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Willie Creek pearls story

THE PEARL OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Willie Creek Pearls offer the complete pearl experience, from telling the story of history and pearling in 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, from shell to showroom. We are dedicated to delivering unique and memorable tourism, retail and hospitality experiences to all of our visitors.

After it’s humble beginnings in Broome and 30 years of operation, Willie Creek Pearls proudly remains a family owned and operated business.

You’ll now find Willie Creek Showrooms at seven locations across Broome and Perth, where our expert staff await to offer you a warm welcome and share their fascinating knowledge on nature’s true gem, the pearl! We invite you to join us on one of our many unique pearl experiences, including our famous Willie Creek Pearl Farm Tour, a journey back in time at Pearl Luggers or even to harvest your very own pearl in Perth at Elizabeth Quay

We believe that pearls are the most captivating and timeless gem of them all and are so proud to have our pearls worn by our customers around the world, cherished for a lifetime and passed down through generations. We look forward to taking you on a journey of pearl discovery.

 

OUR HISTORY

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 a busy time but they came together as a family to survive, and eventually thrive. After operating tours to Willie Creek, the opportunity eventually arose to acquire the 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. The company has been inducted into the WA Tourism Hall of Fame three times and won two Sir David Brand Awards (the pinnacle of WA Tourism).

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, is where visitors can delve even 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.

At Harvest kitchen at Willie Creek Pearl Farm, The Lugger’s Galley at Pearl Luggers and at The Zookeeper’s Store located at Cable Beach, you can even taste the rare delicacy of pearl meat!

In 2017, in addition to their Broome tourism operations, Willie Creek Pearls introduced unique pearl harvest experiences to Perth, at Elizabeth Quay. Their purpose built ‘harvest room’ sits within the jewellery showroom and overlooks the stunning Swan River. Willie Creek’s precious oysters travel all the way down from Broome so guests can enjoy unique pearl experiences right on the doorstep of the CBD.

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.

The Banfields; Valda, Rob, Darren and their wives Debbie and Rina, are still very much involved in the business and together their desire to provide a warm welcome and an exceptional experience to their visitors is as strong as ever.