Summary : Nothing can fully prepare you for the dramatic contrasts of Australia’s northwest, rich in Aboriginal culture and galleries of ancient artwork. Towards the west, in the historic pearling town of Broome, the colors of nature are vibrant and intense: rich red earth, azure blue seas and brilliant white sand beaches. North of Broome lies the ragged Kimberley coast, a place you can only comprehend from the sea. Rugged gorges, inlets, and waterfalls plunging 100 meters all combine for an awe-inspiring experience you simply can't have by traveling overland. This itinerary has been enhanced to include complimentary flight seeing over the famous Bungle Bungle ranges.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking
Receive a complimentary flight over the scenic Bungle Bungle ranges.
$999,999,999 to $0
Darwin is Australia’s closest city to the equator and the gateway to the Top End. After the city was wiped out by Cyclone Tracy in 1974, it was rebuilt as Australia’s cosmopolitan northernmost tropical capital. Beyond the city lies Litchfield National Park (about a two hour drive) and to the southeast the teeming wetlands of Australia’s largest national park, Kakadu. Much architecture remains from the city’s early periods, with museums, markets and an incredible diversity of restaurants to keep visitors entertained.
The harbor foreshore area is a great place to discover the city’s maritime links. Take a relaxing cruise on an old pearl lugger, a thrilling flight in a seaplane or a gentle hovercraft trip. Spend a day out fishing for barramundi, jewfish, golden snapper and threadfin salmon, or go for the adventure of scuba diving around shipwrecks. At sunset, savor a taste of Asia’s night markets at Mindil Beach, where you can browse the food stalls for a picnic dinner on the beach.
On arrival at Com, clearing Customs and Immigration will give an opportunity to go ashore, and then immediately depart for the next Australian port.
Enjoy the time at sea to take advantage of onboard amenities, including a gym with sweeping ocean views, state-of-the-art lecture theater and Jacuzzi on the Sun Deck.
Wyndham is the starting point for a host of adventure opportunities and is surrounded by some of the most spectacular landforms, rivers and wetlands in the Kimberley. The frontier township of Kununurra, the green capital of the north, is about an hour’s drive inland and owes its verdant surrounds to the largest manmade lake on the Australian mainland; the nearby Lake Argyle and the smaller Lake Kununurra. The region is also famous for the Argyle Diamond mine, the world’s primary source of rare pink diamonds.
Flight seeing over the World Heritage listed Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park affords a breathtaking perspective of these unique formations. The exhilarating flight is created especially for experiencing all the best sights the region has to offer, including the Diversion Dam Wall, and the Ord River/Packsaddle Irrigation Areas, to Lake Kununurra and the Carr Boyd Ranges down to Lake Argyle. If you would like an alternate activity to the flight, you can opt instead for a river cruise to Lake Argyle.
Today, Orion will drop anchor in Koolama Bay. The 12-kilometer journey up the King George River reveals some of the world's most spectacular scenery and a wealth of bird species. The almost vertical sheer canyon walls have been eroded over millions of years and look like stacks of sandstone reminiscent of a child's building blocks. The King George River drains the Gardner Plateau and the falls are the highest single-drop falls in the whole of the Kimberley. Whether you experience the mighty thundering of the falls early in the season, or have the chance to get up close and personal later in the year, you'll be in awe of the sight.
Zodiacs and tenders will cruise up the stunning sandstone canyon that culminates in the twin drops of King George Falls and convey you back again to Orion. For those looking for a bit more adventure, you will be able to take a walk to the top of the falls and have the opportunity to enjoy a swim. This is quite a steep, difficult walk with lots of loose uneven ground underfoot and all participants will need high levels of fitness and mobility.
After arrival in Vansittart Bay, you will go ashore via Zodiac to a beach landing on Jar Island. There, your Expedition Team will take you on a short walk, past fascinating rock formations, to the site of outdoor art gallery of Gwion Gwion (otherwise known as Bradshaw) Aboriginal art. The walk to the art site over uneven ground is relatively easy with only one small rock ledge to negotiate, however the access to the majority of the art is a little difficult and includes scrambling over large boulders and crawling under rock overhangs. The reward is a stunning gallery of this ancient and mystical art form.
Named after Joseph Bradshaw, the first European person to record them in 1891, the rock images are hard to date. It is believed they were created at least 17,000 years ago with some theories indicating they could be even older, potentially up to over 50,000 years ago when humans first explored this continent. If this is the case, the images are possibly the oldest known to man. Of the two primary art forms found along the Kimberley coastline – the Gwion Gwion and Wandjina - the latter is more contemporary than the older Gwion Gwion. The Gwion Gwion is known for its symmetrical, mystical and graceful forms, depicting highly decorated figures.
Arguably one of the most scenic parts of the Kimberley coast, Prince Frederick Harbor and the Hunter River are lined with green rainforest, mangroves and soaring red cliffs. Cliffs at the river mouth are some 200 meters high and to the north Mt. Anderson rises to an impressive 480 meters. Orion will anchor just off Naturalist Island in Prince Frederick Harbor. From this location, you will undertake Zodiac expeditions into the Mangrove environment of the Hunter River and its tributaries. Your expert Expedition Team will share their knowledge with you as you explore the area keeping a constant lookout for wildlife.
For those wishing to explore some of the Kimberley’s vast interior, today presents a wonderful opportunity. The distance from Naturalist Island to the famous Mitchell Falls & Plateau is about 50 kilometer and you’ll fly over some spectacular terrain. From the air you’ll notice the natural bush landscape is littered with an unexpected feature – the palm! Livistona eastonii predominate and grow in the open eucalypt forest.
Arriving at high tide, you'll see very little of Montgomery Reef. However as the tide drops rapidly away a raging torrent of water, cascading off the top of this 400 hectare reef, erupts as miles of surrounding reef appears to slowly rise out of the ocean. A Zodiac will maneuver you into a channel in the reef as water cascades down on either side. It's the perfect spot to watch cormorants, egrets and sandpipers forage for sea life trapped on the surface of the reef. Below the waterline opportunistic sea turtles, reef sharks and many larger fish also take advantage of this feast.
After landing ashore by Zodiac at Raft Point, your expedition leader will guide you on a climb up to a saddle of rock that forms nothing short of a spectacular outdoor Aboriginal art gallery. The art is an account of the mythical Wandjina clan on the 'Great Fish Chase.' There are images of the Wandjina spirits with their distinctive haloes and dugong, crocodiles, fish and snakes. One of the Wandjina galleries is easily accessed once you reach the top of the hill; another is a little more difficult to access. Sturdy footwear and good levels of fitness and mobility will be required to successfully undertake this walk.
The Horizontal Waterfalls in the Buccaneer Archipelago are a product of the huge tides in the region, and the effect is created by the rapid tidal fall on the ocean-side of gaps in the cliffs. When conditions are right it is possible for a "waterfall" up to three meters high to form as the waters trapped on the landward side cascade out through the narrow gap to the ocean side. A flotilla of Zodiacs will take you for an exhilarating trip to witness the phenomenon of the falls. Later in the day, join expedition team members on a Zodiac excursion to Cyclone Bay where the tortured geological folds of what was once seabed will be explained.
Located just off Koolan Island, and known for the BHP iron ore mine which operated for several decades on the island, this geological finger of sandstone protruding into the ocean provides great opportunities for Zodiac cruising and guided walks along the beach.
The layered sandstone show buckling and folding, evidence of millions of years of geological forces. Nearby Crocodile Creek defies its name, and due to several vertical embankments remains "crocodile free" allowing the chance to take advantage of the cool freshwater to relax and beat the Kimberley heat.
The charismatic town of Broome has a colorful history and a unique, cosmopolitan feel, which stems from its early pearling days when over 400 luggers plied the coast. The town is full of contrasts: stroll along kilometers of pristine white sand and swim in the clear water of Cable Beach or skim across tidal flats aboard a hovercraft to Gantheaume Point, home of the 130-million-year-old Dinosaur Footprints. Visit the Paspaley Pearls Boutique to sip champagne at an exclusive private viewing or take a walk along the white beaches and impossibly blue ocean.
Spend some time uncovering the town's history at the Broome Historical Society Museum or reflect on the dangers of the early days of diving at the Japanese Shinto Cemetery, final resting place for over 900 pearl divers. The fishing is great in Broome, so board a fishing boat or simply try your hand at landing a big one from the deep water jetty. And if you enjoy bushwalking, the Minyirr Park has a number of self-guided trails.
Please note these voyages are made up of two international sailings and will be ticketed as such. One way pricing to/from Com is also available.
Ports of call and itinerary may be subject to weather and tidal conditions, and is subject to change.
Reverse Itinerary: (Broome, Western Australia to Darwin, Northern Territory)
4/28/2013, 5/18/2013, 6/7/2013, 6/27/2013, 7/17/2013, 8/8/2013, 8/25/2013
Optional Excursions: Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details on optional excursions including, but not limited to: King George scenic helicopter flight, Mitchell Falls helicopter expedition, fast boat through the falls at Horizontal Falls, and Broome discovery tour.
Accommodations as booked; cruise transportation; scenic flight over the Bungle Bungle ranges; all meals onboard; 24-hour room service; entertainment and educational programs; use of ship's sporting equipment and facilities; port and handling charges; Zodiac excursions and tender transfers; access to the ship's library; government fees and taxes; services of 75 experienced crew.
Airfare; items of a personal nature, including but not limited to: travel and medical insurance, laundry charges, shopping onboard, bar expenses, hair dressing and massage treatments, optional shore experiences, medical treatment, telephone and internet charges.