LOST IN LUXURY
IN THE REMOTE KIMBERLEY A LUXURY CRUISER IS THE PERFECT WAY TO SEE SOME SPECTACULAR SIGHTS
The wild Kimberley coast’s waterfalls are best seen by luxury cruiser.
LIKE a giant dragonfly, the helicopter hovers and whirrs above the Hunter River. The smooth, turquoise vein of water running through the red land of the Kimberley is interrupted only by the white speck of a cruise boat. Slowly, the chopper lowers onto the helipad of the luxury cruiser True North – surely this is the ultimate welcome mat? My four fellow passengers, soon to be joined by just 26 others, step out onto the boat, blinded by the sunshine and deafened by the propeller.
Two hours ago we were at the Pincdata Resort in Broome, lazing under boab trees by the pool. Then we were picked up for a short trip in a six-seater light plane, flying over the Kimberley, across tiny islands, mangrovelined rivers and rainforest. At Mitchell Plateau we transferred to the True North’s helicopter for the final 15 minutes of the journey. It’s not yet lunchtime and the adventure has already begun.
Other guests, who were shuttled over earlier this morning, have embarked on a four-hour hike to Jackson Falls – a “walk” with a difficulty rating of 10 out of 10. Any notions of a relaxing Kimberley cruise are put to rest. The average age onboard is about 55, and I later learn of
their active lifestyles, ranging from trekking trips to triathlons. Stereotypes about cruising are instantly sunk.
The day’s remaining activities pull the pace down a notch, with a choice of sightseeing on one of the six tenders, fishing for barramundi, which prove stubbornly elusive. “They should call it casting, not fishing,” quips Ross from Victoria’s Yarra Valley.
In the morning I join another dawn-patroller on the bow for sunrise. Graham, a Perth accountant, is on his fifth cruise with True North and has just booked onto three more. Cups of tea in hand, we try to articulate the magical light, the supreme serenity, the rough and rocky landscape. After breakfast and fishing (still no barra), Captain Brad inches the boat up against the terraced waterfall, King Cascade. We’ve been advised to wear our swimming costumes, but don’t fully understand why until we’re so close to the fall that it’s raining down on top of us. As if that’s not wet enough, two tenders head out to – and under – the nearby Amphitheatre Waterfall. Being hammered by the cooling blast in the outback heat is a refreshing treat. Then we’re off for a wind-in-the-air zoom along the Prince Regent River before speeding back to the boat in time for sunset.
The next day is the trip’s highlight, incorporating a “heli-picnic” at a remote oasis accessible only by air. Rob, our pilot, who found the spot a few years ago, shuttles everyone to Melaleuca Falls, landing on a cliff overlooking a swimming hole. Shaded by paperbark trees, the setting seems as if it was carved out of the most rugged chunk of paradise. After a steak and seafood barbecue, we take a five-minute walk to a larger waterfall where we climb up to sit on a rock ledge behind the cascade. When the thunderous gush gets too much, we jump like children into the water below.
The natural marvels continue the following morning, which is spent exploring Montgomery Reef, home to green turtles, birds, sharks and dugongs. Our guide Jarrad, who was born and bred in the Kimberley, points out the various species and explains the workings of the
The True North and its helicopter at King George falls.
Kings Cascade waterfall.
A stateroom on the True North.