finally satisfied Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan, who became personally involved in the project after being made aware of delays and construction timeline concerns.
New Chamber CEO
Elaine Jolliffe was named the new Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive and said she planned to charge ahead with a strong business focus.
Rainfall records all round
The town’s wet season officially became one for the record books, with more than 500mm dumped in February, and 370.6mm on February 17 alone, the month’s wettest day on record.
New rescue HQ opened
Broome Volunteer Sea Rescue Group celebrated the official opening of its revamped headquarters, which drastically increased response time to call-outs.
Shire councillor’s Joyce claims
Shire of Broome councillor Catherine Marriott privately accused former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce of sexual harassment. The claims were leaked to the media, throwing Ms Marriott into the national spotlight.
Highway became airstrip
An aircraft made an emergency landing on Great Northern Highway, 60km from Broome, with nine passengers on board, prompting an air safety expert investigation.
Mardi Gras mayhem
The Mangrove Hotel was flooded by rainbow and glitter for the town’s biggest Mardi Gras celebration in history.
New plan to fight crime
Kimberley District Superintendent Allan Adams embarked on a new strategy to tackle young serial offenders of crime in the region, believing juvenile detention was not a deterrent for them. Under the new plan, police began engaging youth rather than relying on enforcement.
Derby ready for blast off
Kimberley business leaders, residents and politicians were hopeful a proposal to blast rockets into orbit from Derby would go ahead, after the Ukraine Government announced their desire to build a spaceport near the West Kimberley town.
Preparing for Singapore
The town began rolling out the welcome mat in anticipation for hundreds of visitors from Singapore, including terminal upgrades and a welcome sign at Broome International Airport.
Food van war
Traders struggling to pay rent and rates voiced their fury after the Shire began consulting with the public about allowing food vans and pop-up traders in select locations, including Chinatown.
Cable Beach back in business
Lifeguards returned to the iconic beach, as well as the well-known Beach Hut equipment hire business, marking the start of the busy tourist season.
Port poised for freight boom
The Port of Broome was identified as having the potential benefit of a “freight tsunami” as the Federal Government considered changes to domestic shipping legislation.
Yet another airfare inquiry
The cost of flying to Broome was under the microscope again, as a public hearing was held in the Kimberley town. The Federal hearing was held just eight months after a State inquiry held a similar meeting in Broome.
Unpaid fines strife
Three Kimberley residents appeared on a public register of the State’s top 100 defaulters, with the region as a whole owing about $16 million in unpaid fines.
Cruise passengers given more options
Beloved local Bart Pigram launched My Heritage Tour to provide an in-depth indigenous cultural and historical experience for passengers docking into town on cruise liners.
Remote airport’s monumental feat
The tiny community of Djarindjin became a success story after paying off almost $6 million to create a self-managed airport servicing the oil and gas industry. The hub is fully staffed by local people and had zero tolerance to drugs and alcohol.
A Broome childcare worker spoke of her crippling pain as she was stung by the potentially deadly Irukandji jellyfish.
Footy club’s stance on violence
The Broome Bulls joined the “No More” campaign against domestic violence, which quickly flowed through to the rest of the West Kimberley Football League.
Slim pickings in Budget
Although a number of regional initiatives were announced in the State Budget, very few were related to the Kimberley, with several projects already under way from the year prior.
Small business success
Couple Aaron and Taryn Ryan, owners of Footprint Cleaning, were the stars of the show at the Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry Small Business Awards, that saw the best of the best honoured.
Traffic hotspots revealed
Broome’s traffic cops revealed the spots in town where the most offences occur — the 90km/h zone just out of town on Broome Highway, 50km/h stretch of Old Broome Road and the Gubinge Road and Sanderling Drive intersection.
Broome social worker Brendan Pang, now relocated to Perth, made it to the top 24 of Network Ten’s national cooking reality show Masterchef.
He would eventually be eliminated before earning his spot back into the competition and finishing in ninth place.
Game-changing flight announcement
Qantas and the State Government launched a one-year discounted flights trial for flights between Broome and Perth, subject to a string of terms and conditions.
History making Singapore flight arrived
The arrival of a trial passenger flight from Singapore marked a historic day for Broome, as the town welcomed its first international arrival in nearly two decades. The four return flights were considered a success, despite a few minor flaws.
Cruise passengers turned away
Industry support group Cruise Broome called on the State Government for a solution to protect the town’s reputation as a top destination for ocean liners after the Kimberley Ports Authority cancelled a booking for a 700-passenger ship because it did not have the gangway to suit it.
The Kyle Andrews Foundation, now synonymous with Broome, flew another plane filled with sick children to the North West town for the trip of a lifetime. The week of fun-filled activities also included Kyle’s Walk, where more than 1000 charitable locals flocked to the beach for an 8km walk to raise funds.
Polo in paradise
Cable Beach polo returned for another year, with more than 1000 people attending the popular two-day tournament.
The first round of the Broome Turf Club’s racing season kicked off with an absolute bang, as socialites and punters from around the country flocked to town.
New cop in charge
Senior Sergeant Les Andrews took over as Broome Police Station officer-in-charge, replacing outgoing Senior Sergeant Brendon Barwick.
A report released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission showed residential property owners in northern WA were paying more than double for building and contents insurance, compared to the rest of the country.
Conference put town on map
The three-day National Native Title Conference was held in Broome, the biggest of is kind ever in the Kimberley town.
Skipper cleared of meth charges
The co-owner of a luxury cruise vessel was acquitted of drug dealing after a week-long trial in Broome.
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