The towering waterfalls, rugged outback, Aboriginal art and plentiful wildlife make the Kimberley Coast quite unique, and the best way to explore is to sail from Darwin and Broome aboard a small ship.
Starting out from Darwin, this exceptional trip opens with a stay at a luxury lodge on the edge of Kakadu National Park, renowned for its teeming wildlife. This is followed by a ten-day cruise aboard a comfortable expedition vessel along the deeply indented coastline of the Kimberley region, to take in its immense natural beauty and considerable animal and bird life. The experience concludes with an opportunity to relax and wind down at an exclusive ecolodge on the idyllic coast south of Broome.
Join the Coral Expeditions II to discover all the iconic spots of the Kimberley Coast. In the north, discover the majestic King George River with its towering 80-metre twin falls and the mysterious Bradshaw (Gwion) Paintings of Bigge Island. Explore the Mitchell Plateau and cruise the Kimberley’s ‘big’ rivers before experiencing beautiful King Cascades, remarkable Montgomery Reef and the amazing natural phenomenon of the Horizontal Falls in the south.
This is a land steeped in ancient Aboriginal culture and the legends of Australia’s pioneering past. Travel ashore to view the world’s oldest known indigenous rock art, the mysterious Bradshaw (Gwion) paintings and soak up the history of early explorers such as Phillip Parker King who first charted this spectacular coastline almost 200 years ago. With two landings most days, you will enjoy more opportunities to fully immerse yourself in the magic of the Kimberley. Aboard the unique ‘Explorer’ excursion vessel and fleet of inflatable zodiacs, and with the expert local knowledge of experienced guides, you are assured of making the most of every minute of your expedition, and do it all in total comfort and unrivalled style.
In the afternoon arrange your own taxi transfer back to the airport in time to check in for a 30-minute charter flight to Bamurru (scheduled to depart at 1430). On arrival transfer to your accommodation.
Bamurru Plains offers an extraordinary safari-style bush experience on the edge of Kakadu National Park. The coastal floodplains of Northern Australia are home to prolific bird and wildlife (Australia’s answer to the Okavango Delta), while Kakadu and Arnhem Land are the heartland of its indigenous culture. With a focus on environmental sustainability, this wilderness camp and its passionate hosts showcase Australia’s unique style of sophisticated, barefoot, experiential luxury.
An exhilarating morning trip in a fan-propelled airboat on the wetlands of the Mary River is the only way to experience this achingly beautiful natural environment and its fauna. In dry season, when the water recedes, the floodplains become accessible to four-wheel-drive vehicles, and a guided safari with one of the guides provides a unique insight to this fragile yet important environment. The catchment area of the Mary River is home to 236 bird species, many of which are found at Bamurru Plains, which is a breeding ground for many – including the iconic magpie geese. Even in dry season the floodplains still retain large areas of water where birdlife congregates in numbers rarely seen elsewhere in Australia.
Day7: Fly to Darwin
The day is free until it’s time to explore fly back to Darwin aboard an afternoon chartered flight, then arrange your own taxi transfer back to the same accommodation as before. The remainder of the afternoon and evening are free to relax.
Accommodation: Skycity Hotel & Resort, 1-night
Day8: Depart on an 11-day Kimberley Cruise
Arrange your own transfer by taxi to the jetty in Darwin harbour in time for embarkation, which commences at 0800. Sail at 0900 for an 11-day/10-night expedition cruise from Darwin to Broome aboard Coral Expeditions II. Bidding farewell to Darwin harbour you cross Cambridge Gulf and head into Western Australian waters. This afternoon join the expedition staff in the lounge for an informative introduction to the Kimberley, before meeting your fellow travellers and the crew at the captain’s welcome drinks party.
Today you discover the first of the Kimberley’s ‘big’ rivers, the mighty King George. Aboard the ship’s specially-designed excursion vessel, Explorer, you explore scenic gorges and in cruise in Zodiac inflatables to the base of themagnificent King George Falls, the tallest single-drop waterfall in Western Australia, which tower some 80 metres above the river. Later, you visit secluded Tranquil Bay for a walk on the beach and a chance to explore.
Day10: Cruise: Vansittart Bay & Jar Island
Join the expedition leader on a walk across the salt flats of Vansittart Bay to see the wreckage of a US Air Force DC3, which crash-landed on the beach during World War II. Later, visit Jar Island and see the island’s outstanding gallery of aboriginal rock art. The guest lecturers will point out fine examples of the Kimberley’s mysterious Bradshaw Paintings (Gwion), which date back some 20,000 years.
After anchoring in Winyalken Bay you head ashore aboard Explorer to explore the maze of natural sandstone caves known as Hathaway’s Hideaway. Later, helicopters are available for optional scenic flights (i.e. this involves an additional charge) over the Mitchell Plateau for close-up views of the mighty four-tiered Mitchell Falls. This evening you can enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Indian Ocean as you indulge in a gourmet Aussie beach barbecue.
Day12: Cruise: Bigge Island & Careening Bay
Explore the gallery of rock art on Bigge Island , which features fine examples of both Wandjina and Bradshaw art. Once again the guest lecturers will be on hand to explain these traditional art forms, and the myths from The Dreamtime that inspired them. Then explore Careening Bay, named by early explorer Phillip Parker King after his ship HMC Mermaid was careened here for repairs during his second voyage of discovery to the Kimberley. The lecturers will lead you to the site of a remarkable baoab tree that bears the inscription “HMC Mermaid – 1820″ – still clearly visible almost 200 years later.
Day13: Cruise: Prince Regent River & King Cascades
Today you cruise the mighty Prince Regent River aboard Explorer to the breathtaking King Cascades, an unusual and picturesque waterfall that tumbles over terraced rock formations. Enjoy a picnic lunch at beautiful Camp Creek, where there is also time for a cooling dip in the freshwater pools.
Day14: Cruise: Montgomery Reef & Doubtful Bay
Savour an unforgettable moment as Montgomery Reef ‘rises’ out of the ocean as the tide ebbs. Join the expedition staff aboard the Explorer and Zodiac inflatables to experience this natural phenomenon from up close, and discover the reef’s diverse marine life – including turtles, manta rays and reef sharks. Later, cruise through scenic Doubtful Bay.
Day15: Cruise: Kuri Bay, Raft Point & Ruby Falls
Sail through Kuri Bay, home to the South Sea pearl industry, then land at imposing Raft Point to visit a secluded and extremely interesting natural gallery of Wandjina-style Aboriginal rock art. You will also see and some of the Kimberley’s best-preserved Bradshaw Paintings – in the earlier Gwion style. Later, explore Red Cone Creek and enjoy a leisurely swim at Ruby Falls.
Day16: Cruise: Horizontal Falls and Buccaneer Archipelago
This morning you cruise through the Buccaneer Archipelago, which has more than 800 islands. In Talbot Bay the region’s 12-metre tides create an amazing spectacle – the unique Horizontal Falls, described by Sir David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders in the world”. The amazing power of the falls is revealed when the tide turns, forcing millions of litres of water through the narrow gaps between the cliffs. Aboard the Zodiacs you’ll take an exhilarating ride through the falls, then later explore Silica Beach on Hidden Island with its stunning white sands and crystal-clear waters.
Day17: Cruise: Lacepede Islands
Sail through Pender Bay and – subject to weather and tide – visit the Lacepede Islands, a series of low islands consisting of coarse sand and coral rubble lying on top of a platform reef. This nature reserve has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area as it supports up to 18,000 breeding pairs of brown boobies and roseate terns – possibly the largest such population in the world. Board the Zodiacs and explore the lagoon, keeping an eye out for many species of marine birdlife including Australian pelicans, frigatebirds, egrets, gulls and terns. The islands are also renowned as Western Australia’s most significant breeding grounds for green turtles, which can often be seen nesting on the islands. This evening you can reflect on the highlights of the voyage with your fellow travellers over drinks at the Captain’s Farewell party.
Day18: Disembark in Broome; city tour & transfer to the south coast
When the vessel docks this morning, you disembark for a guided tour of Broome, the town famed for its pearling industry. A private transfer then takes you 1.5 hours further south for a final stay at a comfortable eco-resort that makes an ideal base for whale watching (July to September). On arrival check in to your luxury eco-villa, then take a late afternoon beach walk to explore the caves and blowholes. Enjoy sunset drinks by the pool or on your private deck, before a romantic dinner at Jack's Bar. Round off the day relaxing on your deck with a million stars overhead and the sound of waves lapping the shore.
Day19: Optional whale watching trip, guided birding bush walk etc
After an early morning bushwalk, followed by breakfast, spend the morning exploring Jack's Creek, go fishing or take an optional whale watching tour (not included). After lunch you can indulge in an afternoon massage or relax in a beach hammock. Surrender to sunset drinks by the pool before dinner at Jack's Bar, then join the guides for a night trip to monitor flatback turtles (Oct-Dec only).
Day20: Optional guided birding bush walk and other activities
Wake to a complimentary yoga class overlooking the Indian Ocean before breakfast. Treat yourself to a optional guided bushwalk (not included) with the resort’s indigenous guide, then jump into a kayak and go for a paddle to explore Cape Villaret from the sea. There’s plenty of time to wind down at the end of your trip.
Day21: Transfer to Broome; overnight flight to UK
After breakfast depart for Broome airport, completely rejuvenated after three days of pure relaxation. Fly to Perth to connect with an international flight to the UK.
Day22: Arrive UK
Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 22 daysfrom £8,595 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 19 daysfrom £7,345 pp
Single supplement: From £3,295
When to go: May-Sep
The Kimberley region occupies the far north of Western Australia, lying between the Great Sandy Desert and the Timor Sea/Indian Ocean. Animals found here include huge saltwater crocodiles and a particularly rich variety of birds – such as channel-billed cuckoo, Pacific koel and several endemic species.
Where: Western Australia
Ideal for viewing: northern quoll, golden bandicoot, saltwater crocodile, purple-crowned fairywren, Gouldian finch
Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, Walking safaris, Vehicle safaris, River safaris
Lying 240 kilometres east of Darwin, Kakadu is Australia’s largest national park. Covering almost 20,000 square kilometres it is a place of huge biodiversity whose rare endemic animals include more than a third of the country’s bird species and a quarter of its freshwater and estuarine fish species.
The capital and largest city of Australia’s sparsely populated Northern Territory, Darwin lies on the Timor Sea. Originally a pioneer outpost, the area is the ancestral home of the Larrakia Aboriginal people and gateway to the impressive Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land.
Where: Northern Territory
Excellent for: City stopover
Lying 2,240 kilometres north of Perth, on the traditional lands of the Yawuru in the Kimberley region, the coastal town of Broome is famed for its pearling industry. Home to the Broome Bird Observatory, millions of waders and shorebirds feed here on the intertidal mudflats and roost on the red sand beaches.
Where: Kimberley region
Ideal for viewing: red-collared lorikeet, flying fox, flatback turtle, broad-billed flycatcher, mangrove golden whistler
Suggested accommodation options are shown below.
for further recommendations.
Bamurru Plains is a luxury lodge on the edge of the Mary River floodplain, close to the coast and the western boundary of Kakadu National Park. This region of exceptional natural beauty and high biodiversity is one of only a few World Heritage Site listed for both its cultural and natural values.
Eco Beach Resort is uniquely located in what its owners like to refer to as 'accessible wilderness' just 12 minutes flying time by light aircraft, or a little over an hour by car, from the famous pearling town of Broome, in the spectacularly beautiful and rugged Kimberley region.
Nestling in 12 hectares of tropical gardens beside the Arafura Sea, Skycity is a bustling resort with excellent accommodation, a wide choice of dining options, conference and event facilities and a casino. As Darwin’s only five-star oceanfront resort, it also boasts a private white-sand beach.
This itinerary is available on the following
Coral Expeditions I & II are fully equipped for the ultimate expedition cruising experience in Australian coastal waters, and are the ideal choice for discovering the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, Western Australia’s remarkable Kimberley region, Cape York, Arnhem Land and Tasmania.