Ponies and pearls

Head to Broome for the Cable Beach polo and you’ll discover a community of beauty, history and hospitality.

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Published Selector Summer 2014-15

The table was set under a glittering sky with the waves of the Indian Ocean lapping just a few metres away. Women in cocktail dresses strolled to their seats, the glamour of their attire giving way to beach practicality as their bare feet left prints in the beautiful white sand. Veuve Clicquot was on flow, its elegant bubbles catching the twinkle of the fairy lights that topped off the magical glow.

As the guests mingled, they enjoyed appetising bites of burrata crostini, crab and corn beignets and ceviche of pearl meat. And it wasn’t just pearl on the palate, there were strings of pearls adorning necklines throughout the crowd.

The event was Dinner Under the Stars, the glitzy peak of a weekend celebrating the Pinctada Cable Beach Polo Tournament. There amongst the paying guests were international polo players lured to this unique opportunity to play their sport by the sea, along with X-factor star Barry Southgate, indigenous model Samantha Harris and hostess of the event, Marilynne Paspaley. And therein lies the pearl link. Marilynne is a member of the Paspaley family, Australia’s first family of pearls. She’s also founder and managing director of Pinctada Hotels and Resorts, who put on the Cable Beach Polo event.

The tournament is held over a weekend in May with two days of polo matches viewed by VIPs under swish marquees and a throng of beachgoers watching for free from the shade of their umbrellas.

Bewitched by Broome

The motivation for the event, Marilynne describes, is “we have the most remarkable beach and polo is a very fast-growing sport around the world and the two combined work superbly here. It brings people from all around the world, it brings people from all around Australia and they bring such a wonderful spirit.”

One of the international celebrities it brought in 2014 was chef C. Barclay Dodge from Aspen, Colorado, who put together the incredible Dinner Under the Stars menu. The decision to come couldn’t have been easier, he explains. “Marilynne asked me to come down and it was pretty simple. I really love the naked beauty of this place. It’s kind of sparse and bare, the red earth is amazing, the beaches are pretty cool, the water is insane, it’s such beautiful water.”

Following the mouth-watering appetizers, Barclay put on a entrée of trevally crudo with lime zest, jalapeno emulsion and cilantro followed by a main of gold band snapper with Moroccan eggplant, cherry tomatoes, salsa verde and black olive tapenade, all served with Bannamagoo Estate 1827 Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. But the piece de resistance was the dessert – Pina Colada parfait of rum profiteroles, caramelised pineapple, pine nut brittle and coconut mousse.

Sweeping through

It’s not just for her polo event that Marilynne encourages people to experience this special part of the world. She says, “I think once you’ve been here and you’ve actually stopped and allowed the place to have its influence over you, you can actually just pause and remember where you are and have a look around you and see how extraordinary everything is; it’s a very hard memory to lose and it’s one that one keeps wanting to refresh.”

One of Broome’s unique viewing platforms is the hump of a camel as it trudges along Cable Beach as the sun disappears over the horizon. A one-hour trek with Red Sun Camels allows you plenty of time to bond with your new hairy friend as you pass picnicking families playing cricket, snapping selfies and generally revelling in the unparalleled beauty of a Western Australian sunset.

In Broome itself the town puts on a history lesson through its streets, buildings and landmarks. While Chinatown is no longer home to the opium dens and billiard halls of its past, a walk along the Heritage Trail reveals many points of interest including Sun Picture Gardens, one of the oldest operating picture gardens in Australia and Johnny Chi Lane where storyboards tell the tales of the past. There’s also the Roebuck Bay Hotel that dates back to 1890, but offers a trip back to the 1970s on Thursdays via its wet t-shirt competitions.

Also on the Heritage Trail is the Old Union Bank Chambers, which was built in 1910. It operated as a bank until 1942 when it became Matso’s Store run by the Matsumotos, one of the area’s many Japanese families. Today, paying homage to its past, it’s Matso’s Broome Brewery. Inside you’ll find a refreshing range of uniquely named beers including Smokey Bishop dark lager, Hit The Toad mid-strength and Pearler’s Pale Ale, as well as Mango Beer and Matso’s famous alcoholic Ginger Beer.

If you need an excuse to get yourself to Broome, the Cable Beach Polo, which will be held on May 16 and 17 in 2015, is certainly worth the trip. Once you arrive though, you’ll discover why so many visitors find it hard to leave.

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