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Darwin to Broome on Oceanic Discoverer 26JUL13

August 13, 2013

  

25th of July – Day 1 – Darwin

We safely arrive in Darwin after a four hour thirty minute flight with Jetstar. Collecting the luggage in Darwin is an extremely simple process and we choose to catch a cab to our hotel, Mantra on the Esplanade rather than the shuttle they offer. Price is not too much of a difference.

Being a Thursday night the Mindle Markets are on so it was a great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and see Darwin’s magical sunset along with getting something to eat. At the market there is plenty of variety we chose Satay followed by Paella and then finished off with some Dutch Pancakes topped with apple strudel and ice-cream. This was just going to be the start of things to come with many more beautiful meals and sunsets to follow.

Keep in mind that the market is dry so if you want to enjoy a drink whilst watching the sunset brings your own.

Many of the locals do and some we saw were “enjoying themselves” thoroughly.

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26th of July – Day 2 – Depart Darwin

This morning at 8.00am we board the Oceanic Discoverer which will be our home for the next ten day as we set sail for Broome and along the way explore the Kimberly and all is has to offer.

The first day is getting acclimatised with the ship and the usual life jacket safety drill plus getting acquainted with fellow passengers who all are interesting and extremely friendly.

We are briefed through the day by the expert lectures who will make our trip come to life with their interesting stories and abundance of knowledge.

Today was also about having our first taste of the food and from what we were served we will not be disappointed. Lunch was as assortment of cold meats and salad along with a pasta option. This was going to be consistent throughout the voyage with everyone always looking forward to sitting down to a light healthy meal.

The afternoon was highlighted by the first of many lectures and this one was an introduction to the Kimberley’s which set us up for what we were about to experience over the next ten days.

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27th of July – Day 3 – King George River

After breakfast we boarded the Xplorer and made our way up the might King George River. We got our first view of this spectacular part of Australia with its amazing vertical cliffs incredible blue skies.
We cruised and got up close to mangroves and were on the lookout for Dugongs and turtles but unfortunately we saw neither.
We did spot though our first Offsprey nest which is cleverly constructed high on the cliff tops so they can view the country side for food and predators. This was going to be one of many nests that we saw in the Kimberley.
We continued down the river until we reached our destination. The King George Falls.  As we are in the dry season the water flow is less than it would be in April / May but none the less they were spectacular. We boarded the zodiacs and dunked our heads under the waterfalls which were still powerful, a wonderful experience.
We were fortunate to stay in the Zodiac and speed back down the river and through the gorges to the Oceanic Discoverer for afternoon tea.
Mark then put on a presentation of Bird Bingo which was a fun way to learn about the birds that we were going to see over the next few days. This presentation certainly held us in good stead for bird watching for the duration of the journey.

King George Falls Oceanic Discoverer King George Falls Osprey Nest King George Gorge XplorerKing George Falls 2King George Falls 1   King Goerge Falls Zodiac

28th of July – Day 4 – Vansittart Bay and Jar Island

After breakfast the Xplorer departed for Jar Island for the first opportunity to view rock art. It was a bit of a scramble to get to the site but it was certainly worth it. It would not be the last opportunity though to see Indigenous Art over the next eight days.

After lunch the Xplorer took us to the Anjo Peninsular where we landed and after a short walk was saw the wreck of a downed C-53 WWII airplane. It is in amazing condition considering it has endured the harsh conditions of the Kimberley since it crashed back in 1942.

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29th of July – Day 5 –  Winyalkan – Bigge Island – Maret Islands

We had an early departure this morning at 7.45 the Xplorer took off for a cruise amongst the bays of Winyalkan Island where the conditions were so still. We saw plenty of bird life and the silence gave us an indication how remote we were. We landed at Hathaway’s Hideaway which was named after the wife of the one of the first people to explore this bay. We landed and explored the caves and the beautiful rock formations.

After lunch we headed to Bigge Island which had some beautiful views and excellent rock art of the Wandjina style that are the supreme spirit ancestors of the indigenous people of the Kimberley. All these sites are so well preserved.

Once we returned to the ship we enjoyed afternoon tea and then a presentation from Tim the Turtle Man one of our intrepid guides on Sea Turtles which was fascinating.

Tonight we enjoyed drinks on the deck and experienced the most beautiful sunset that I have ever seen. Even the crew were taking pictures.

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30th of July – Day 6 – Prince Frederick Harbour – Mitchell Falls

Earlier in the trip we were given the opportunity to put our names down for a helicopter flight to and landing at Mitchell Falls. We took off at 8.00am after being shuttled to a tiny beach where we were met by a six seater helicopter. After a twenty minute flight over the Mitchell Plateau we hovered over the falls for a photo opportunity prior to landing. Our guide Steve then took us to some magnificent vantage points for more photos and a chance to take the beauty of this picturesque site. Paying the additional money to land and take two hours to explore Mitchell Falls was worth every cent.

Upon returning to the ship we were able to relax and catch up on some reading. After lunch there was an opportunity to go fishing and guess who caught the largest one.

Later that day a BBQ was set up on Naturalist Island Beach which turned out to be a real highlight. A bar was set up where we enjoyed drinks plus later a sumptuous BBQ and watched another amazing sunset. Today was a day to treasure.

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Naturalist OE Naturalist BBQ Naturalist OE Sunset

31st of July – Day 7 – Careening Bay – Prince Regent River & Kings Cascade.

Once again after breakfast we boarded the Xplorer and headed for historic Careening Bay where we visited the famous “Mermaid Tree” which was inscribed by early explorer Phillip Parker King who sailed the HMS Mermaid in these waters in the 1800’s

After lunch we took the Xplorer in search of crocodiles and birdlife down the Prince Regent River and along to the amazing King Cascade which is always flowing and is famous for a tragic crocodile attack that took American Model Ginger Meadows in 1987. We got a chance to board a zodiac and take a shower under the falls which certainly was refreshing.

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1st of August – Day 8 – Montgomery Reef – Raft Point & Three Ways

After another beautiful sunrise and a nourishing breakfast we boarded the Explorer to the significant Aboriginal site named Raft Point. Disembarking the Explorer was not a simple task with many slippery rocks on the beach making it quite a challenge.
The walk to view the rock art was up a steep path which we were well warned and it did offer some beautiful views back over the Montgomery Islands. The art we were shown had been recently been touched up by descendants and will be featured on an upcoming BBC documentary called “The Coast.”

After successfully navigating our way down to the beach and boarding the Explorer was cruised around “Bird Rock” which apparently is named as birds quite like to land on it. It was also used as an Aboriginal initiation site where young boys were cast upon it and if they survived a couple of months they then became men amongst their tribe.

After another beautiful lunch we then boarded the Explorer for the much anticipated Montgomery Reef. Now we were forewarned that as it was a neat tide the reef was not going to dramatically rise as much out of the ocean as it usually does but the pay off was beautifully clear waters that showcased the abundance of marine life that inhabits the reef.
In a short ride on the zodiac we saw shark, sea snakes, sting ray, bat fish and so many turtles large and small we could not have counted them accurately. The crew were saying that they had never seen it so clear and we were very lucky indeed. It was a great day that my pictures are not going to do it justice.
Another beautiful sunset

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2nd of August – Day 9 – Cyclone Creek & Horizontal Falls

Moored in beautiful Talbot Bay we took the Explorer for a short journey into stunning Cyclone Creek. The geology is an incredible site with the folding of the rocks having to been seen to be believed. One of the guests who recently had returned from the “Three Gorges” in China mentioned this site was much more spectacular.
We motored for a couple of hours and took in the beautiful scenery and spotted numerous birds which made the mangroves their home.

Upon returning to the ship we were greeted by six Tawny Nurse Sharks which were quite content to hang around the rear of the ship. The Captain was brave enough to give them a pat. A unique experience for all aboard.

After lunch we boarded the Explorer again and made our way to the Horizontal Falls. With the Neat Tide they were not at their ferocious best but boarding the zodiacs and screaming through the narrow gaps it was truly exhilarating. The kids would have loved it.

Another beautiful sunset and a tasty meal for dinner. We are certainly well fed and in need of a bit of exercise at this stage of the journey.

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 3rd of August – Day 10 – Crocodile Creek – Nares Point

We are coming close to the end of our journey and we have not yet been able to enjoy a swim in the incredibly blue waters of the Kimberley. Apart from sharks and crocodiles I see no reason why the crew were so reluctant to let us have a dip.
Well they certainly made up with it with a visit to the ironically named Crocodile Creek. This fresh water pool and falls were spectacular. The water was incredibly clear and everybody enjoyed stripping off and taking the plunge. Another highlight.

Upon returning to the ship we then had the afternoon to relax on the top deck and take a dip in the spa, read a book and chat to our new friends that we had met on our journey. Did I mention that the weather has been perfect?

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4th of August – Day 11 – Lacepede Islands & Whale Watching

Today was our last full day on the Oceanic Discoverer. We were to cruise all day which I initially was disappointed in as I really enjoyed our short voyages on the Xplorer but it did not take long to change my mind.

We practically spent the whole time on the lookout for Humpback Whales that were breaching all around the ship. When we could not spot a whale a pod of dolphins would start escorting the ship. Amazingly we spotted several huge sea snakes and Manta Rays. The time flew and we all did not want it to stop. Whenever the Bridge spotted a whale it would make an announcement, slow down and head towards the action.

The last evening on board we were treated to a cocktail party on the deck just off Cable Beach where we shared stories, swapped phone numbers and addresses and took photos whilst the sun went down for the last time.

I can thoroughly recommend anyone to take a cruise aboard the Oceanic Discoverer or its sister ship the Coral Princess as in my opinion it is the best method to explore the Kimberley Coastline. I will not forget the colours of the rocks, sea and sky. There must be no other place like it on earth and if there is I would love to visit there too.

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Click on this link to see a quick video presentation of the journey. http://mibitz.com/video/page/100731 and here for a link to a YouTube presentation of the Oceanic Discoverer.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnAcvB3dv8U#t=142

 

 

 

From → Gary

One Comment
  1. Trish Fisher permalink

    Mmmmm……sounds great and close to home…….enjoy. Trish Fish

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