CRUISE SHIPS EYE UP NORTH WEST.

Pilbara News - - Lifestyle - Niall McIl­roy

There may be no bet­ter year than this to cruise the Kim­ber­ley coast. Fed by the liq­uid largesse brought by a heav­ier than usual wet sea­son, the wa­ter­falls that stud the Kim­ber­ley are gush­ing, the land, once dry and cracked, is emer­ald cloaked.

It is vi­brant and alive – fresh but still a repos­i­tory that is as old as the Earth.

Within this sanc­tu­ary the land is riven with an­cient gorges, en­riched by rock art. The Kim­ber­ley is un­mis­tak­ably wilder­ness but now it’s a lot eas­ier to reach and par­tic­u­larly so from the ocean.

An an­cient con­ti­nent shows a fresh face.

Ma­jor cruise lines are in­clud­ing the Kim­ber­ley in their itin­er­ar­ies this year — the big­gest cruis­ing sea­son yet be­gins along the Kim­ber­ley coast.

But small to medium-sized ships can ease into bays — rather than cruis­ing past, they ex­plore deeper, spear­ing into this coast, me­an­der­ing among the is­lands of the ar­chi­pel­ago, buc­ca­neer­ing be­tween the beauty spots that punc­tu­ate each itin­er­ary.

Fa­cil­i­ties are first-class on these ships but guests will set off in ten­ders and smaller ves­sels to see the best of the re­gion; Hor­i­zon­tal Falls, Mont­gomery Reef, Mitchell Falls, King Cas­cade, Raft Point, King Ge­orge Falls are usu­ally all in­cluded. Add to that, the hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence of see­ing rock art tens of thou­sands of years old, and given con­text by ex­pert lec­tur­ers, as well as vis­its to pearl farms — ves­tiges of a more re­cent his­tory — or fish­ing time at wa­ter­holes which teem with bar­ra­mundi.

There are lo­cal op­er­a­tors, too, of­fer­ing both or­gan­ised itin­er­ar­ies and char­tered cruises.

The knowl­edge of these peo­ple who know this land and sea is in­valu­able and im­mer­sive.

Pic­ture: Niall McIl­roy

There are many nooks to ex­plore. Small ships can get closer and will of­ten launch ten­ders to get nearer still.

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