Map of Australia, showing location of Broome and the cruise in relation to Perth and the rest of Australia:
Map of the region, showing Broome and the route taken by the cruise (but not in the order shown):
Detailed map of the main parts of the coastline and islands visited on the cruise (except for Bigge Island, further North):
I can hardly believe it, but we're flying again - admittedly, only intra-state, but still 2.5 hrs.
Traveling to Broome, Western Australia from Qantas Departures - Perth Airport Terminal 4:
Checked into our hotel, then strolled along Carnarvon Street to the Sun Open-Air Picture Theatre.
Warm/hot evening in Broome, so we went to the Sun Picture Gardens, to see the movie Belfast. Quite a gritty movie, but wonderful performance by the little boy (played by Jude Hill). This theatre was opened in 1916, and is the longest running outdoor movie theatre in the world (I believe). Here's 2 photos that didn't come out too well. Stars were lovely!! An occasional breeze was much appreciated:
Here's the outside of the Sun Picture Gardens taken the next morning, in daylight:
So, we're in Broome for a day and a bit. What to do? First walk around the main street (Carnarvon St), admire the flowering shrubs, check out Streeter's Jetty and crabs, see Sun Pictures in daylight, have brunch at Dragonfly Cafe, admire the boab street trees...
Shrub outside our hotel (Roebuck Hotel):
Red Fiddler Crabs at Streeter's Jetty:
Boab street trees:
When in Broome, of course, visit Cable Beach at sunset (so named as that's where the international telegraph cable landed, back in 19th Century). We took the local bus to get to Cable Beach and back again (cost $2.50 pp, each way):
What else to do in Broome? Of course, the camels walking along the beach (we missed out on them the last time we were in Broome, June 2021). Not to ride them, but to photograph them, especially when there is a lot of water providing reflections (not so much today):
We spent all morning mooching about near the hotel (having checked out and left our luggage at Reception), grabbed a coffee at Dragonfly Cafe, then a little to eat at Kitchen Cabana Cafe & Grill in Paspaley Plaza, before getting the hotel's shuttle to the Civic Centre where the tour company, APT, were registering guests (and administering Rapid Antigen Tests (all -ve)).
Then we boarded the MS Caledonia Sky, seen here at anchor at Hidden Island, Buccaneer Archipelago (800+ Islands). It can accomodate 114 passengers in 57 cabins, built in 1991, last refurbished in 2018. Length 90m, beam 14m, gross tonnage 4,200.
We were in Cabin 344 on the Caledonian Deck (a "superior suite"):
Today we were taken by the Zodiacs out for an exploration of about half of Hidden Island (one of the 800 islands making up the Buccaneer Archipelago). Originally, it had been planned to visit Adele Island, quite a bit further offshore, but it is surrounded by a reef, and the timing of the tides meant that we would not be able safely to get in close to land at any time on our cruise. This is one of the consequences of visiting a coastline that has tides of 10 to 15 metres! (on the + side, it means Horizontal Falls and Montgomery Reef become more spectacular!). Hidden Island had not been on our schedule at all, but had at least 3 wonderful experiences awaiting us (read on, dear reader!).
A wide variety of shorelines on Hidden Island, including great rocky outcrops, hidden little bays, even mangroves on quiet backwaters.
Saw some wildlife on Hidden Island, eg White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey Tailed Tattlers. A few scrub birds but hard to identify. A hermit crab or two...
Lots of wonderful rock formations, colours, shapes on Hidden Island. These islands are sandstone. Wonderful turquoise water...
Our exploration of Hidden Island culminated in a landing at Silica Beach - with incredibly white, dazzling, squeaky sand:
Today, Monday, we've anchored off Bigge Island (aka Wuyurru), off the Kimberley Coast (this is as far North and East as we go on this trip). This is part of the Bonaparte Archipelago. Although it is one of the bigger islands, its name has nothing to do with that - it was named after someone who did a review of the NSW Colony in the early days - explorers do like to curry favour with influential people that way, don't they!?
We landed via Zodiacs (very different beach from Silica Beach), and went for a walk (in the stifling heat - though there was a lovely breeze at times). Saw evidence of turtles, Monjons (the smallest rock wallaby), spinifex ants, etc; the main attraction was Aboriginal rock art - some of Wandjina Dreamtime (painted by Wunambal people), some of First Contact (possibly the Dutch looking for water - there are rowlocks on their boat).
Turtle tracks, and Spinifex ant trail - they burrow just under the surface when moving between spnifex clumps to avoid the sun:
The cave housing the rock art (adjacent to where our Zodiacs landed):
Monday afternoon (at Bigge Island), and we went out on the Zodiacs again, to "see what we could see". Most impressive were the 2 or 3 Monjons that were racing about under a ledge, appearing to quarrel with and then chase each other at high speed! Quite a rare sight, I gather, as they are very shy (they are the smallest rock wallaby, only fairly recently discovered). Also saw crested terns, sooty oyster catcher, lots of fascinating rock formations (and wonderful turquoise sea). Rather hot/humid, but pleasant breeze out on the water.
A final outing here at Bigge Island - to a secluded little cove with amazing rocks (colours, shapes) forming a large cave, hence its name, Cathedral Cave. We landed (via Zodiac) then given a drink, followed by a recital (guitar & violin) from the ship's entertainers perched above us on a ledge. This was a surprise extra outing. Very nice!!!
Today, Tuesday, we stopped at Freshwater Cove (on the mainland, aka Wiggingarra Butt Butt) and walked for 1.5km up a slight rise to see some rock art. Here are views and flowers along the way. Although we started at 8am, my shirt was drenched with sweat by the time we reached the cave/overhang. An occasional breeze provided a little relief. At one point on the walk we actually had mobile phone connectivity!
Freshwater Cove is so-named as it has a permanent fresh stream running into the sea. Near that point are 2-3 huts, one of which (in the photo) is used as an art studio. Very little available for sale as this is just the start of the season. Also saw wonderful brightly-coloured beetles en route...
So here are photos of some examples of the rock art, one depicting Montgomery Reef. They were in a rock overhang at the top of our ascent. We were guided by 3 locals - Neil, Naomi & Gideon. We also had a welcome to country, and a smoking ceremony as part of the welcome.
Today, still Tuesday, after Freshwater Cove, we relocated to Doubtful Bay, anchored amongst wonderful sandstone cliffs. Here are views of Raft Point Bluff (not its real name: Raft Point is nearby, but not as spectacular!), Steep Island and Bird Island (also not its real name).
Raft Point Bluff, and Caledonian Sky framed by Steep Island and Raft Point Bluff:
Bird Island (so-called):
Steep Island and the Mainland:
We ermbarked on a Zodiac cruise around Doubtful Bay, and encountered mangroves, boab trees, a kingfisher, a crocodile...
Kingfisher in tree, Boab tree:
At anchor in Doubtful Bay tonight (Tuesday), a lovely sunset, followed by barbecue on the Lido deck, together with entertainment from the crew.
This morning, Wednesday, an early start (8am) on the Zodiacs to travel out (in convoy) to the Montgomery Islands, aka Yawajaba Island (at the centre of Montgomery Reef) with the reef visible below us (at times requiring going very slowly). Took ~15 mins from leaving the ship to get to the reef, but then another 90 mins to find our way over it to the islands (used to be one Island, but a cyclone came & now there are 3 - here can see the channel between two of them). The vegetation on the islands seem to be predominantly mangroves (here one spreading its roots far & wide). I set foot briefly on the main island (but my body remained on the Zodiac)...
Lots of interesting coral, etc as we drifted over Montgomery Reef - being taken by the incoming tide for much of the time. Here we see blue coral, brain coral, etc, and a clam.
On our way out to Montgomery Islands, saw various wildlife, including a turtle (that took off at an incredible rate), some stingrays (one shown here), a crocodile or two, lots of small and middle-sized fish, some birds, etc.
This afternoon, Wednesday, we set off again in our convoy of Zodiacs to explore Montgomery Reef at low tide (vs high tide this morning). The area over which (with a clearance of ~1metre) we travelled this morning was now 1-2 metres above the water level, with water streaming off the now "elevated" reef. Making fascinating waterfalls, creating feeding opportunities for birds, etc. Here are some of the many cascades we saw.
Following the excursion to Montgomery Reef above water level, we returned to the ship, stopping for drinks at a nearby exposed sand bar (cay) and watched the approaching storm, which hit after we had all returned (it was short & sharp).
Today, Thursday (our last full day of the cruise), we anchored in Talbot Bay, and explored the area, including Cyclone Creek. Zodiacs were launched at 7:30am, at a time when the tide was more or less at the turn, so taking the Zodiacs through the wider of the Horizontal Falls pinch points was not a problem. The fast boat pilots had contracted Covid, so we weren't able to do that planned activity. But this was good, and the scenery amazing. Later on, when the tide had started to run, we came back to see the "falls" in operation. Aerial view courtesy of APT's drone.
Scenery around Talbot Bay and Cyclone Creek was amazing - lots of fascinating rock formations, and examples of rock folding, and another "pinch point", mini-whirlpools, etc.
Today, Thursday, in Talbot Bay and Cyclone Creek, came across a variety of wildlife. Here we see a rock wallaby, a crocodile (that chased any Zodiac that came near), and a white-quilled rock pigeon. At a third pinch point (in Cyclone Creek) a modest example of the water turmoil was this cute whirlpool.
And so our adventure comes to an end. The two trips we have made to the Kimberley (June 2021 and April 2022) have been really amazing. To think we have these wonders on our doorstep (well, not quite, it's actually quite a trek to get there). It's clear that the Kimberley coast is still a wonderful untouched wilderness.
Friday, 15-Apr-22 (Good Friday):
We docked in Broome at about 8am, had breakfast and departed for the airport, whence back to Perth (after quite a long wait at the airport). We have one day in Perth (to wash clothes and repack) before setting off for Adelaide and Kangaroo Island!! (qv).
Alex Reid was traveling to Perth, Western Australia from Broome International Airport.
Kimberley expedition holiday is over! Back home (briefly)...