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Cruising the Kimberley
Cruising the Kimberley

Kimberley Wilderness Cruise Part I

Thursday, August 4, 2005

David's Kimberley journey continues in the True North, the most modern and luxurious cruise boat of its type in Australia. The state-of-the-art 50-metre cruiser was purpose-designed and built for exploring the remote waters of the Kimberley and Pilbara.

It has a crew of 16 and can comfortably accommodate up to 36 passengers and has three operational decks. It has four Explorer class staterooms, six River class luxury double cabins and eight Ocean class deluxe twin cabins, all with private ensuite. There is a forward sitting room and bar and large entertainment area midships — complete with internet café. There is a sundeck and an observation lounge which allows passengers to see every bit of passing scenery to full advantage.

Two chefs are on hand to prepare gourmet meals which are served in the lower deck dining room which offers uninterrupted views. Each day pre-dinner drinks and snacks are served on the deck as the sun sinks.

The vessel comes equipped with an on-board Bell 407 helicopter which takes up to six passengers on scenic flights over waterfalls, rivers and gorges, giving them the opportunity to enjoy heli-fishing in some of the country's most remote parts.

There are also six seven-metre expedition boats for fishing, crabbing, bushwalking viewing ancient rock art and exploring, complete with tour guide.

The captain dropped anchor a few hundred metres off Vansittart Bay's 30 kilometres of sandy beaches. The remote bay was synonymous with Truscott Air Base during WWII and planes, returning from missions, were occasionally diverted from airfields in the Northern Territory due to electrical storms. An American crewed DC3 en route to evacuate women and children from Broome skidded during an attempted emergency landing on a mudflat, and remains there, remarkably intact.

Minor injuries were incurred and had they run into Pidge, the bush tucker man, they would have at least eaten well. His knowledge covers what can be safely eaten, Australian flora and geology and lots of little interesting facts about the area. There's a feast to be enjoyed out there!

A crocodile-free place where passengers are taken for a heli-picnic is Eagle Falls. Apart from the breathtaking beauty provided by nature, you will see the Bradshaw Art, possibly the world's oldest rock art painting.

For many years it has been believed that the oldest are in France's Grotte Chauvet — carbon dating putting them at around 30,000 years old — but the Bradshaw pigments are so ancient they have become part of the rock itself, making dating impossible. A partly fossilised wasp nest attached to one of the paintings was dated at 17,000 years old, so far the only indication of their true age. Conservative estimates put them to 50,000 years old.

The incredibly sophisticated paintings were found by Joseph Bradshaw in 1891 after he became lost on an expedition. Different from any other Aboriginal art they more resemble that of African Masai warriors.

The True North, despite its size, draws just two metres of water and can cross the massive sandbars at the mouth of the King George River. Everything around you is spectacular — cliffs, gorges, mangrove lined bays, enormous sand dunes and rugged sandstone.

King George Falls plunge 100 metres over a sandstone cliff into tidal waters and are in full force from late December to early May. You can climb to the top of the falls, Bat Cave and Fountain of Youth.

A cruise up the Lynne River was just one more spectacular thing to do. Lush green countryside, a delicious lunch and a gentle cast of the fishing line while contemplating the beauty of the last few days — something that will stay with everyone for the rest of their lives.

Location

Australia's rugged north-west.

Cost

Six-night Kimberley Wilderness Cruises start at $7945 per person. Accommodation, meals, tours, excursions and equipment are included. They run between March and September.

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

More information

North Star Cruises Australia
Carnarvon Street
Broome WA 6725
Ph: (08) 9192 1829
Fax: (08) 9192 1890
www.northstarcruises.com.au
cruise@northstarcruises.com.au

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