Journey to the end of the Earth
A luxe cruise through the Kimberley provides a front-row seat to the region’s wonders
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.