Day 8 |
May 09, 2014

Prince Regent River & Kings Cascades

By Malcolm Turner, Naturalist
Co-ordinates: 15º15' S and 125º51'70" W
Weather: Sunny
Air Temperature: 30ºC
Pressure: 1013 hPa
Wind: calm, 1 knot

As the sun rose we prepared the Zodiacs for a five hour expedition up the longest crack in Australia - the Prince Regent River. The crack is about 240 km long. We were lucky with only slight wind fanning small ripples on the sea. The views in the early light were fantastic, especially the imposing flat-topped peaks of Mt Wellington and Mt Trafalgar. The run up the river was long but broken up with brief sightings of Australian Snubfin dolphins and the need to zigzag up the river to avoid rock bars and sandbanks beneath the surface.

After a 20 nautical mile cruise up the Prince Regent River I turned the Zodiac through a small gap in the mangroves and into a small bay with the impressive wide waterfall of Kings Cascade. There was more water than I had ever seen coming over the falls. There was one main cataract and several smaller waterfalls across a saturated sandstone and vegetated stepped wall. We spun slowly to take photos and take in the magical landscape.

It did not take long for guests to urge a dunking under the falls. The water was so warm it was not a shock to the system but cool enough to be refreshing. We repeated the plunge until the boat needed to be driven back out into the main river to drain. Ten minutes later we were dry. We were enjoying the beautiful location but did stop and reflect on the fate of poor young Ginger Meadows, taken by a large crocodile at this very spot, as detailed by Brad Siviour in the recap the night before.

On our way back to Silver Discoverer we passed young sunning crocodiles and turned into Camp Creek and nosed to a cascade of fresh water flowing from a billabong at its end. We met the short cruise group at the falls and were regaled with the excited news that they had seen a huge flock of corellas (a cockatoo species) in the mangroves and the rare and elusive Kimberley Chook (Chestnut Rail). Some of our party moaned with envy but that's the luck of an expedition.

In the afternoon I gave a presentation of "50,000 years of Australian History" which is about the long and rich story of Aboriginal Australia before European settlement and the impact of that settlement during the last two hundred years in the Kimberley. The talk began with an acknowledgement to the Worora, the traditional owners of the country we were sailing through. The talk stimulated much discussion which kept me busy during the afternoon. The film "Jandamarras War" was shown which extended the theme of Kimberley Aboriginal history. Guests will be well prepared for the rich cultural experience planned for the next day at Freshwater Cove.

Another glorious long Kimberley sunset concluded the daylight hours. A little bit of smoke and cloud really brought out the colours. And this sunset was complete with low-flying Brown Boobies returning to night-time roosts.