Sail along the remote north-west Australian coast on this three-week holiday with Kimberley cruise. Starting in Darwin, you’ll take a day to explore the quiet beauty of Kakadu National Park before boarding your cruise, which will spend the next ten days exploring the Kimberley coastline.
Discover secret red rock coves, tumbling waterfalls and ride the rapids through Horizontal falls before reaching Broome ten days later. Here you can watch camels trekking along the beach at sunset and relax in the sunshine. Finally, fly down to Perth, finishing your holiday in the Western Australian capital with a visit to the quiet and beautiful beaches of Rottnest Island. This is the ultimate holiday to explore remote north-west Australia.
This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements; please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.
Depart the UK from your chosen airport.
On arrival in Darwin, you’ll be met at the airport and driven to your hotel in the city. Spend your evening relaxing or head out for dinner in Cullen Bay.
This morning, you’ll head out to Kakadu National Park, heading out across the Adelaide River and Marrakai Plains into a timeless landscape. Visit the Warradjan Cultural Centre and learn about the traditions of the Aboriginal people in Kakadu.
Next, you’ll join a local guide for a cruise on the famous Yellow Water Billabong, searching for saltwater crocodiles and the colourful range of birdlife this region is renowned for. Enjoy a picnic lunch at Nourlangie Rock and take a walk to discover the ancient Aboriginal rock art before heading back to Darwin.
Today you have the full day at leisure. Why not head to Crocosaurus Cove on Mitchell Street to learn more about these prehistoric creatures? If you’re feeling particularly brave, you could take part in the ‘Cage of Death’ where you get to swim in the tank with the crocodiles, protected only by a perspex cage, a truly once in a lifetime experience. For a relaxing afternoon, why not unwind by the lagoon or visit the wave pool and enjoy the sunshine the Northern Territory is so famous for.
This morning you’ll make your own way to the port and board your Coral Expeditions ship. You’ll have a little time to settle into your cabin before departure. Spend a relaxing sea day at leisure as you cruise across Joseph Bonaparte Gulf and sail into Western Australian waters. Take some time to explore the onboard facilities and enjoy the Captain’s welcome drinks in the early evening.
Today you’ll begin your slow journey down the spectacular Western Australia coast. Fed by the King George River, the King George Falls is the most impressive Kimberley waterfalls and the highest twin falls in WA. Before reaching the spray rising from the base of the falls, you’ll cruise through steep-sided gorges carved by a flooded river system through the Kimberley landscape 400 million years ago. Early in the waterfall season, you might get the opportunity to cruise around the base of impressive King George Falls while in later months you can take the opportunity to view the honeycomb erosion patterns of sandstone cliffs up close.
Vansittart Bay is home to many culturally 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.
Continuing down the coast, on the Anjo Peninsula lies the well-preserved wreckage of a US Airforce 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 rock pools, the Mitchell Falls are the photogenic poster child for the Mitchell River National Park. Take a scenic helicopter flight over the falls where ancient rock art galleries are concealed in caves behind curtains of water. The helicopter flight is an additional cost but is well worth it.
If you stay on the ground, you’ll still enjoy some brilliant views - sandstone terraces beside tiered rock pools make a terrific viewing platform from which to savour the serenity of this ancient landscape. An alternative option to Mitchell Falls is exploring the sandstone caves of Hathway’s Hideaway. This mass of weathered tunnels, arches and columns form a labyrinth-like maze and was once an Aboriginal midden. You could also visit a series of Wandjina and Gwion Gwion rock art galleries at Swift Bay. Whatever you choose, today will be a wonderful day exploring this beautiful nook of Western Australia.
In the evening you can watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean while indulging in a gourmet BBQ.
Prince Frederick Harbour is one of the Kimberley’s most spectacular locations, located at the southern end of York Sound. The harbour is dotted with islands lined with mangroves and monsoon rainforests, set against a backdrop of the ochre 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. You’ll head out on the Xplorer tender vessels on a cruise up Porosus Creek to view some striking rock formations.
Moving further down the Kimberley Coast, today you’ll explore the King Cascade. It’s a classically beautiful terraced waterfall, where water tumbles down a staggered terrace of Kimberley sandstone. Layer upon layer of orange and blackened rock sprouts grasses, mosses and ferns in a sort of lushly vegetated hanging garden. You’ll head down the Prince Regent River, unique in that it runs dead straight along a fault line.
Philip Parker King named nearby Careening Bay after he beached his leaking vessel HMC Mermaid on the coast to begin 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 baobab tree near the beach. Almost 200 years later, the Mermaid Boab Tree has since split into two trunks and the carpenter’s careful inscription now stands almost as tall as a person.
Today is dedicated to exploring Montgomery Reef, a biologically diverse area covering over 300 square kilometres. Twice daily, as the sea recedes, Montgomery Reef rises from the Indian Ocean in a cascade of rushing water revealing a flat-topped reef pockmarked with rock pools.
As the reef emerges, you’ll get up close in the inflatable tenders to witness the spectacle as the 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, whilst turtles, dolphins and dugongs are also attracted to feeding opportunities as the ocean recedes. Then, just a few hours later the entire water-borne drama is reversed as the tide comes in and Montgomery Reef disappears below the sea.
Raft Point guards the entrance to Doubtful Bay, a vast body of sheltered water which harbours some ancient Wandjina rock art, located a short walk from the beach. Considered some of the finest in the Kimberley, today you’ll visit the rock art caves with traditional owners guiding us. Doubtful Bay is the traditional country of the Worrora people who follow the Wandjina, their god, law-maker and creator.
Further south, Red Cone Creek flows gently downstream until it meets the small but impressive Ruby Falls, where huge rock formations are 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.
The Horizontal Falls are a result of the mammoth 11 metre tides the Kimberley is renowned for. Once described by David Attenborough as ‘one of the greatest natural wonders of the world’, they are created as the ocean thunders through a narrow gorge in the McLarty Ranges. Water builds up on one side and is pushed through the bottleneck, creating a rushing horizontal waterfall of swiftly flowing seawater. Riding the rapids on the Zodiac inflatable tenders is one of the highlights of your Kimberley expedition cruise.
You’ll also explore Talbot Bay, the heart of the Buccaneer Archipelago and Cyclone Creek, where you’ll see evidence of massive geological forces in the impressive rock formations. Finish your night by cruising through the Iron Islands before enjoying sunset drinks at Nares Point.
On the final day of your cruise, you’ll be exploring the Lacepede Islands - a protected nature reserve and a seabird nesting rookery for brown boobies and roseate terns. Other species often sighted here are Australian Pelicans, frigate birds, egrets and gulls. The four low-lying islands are also an important breeding and nesting habitat for green turtles. As your spectacular Kimberley expedition draws to a close, spend your last evening aboard enjoying the Captain’s farewell drinks.
Your incredible adventure along the Kimberley Coast concludes in Broome this morning. Bid farewell to the captain and crew before making your own way to your hotel, right next to Cable Beach.
Broome is a lovely little place and after the remote wilderness of the Kimberley, it will feel like a bustling metropolis. In reality, it is pretty small so you can see the sights in a couple of hours downtown before retreating to the peaceful beauty of Cable Beach, a stunning stretch of sand. We’ve included 3 nights at the Cable Beach Club. It has beautiful rooms, huge grounds full of frangipani bushes and tall palms, both family and adult-only pools – what more do you need?
Enjoy cocktails each night at the Sunset Bar and Grill and watch the sun sink into the ocean beyond Cable Beach. If you time it right you could also witness ‘Staircase to the Moon’, a phenomenon where the recently set sun illuminates the moon in a deep shade of orange, which reflects over the mudflats of Roebuck Bay to create rungs of a ladder up climbing up to it. If you miss this event, then don’t worry, you can still experience the sunset from a different perspective – you could ride across Cable Beach on a camel!
After breakfast, you’ll be taken to the airport and catch your flight down to Perth. On arrival, you’ll be taken to your hotel and check in for three nights. Why not head to Caversham Wildlife Park this afternoon and meet some of the resident koalas, kangaroos and wombats?
Today we’ve included a trip to Rottnest Island, just off the coast of Perth. You’ll be taken to the ferry terminal and given your bike for the day, before making the hour journey over to Rottnest where you have the whole day to explore – the turquoise bays, easy cycle routes and adorable quokkas make it a great day out for everyone.
The day is yours to enjoy Perth - why not wander through Kings Park before taking a cruise down the Swan River, passing by the famous zoo and the university, emerging at the Port of Fremantle, the coolest suburb of the city. Grab a box of fish and chips by the harbour and explore the Fremantle Prison, before spending the afternoon paddle boarding on Cottesloe Beach.
Your time in Western Australia has come to an end – you’ll be picked up from your hotel and taken to the airport in time for your flight home.
The Kimberley is located in a tropical monsoon climate, with a distinct wet season and dry season. The pleasant dry season (April – September) is characterised by clear blue skies, easterly winds and balmy days with some chilly nights. The chance of rain is very unlikely. The wet season however, is a different story. Between October and March, the Kimberley becomes hot and humid with violent and unpredictable weather.
The cruise included in this itinerary runs between April and September.