Day 4 - May 15, 2014 - Raft Point & Montgomery Reef
By Andrew Marshall, Science Communicator
Coordinates: S 16º04’.2, W 124º27'.2
Air Temperature: 33ºC
Pressure: 1012 hPa
Wind: Light Air
It was an early start this morning at Raft Point when the expedition team headed over to recce the landing. With the extreme tides the beach was deemed too muddy to effectively operate, so we delayed the landing by 30 minutes. This was just enough time to enjoy a lovely breakfast, surrounded by stunning panoramic views in the early morning light.
Looking out over the deep aquamarine sea I saw the traditional owners arriving from their home at Freshwater Cove. It was especially exciting as I had commissioned a painting by Donny Woolangoodja on a previous encounter. Thankfully I managed just enough time in between transfers to land and claim my prize!
The tide was already rushing in as we began the transfer for the first group. Guests were welcomed on the beach and given an interpretation as to the significance of this area for Donny and his companions. After getting painted with ochre it was soon time to make the climb to the gallery. Hot and humid conditions were overcome, and the exertion and effort were rewarded by a spectacular gallery filled with impressive Wandjina style paintings.
The second group of the morning was especially lucky, as Donny, suffering from a bad knee, endured the climb himself and up the top felt comfortable enough to start touching up some of the art before enthralled eyes.
After another sumptuous lunch –and (perhaps) a fortifying cold beer- we were ready for the afternoon’s expedition activities. An armada of Zodiacs was strung off the stern of the vessel, almost champing at the bit to be released and set free into the wilderness.
I was in command of the good ship “Discoverer”, named after the vessel Scott took down on his first expedition to Antarctica and his first assault on the South Pole.
We came onto Montgomery Reef in perfect time: to witness the reef ‘rising’ from the surrounding sea. We saw a variety of birds, including Crested Terns and Eastern Reef Egrets, but the show was stolen by a crocodile on the reef! The first such encounter for many a salty seadog amongst the expedition team.
We continued our voyage up “The River” and enjoyed the turbulence of the falls pouring heavily off the reef as the dropping tide continued, and with a determined eye and patience were rewarded with many sightings of the Green Turtles that inhabit this marine environment.
We stopped off at a sand quay on the way home to enjoy a drink, watch the glorious sunset over the horizon, and celebrate another fantastic day in the Kimberley.
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