Experience all of the icons of the Kimberley Coast over 11 unforgettable days cruising between Darwin and Broome. Covering more than 400,000 square kilometers (an area three times larger than England) and home to a sparse population of just 30,000 residents, the Kimberley region of northwest Australia is a place universally acknowledged as one of the world’s last – and possibly most beautiful – wilderness areas. The Kimberley is a completely unique experience!
Zodiac to the base of King George Falls, the tallest in Western Australia
Explore Hathaway's Hideaway, a maze of natural sandstone caves
Visit Western Australia’s most significant green turtle breeding grounds
Watch the Montgomery Reef "rise" & view the reef's diverse marine life
Board the Coral Discoverer this morning. Farewelling Darwin Harbor, cross Cambridge Gulf and sail into Western Australian waters. This afternoon join Expedition Staff for an informative introduction to the upcoming Kimberley voyage before meeting your fellow travelers and friendly crew at the Captain’s Welcome Cocktails.
Fed by the King George River draining across the Gardner Plateau, 80m tall King George Falls are the most impressive Kimberley waterfalls and the highest twin falls in Western Australia. Before reaching the mist-like spray rising from the base of King George Falls, cruise through steep-sided gorges carved by a flooded river system that carved a swathe through the Kimberley landscape 400 million years ago.
Early in the waterfall season, cruise around the base of impressive King George Falls while in later months we take the opportunity to view the honeycomb erosion patterns of sandstone cliffs up close.
Vansittart Bay is home to many cultural and historically significant sites like the remarkable Gwion Gwion (Bradshaw) Aboriginal rock art galleries estimated to be up to 20,000 years old. Jar Island is so-named after the pot shards found here, brought to the island by Macassan fisherman harvesting sea cucumbers (also known as trepang). Nearby, on the Anjo Peninsula lays the well-preserved wreckage of a US Airforce C-53 Skytrooper aircraft, the result of a pilot losing his bearings flying from Perth to Broome in 1942 and putting down on a salt pan near present-day Truscott Airbase.
Tumbling down the Mitchell Plateau in a series of tiered waterfalls and emerald green rock pools, the Mitchell Falls are the photogenic poster child for the Mitchell River National Park. Take a scenic helicopter flight (additional cost) to multi-tiered Mitchell Falls where emerald-hued rock pools cascade down the escarpment and ancient rock art galleries are concealed in caves behind curtains of water.
Mitchell River National Park is inhabited by significant numbers of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and bird species which are lured by a year-round water source. Sandstone terraces beside tiered rock pools make a terrific viewing platform from which to savor the serenity of this ancient landscape.
An alternative option to Mitchell Falls is exploring the sandstone caves of Wollaston Bay or Wollaston Creek. This mass of weathered tunnels, arches, and columns form a labyrinth-like maze and was once an Aboriginal midden. Another option while anchored at Winyalkan Bay is a visit to a series of Wandjina and Gwion Gwion rock art galleries at Swift Bay.
Day 5: Prince Frederick Harbour and Bigge Island (Wuuyuru)
Prince Frederick Harbour is one of Kimberley’s most spectacular locations at the southern end of York Sound. The harbor is dotted with islands lined with mangroves and monsoon rainforests, set against a backdrop of the ochre-hued escarpment. White-bellied sea eagles and other birds of prey are often seen here, and at low tide, expansive mudflats reveal large populations of mudskippers and mangrove crabs. We will take our Xplorer tender vessels on a cruise up Porosus Creek to view some striking rock formations. Bigge Island’s Indigenous name is Wuuyuru, and the Indigenous Group of the area is the Wunambal people.
Day 6: Prince Regent River and Careening Bay (Wunbung- Gu)
King Cascade is a classically beautiful terraced waterfall and is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the Kimberley. Falling from a considerable height and around 50m across, water tumbles down a staggered terrace of Kimberley sandstone. Layer upon layer of ochre-hued and blackened rock sprouts grasses, mosses, and ferns in a sort of lushly vegetated hanging garden. Reach King Cascade after cruising in our Xplorer tender vessels down the steep-sided Prince Regent River which is a remarkable anomaly as the river runs dead straight along a fault line. Lt. Phillip Parker King named nearby Careening Bay after he beached his leaking vessel HMC Mermaid to effect repairs. While stranded on this remote coastline for 17 days the ship’s carpenter carved HMC Mermaid 1820 into the bottle-shaped trunk of a boab tree near the beach. 200 years later, the Mermaid Boab Tree has since split into two trunks and sports a mammoth girth of 12m. Significantly, the bulbous tree is listed on the National Register of Big Trees and the carpenter’s careful inscription now stands almost as tall as a person.
Savor a truly unforgettable moment as Montgomery Reef ‘rises’ out of the ocean as the tide ebbs. Join Expedition Staff aboard the Xplorer and zodiacs to experience this natural phenomenon up close and discover the reef’s diverse marine life including turtles, manta rays, and reef sharks. Later, cruise through scenic Doubtful Bay.
Day 8: Doubtful Bay and Raft Point
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Raft Point guards the entrance to Doubtful Bay, a vast body of sheltered water that harbors significant sites such as the ancient Wandjina rock art galleries located a short walk from the beach and are considered some of the finest in the Kimberley and we visit the rock art galleries when Traditional Owners are available to guide us. Doubtful Bay is the traditional country of the Worrora people who follow the Wandjina, their god, law-maker, and creator. Images of Wandjina are found throughout the Kimberley, recording their stories, knowledge, and culture in stone. Red Cone Creek flows gently downstream until it meets the small but impressive Ruby Falls. Named by local mariner Capt. Chris Trucker after his daughter, Red Cone Creek is carved through rock formations stacked atop each other like building blocks. These rock walls are great for climbing and clambering over before reaching a series of freshwater swimming holes and waterfalls. The falls may be a gurgling torrent or a gentle trickle, depending on the time of the year.
Other sites we aim to visit in Doubtful Bay include the mighty Steep Island and Ruby Falls at Red Cone Creek.
Cruise through the Buccaneer Archipelago, home to over 800 islands. In Talbot Bay, the region’s 12 meter tides create an amazing spectacle, the unique Horizontal Falls, described by legendary naturalist David Attenborough as “one the greatest natural wonders in the world”. Board the zodiacs for an exhilarating ride through the falls. Later, explore Silica Beach on Hidden Island with its stunning white sands and crystal clear waters.
Cruise through Pender Bay and, subject to weather and tides, visit the Lacepede Islands, a series of low islands consisting of coarse sand and coral rubble lying atop a platform reef. This nature reserve has been identified by Bird Life International as an Important Bird Area as it supports up to 18,000 breeding pairs of brown boobies and roseate terns, possibly the largest such population in the world. Board the zodiacs and explore the island’s lagoon, keeping an eye out for many species of marine birdlife including Australian pelicans, frigatebirds, egrets, gulls, and terns. The islands are also renowned as Western Australia’s most significant breeding grounds for the green turtle, often seen nesting on the islands. This evening say farewell to new-found friends as you enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Cocktails.
Day 11: Broome | Disembark
Your unforgettable cruise along the Kimberley coast concludes in Broome this morning.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!