Muddied but unbowed, Silversea’s explorers discover the Kimberley

//Muddied but unbowed, Silversea’s explorers discover the Kimberley

It’s been a week of firsts, visiting Australia’s Kimberley region on board Silver Discoverer, and there were plenty more of them yesterday.
On a five-hour excursion by Zodiac up the Prince Regent River, I saw my first saltwater crocodile, and a pod of rare snub-nosed dolphins.
The croc was basking in the sun on a rock ledge at the side of the wide, arrow-straight river. Its fearsome array of pointed teeth could not have been whiter if it had a regular regime of dental care. They glistened in the sun as the menacing creature remained unconcerned by the flotilla of eight inflatables carrying dozens of camera-clicking visitors.
Unlike the larger specimen which lives further up-river at King’s Cascade – our destination for the day – which had attacked and killed American model Ginger Meadows in 1987.
Our expedition crew took great delight in relating the story of Ginger’s demise in every unsavoury detail. How much the tale was embellished it’s difficult to know, but one version had the 13-ft croc bringing Ginger back to the surface to display her as a trophy before diving to the bottom for the inevitable death roll.
When her body was later found by her companions from a chartered yacht, it was missing both arms, but was otherwise intact.
Chastened by the tale, our group kept every limb safely inside the Zodiacs while we grabbed pictures of the picture-perfect falls and as the drivers carefully negotiated the boats beneath the cooling cascade.
A brief stop for a swim at Camp Creek, further down the river, almost turned into something longer as the tide began to fall rapidly, threatening to leave the Zodiacs stranded.
Muddied but unbowed, the group managed to scramble back on board and the journey back to the ship was enlivened by the all-too-brief dolphin encounter.
Check out the pictures in my Facebook gallery.
The cruise had begun earlier in the week at Broome, Western Australia. We are scheduled to disembark at Darwin, in the Northern Territories, next Friday.
The first morning’s excursion was in Yampi Sound, home to some incredibly convoluted geological formations and a giant iron ore mine on Koolan Island, which explained the presence of bulk carriers at anchor in this otherwise secluded region.
With Discoverer anchoring in Talbot Bay the following morning, we went by Zodiacs to view the famed Horizontal Falls, which channel billions of gallons of water through two narrow gaps at each change of the tide.
David Attenborough has described them as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world,” and he must have been fortunate enough to have visited at spring tide.
We were there at neap, and while the movement was obvious – as much from the whirls and eddies in open water as from the rushing straits – it was difficult to justify the tag of “waterfall.” In my younger days, I tickled trout in more turbulent streams.
Nevertheless, we appreciated our driver’s determination as he gunned the outboard motor to take us through the second, narrower gorge into the placid creek beyond, and we whooped with delight as we rode back down like rather sedate slalom canoeists.
This is the third voyage of Silversea’s latest addition to its expedition fleet. Silver Discoverer was christened in Singapore a few weeks ago and is spending time in Australia before heading north through the Pacific to Russia’s remote far east and eventually to Alaska.
By my calculations there are about 97 passengers aboard – mostly Australian – and we are being tended to by 96 crew, including no fewer than 10 expedition staff.
The exploring and eating is an exhausting business – most passengers are tucked up in their cabins before 10 pm, and cocktail pianist Jorge has a lonely time in the Explorer Lounge.
I’m sure he realises it’s not him we came to see, but the wonders of the Kimberley. Today some passengers are taking an optional extra helicopter flight to the Mitchell Falls. We will all be back in the Zodiacs this afternoon to glide through the mangrove swamps, with more crocodile sightings expected.
And in the days ahead, a flight over the famed Bungle Bungle mountain range. I can’t wait.
* Please note: I am unable to post pictures here; follow the links to the galleries on my Facebook page.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:27+00:00 26 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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