Darwin - Broome
Snorkel or dive the pristine and rarely visited Rowley Shoals Marine Park and Scott Reef, accompanied by our onboard Marine Biologist
Birdwatch at Ashmore Reef and look out for turtles at Adele Island
Experience cruising down scenic King George River getting up close to 80m tall sandstone cliffs
Get up close to Montgomery Reef and discover the tidal reef’s diverse marine life
Experience the thrill of riding the Horizontal Falls in inflatable Zodiac tender vessels
Visit Indigenous rock art galleries and learn about ancient Wandjina and Gwion Gwion art
The Itinerary: Key destinations
Embark: Board at Deep Water Port, Broome at 4pm for a 5pm departure.
Disembark: Arrive and disembark at Darwin’s Fort Hill Wharf at 8am.
This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions, and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel. Coral Expeditions suggests that you do not arrive on the day of embarkation or depart on the day of disembarkation due to any changes that may occur in scheduling.
Visits to outer reefs, islands and atolls will be subject to weather conditions at the time. If we cannot visit these locations they will be replaced with additional locations on the Kimberley Coast.
DAY 1: DEPART BROOME
Arrive at the Broome Civic Centre at 2pm for SailSAFE check-in before a transfer to board at 4pm, where there is time to settle into your cabin before our 5pm departure.
Take the time to become acquainted with all the facilities on board and join our Expedition Team in the lounge for an insightful introduction to the Kimberley. As dusk falls meet your fellow travellers, the Captain and crew for the Captain’s Welcome Drinks.
At the edge of the continental shelf, 170 nautical miles offshore, lie the Rowley Shoals a chain of 3 coral atolls including Clerke, Mermaid and Imperieuse Reefs. The shoals, named by Captain Phillip Parker King, offer some of the best snorkelling and diving opportunities in the world. Their shallow lagoons are inhabited by myriad coral species and marine life, including giant potato cod, Maori wrasse, at least 233 species of coral and 688 species of fish – many of which are not found on other coral reefs. Diving along the outside edge of the shoals one can view colourful soft corals, hammerheads and pelagic fish. Water clarity here is absolutely unparalleled, making for superb underwater photography opportunities.
Conditions permitting, we will spend 1-2 days at Clerke, with ample time for snorkelling and diving opportunities. With each atoll covering approximately 90sq km, there will be plenty to see! Guided by our on-board marine biologist, snorkel away the day in the coral gardens of the Aquarium at Clerke Reef, or dive along the sheer vertical walls and through coral canyons. If time and tide permit, we may also visit Bedwell Island, with a chance to look out for the rate red-tailed tropicbird.
HORIZONTAL FALLS AND BUCCANEER ARCHIPELIGO
The Horizontal Falls are one of the Kimberley’s biggest attractions and are a result of the mammoth 11m tides for which the Kimberley is renowned. Naturalist David Attenborough described the Horizontal Falls as ‘one of the greatest natural wonders of the world.’
The Horizontal Falls are created as the ocean thunders through a narrow gorge in the McLarty Ranges. Water builds up on one side and is forcibly pushed through the bottleneck, creating a rushing horizontal waterfall of swiftly flowing seawater. Riding the rapids on our Zodiac inflatable tenders is one of the highlights of our Kimberley expedition cruises.
Talbot Bay is at the heart of the Buccaneer Archipelago, where rocks on the 800 or so islands are estimated at over 2 billion years old. At Cyclone Creek, you will see evidence of massive geological forces in the impressive rock formations and cruise through the Iron Islands past Koolan Island.
Raft Point guards the entrance to Doubtful Bay, a vast body of sheltered water which harbours 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.
Depending on the tides we will visit Red Cone Creek, which 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.
If traditional owner guides are available we may visit Wijingarra Bard Bard (Freshwater Cove) with a hike to the hinterland to view rock art at Cyclone Cave.
Montgomery Reef is a biologically diverse area covering over 300 sq km and was named by Phillip Parker King. Twice daily, as the sea recedes in mammoth 11m tides, Montgomery Reef rises from the Indian Ocean in a cascade of rushing water revealing a flat-topped reef pockmarked with rock pools and rivulets.
As the reef emerges, we get up close in our Xplorer and Zodiac inflatable tenders to witness the spectacle as our Expedition Team share their knowledge on the formation of the reef and the myriad wildlife. Opportunistic birds take advantage of the emerging reef, feeding on marine life left exposed in rock pools. Turtles, dolphins, dugongs and sawfish too are also attracted to feeding opportunities as the ocean recedes.
The ocean is awash in a swirl of eddies and whirlpools as the moon’s gravitational force takes hold. Then, a few hours later the entire water-borne drama is reversed as the tide comes in and Montgomery Reef disappears below sea level.
Weather and tide permitting we will visit the remote and beautiful Adele Island. Pristine, teeming with breeding bird and supported by coral reef that surrounds it, Adele Island was declared a Nature Reserve in 2001. Adele Island is recognised for its bird breeding sanctuary, classified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area for its seabirds and waders.
Adele Reef is one of the more unique reef habitats on the planet, with exclusive discoveries reported in this area. This area is of great scientific interest as it provides an environmental link between the Kimberley’s oceanic and inshore reef systems.
A group of four separate reef structures including Scott Reef South, Scott Reef Central, Scott Reef North and Seringapatam Reef – These atolls are situated on the continental shelf in the Timor Sea.
Weather and tide permitting we will snorkel and dive the outer reef – The sheer walls and diverse ecosystems of this acclaimed coral habitat will take your breath away! Enjoy nature and history interpretations from your Expedition Team.
The territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands is made up of the West, Middle and East Islands of Ashmore Reef, as well as Cartier Island and the surrounding 12 nautical mile territorial sea. These islands are uninhabited, making them the perfect location for seabird breeding. Each year around 100,000 seabirds flock to the marine parks three tiny islands.
The reef here boasts a wide diversity of marine life, including over 70 fish species and 255 varieties of coral. To protect this reef, the Australia Government declared the Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve in 1983. The islands also have a significant marine turtle nesting area and migratory bird populations.
Here we will spend time birdwatching, swimming and snorkelling the pristine reef.
A DAY OF ROCK ART
Today we will land at either Jar Island, Swift Bay, Wollsaton Bay or Bigge Island. Each of these locations are home to fantastic Wandjina and Gwion Gwion Rock Art (Bradshaw) galleries.
Stretch your legs and explore the magnificent sandstone structures, providing an abundance of rock shelters. On the walls of these shelters is where we will find examples of this rock art.
KING GEORGE RIVER
Cruise down the scenic King George River, through steep-sided gorges carved by a flooded river system that carved a swathe through the Kimberley landscape 400 million years ago. We will take the opportunity to get up close and view the honeycomb erosion patterns of the 80m tall sandstone cliffs.
DAY 11: ARRIVE IN DARWIN
Our incredible adventure along the Kimberley Coast concludes in Darwin this morning at 8:00am. Bid farewell to new-found friends, the Captain and crew. A post-cruise transfer to Cable Beach, CBD hotel or Airport is included.