Remote wilderness, the Indian Ocean, aboriginal history, beach-front camel trains and a waterfall that Attenborough described as one of the greatest wonders of the world – welcome to the Kimberley!
We’ve been sending our customers to the Kimberley region for years because we know it satisfies time and again. Whether you’re an Australian tourist or international visitor, the beauty of the Kimberley set alongside history, wildlife and culture, in a remoteness that most of us rarely get to experience, is bound to enthrall and captivate.
It’s the region’s remoteness that makes cruising such a great option. Getting to know the Kimberley region doesn’t need to mean long drives and camp cooking. In fact, there are only a few sealed roads available, and much of vast region is considered wilderness. A cruise offers a glimpse of the region from a different angle and in luxurious comfort – take in the scenery over a floating dinner, a sunset cocktail or with a favourite book while cooling off in the pool.
Cruising the coastline allows you the opportunity to explore on-shore and off-shore spots in equal measure, because the beauty of the region goes far beyond the red sand plains. Here’s what we love most about a Kimberley cruise.
The waterways of the Kimberley region
Various waterways trickle and weave their way through the land, carving the way for dramatic gorges and beautiful waterfalls. Rainforests, mangroves and sandstone cliffs add to the excitement, as you hop on to a smaller vessel at various points to explore all that the area has to offer.Along the way you’ll get to explore the mighty Hunter River, which is home to Australian crocodiles and a wealth of bird life. Its banks are lined with pristine ancient rainforest, alongside mangroves which are considered among the most untouched in the world.The Mitchell River winds its way through a maze of sandstone gorges and caves you’d expect of the Australian outback. Follow it far enough and you’ll wind up at the impressive four-tiered Mitchell Falls – get your cameras at the ready! While the Mitchell Falls are impressive in their own right, they’re far from all you can expect on the waterfall front. The King George River leads you through another gorge and to the Twin Falls – the highest single-drop waterfalls in the region, standing at 80 metres above the river below. The most unique waterfall however, is also one of the biggest attractions in the region and for good reason. At the Horizontal Falls, tidal changes of up to 12 metres suddenly force millions of litres of water through clifftop gaps and form the 4-metre high waterfall that so impressed David Attenborough. A visit to the Horizontal Falls is made all the more magical by the journey through the 800 or so islands that make up the Buccaneer Archipelago in Talbot Bay. Expect white sands and clear water as you explore this stunning area.
Aboriginal art, history and culture
Along the way, a Kimberley cruise provides many fascinating opportunities to learn more about the local aboriginal culture. Through ancient art, learn about how people once lived on this land, their beliefs and spiritual practices as well as how they adapted over time. It’s renowned as one of the world’s best areas for rock art and is considered one of Australia’s most important cultural assets. Ngumbri is home to the Wandjina gallery, and it’s said that the Wandjina people are the creators of all the world.
Freshwater Cove – locally known as Wijingarra Bard Bard, is of great significance to the Worrorra people. A visit here provides a unique opportunity to listen to stories of creation (Lailai) and learn more about the culture of the Kimberley. Further along the coast at Langgi, you’ll find three-metre high sculptures of warriors who died at the great Wandjina battle during Lailai.
Bigge Island at Careening Bay provides more fine examples of art, while Jar Island in Vansittart Bay is also referred to as a rock gallery, possibly over 30,000 years old. They are considered amongst the oldest artistic depictions of human beings anywhere in the world, and are thought to represent the first people to colonise Australia.
Vansittart Bay also provides an opportunity to visit some World War II history with a visit to the Truscott air base. Amongst the scrub lies an almost intact allied aircraft that made an emergency landing here in February 1942.
The islands of the Indian Ocean
As well as the hundreds of islands that make up the Buccaneer Archipelago, 120 kilometres north of Broome and close to the Dampier Peninsula lie the four Lacepede Islands. In the beautiful Indian Ocean, they make up the Lacepede Islands Nature Reserve and play a hugely important role in providing green turtles with a popular nesting ground and a home for a number of breeding bird species. The islands play host to variations such as the Lesser Frigatebirds, Sandpipers and Crested Terns as well as possibly the largest population of breeding Brown Boobies and Roseate Terns in the world.
The low-lying islands consist of sand and coral, affected by the same substantial tides that create the Horizontal Falls. With tidal movements that are the third largest of anywhere in the world, out at sea it’s truly a case of ‘there one minute and gone the next’. Montgomery Reef is one fascinating example of a world affected by tides. At times the reef appears to rise from the ocean, making Australia’s largest inshore reef at almost 400 square kilometres visible from the safety of the boat. The reef is home to fascinating marine wildlife such as reef sharks, turtles and rays.
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Cities of the Kimberley
With connecting flights from Perth all year round, and from Sydney and Melbourne during the peak season, Broome is a natural gateway to the region. The city is famous for its Indian Ocean sunsets, 22 kilometre-long white sand Cable Beach and nightly camel trains. Many cruises start or finish from the city.Broome is also well-known for its pearling history, and still generates a significant amount of the world’s pearls today. While you’re in the city, make some time to visit Pearl Luggers to learn about the history of the region and life in the industry. Tours may also connect with the Northern Territory’s capital city of Darwin, where the lively beach market is a popular attraction.
Ready for a Kimberley adventure? Talk to our team of travel experts today.