A Summer Holiday Down Under
Part 5: Kimberley Coastal Cruise
Monday 9th & Tues 10th June 2008 . . . Days twelve and thirteen.
In brief : We boarded the boat at Cape Leveque last night and today sail northeast up the coast. Time, tide and the skipper will now dictate our plans for the next few days.
Weather : Blue skies and sunshine, plus 5 great sunsets from the deck.
Discovery One, owned by Kimberley Discovery Cruises will be our home for five nights
The next part of our Australian trip involved six days, five nights, on board this passenger cruiser. Once used for sightseeing within Sydney Harbour, the lower deck has been converted to cabin accommodation for twenty four passengers and six crew.
This part of the Kimberley coast is so remote that it is impossible to reach in any practical way by land as there aren't any roads. You can look down on it from a light aircraft or seaplane, but the best way to get into it's soul is to cruise in and out of the archipelago of more than 1200 islands.
Over the next six days, we look forward to doing just that.
We had sailed five hours or so up the coast, reaching this spot in the darkness of last evening. Today the beauties of Talbot Bay were revealed.
We all meet up on deck and Ben lets us know the plans for the day.
We were close to a spot known as the Horizontal Waterfalls and Ben talks of the large tides which create them and the fast inflatable that would take us to see the turmoil created when vast quantities of tide are forced through two small gaps in the coastline, creating a waterfall effect within the sea.
Let's go and explore. . .
All the water of a 10m tide at full flow is forced through a small gap between the headlands at a rate of many million gallons a minute.
The fast inflatable would take us up to and hopefully through the jaws of the waterfall itself . . . so far so good.
We backed off and enjoyed a few minutes playing in the fast moving waters of the first falls
before returning to Discovery to let the next ten of the party have their turn.
Before we left Talbot Bay, we had another visit planned.
The island scenery here that gave rise to the horizontal falls was repeated to a lesser extent locally to form several long hidden bays and creeks.
Time to change to our own outboard dinghies to explore Cyclone Creek . . . Don't fall in by mistake !
Don't panic, they're vegetarian . . . Tawney Nurse Sharks cruised round the boat but they were basically harmless.
Bill takes the helm as I catch a photo of the creek.
Ben pointing out something to Richard . . . possibly that Osprey that flew out as we passed. [ The white line is the radio mast ]
Once we were back on the main boat it was time to leave the bay in order to cruise up the coast to our next objective.
The modern pearl trade now concentrates on farming natural pearls.
They are grown by basically introducing a spec of dirt into the shell which the animal then coats with a mother of pearl as an act of self defence against the sharp edged intruder. This process of coating the seed continues over several years while the pearl shells are hung in nets, feeding and growing in the clean sea water.
Anyone fancy a gap year job . . . good pay but long days and something like a fortnight on / fortnight off sort of existence. [ Please apply direct, not to me.]
Now that's what I call a dramatic headland . . .
the rich orange sandstone of Raft Point as we approach in the bright sunlight of the late afternoon.
We circled within the bay and then anchored up for the evening.
The sun was still up . . . but it's Happy Hour . . . anyone for a cocktail and dips ?
After another sociable evening meal and a chat under the stars we adjourned to our rather hot cabin to sleep.
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Next day the sun was up early and so were we.
This is Raft Point from the other side, catching the morning light this time as we round the headland.
Our plan today was to land ashore by dinghy and walk up towards the headland in order to look for some aboriginal art.
The red team makes it's way ashore in the dingy.
Ann, myself and Richard from New Zealand
Keryn waits to assist as the next group to land from the boat
Discovery One hidden below behind the trees as we climb.
It is thought that the headland is called Raft Point because the indigenous peoples years ago used to launch their rafts from here
in order to visit the offshore reefs for food or to visit Steep Island opposite
I climb the last rock to gain access to the cave.
All these characters and drawings have stories that go back many, many centuries. The face with no mouth is a classic theme. To give it an open mouth would have encouraged the water to flow from it and flood the land. No mouth meant no flooding.
The paintings are difficult to date due to the nature of the materials used but are thought to date back 15,000 years or more, back to Aboriginal Dreamtime.
The Wandjina spirits were thought to have drawn their own pictures and described their own stories before returning to the spirit world.
Could this be Dugongs or Barramundi fish.
Another shot of Ann enjoying the holiday.
The dinghies safely tethered, we leave Raft Point, making our way north up the coast.
Along the low coastline the skipper changes course and heads for this seemingly ordinary beach.
He known something about Langi Beach that we are yet to discover..
Safely moored up, we leave our boat and transfer to the beach.
Hat, sunscreen, camera and sand between the toes.
It's low tide and I walk across the beach to look at the salt water Mangrove trees . . .
. . . but the main reason we came ashore was to view the rock pinnacles known as the Petrified Warriors.
Water and sand eroded rocks on the beach here have been carved, you could even say sculptured, into incredible shapes.
A person on all fours, or perhaps a large dog, looks down on the rock pool below.
Not sculptured by the waves but living amongst them, I caught sight of this small crab as he scurried across the rock.
All too soon it was time to leave - we catch the last boat back.
Offshore, the boat visits Montgomery Reef - named after Andrew Montgomery, surgeon on the Bathhurst, an early explorer ship.
This large reef, some 400 square km is covered at high tide and is an important wildlife site.
The raised reef drains slower than the falling tide so small waterfalls characterise its edges.
Unfortunately we weren't able to leave the main boat so saw little of the detailed reef life as we cruised slowly past.
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Subsequently we passed between Kingfisher and Melomy Islands.
Having reached the mid point of our cruise, we had turned for home, but there would still be plenty to see.
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Late sun again, this time on the conveyor and hoist on the jetty at Koolan
Sunset on Yampi Sound - our anchorage for tonight.
Before the final Gold Plate race, the Ladies Parade.
Ben presents prizes for the best hat, in fact a prize t-shirt for everyone who took part in the Ladies Parade - a lady or not !
Full marks to Dale, Alex, Carm, Rosie, Ann and Sherren.
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And so to bed on our third night.
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Technical note: Pictures taken with my Cannon G7 or Ann's Ixus 75 Digital cameras.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
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