The charismatic town of Broome has a colourful history and a unique, cosmopolitan feel, which stems from its early pearling days when over 400 luggers plied the coast. The town is full of contrasts: stroll along kilometres of pristine white sand and swim in the clear water of Cable Beach or skim across tidal flats aboard a hovercraft to Gantheaume Point, home of the 130 million year old Dinosaur Footprints. Visit the Paspaley Pearls Boutique to sip champagne at an exclusive private viewing or take a walk along the white beaches and impossibly blue ocean. Spend some time uncovering the town's history at the Broome Historical Society Museum or reflect on the dangers of the early days of diving at the Japanese Shinto Cemetery, final resting-place for over 900 pearl divers. The fishing is great in Broome so board a fishing boat or simply try your hand at landing a big one from the deep water jetty. And if you enjoy bushwalking, the Minyirr Park has a number of self-guided trails.
Located just off Koolan Island, and known for the BHP iron ore mine which operated for several decades on the island, this geological finger of sandstone protruding into the ocean provides great opportunities for Zodiac cruising and guided walks along the beach.
The layered sandstone show its buckling and folding, evidence of millions of years of geological forces. Nearby Crocodile Creek defies its name, and due to several vertical embankments remains "crocodile free" allowing you to take advantage of the cool freshwater to relax and beat the Kimberley heat. Orion’s Expedition Team will guide you around the area today, in Zodiacs and on foot, and take advantage of the freshwater swimming hole.
Arriving at high tide, you'll see very little of Montgomery Reef. However as the tide drops rapidly away a raging torrent of water, cascading off the top of this 400ha reef, erupts as miles of surrounding reef appears to slowly rise out of the ocean. A Zodiac will maneuver you into a channel in the reef as water cascades down on either side. It's the perfect spot to watch cormorants, egrets and sandpipers forage for sea life trapped on the surface of the reef. Below the waterline opportunistic sea turtles, reef sharks and many larger fish also take advantage of this feast.
Orion will anchor close by the Paspaley pearling base in Kuri Bay, Australia’s first South Sea Pearl Farm. Paspaley is known around the world as the producer of the world’s finest quality pearls and today you will be their guests inspecting the pearl harvest.
The expedition team will lead you to a stunning display of the distinctive Wandjina rock art in beach caves. Painted by the Wunambal people, the art features amazing halo-headed figures with first-contact images of sailing ships and pipe-smoking European seafarers of the 19th century. Your expedition team will also keep an eye out for small rock wallabies and large salt water crocodiles before making your inaugural visit to the beach at Montelavit Islands.
Today Orion will drop anchor in Koolama Bay. Originally known as King George Bay, the area was renamed after the merchant ship Koolama was bombed near here by Japanese aircraft during World War II. The 12km journey up the King George River reveals some of the world's most spectacular scenery and a wealth of bird species. The almost vertical sheer canyon walls have been eroded over millions of years and look like stacks of sandstone reminiscent of a child's building blocks. The King George River drains the Gardner Plateau and the falls are the highest single-drop falls in the whole of the Kimberley (100m or 330ft). Whether you experience the mighty thundering of the falls early in the season, or have the chance to get up close and personal later in the year, you'll be in awe of the sight.
The Orion Zodiacs and tenders will cruise up the stunning sandstone canyon that culminates in the twin drops of King George Falls and convey guests back again to Orion. For guests looking for a bit more adventure, you will be able to take a walk to the top of the falls and have the opportunity to enjoy a swim. This is quite a steep, difficult walk with lots of loose uneven ground underfoot and all participants will need high levels of fitness and mobility.
Optional Shoreside Expedition
KING GEORGE SCENIC HELICOPTER FLIGHT Duration: 15-20 minutes
Cost: AU$475 per person
Semau is an island paradise surrounded by crystal clear waters which offer exceptional snorkeling and swimming. Sit back and relax as the Orion crew put on a beach barbeque.
About as remote as it gets in this part of the world, the tiny island of Savu sits beneath Sumba and above Timor in almost isolation. The Savunese people consider themselves of Indian-Aryan descent and have strong historical to other traditionally Hindu parts of the island archipelago such as Java and Bali. Barely influenced by the outside world, today the island is predominately Christian. The great naturalist explorer Alfred R Wallace once commented on meeting his first Savu Islanders in 1868 "some chiefs of the island of Savu represented characters very distinct from either the Malay or Papuan races. They most resemble Hindus, having well formed features and straight thin noses with clear brown complexions". The island is extremely dry, receiving no more than around 100mm a year, which will generally fall in one massive downpour during the monsoon season. The land is mostly covered by grasslands and tall Lontar palms, used for making palm sugar and a potent local drink.
The Savunese people will display there culture for us in both performance and in the form of artworks including the woven ikat fabrics. A welcome performance will be held at the local Rajah's hopuse and you will be able to host a traditional healing village where sick villagers from all around the island are "healed" through traditional methods. Swimming and snorkeling will also be available during the day on the nearby island of Raijua.
Whilst still on the same island, and similar to yesterdays visit to the Waingapu region in the east, Kodi in West Sumba has a few subtle differences to make your visit worthwhile. The West has a lot more focus on their horseback fighting known as Pasola. This once brutal event will be re-enacted especially for your visit. The Sumba style houses here are also a little different with much higher roofs reaching for the heavens allowing the local villagers to communicate with their spirit-gods.
Loh Liang is the entry point to the world renowned Komodo National Park. The national park was established in 1980 to conserve the unique Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) and its habitat. These prehistoric creatures are among the world's largest reptiles, growing to over 3 meters long and weighing over 70kg.
After landing on the beach you will be met by local Park Rangers and after a short briefing head off in search of the dragons. Pink Beach, just a short distance away from Loh Liang and still part of Komodo National Park, is so named because of the red organ pipe coral (Tubipora musica) that contributes to the sand on this spectacular beach. Swimming, snorkeling, sea kayaking or just relaxing on the beach are all options available for you today - make the most of your time on this world famous beach.
The small village of Kenanga is within a mile of Satonda Island. Landing on the beach by Zodiac you will receive a traditional Sumbanese welcome and have the opportunity to take a walk with the locals around their village. Often referred to as a “fishing village” due to the management of the nearby national park and to prevent over fishing common throughout these islands - the government has encouraged fish farming and gardening. Today few, if any, of the locals actually go out fishing.
Sitting just offshore from the main island Sumbawa and directly opposite the towering volcano of Tambora, Satonda is an uninhabited natural paradise. The island is itself an emerging volcano with a lake that has formed in its crater. The lake is only a short walk from the beach. Hundreds of fruit bats call Satonda home and at dusk the sky turns black as they leave their roosts for the evening. Dozens of monkeys also prowl the beaches. The coral reefs teem with fish and the lake in the center, easily accessed via a short walking track, provides an interesting alternate location for swimming and snorkeling.
The towering volcanic peak of Tambora is your backdrop today. Tambora is known for one of the largest eruptions recorded in history. Its giant eruption of 1815 was even greater than the legendary Kraktoa eruption of 1883.
The port of Badas is part of the greater township of Sumbawa Besar, on the island of Sumbawa. Like most of Sumbawa the people hold their culture strong as a major part of their identity. The island has a strong influence from the Makassarese of Sulawesi, who over the centuries introduced much of their culture into Sumbawa. Sumbawa is the largest Regency in the West Nusa Tenggara Province. The islands of Sumbawa cover 8,493km2 including 38 small islands. The population of about half a million is roughly split into two ethnic and language groups. One group based around the town of Bima in the East and a separate language group in the West based around Sumbawa Besar. The main island of Sumbawa is larger than Bali and Lombok combined.
Pamulung Village will be the main focus of your visit, where the villagers will open their village to you with an elaborate cultural display. You will witness a traditional wedding ceremony, a local traditional boxing match and the fascinating spectacle of Buffalo Racing. Jockeys ride a small platform towed behind the charging Buffalo towards a figurine planted in the middle of a flooded rice paddy. The rider who gets his buffalo closest to the figurine wins, but it’s not just the other buffalos they are racing against. The village magic men cast spells on the figurine to repel the buffalos and often it is these magic men who win the competition as the buffalos veer away from the figurine, repelled by the magic!
The Indonesian island of Bali represents an oxymoron. The city center of Denpasar is crammed with hotels and tourist activity. It is renowned for its highly developed arts, including dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking and music.
The countryside is picturesque incorporating rice paddies flooding the hillsides and volcanoes reaching to the skies. The rain-forests are lush and tropical, and the beaches are washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The island is home to the vast majority of Indonesia's small Hindu minority.