King Sound is a large gulf in northern Western Australia. It expands
from the mouth of the Fitzroy River, one of Australia's largest
watercourses, and opens to the Indian Ocean. Other rivers that
discharge into the sound include the Lennard River, Meda River,
Robinson River and May River. The sound is about 120 km long, and
averages about 50 km in width.
The port town of Derby lies near the mouth of the Fitzroy River on
the eastern shore of King Sound. King Sound is bordered by the island
clusters of the Buccaneer Archipelago to the East and Cape Leveque to
the West. In the 1880s it was one the sites in the Kimberleys of a
short lived gold rush.
The northern shores of King Sound are very different from the sandy
pindan plains on the opposite side of the Dampier Land peninsula. Yampi
Peninsula, which thrusts a great rocky fist out between King Sound and
Collier Bay, is a meeting ground of the harsh sandstone country of the
plateau and the basalts which are so important throughout the
Its straight southern edge is formed by the fault lines bordering
the sedimentary rocks of the plains to the south. Low, bare quartzite
ridges are separated by gentler basalt-filled valleys, with white grass
and sorghums which might be marginally useful grazing country in the
higher rainfall coastal belt, were they not so inaccessible.
King Sound has Australia's highest tides and one of the highest in
the world. They are surpassed only by the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia,
Canada, which has 15 metre high tides, and Bristol (UK) 14.6m, Mont
Saint Michel (France) 12.3m, Puerto Gallegos (Argentina) 13.2m and
Bhaunagan (India) 12.2m.. High tides in Western Australia are King
Sound/Derby 11.8m, Yampi Sound 10.9m, Broome 9.8m and Wyndham 8.4m.
King Sound is a tide ravaged sound, as reflected in the names of its
geographical features, like Whirlpool Pass, Hells Gates, Escape Pass,
Alarm Shoal, Tide Rip Islands and The Graveyard. It is in complete
contrast to the adjacent, peaceful, Yampi Sound which has high tides,
but whose shores are not subject to the scouring effect of the rising
and falling tide as it moves in and out of the channel-like Sound. For
this reason, King Sound is often bypassed by cruising yachties.
However, the deeply indented bays and rivers on the eastern side of
King Sound offer protection from both wind and tide, with some great
scenery as a bonus.
Cape Leveque is a beautiful hidden pocket within the Western
Australian Kimberley region, located on the tip of the Dampier
Peninsula north of the towns of Broome and Derby. The rugged beauty of
the coast around Cape Leveque is quite unlike anything seen elsewhere
in Australia, bordering on desolate yet with an undeniable rugged
charm. It is one of the only places in Australia where the desert meets
Cascade, Cone and Strickland Bays
Cascade, Cone and Crawford Bays lie crumpled and creased, their
shores notched with a myriad of mangrove estuaries, bays and sand
beaches; plunging cliffs and rocky masses; stony islands and
innumerable hidden reefs that litter these offshore waters. Numerous
freshwater springs flow from the hills of King Leopold Sandstone into
the bays creating pockets of rain forests.
These three bays are generally the first areas visited by cruises of
the Kimberley coastline operating out of Derby. Located on the east
side of the head of King Sound, they showcase the Islands of the
Buccaneer Archipelago, the picturesque coastal rocks, fast flowing
faterfalls, fine sandy beaches, sparkling water of the region and
magnificent sunrises and sunsets for which the Kimberley is renowned.
Days are spent cruising through Cascade Bay and Hell’s Gate
(usually a visitor's first look at the rush of water created by the
tide movement), entering Whirlpool Passage - a channel that funnels the
extreme tides into whirlpools, reef fishing at Hidden Island and taking
a refreshing swim at Silica Beach, with its brilliant white squeaky
silica sand, picturesque rocks and crystal clear water. In the
evenings, there is nothing better than to watch the sunset while
enjoying evening nibbles and refreshments on deck or from a beach camp.
Edeline Island is famed for its siltstone rock formations that
resemble sculptures. The islands are known locally as "The Graveyards",
as they contain 19th century graves of pearl divers; three unmarked,
one with an inscription (dated 1891). Cone Bay, with tides of up to 11
metres twice a day, is fantastic for growing fish; its 'water circles'
are in fact polar sea-cages used to breed Saltwater Barramundi.