As I landed in Broome as a graduate journalist eager to prove myself six years ago, I remember wondering what my first front page story of The West would be. I had found myself in one of the most stunning places on the planet that was world renowned for its beaches, culture and history – put simply, its beauty. Would it be a huge celebrity spotting at the picturesque Cable Beach? A miraculous feat at the famous Broome Cup? Perhaps even a quirky tale about how a country larrikin saved his family home from the wrath of a tropical cyclone? Instead, my first ever front page story of this newspaper read: FIFO RAPE HELL. It was a sickening report about a 20-year-old man pinning a Dutch tourist down by her throat as he sexually penetrated her without her consent, before leaving her stranded at an isolated Broome beach. The attack – which came about after the 26-year-old woman had rejected the man at the local pub earlier that night – was so brutal he was thrown behind bars for four years. Unfortunately, it was far from an isolated incident, but was instead one of many similarly heinous offences I reported on. The truth was, this beautiful town I had landed in had a dark underbelly that had been shrouded by its reputation as an idyllic tourist mecca. Crime in Broome was and continues to be rife. And while sexual offences are the absolute worst of it. The town has long been plagued by deep rooted issues that have only really bubbled to the surface in recent years. Seeing a stolen and burnt out car on the side of the road was a normal part of my day – as was seeing young kids who committed the act boasting about it online. Break-ins and theft were prevalent across the entire town — every morning I had to triple check the padlock on my gate, place all my loose valuables in my usual hiding spot and make sure my curtains were completely closed so nobody could see in. I would even leave a $100 note on the bench every day in the hopes that if a thief made it in, they would take it and leave. The oval in the centre of the CBD was home to drunken violence, public urination and excretion, sexual acts and drug abuse – all in broad daylight as visitors drove past. The general manager of the adjacent visitor centre could not hold back tears when I interviewed her about what her staff were faced with every day — and how the acts had become so horrid they had to build an unsightly fence around the building. Do not get me wrong — I am forever grateful for my time in the town and left with many memories and friendships. But I also left with a vastly different idea of what Broome is.