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Why a Kimberley expedition ship is such a great idea

Australia’s Kimberley region is around three times the size of England and bigger than Japan but it’s not often that you’ll meet a fellow traveller who has been there.

Described as Australia’s last great wilderness, the Kimberley has world famous beaches and waterfalls that have launched a gazillion Instagram likes, but as the Kimberley’s treasures are hard to get to, it’s one of the least visited places in Australia.

And that’s a travel tragedy as there’s so much to see in this rugged corner of the country.

As it can take almost a day’s driving to get from one Kimberley sight to another, and with that driving being on unsealed roads in a 4WD, one of easiest and most comfortable ways to go is by water.

It’s little wonder that as more people add the Kimberley to their travel wish lists the area has become known as one of the great destinations for a Pacific cruise.

Where Do Kimberley Expedition Ships Go?

While every itinerary will be different, some of the most popular Kimberley cruises travel between Broome and Darwin and include stops to see spectacular waterfalls, gorges, savannahs and mountains.

The King George Falls are one of the highlights of the region and are also one of the many places that can’t be reached by road.

Western Australia’s tallest twin waterfalls plunge over ancient red sandstone cliffs and as you approach the falls by zodiacs the colours and textures change so that the scene continually unfolds around you.

Exploring the Kimberley on an expedition cruise, image © Ponant

Exploring the Kimberley on an expedition cruise, image © Ponant

The Kimberley is also where you’ll see what Sir David Attenborough described as ‘one of the greatest wonders of the natural world’, the Horizontal Waterfalls of Talbot Bay.

Created when fast moving tides rush through twin gaps in the McLarty Ranges, this phenomenon is best experienced in zodiacs so you can feel as well as see the water crashing through the bay.

Read: How to road trip your way to all of the NSW silo art

If you’re lucky enough to be travelling on a luxury Kimberley cruise you can spend the day exploring before returning to your floating boutique hotel for a spa treatment or cocktails and a delicious dinner followed by a good night’s sleep in a soft bed.

As well as stopping at different bays and islands along the way, your starting and end points of Broome and Darwin are worth a visit in their own right.

And no visit to the Kimberley is complete without watching the sunset at Cable Beach in Broome where a full moon rising over tidal flats creates the unforgettable ‘staircase to the moon’ illusion.

What To See Along the Way

The Kimberley’s ancient landscape is not the only star of this show.

The area is home to Aboriginal rock art that is estimated to be more than 50,000 years old and one of the best places to see it is at Raft Point.

A guided walk through this outdoor gallery that shares the story of the area’s Worrorra people is not to be missed.

The Kimberley has around 2600 islands, with many still to be named, and you’ll want to make sure you’re up on deck with your camera ready as you cruise through the Bonaparte Archipelago.

Wildlife watchers will also be in their happy place in the Kimberley where they can spot wallabies, crocodiles, dolphins, whales, turtles, eagles and more.

What to Pack for a Kimberley Expedition Cruise

The weather in the Kimberley is divided into two distinct seasons, dry and wet, and it’s best to go in the dry season from around April to September to avoid the weather’s hot, humid and unpredictable side.

Temperatures in the dry season are usually around a high of 30 and a low of 15 Celsius, so you’ll want to bring a mix of comfortable, light weight clothing for the days and something a little warmer for when the evenings cool down.

Sunscreen, a lip balm with sun protection, sunglasses and a hat are a must, while in the shoe department you’ll want something nice and clean for the ship along with hiking boots and wet landing shoes like reef shoes for excursions.

Insect repellent will be your best friend when faced with some of Australia’s insects and you may also want to bring a fly net. Yes, they look silly, but when you have flies trying to get into your nose, mouth and eyes you’ll happily throw fashion to the wind.

Seeing the Kimberley's King George river on an expedition cruise, image ©Studio Ponant-Morgane Monneret

Rainbows at the Kimberley’s King George falls, image ©Studio Ponant-Morgane Monneret

A waterproof daypack will help keep your camera and other valuables dry and you might want to consider a spray jacket for zodiac excursions as well.

And of course you’re going to want all of your usual travel bits and bobs including medications, chargers, spare batteries and so on.

If you use straws may I also suggest taking a reusable metal straw so that you can sip your cocktails or smoothies without needing to use a plastic one. This is a good thing to do no matter where you are in the world, but particularly when you are visiting wilderness areas.

And before packing your bags check your ship’s dress code as this can vary. Some ships are very casual while other tend more to the smart casual and even have a night or two where women can pop on a cocktail dress and some heels.

But no matter what you end up wearing the Kimberley’s magic will pass right through it to get under your skin.

Planning an Australian adventure? Here are some top things to do on rainy day in Sydney, just in case every day isn’t blue skies for you, along with a Sydney Harbour walk you won’t forget. And if you’re lucky enough to be in Australia for New Year’s Eve, here are some of the best hotels to see the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks.


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