Willie Creek pearls story

Our Story

Willie Creek Pearls offer the complete Pearl experience, from the telling the story of history of Pearling and Broome, to educating thousands of visitors a year about modern day Pearling, right through to commercial pearl farming and jewellery manufacture, we are passionate about every part of the unique story of the Pearl of Western Australia.

We are dedicated to delivering unique and memorable tourism, retail and hospitality experiences to all of our visitors.

OUR PEOPLE

Willie Creek Pearls is owned and operated by the Banfield Family. Their path to Willie Creek has been filled with many twists and turns. It began, much further south when as a young couple Valda and Don Banfield left Perth in 1964 to buy a farm in Tincurrin, a small community near Narrogin. In 1985 after years of fluctuating wheat and sheep prices the family made the decision to leave the farm. They moved to Perth where Don, alongside his two sons Robert and Darren, drove for a limousine company.

Whilst in this job, Don met and formed a strong bond with Lord McAlpine. The Lord was playing a key role in the development of Broome as a tourism destination. On a visit to Broome with Don they identified the fact that the town needed a reliable bus service and they joined together in this venture. Just as the Banfields were beginning to establish themselves in Broome; tragedy struck. Whilst driving one of their buses to Fitzroy Crossing Don had an unexpected heart attack. He was aged 51, and left Valda a widow with four children.

The business however was nonstop and Robert and Darren’s only option was to work even harder, with valuable support from their sisters Donna, Melissa and their extended family. Having won a contract for Lord McAlpine’s Cable Beach Club Resort, they were required to meet every plane that flew in. It was busy times but they came together as a family to survive, and eventually thrive. After operating tours to Willie Creek, they decided to acquire the Willie Creek Pearl Farm and deliver the tour experience themselves.

Today, the Banfield family’s efforts have resulted in Willie Creek Pearl Farm being recognised as one of the most awarded tour attractions in Western Australia. Over time, their business has expanded to include other important parts, allowing them to complete “the story” of the Pearl of Western Australia.

The Discover Broome tour (formerly Broome Sightseeing Tour) allows visitors to view first-hand some of the most significant landmarks in Broome’s Pearling history. Pearl Luggers museum, formerly owned and operated by the Arrow family, is where visitors can delve in further into Broome’s Pearling and Maritime heritage. Some of the last remaining Pearl Luggers and rare hard-hat diving artefacts are on display, and tours operate daily. Willie Creek Pearl jewellery showrooms located across Broome and Perth now showcase magnificent Pearl Jewellery from all over the world and allow guests to take home a piece of Western Australia with them. Harvest at Willie Creek, The Lugger’s Galley and the Zookeeper’s store, all operated by the family, even offer Pearl meat on their menus!

Completing the “Pearling” story, in recent years, the Banfield’s journey led them to come full-circle, back to their roots in farming when they acquired one of only 17 commercial pearl farming licenses available in Western Australia, located 10 nautical miles off the coast of Broome.

Today, Willie Creek remains a family owned and operated business.  Valda, Rob, Darren and their wives Debbie and Rina are still very much involved. Together, their desire to provide a warm welcome and an exceptional experience to their visitors is as strong as ever.

OUR AWARDS

Willie Creek Pearls is one of the most awarded tour companies in Western Australia. We’ve been inducted into the WA Tourism Hall of Fame three times and won two Sir David Brand Awards (the pinnacle of WA Tourism). We entered the awards again in 2015/16 and won two State Gold Awards. In 2017, we received four Best of Broome Awards including Best Pearl Jewellery Showroom and Best Restaurant. These prestigious awards recognise excellence and firmly establish Willie Creek Pearls as one of the best.