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Jewels of the Kimberley: Darwin to Darwin

Example 11 Day Cruise aboard L'Austral
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Enjoy a unique 11-day experience in the wild region of Kimberley, a remote part of the planet located in Western Australia. Discover one of the last unspoiled regions in the world aboard the L'Austral, a super mega-yacht with a unique luxury atmosphere and a subtle blend of intimacy and comfort. Zodiac cruise around Vansittart Bay's islands and secret inlets, discover the Aboriginal rock art galleries on Jar Island, observe Lacepede Islands' abundance of nesting birds and large population of turtles, and explore the King George River and the majestic Twin Falls, the highest falls in Western Australia.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Darwin | Embark
Day 2 : Vanisttart Bay | Jar Island
Day 3 : Hunter River | Mitchell Falls
Day 4 : Freshwater Cove
Day 5 : Lacepede Islands
Day 6 : Montgomery Reef | Raft Point
Day 7 : Talbot Bay | Horizontal Falls
Day 8 : Swift Bay
Day 9 : King George River Falls
Day 10 : Koolama Bay
Day 11 : Darwin | Disembark


  • Discover the various styles of Gwion Gwion rock art in Jar Island's caves
  • Zodiac cruise in the Hunter River's pristine mangrove environments
  • Enjoy a 20-minute helicopter flight to the stunning Mitchell Plateau
  • Observe Montgomery Reef's mini-waterfalls and tide-induced phenomena



Places Visited

  • Australia
  • South Pacific
  • Darwin
  • Freshwater Cove
  • Horizontal Falls
  • Jar Island
  • King George River
  • Lacepede Islands
  • Mitchell Falls
  • Montgomery Reef
  • Raft Point
  • Talbot Bay


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Snorkel the vibrant waters of the South Pacific Humpback whale dive Rock formations along the coast of Kimberly Starfish on the beach North Australian bush

Day 1 Darwin | Embark

Begin your cruise adventure in Darwin, the Capital of the Northern Territory. Darwin stands on the shores of the Timor Sea on Australia’s North Coast. Its lush urban areas exude a tropical, multicultural atmosphere. You can also soak up aboriginal culture at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory or take in colonial heritage as you walk the historical discovery trail around the harbor. Pristine nature surrounds Darwin with waterfalls and virgin forests welcoming you to Litchfield National Park. Board the L'Austral in the late afternoon and depart for Koolama Bay.

Day 2 Vanisttart Bay | Jar Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning visit Jar Island and take part in a short relatively easy walk to a number of overhangs and caves that display the various styles of Gwion Gwion rock art. Some of the cave entrances are narrow and require good flexibility and full movement of joints.

Captain Phillip Parker King named Vansittart Bay after the longest serving Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nicholas Vansittart, and Jar Island after Malay earthenware jar fragments he found on the beach in 1819. 

Jar Island contains ancient rock art galleries depicting the Gwion Gwion style unique to the Kimberley region. Mainly neglected by, or unknown to, the early European researchers of Aboriginal culture in the Kimberley in favor of the dominant and more dramatic Wandjina art, Gwion Gwion art has in recent years gained world prominence. It was originally named “Bradshaw” style after the exploring pastoralist Joseph Bradshaw who first recorded these enigmatic human figures near the Roe River in 1891. It is generally thought that this art may extend back to over 30,000 years BP and represent the first wave of seagoing colonizers of the Australian continent. As it is, these are the oldest detailed depiction of human figures in the world and their detailed array of ornaments, weapons, and accruements provides a fascinating insight into a rich early culture whose legacy has extended to the current Aboriginal culture across Australia.

Day 3 Hunter River | Mitchell Falls

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Enjoy zodiac tours to the mangrove environments in the lower reaches of the Hunter River and Porosus creek. The Expedition Team shares their knowledge as you explore the area keeping a constant lookout for wildlife. Stunning geology can be found near the opening of the Hunter River and the mangroves of Porosus Creek are home to saltwater crocodiles.

Arguably one of the most scenic parts of the Kimberley Coast, the Hunter River is lined with ancient rainforest pockets, pristine mangroves, and mosaic sandstone cliffs. The Kimberley Coast contains more than a quarter of the world’s mangrove species, and some of the largest stands of mangroves in Australia. They are considered to be some of the most pristine mangrove forests in the world, forming closed forests in discontinuous chains along thousands of kilometers. The mangrove forests of Prince Frederick Harbour contain up to 18 different mangrove species, supporting a rich and diverse fauna.

After a short Zodiac ride land on Naturalist Island and board the helicopter for a 20-minute flight to the stunning Mitchell Plateau. Local experienced pilots give you commentary en route. After landing next to the falls enjoy approximately 50 minutes to explore the area before the return flight. There are a number of great spots to photograph the triple drops of Mitchell Falls. Guests can also take a refreshing dip in surveyor’s pool, well above the saltwater crocodile habitats the Kimberley is renowned for. The Mitchell Plateau is one of the most scenic and biologically important areas of the state. Small patches of rainforest grow around the margins of the plateau, where they are protected from fire and receive additional moisture. Up to 50 mammal species, 220 bird species, and 86 kinds of reptiles and amphibians occur in the area.

Day 4 Freshwater Cove

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Be transferred ashore by the ship’s zodiacs for a wet landing onto a sand beach. Take part in a traditional ochre “Welcome to Country”, and be introduced to the area and learn the cultural history of Wijingarra Bard Bard. Enjoy a guided bush walk to various significant sites in the area, including cyclone cave. On returning to the beach, enjoy some refreshments and meet with the artists and peruse their paintings. These are available for purchase from the artists. Be farewelled with a traditional smoking ceremony on the beach.

Wijingarra Bard Bard is home to a number of significant rock art galleries including cyclone cave where guests are captivated by the rock art and the fascinating story of the Eye of the Sea. It is a special place to the Worrorra people and provides a unique opportunity for visitors to hear the stories of the Lalai (creation) and gain an understanding of how country and culture intertwine in this beautiful landscape.

Day 5 Lacepede Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Zodiac cruise in and around the Lacepede islands to view the prolific birdlife. There is also the chance to spot some of the large turtle population that resides in the lagoon contained within the Islands. The Lacpede Islands are a group of four islands lying 120km (75miles) to the northwest of Broome and separated from the mainland by the Lacepede Channel. East, West, Middle and Sandy Islands are all small, low spits of coarse sand and coral rubble, lying on top of a platform reef and total 180.2ha. The islands are an A Class Nature Reserve administered by the Department of Environment and Conservation.

The Islands are Western Australia’s most important breeding habitat for green turtles (Chelonia mydas), and have been named by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because they support over 1% of the world populations of brown boobies and roseate terns.

Day 6 Montgomery Reef | Raft Point

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Take part in a zodiac expedition to the exposed Montgomery's reef system with its cascading mini-waterfalls to witness the amazing tide-induced phenomena first hand. (Landing on the reef is prohibited). Montgomery Reef is a spectacular example of the impact of the tidal movements as the entire reef appears to rise from the ocean on a falling tide. As the tide drops a raging torrent of water cascades off the top of the reef. The phenomenon is due to the tide dropping faster than the waters trapped on top of the reef can escape. At just under 400km2 in size it is Australia’s largest inshore reef, containing large areas of shallow lagoon, seagrass beds, and corals.

After a Zodiac ride ashore to a beach near Raft Point, an Expedition Team leads you on a challenging walk to visit the rock art gallery. The walk is approximately 40 minutes uphill over rocky uneven ground with several difficult sections. Sturdy footwear and good levels of fitness and mobility are required to successfully undertake this walk. This region of the Kimberley coastline is the heartland of the Worrorra people. Their intricate, traditional lifestyle and intimate knowledge of the tides allowed them to access the nearby rich hunting grounds of Montgomery Reef, after launching from Raft Point. ‘Ngumbre’, as it is known to the Worrorra, is the site of the most spectacular Wandjina gallery on the Kimberley coast.

Day 7 Talbot Bay | Horizontal Falls

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Zodiac cruise to view the Horizontal Falls and the surrounding geological features of Talbot bay and cyclone creek. The zodiac expedition does not pass through the horizontal falls during strong flow. Guests may undertake an optional “fast boat” ride through the falls to experience the thrill of this exhilarating ride.

The Horizontal Waterfalls are a pair of stunning breaks in the McLarty Range approximately 300m apart. The McLarty Range itself is approximately 1.8 billion years old, comprised of sandstone, quartzite, siltstone, shale, and dolomite with abundant stromatolites. The first and more seaward of the gaps is approximately 25m wide, whilst the second gap is approximately 15m wide. With massive tidal differences of up to 10.8m on a spring tide in Talbot Bay, the Horizontal Waterfalls (technically termed “pinch rapids”) are a natural phenomenon created as seawater builds up faster on one side of the gaps than the other, creating a waterfall up to 4m high on a King tide.  With each change of tide the direction of the fall reverses, creating vast tidal whirlpools on the outgoing side. 

Day 8 Swift Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today enjoy a short walk to Swift Bay's multiple caves and overhangs containing fine examples of both Gwion Gwion and Wandjina style art. This ‘T’-shaped bay is composed of heavily fractured sandstone providing an abundance of rock shelters. On the walls of these shelters are examples of both Wandjina and Gwion Gwion-style rock art. Its distant location has meant it has remained an unspoiled and remarkably pristine location to explore and experience.

Day 9 King George River Falls

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today enjoy a breathtaking navigation experience as you sail up the King George River. The 80m high sides of the gorge display varying degrees of weathering of the ancient Warton sandstone. The colors and textures of the gorge change with the light as you travel further up the river. The reds, pinks, and oranges within the sandstones, together with the weathering and erosion patterns, give a continual changing wallpaper of passing scenery that is simply stunning. The journey culminates at the King George twin falls, the highest single-drop falls in the whole of the Kimberley (80m or 260ft). Fed by wet season run-off, the level of water cascading over the falls varies from year to year. For many, the trip up the King George River is the highlight of their Kimberley Coast experience.

There are multiple trips on offer to experience the King George River and falls. You have the choice of undertaking a Tender or zodiac tour to the foot of the twin falls. Tours vary in length so you may choose how long you wish to spend in the gorge. Accompanied by an expert expedition team, learn all about the stunning geological formations and wildlife that resides within the gorge. If you are looking for a bit more adventure, take a hike to the top of the falls and have the opportunity to enjoy the views and a swim. This is a very steep, difficult hike with lots of loose uneven ground and large boulders to scramble over. All participants need very high levels of fitness and mobility.

Day 10 Koolama Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning be transferred ashore to Pangali Cove for a short walk through mangroves and across a shallow creek to the site of the Koolama survivors’ camp. If wind, tides, and time permit, undertake a short zodiac tour into tranquil cove. 

Koolama Bay was formerly known as Rulhieres Bay prior to 1942 when the state ship Koolama was beached at the location after being attacked by Japanese bombers from Kupang. The King George River flows into the southern end of the bay. This bay has historic significance as a World War II site, indicating the impact of World War II in northwest Western Australia and the strategic significance of shipping and the northwest port of Wyndham. It is also the site of the first aerial attack by Japanese forces in the Kimberley area. The MV Koolama stranding site and survivor camp at Koolama Bay and Pangali Cove is significant to the Kwini people who helped the 180 passengers and crew reach safety.

Day 11 Darwin | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Today disembark in Darwin. Say farewell to your fellow passengers and start your journey back home.


Per person starting at
Superior Stateroom
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Superior Stateroom
8 cabins, 226 sq ft, located on Le Champollion Deck. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area and private bath.
Deluxe Stateroom
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Deluxe Stateroom
28 cabins, 200 sq ft with private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, private bath.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom - Deck 4
200 sq ft with 43 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, private bath.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom - Deck 5
200 sq ft with 43 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, private bath.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom - Deck 6
200 sq ft with 43 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, private bath.
Deluxe Suite
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Deluxe Suite
3 suites, 290 sq ft with 54 sq ft private balcony, located on the Le France Deck. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, desk, minibar, private bath.
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Suite - Deck 5
398 sq ft with 86 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, communicating cabins available. Separate living area, private bath.
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Suite - Deck 6
398 sq ft with 86 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, communicating cabins available. Separate living area, private bath.
Owner's Suite
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Owners Suite
484 sq ft with 97 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, communicating cabins available. Separate living, dining areas, private bath with large tub and shower, minibar, 2 flat screen TVs, DVD, CD, and IPOD, Video on demand, Satellite phone


Please note:
Fares are based on double occupancy and are capacity controlled. Rates may increase at any time as the ship sells out and subject to change without notice.

Children welcome:
- Flexible, or connecting staterooms
- Baby-sitting service on request
- Children's menus, fun tea parties, games, piano lessons and a host of other activities
- Special kids' rates

*Rates are capacity controlled and are subject to change without notice.

Cruise fares are per person and include the following:
• All meals while on board the ship 
• Captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner
•“Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
• Evening entertainment and events
• 24h room service (special selection)
• English-speaking lecturer
• Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite
• Highly experienced bilingual (French-English) Expedition team
• Park entry fees into protected areas
• Complimentary boot rental on select cruises 

Cruise, Flights & Transfers program rates are per person and also include:
• Meet and Greet by representatives at the destination airport
• Transfers to and/or from the ship
• Other services before and after the cruise according to detailed programs available upon request 10 months prior departure

Cruise fares do not include:
• Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned in each “Cruise, Flights & Transfers” package and for which details are available upon request
• Pre- or post-cruise programs, overland programs, or shore excursions 
• Airport taxes (other than the ones included)
• Port and safety taxes
• Visa expenses and/or immigration reciprocity taxes if applicable
• Luggage handling
• Gratuities to onboard crew, local guides, and drivers
• Optional Spa package to be booked prior to your departure
• Dives when authorized by local authorities and feasible with ship equipment and zodiacs. Rates: 70 € per standard dive; 80€ per dive when local equipment or staff must be used, 80€ for a “discover scuba dive” course. In order to participate in diving sessions, guests must have with them a medical certificate less than 1 year old and their up-to-date dive book.
• Beverages other than the ones mentioned
• Laundry services, hair salon, and à la carte Spa treatments
• Personal expenses, on board medical consultations, and drug prescriptions
• Cancellation/luggage/assistance/repatriation/medical insurance(s)

Please Note:
During your visits to some local communities, all guests will be required to dress respectfully. Ladies must have their shoulders and thighs covered. Gentlemen should have their shoulders covered also.

Please do not forget to bring your medical certificates when it is required to participate in an expedition cruise. 

These voyages include activities such as Zodiac® landings (sometimes wet landings), Zodiac® outings, moderate walks, to more active hikes accompanied by your expedition team of naturalist guides. Considering the nature of the programs, a reasonable level of mobility is required to enjoy these expeditions.
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