Crashing waterfalls, remote rivers, burnished ochre cliffs and stunning rock art …There really is nowhere else on earth quite like our own Kimberley. And how better to discover it than aboard a luxury small ship cruising gently but purposefully through magnificent gorges and along a spectacular coastline, getting closer the wonders in a Zodiac inflatable boat.
The Kimberley is a wondrous part of Western Australia and it is the remote nature of the destination that has preserved that untouched splendour. One of the best ways to witness it and properly appreciate it is aboard a luxurious boutique cruise ship built for adventure.
And who better to experience with than highly-respected APT, with which Traveller is partnering for this special tour. I invite Traveller readers to join us on an 11-day Kimberley Coast cruise, visiting the area's most secluded wonders.
You will be in some impressive company, too. The trip from Darwin to Broome, starting with a night in Darwin on June 28, will be accompanied by the former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce, an Australian with a great love of her country, and a passion for outback Australia.
At an exclusive lunch in cosmopolitan Darwin at the start of expedition, at the city's hatted restaurant Hanuman, celebrated chef Jimmy Shu will talk about the unique flavours of the Top End and how he made a life and career for himself in this tropical melting pot of a city.
Darwin, of course, was the location for the devastating World War Two bombing by the Japanese. Dr Tom Lewis, a leading war historian with an intimate knowledge of the battles that took place not only in the Northern Territory capital but right along the coast to Broome, will deliver a series of talks on the subject.
Finally, Traveller writer and best-selling author Sue Williams will discuss the wonders of Australia's outback, the incredible people who've made it their home, and the thrills and spills of a way of life that still remains at the mercy of the elements.
The Kimberley is consistently voted one of Australia's top attractions, on the bucket list of many travellers around the world, and one the wildest, most untouched wonders on earth.
Here's your chance to see it with true experts deepening your understanding of its seascapes and landscape, its people and its history, and in a style and level of comfort that can't be matched. Of course, spaces on the cruise are limited so don't delay your booking to ensure a place.
Day 1 Thursday June 28
Settle into your Darwin accommodation and then enjoy a cocktail and canape function hosted by Dr Tom Lewis and Sue Williams. There you will meet your fellow guests ahead of your luxury adventure cruise aboard small-ship L'Austral, a welcome haven as you explore Darwin and the Kimberley coast with Tom and Sue as well as Dame Quentin Bryce.
Day 2 Friday, June 29
Darwin, city tour and lunch. Embark Ship.
Take a guided tour by coach of Darwin and its World War Two Japanese bombing sites hosted by military historian Dr Tom Lewis and travel writer and author Sue Williams. A special Darwin-flavoured welcome lunch will be at Hanuman, hosted by Jimmy Shu with Dame Quentin Bryce as special guest. Then transfer to your expedition ship for what promises to be an epic journey. Enjoy dinner on board as you set sail. B L D
Day 3 Saturday, June 30
Relax and enjoy a full day at sea perhaps taking a swim in your on-board pool, relaxing in one of the comfortable lounge areas or pampering yourself in the wellness centre. In the evening, listen to a talk by maritime expert and long-term world sailor Captain Peter Martin, APT's respected maritime historian and navigation expert. B L D
Day 4 Sunday, July 1
Koolama Bay, King George River and Falls.
Wake up in Koolama Bay, then arrive at King George River, where the highlight is sure to be King George Falls. The highest single drop falls in Western Australia, it plunges approximately 80 metres over a magnificent sandstone cliff. In the evening, enjoy an informal Q & A, moderated by Sue, with former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce about her travels around Australia, her love of the outback and for her country. She'll also take questions from the floor. B L D
Day 5 Monday, July 2
Vansittart Bay, Jar Island.
With your expedition team, and in the company of Tom, our expert military historian, walk across salt flats to view the wreckage of a US Air Force DC3 which crash landed on the beach during World War Two. Later, visit Jar Island and discover the island's outstanding rock art gallery. During your exploration here, you will see examples of the Kimberley's mysterious Bradshaw (Gwion Gwion) rock art paintings, dating back some 20,000 years. B L D
Day 6 Tuesday, July 3
Six kilometres or so from the mainland, Bigge Island is well known for its Indigenous rock art, created by the Wunambal people. In caves throughout the island, see paintings that display fascinating examples of first contact art and Wandjina figures. In the evening, military historian Tom will talk about the remarkable and little-known World War One and Two history along the coast between Darwin and Broome.B L D
Day 7 Wednesday, July 4
Prince Frederick Harbour, Hunter River, Mitchell Falls.
Arrive at Prince Frederick Harbour, home to soaring red cliffs and mangroves. With its extreme tide and pristine ecosystems, there is an incredible range of wildlife to discover here including saltwater crocodiles, mudskippers and birds. Explore the Hunter River and visit Naturalist Island where an optional helicopter excursion to Mitchell Falls departs (own expense). Enjoy dinner back on board your ship. Tom will talk about how to research your military family member or friend's war history. There'll be an opportunity to book appointments with him to discuss individual projects tracing family history.B L D
Day 8 Thursday, July 5
Embark on an unforgettable adventure today as the magnificent Montgomery Reef "rises'" out of the ocean as the tidal waters cascade down into the surrounding channels. Board your Zodiac to experience this natural phenomenon up close and discover the reef's diverse marine life. This evening, sit back and enjoy a talk and Q&A session about the incredible people and wonders of the Australian outback, presented by Traveller writer, author and tour guest Sue Williams. B L D
Day 9 Friday, July 6
Horizontal Falls, Talbot Bay.
Talbot Bay is known for its massive 12-metre tides that create an amazing spectacle, the unique Horizontal Falls. Subject to tidal conditions, you will embark on an exhilarating ride through the incredible falls on a specially designed high-powered fast boat. David Attenborough described the phenomena as "one the greatest natural wonders of the world." Keep your eyes open for the chance you may get to see some of the local Tawny Nurse Shark population. Back on board this evening, enjoy a delicious dinner. B L D
Day 10 Saturday, July 7
Doubtful Bay, Raft Point, Langgi.
Today you will cruise through Doubtful Bay and travel ashore at Raft Point. Land here and take a walk to a significant Wandjina rock art site. Afterwards, journey to Langgi and view its incredible ancient warriors, which are sandstone pillars that vividly represent warriors killed in a Dreamtime battle. B L D
Day 11 Sunday, July 8
Adele Island, Buccaneer Archipelago.
Arrive at Adele Island, an important location for breeding seabirds including the Lesser Frigatebird and the Brown Booby. Cruise through the Buccaneer Archipelago, home to more than 800 islands. There'll also be an afternoon tea hosted by Dame Quentin Bryce and moderated by Sue with a Q & A on her time and travels as Governor-General. B L D
Day 12 Monday, July 9
Disembark Ship, Depart Broome.
As your ship approaches Broome this morning, Tom will talk about the special place Broome and its coastline holds in the war history of Australia, the Broome raid and the ruins of the aircraft that lie beneath the waves. We'll then disembark the ship, enjoy a Broome tour, hosted by Tom and Sue, with farewell lunch at the legendary Cable Beach Club. Fairfax Traveller guests are transferred to Broome airport for departure. B L D
TOUR DETAILS AND INCLUSIONS
BOOK NOW SPOTS ARE LIMITED
THE DATES June 28, to July 9, 2018
THE DURATION 12 days, with one day in Darwin and 11 days Darwin to Broome aboard the luxury small ship L'Austral
THE COST $12,140 per person, twin share – based on a Prestige Stateroom (Deck 4) aboard L'Austral. All staterooms/suites have a balcony
- All transfers between airport/hotel/ship
- All meals and complimentary beverages on board the cruise (as well as those meals and beverages outlined in the itinerary)
- All shore excursions/sightseeing, including using Zodiac vessels to explore up close and in-depth
- Expert 12-member APT Expedition Team who guide all sightseeing onboard the cruise. The team includes two APT cruise directors
CALL 1800 655 440 TO SECURE YOUR PLACE ON THE TOUR. Quote tour code: GKLADB12FT to book.
Cruising itineraries are subject to change due to tidal conditions and may be modified on board your ship. Weather events may cause disruption to itineraries. The timing of expert talks may vary with changes in the itinerary. Travel insurance is mandatory on all cruises. The activity level is moderate – this cruise includes mainly easy walks over uneven terrain, with some optional more challenging hikes and regular use of Zodiac vessels.
YOUR INCLUDED EXPERIENCES
- Ten night cruise aboard the stylish expedition small ship L'Austral
- Daily excursions on Zodiac vessels
- Learn about this stunning region from your 12-member Expedition Team
- Transfers to and from your small ship
YOUR ONBOARD ACCOMMODATION
Choose from a range of staterooms and suites, all with private balconies, aboard L'Austral, the most luxurious ship to cruise the coastline. There is an exclusive all-day beverages package.
YOUR TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
Visit King George Falls, where the river makes a spectacular plunge over an ancient cliff. Witness the amazing tidal Horizontal Falls. Absorb some of the world's oldest Indigenous rock art. Admire the natural wonder of Montgomery Reef.