Jour­ney to the end of the Earth

A luxe cruise through the Kim­ber­ley pro­vides a front-row seat to the re­gion’s won­ders

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - GREAT AUSSIE HOLIDAY - Natasha Dra­gun

IN MY MIND, there’s nowhere in Aus­tralia – per­haps on the planet – quite as raw and rav­ish­ing as the Kim­ber­ley. Span­ning 420,000sq km across Western Aus­tralia’s top cor­ner, it’s a place where na­ture is at its most ex­treme, writ large in thun­der­ing wa­ter­falls, record-break­ing tides and sheer lime­stone cliffs that ap­pear to cleave the edge of the earth. And then there are the vast stretches of noth­ing­ness – no towns, cars, street­lights, mo­bile phone tow­ers. Just stri­a­tions of red and dusty green stretch­ing to the horizon, the pierc­ing pal­ette oc­ca­sion­ally bro­ken by the gash of a gorge or a wend­ing river.

If there was ever a des­ti­na­tion to make you feel com­pletely in­signif­i­cant, in a good way, the Kim­ber­ley is it.

The vast set­ting and sparse road net­work make it al­most im­pos­si­ble to ex­plore on land, which is how I find my­self float­ing along croc­filled es­tu­ar­ies aboard 36-passenger True North, an ul­tra-luxe yacht with a he­li­copter on the up­per deck and dive tanks at the stern, staged for when we leave the “sal­ties” be­hind.

As nice as the crea­ture com­forts are, the true ap­peal of this ship is the space she af­fords, ge­o­graph­i­cally and men­tally. Over two lan­guid weeks we take in some of the coun­try’s most re­mote reaches, rev­el­ling in the quiet, mar­vel­ling at land­scapes few ever glimpse.

It only takes a few days for my mind to find calm, at peace with the dis­con­nec­tion from tech­nol­ogy, wel­com­ing the fa­mil­iar­ity of the ship’s daily rou­tine. Each morn­ing we wake to a des­ti­na­tion more dra­matic than the last, of­ten pad­ding bare­foot to watch the day un­fold from the bow.

With the mo­tor off, the only sound is the whis­per of drag­on­fly wings over the sur­face of the wa­ter; per­haps the pop of or­ange mud crabs fos­sick­ing in man­groves.

We board ten­ders and zip to shore, clam­ber­ing over boul­ders to dive into crocfree wa­ter­holes. Then we drift along creeks,

Ex­tremes of na­ture make the Kim­ber­ley wild and won­der­fully di­verse.

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