Covering more than 400,000 square kilometres (an area three times larger than England) and home to a sparse population of just 30,000 residents, the Kimberley region of North West Australia is a place universally acknowledged as one of the world’s last – and possibly most beautiful – wilderness areas. The Kimberley is truly one of the nature’s great jewels. From towering waterfalls fed by the powerful wet season rains, spectacular outback landscapes and a rich bounty of wildlife to the world’s oldest indigenous rock art and the legends of Australia’s pioneering past, the Kimberley provides experiences to fill the frames of your memory for a lifetime.
There simply no better way to discover the Kimberley than by small ship, allowing you to access all of the icons of the coast that are inaccessible by road. Discover the heartland of Australia’s northernmost unspoilt outback. The Kimberley is a completely unique experience.
Overview 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 fully immerse yourself in the magic of the Kimberley. Aboard the unique ‘Xplorer’ excursion vessel and fleet of inflatable zodiacs, and with the expert local knowledge of our 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. Day 1: Depart Darwin 8:00am: Board Coral Discoverer in Darwin for a 9:00am departure. Farewelling Darwin Harbour we cross Cambridge Gulf and sail into Western Australian waters. This afternoon join our expedition staff in the lounge for an informative introduction to the Kimberley before meeting your fellow travellers and friendly crew at the Captain’s Welcome Drinks. Day 2: King George River and Falls Today we discover the first of the Kimberley’s ‘big’ rivers, the mighty King George. Aboard Xplorer, our specially designed excursion vessel, we’ll explore scenic gorges and in our inflatable zodiacs we’ll cruise close to the base of magnificent King George Falls, the tallest single-drop waterfalls in Western Australia, towering some 80 metres above the river below. Later, we visit secluded Tranquil Bay for beach walking and exploration. Day 3: Vansittart Bay DC3 and Jar Island Join our Expedition Leader on a walk across salt flats to view the wreckage of a US Air Force DC3 which crash landed on the beach during World War II. Later, visit Jar Island and discover the island’s outstanding rock art gallery. Our Guest Lecturers will point out fine examples of the Kimberley’s mysterious Bradshaw Paintings (Gwion), dating back some 20,000 years. Day 4: Hathaway’s Hideaway and Mitchell Falls After anchoring in Winyalken Bay we travel ashore aboard Xplorer to explore the maze of natural sandstone caves known as Hathaway’s Hideaway. Later, helicopters are available for optional scenic flights over the Mitchell Plateau for close up views of the mighty four-tiered Mitchell Falls (additional expense). This evening enjoy a spectacular Indian Ocean sunset as we indulge in a gourmet Aussie Beach BBQ. Day 5: Bigge Island and Careening Bay Discover the rock art gallery on Bigge Island featuring fine examples of both Wandjina and Bradshaw art. Our 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 which was named by early explorer Phillip Parker King after his ship ‘HMC Mermaid’ was careened for repairs during his second voyage of discovery in the Kimberley. Our lecturers will lead us to the site of a remarkable boab tree bearing the inscription “HMC Mermaid – 1820″, still clearly visible almost 200 years later. Day 6: Prince Regent River and King Cascades We cruise the mighty Prince Regent River aboard Xplorer to breathtaking King Cascades, an unusual and picturesque waterfall cascading 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. Day 7: Montgomery Reef and Doubtful Bay Today savour a truly unforgettable moment as Montgomery Reef ‘rises’ out of the ocean as the tide ebbs. Join our Expedition Staff aboard the Xplorer and zodiacs to experience this natural phenomenon up close and discover the reef’s diverse marine life including turtles, manta rays and reef sharks. Later, cruise through scenic Doubtful Bay. Day 8: Raft Point and Ruby Falls Cruising through Kuri Bay, home of the south sea pearl industry, we travel ashore at imposing Raft Point and visit a secluded and very interesting Aboriginal rock art gallery to view Wandjina art and some of the Kimberley’s most well-preserved Bradshaw Paintings (Gwion). Later, explore Red Cone Creek and enjoy a leisurely swim at Ruby Falls. Day 9: Horizontal Falls and Buccaneer Archipelago Cruise through the Buccaneer Archipelago, home to over 800 islands. In Talbot Bay the region’s 12 metre tides create an amazing spectacle, the unique Horizontal Falls, described by legendary naturalist Sir David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders in the world”. The amazing power of the falls is revealed when the region’s 12 metre tides turn, forcing millions of litres of water to rush through the narrow gaps between cliffs. Board the zodiacs for an exhilarating ride through the falls. Later, explore Silica Beach on Hidden Island with its stunning white sands and crystal clear waters. Day 10: Lacepede Islands We cruise through Pender Bay and, subject to weather and tides, visit the Lacepede Islands, a series of low islands consisting of coarse sand and coral rubble lying atop 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 island’s 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 the Green Turtle, often seen nesting on the islands. This evening we reflect on this wonderful expedition with new-found friends as we enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Drinks. Day 11: Arrive in Broome 8:00am: Our incredible adventure along the Kimberley Coast concludes in Broome this morning. If you’re not transferring directly to the airport why not spend the day visiting world-famous Cable Beach or stroll the historic streets of Chinatown in central Broome. Reverse itinerary Broome to Darwin: Day 1: Depart Broome Day 2: Lacepede Islands Day 3: Horizontal Falls and Buccaneer Archipelago Day 4: Ruby Falls and Raft Point Day 5: Doubtful Bay and Montgomery Reef Day 6: Prince Regent River and King Cascades Day 7: Careening Bay and Bigge Island Day 8: Hathaway’s Hideaway and Mitchell Falls Day 9: Vansittart Bay DC3 and Jar Island Day 10: King George River and Falls Day 11: Arrive Darwin This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel.
Launched in 2005 Coral Discoverer set a new benchmark standard for luxury small ship cruising in Australia and the South Pacific. The state-of-the-art 1800-tonne Coral Discoverer embarks on expedition cruises around Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South-east Asia and the island archipelagos of Melanesia. Coral Discoverer is equipped with latest technology active stabilisers to ensure comfortable cruising in open waters and is fitted with state-of-the-art safety and navigation equipment and wireless internet facilities.
Coral Discoverer was built to the exacting international SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) standards and specifications by NQEA shipyard in Cairns, Australia with one aim in mind; to create the ultimate small ship cruising experience in the South Pacific. Australian flagged, and staffed entirely by an Australian and New Zealand crew, your cruise aboard Coral Discoverer will remain in your memory for a lifetime.