Wild, rugged and isolated – there are myriad ways to describe the Kimberley, but the most accurate is one-of-a-kind. With its stretches of red ranges, lush riverways, cliff-lined gorges and roaring falls, the Kimberley has fewer people per square kilometre than almost any other place on earth. Reaching some of its most impressive landmarks takes an expert guide – and a small expedition ship purpose-designed to access its shores.
Cruising through the region for 30 years, Coral Expeditions offers a classic 10-day Kimberley Expedition Cruise that starts in Darwin and ends in Broome, or the reverse. Time your trip for waterfall season – between March and early June – to see these five out-of-this-world sights in full flow.
Bathe in waterfall mist
Visit Oomari (King George Falls) in the North Kimberley Marine Park and voyage through the King George River, unveiling its steep-sided gorges, carved eons ago by a flooded river system. Coral Expeditions' expert guides take you up close to the intricate honeycomb erosion patterns adorning the sandstone cliffs before arriving at the King Georges Falls. Here, the twin cascades plunge over 80 metres creating a mist-like spray from the falls base. If the sunlight hits the mist just right, a vibrant rainbow emerges against the cliff background.
Witness a rising reef
Gliding through Montgomery Reef, 15 kilometres off the Kimberley coast, you’ll notice the waters begin to swirl with whirlpools and rushing water. That’s where 400 square kilometres of coral reef is revealed in the Indian Ocean as the tide dramatically falls up to 11 metres. See birds hunting for marine life in the rock pools and be entertained by green sea turtles exploring the shallow reef. The Coral Expeditions' expert guides share their knowledge of the reef and wildlife. Native birds sighted here include Caspian Tern, Pied Cormorant and the uncommon White-winged Black Tern.
Ride ocean rapids
When Sir David Attenborough describes a place as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”, it’s probably worth a visit. Horizontal Falls is a natural phenomenon, found within Talbot Bay, that occurs when the Kimberley’s tidal changes push the ocean through a bottleneck between a narrow ochre-hued gorge in the McLarty Ranges, creating a sideways waterfall.
Ride the same rushing waters on one of Coral Expeditions’ Zodiac inflatable tenders before cruising through the hundreds of islands that dot the bright blue waters of the Buccaneer Archipelago, stopping for a drink as the sun sets at Nares Point.
Cruise beneath hanging gardens
The untouched wilderness of Prince Regent National Park puts the region’s biodiversity on spectacular display. It’s home to more than 500 species of plants and over half of the mammal and bird species found in the Kimberley.
On Coral Expeditions’ Xplorer tender vessel, you’ll cruise down the 106-kilometre Prince Regent River hemmed by near-vertical cliffs to reach Kings Cascades and their hanging gardens. It’s where mosses, ferns and grasses climb skyward, clinging onto terraces of rock.
Explore Indigenous rock art
The Kimberley is rich in First Nations culture and history and home to some of the oldest rock art in the world. On a Coral Expeditions voyage of the Kimberley Coast you’ll walk among ancient First Nations rock art galleries – that have survived thousands of years of exposure to sunlight, weather, termites and more – at Swift Bay, Bigge Island, Wollaston Bay and Vansittart Bay and learn about Wandjina and Gwion Gwion art history.
Of all the Kimberley’s highlights, simply enjoying sunset canapés and drinks as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean, or taking in the golden hour glow of the vast landscape on a tender ride from the mother ship to the beach, is perhaps best of all.