Through Gorgeous George Gorge to climb the falls and swim a billabong

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Many of the rivers bays, headlands and other topographical features in the Kimberley are named after various members of European royalty from the 19th century, the time when the region was being mapped for the first time.
The fact that one of the first explorers of this remote part of Western Australia was a chap called King adds confusion to the regal connection.
It’s a shame that young Prince George could not have been with us today on Silver Discoverer’s visit to the King George River to wrap up the Royal Visit to Australia.
I’m pretty sure he would have been impressed.
The King George Falls are one of the iconic Kimberley images. To get there from Silver Discoverer, anchored in Koolama Bay, involved a 10 mile trip by Zodiac. For the first time during this voyage we woke to rain, and a thunderstorm that both illuminated and darkened our 6.00 am breakfast.
Showers continued throughout the morning, and expedition guide Tim was occasionally driven to position our boat under a convenient overhang at the foot of the 260-foot sandstone cliffs.
All the better for us to take in the impressive sight of a gorge which stretched as far as the eye could see, with an occasional crocodile surfacing from between swarms of jellyfish, and predatory osprey soaring overhead.
One intrepid group of Silversea passengers had set off ahead of us to go ashore, climb to the top of the falls, and take a swim in a billabong. I was content to remain at sea level, taking in the view of twin waterfalls plunging from the plateau either side of a jutting headland of brooding red sandstone.
In complete contrast, the previous day had seen us brave searing 100-degree heat to go ashore in Swift Bay and scramble up the rocks to see two galleries of Aboriginal rock paintings.
If the word “gallery” brings to mind acres of polished pine floors underfoot and cooling fans wafting overhead, then think again.
The collections of Wandjina art and Bradshaw figures – together within a few hundred yards of each other but separated by thousands of years of history – are displayed in situ.
Beneath the cliff walls and ledges which sheltered the artists who had created them, we stood on centuries-old accumulations of clamshells and campfires – more mundane evidence of human occupation than the pictures which have reacted with the sandstone to become an integral part of the rock
The Wandjina paintings depict powerful spirits who control the weather – they may even have been responsible for today’s storm. The Bradshaw figures, named after the farmer who discovered and recorded them in 1891, could be more than 20,000 years old and are claimed to be the world’s earliest depictions of the human form.
In this land of wonders that are mercifully untarnished by man, they were a rare display of human presence. A very different presence from the occasional visitor arriving by luxury cruise ship.
FOLLOW the links above to view pictures of the King George Falls and Aboriginal rock art

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:27+00:00 28 April 2014|Cruise destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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