Kimberley Coastal Cruises

The region known simply as The Kimberley takes its evocative name from its most imposing landmark; an ancient mountain range visible from the rugged sea coast. Though the majority of Australian don't even know it exists, of those who do, few have seen it as it is in one of most remote corners of the country.

Its coastline is nothing short of stunning and according to all who have seen it, there is no other stretch of coastline in Australia that comes near in terms of its ability to inspire awe and wonder.

While the large ocean going cruise liners can sail the shores of a rugged coastline like the Kimberley, and some do, the extreme tides experienced there, the shallow waters of the estuaries, islands and reefs and the relatively narrow river gorges crying out to be explored, demand much smaller vessels with shallower draughts be employed to unlock the secrets of this pristine wilderness area.

There are a number of cruise operators and cruise vessels that ply the coast of WA's Kimberley region, the Oceanic Discoverer, operated by Coral Princess Cruises, is one of these vessels. Tiny by normal cruise ship standards, it was purpose built to access the remote estuaries, islands and reefs that are inaccessible to large cruise ships, yet has the amenities, facilities and passenger comforts comparable to those of larger cruise vessels.

On cruises along the Kimberley coast, the Oceanic Discoverer is accompanied by a smaller vessel, the specially design aluminium Xplorer, which is used for landings and extensive exploration of rivers and estuaries. It can accommodate the full company of passengers travelling aboard to mother vessel. In addition, two inflatable landing craft are carried aboard, to assist where landing on the beach is required, or special places like Horizontal Falls, where the craft come into their own zipping through the gaps in the rocks.

The Xplorer and the inflatables are pulled out at regular intervals as there are plenty of river gorges to travel up, waterfalls to get so close as to feel the spray, and sandy beaches and reefs to comb for shells and other sea life.

Perhaps because of the cost and also because of the time taken do do a journey up or down the North west coast of Australia, the majority of people to take the cruise are over 65 and retired.

The cruise begins or ends in Darwin or Broome. Localities visited include King George Falls, Vansittart Bay, Tranquil Bay, Cape Voltaire, Bigge Island, Prince Frederick Harbour (optional scenic flights over the Mitchell Plateau), Mitchell Falls, Careening Bay (Mermaid tree), Prince Regent River, King Cascade, Camp Creek, Kuri Bay, Raft Point (Bradshaw and Wandjina aboriginal cave paintings), Buccaneer Archipelago, Montgomery Reef, Talbot Bay, Horizontal Falls, Langgi Inlet, King Sound, Crocodile Creek, Lacepede Islands, Pender Day, Yampi Sound.

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