The Kimberley – Darwin to Broome
Explore a rugged land carved by the powerful forces of nature, where engorged rivers overflowing with seasonal rains cut a swathe through sandstone cliffs. Marvel at the natural highlights abundant in this region - waterfalls, wildlife, and mammoth tidal streams that conceal and reveal this ancient landscape twice a day.
See where Australian Aboriginals, the world’s oldest living culture, have recorded their connection to country through exquisite rock art galleries many thousands of years old. Wandjina style artworks etched into rock depict creation stories, mythical creatures and wildlife along with centuries-old European contact.
A precious wilderness region almost twice the size of the United Kingdom, the Kimberley’s raw, rugged beauty is best seen from the deck of a small expedition ship. Coral Expeditions’ Kimberley cruise season runs between April and September with waterfalls generally at their peak in April and May.
Experience a thrilling nature-based adventure riding horizontal tidal waterfalls, splashing beneath cascading falls or swimming in freshwater rock pools (when conditions allow). No two cruises with Coral Expeditions will be the same with each expedition crafted by experienced Masters and Expedition Leaders. This flexibility allows your captain to allow for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions and any other event ensuring you make the most of your time aboard.
Coral Expeditions has three ships operating in The Kimberley: The Coral Discoverer takes just 72 guests, all in ocean-view staterooms, so you can be assured of personal attention. You won’t get lost in the crowds here! It’s easy to get to know fellow guests in a relaxed and casual atmosphere with personal touches that just aren’t possible on larger ships.
The Coral Adventurer was launched in 2019, with a maximum of 120 guests per voyage. Specially designed to incorporate modern shipbuilding technology together with specifications for cruising Australian style, the Coral Adventurer is a delightful mix of comfort, style and safety.
The Coral Geographer will be arriving in 2021 and sister ship to Coral Adventurer. Small enough to venture into untouched places and focused on bringing small numbers of like-minded guests closer to nature and cultures with personal attention and professional Australian service.
On any of the three ships, you will be accompanied by expert guides as you explore the region. You’ll enjoy freshly prepared small-batch cuisine featuring the best local ingredients and relax and enjoy quality local beers and wines. With an intimate atmosphere and renowned warm Australian hospitality, you will quickly feel at home and make new connections with new friends.
Your cruise price includes:
- 10 night Expedition Voyage from Darwin to Broome aboard Coral Discoverer/Coral Adventurer or Coral Geographer
- Snorkelling & scuba equipment
- Expert Expedition Team, including a Great Barrier Reef expert Marine Biologist
- Daily guided excursions on the Xplorer and Zodiac tender vessels, and kayaks where conditions allow
- Small batch local dining, prepared fresh onboard: buffet breakfasts, buffet lunches and table d’hote dinners
- Showcase wines, selected beers and soft drinks with lunch and dinner service
- 24 hour coffee and selection of teas
- Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Events, and Open Bridge Access with the Captain
- Comprehensive and fully guided sightseeing in each destination
- All entrance fees to National Parks and Ports
PLUS! Ultimate Cruising guests also receive:
- Chauffeur driven luxury car transfers to/from your nearest airport (within 35km)
A 35-year-old Australian pioneering expedition cruise company, Coral Expeditions operate and manage a fleet of four small expedition ships taking guests to some of the most beautiful, yet undiscovered, regions of Australia, Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Islands. Over 8,000 travellers from all over the world travel with Coral Expeditions every year who are attracted by the relaxed small ship atmosphere and itineraries which larger ships cannot replicate. The bespoke operations may sometimes not be commercially justifiable but result in a more personal product that guests appreciate.
At a time when the cruise industry is moving to larger and less personal ships, Coral Expeditions has limited the size of their ships to maximise the expedition experience. Their small-batch cuisine is freshly prepared onboard with a simplistic and generous approach to quality and freshness, accompanied by quality Australian wine. Coral Expeditions operate to high Australian standards of safety with Australian crew wherever they go. They were the first to offer interpretive programs reflective of the destinations they visit and to employ Expedition Leaders, Guest Lecturers, Marine Biologists, and SCUBA Instructors – a tradition that continues today.
KING GEORGE RIVER & FALLS
Fed by the King George River draining across the Gardner Plateau, 80m tall King George Falls are the most impressive Kimberley waterfalls and the highest twin falls in Western Australia. Before reaching the mist-like spray rising from the base of King George Falls, we cruise through steep-sided gorges carved by a flooded river system that carved a swathe through the Kimberley landscape 400 million years ago.
Early in the waterfall season, we may cruise around the base of impressive King George Falls while in later months we take the opportunity to view the honeycomb erosion patterns of sandstone cliffs up close.
Vansittart Bay is home to many cultural and historically 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 (also known as trepang).
Nearby, on the Anjo Peninsula lays the well-preserved wreckage of a US Airforce C-53 Skytrooper 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.
MITCHELL FALLS, WINYALKAN & SWIFT BAY
Tumbling down the Mitchell Plateau in a series of tiered waterfalls and emerald green rock pools, the Mitchell Falls are the photogenic poster child for the Mitchell River National Park. Take a scenic helicopter flight (additional cost) to multi-tiered Mitchell Falls where emerald-hued rock pools cascade down the escarpment and ancient rock art galleries are concealed in caves behind curtains of water.
Mitchell River National Park is inhabited by significant numbers of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and bird species which are lured by a year-round water source. Sandstone terraces beside tiered rock pools make a terrific viewing platform from which to savor 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. Another option while anchored at Winyalkan Bay is a visit to a series Wandjina and Gwion Gwion rock art galleries at Swift Bay.
In the evening we will enjoy watching the sunset over the Indian Ocean while indulging in a gourmet BBQ.
PRINCE FREDERICK HARBOUR
Prince Frederick Harbour is one of the Kimberley’s most spectacular locations 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-hued 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. We will take our Xplorer tender vessels on a cruise up Porosus Creek to view some striking rock formations.
PRINCE REGENT RIVER & CAREENING BAY
King Cascade is a classically beautiful terraced waterfall and is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the Kimberley. Falling from a considerable height and around 50m across, water tumbles down a staggered terrace of Kimberley sandstone. Layer upon layer of ochre-hued and blackened rock sprouts grasses, mosses and ferns in a sort of lushly vegetated hanging garden.
We reach King Cascade after cruising in our Xplorer tender vessels down the steep-sided Prince Regent River which is a remarkable anomaly as the river runs dead straight along a fault line.
Lt. Phillip Parker King named nearby Careening Bay after he beached his leaking vessel HMC Mermaid to effect 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 boab tree near the beach. 200 years later, the Mermaid Boab Tree has since split into two trunks and sports a mammoth girth of 12m. Significantly, the bulbous tree is listed on the National Register of Big Trees and the carpenter’s careful inscription now stands almost as tall as a person.
Montgomery Reef is a biologically diverse area covering over 300 sq km and was named by Phillip Parker King. Twice daily, as the sea recedes in mammoth 11m tides, Montgomery Reef rises from the Indian Ocean in a cascade of rushing water revealing a flat-topped reef pockmarked with rock pools and rivulets.
As the reef emerges, we get up close in our Xplorer and Zodiac inflatable tenders to witness the spectacle as our 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. Turtles, dolphins, dugongs and sawfish too are also attracted to feeding opportunities as the ocean recedes.
The ocean is awash in a swirl of eddies and whirlpools as the moon’s gravitational force takes hold. Then, a few hours later the entire water-borne drama is reversed as the tide comes in and Montgomery Reef disappears below sea level.
Raft Point guards the entrance to Doubtful Bay, a vast body of sheltered water which harbours significant sites such as the ancient Wandjina rock art galleries located a short walk from the beach and are considered some of the finest in the Kimberley and we visit the rock art galleries when Traditional Owners are available to guide us. Doubtful Bay is the traditional country of the Worrora people who follow the Wandjina, their god, law-maker and creator. Images of Wandjina are found throughout the Kimberley, recording their stories, knowledge and culture in stone.
Red Cone Creek flows gently downstream until it meets the small but impressive Ruby Falls. Named by local mariner Capt. Chris Trucker after his daughter, Red Cone Creek is carved through rock formations 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.
Other sites we aim to visit in Doubtful Bay include the mighty Sale River and Steep Island.
HORIZONTAL FALLS AND BUCCANEER ARCHIPELAGO
The Horizontal Falls are one of the Kimberley’s biggest attractions and are a result of the mammoth 11m tides the Kimberley is renowned for. Naturalist David Attenborough described the Horizontal Falls as ‘one of the greatest natural wonders of the world.’
The Horizontal Falls are created as the ocean thunders through a narrow gorge in the McLarty Ranges. Water builds up on one side and is forcibly pushed through the bottleneck, creating a rushing horizontal waterfall of swiftly flowing seawater. Riding the rapids on our Zodiac inflatable tenders is one of the highlights of our Kimberley expedition cruises.
Talbot Bay is at the heart of the Buccaneer Archipelago, where rocks on the 800 or so islands are estimated at over 2 billion years old. At Cyclone Creek, you will see evidence of massive geological forces in the impressive rock formations and cruise through the Iron Islands, past Koolan Island, before enjoying sunset drinks at Nares Point.
The Lacepede Islands are a protected class-A nature reserve and are significant as a seabird nesting rookery for brown boobies and roseate terns. Other species often sighted at the Lacepedes include Australian Pelicans, frigate birds, egrets and gulls. The four low-lying islands are also an important breeding and nesting habitat for green turtles.
If weather and tide conditions are suitable, we will explore the lagoons by Xplorer and Zodiac tender vessels.
As our incredible Kimberley adventures draw to a close, on our last evening aboard we enjoy the Captain’s farewell drinks amongst new-found friends.
Departure Dates and Pricing
27 August 2021
10 & 17 September 2021
01 & 08 October 2021
18 March 2022
08, 13, 15 & 29 April 2022
04, 06, 20 & 25 May 2022
10, 15 & 17 June 2022
01, 06, 22, 27 & 29 July 2022
12, 17 & 19 August 2022
07 & 09 September 2022
04 & 29 April 2023
05, 09, 20, 26 & 30 May 2023
10, 16 & 20 June 2023
01, 07, 11, 22 & 28 July 2023
01, 12 & 18 August 2023
02 & 08 September 2023
Prices start from A$10,290 per person share twin. All pricing is in Australian Dollars and subject to change at any time. Please ask us for best available pricing at time of booking.
- All meals
- Meals + Wine
- On-Board Lecturer
- Shore Excursions
- Tonnage 5536
- Capacity 120
- Length 93.4M
- Luxury Expeditions
- Soft Adventures
With active stabilisers dampening sea motion, mostly balcony cabins, and interiors designed with the colours and textures of tropical Queensland, the Coral Adventurer is a comfortable ship with promenade decks, generous communal areas that accommodate all guests, a passenger elevator, and an open kitchen where you can observe the chefs whipping up small batch cuisine from locally sourced ingredients. Images courtesy of Coral Expeditions
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