The Kimberley – 2017

Berkeley River

Darwin to Broome – June to September

The Kimberley Coast, as the crow flies around the edge of it, is roughly 600 nautical miles long from Broome in Western Australia to the Northern Territory Border. Of course, it is vasty longer than this, encompassing inlets, rivers, bays and islands. The scenery can range from the spectacular to the mundane and you will find the water’s edge abutting mangroves, sandy beaches, muddy inlets and spectacular escarpments. The birdlife is prolific but you need time – and quiet – to enjoy it. Crocodiles are plenty, more prolific in some places than others. Sengo spent three months traveling from Darwin to Broome (7 June to 3 September), her crew taking in as much as they could, but three months is no where near enough time to experience all of this coast. Most of the land along the Kimberley Coast is Aboriginal land and you need permission to go to shore; in some cases you are restricted to specific locations and in other cases specific locations need a fee payed permit (with time limits). At this stage there are no restrictions on the time anchored in the water. We knew three months was never going to be enough time to see it all but we now have a taste and we have a list of things we missed that we hope we can get back to (including some iconic waterfalls – but we may just take a helicopter ride to see them (instead of slogging up rock strewn gorges)).

Travelling by personal craft means that, in the main, you can take your time. The big disadvantage of this, is that no matter how much information you read up on beforehand, you miss out on the interpretation guidance of experts that the commercial tour operators have access to.

Photographically, some of the Kimberley is spectacular but a camera never captures the true colours (and philosophically what are true colours anyway – we all see the world differently). That said, a professional photographer would get a great portfolio spending time here. I am not a professional photographer. And I don’t have professional cameras. Add to this most of my photographs for the journey were taken whist I was on board a moving or rocking boat. To try to counter shake I had the automatic settings mostly on the ‘sports’ function. The downside of this of course is that you lose focal length (needed for landscape photographs) and the ability to manipulate the settings. As a result, photographs for the Darwin to Broome trip may not be in perfect focus… but you will get the idea. A selection of photographs is at the end of this post.

Our anchorages for the journey are listed below as well as the birds we identified along the way. Also listed are the commercial tourist boats we came across in our journey (just in case you are interested in taking in the Kimberley the luxurious way). I suspect it was probably a result of us leaving so late in the season but we only saw around a dozen private vessels.

Aboard Sengo newsletters for June, July and August will be published separately.

Anchorages

The following table lists the ‘approximate’ location of where we anchored during our three month journey. Some anchorages were prettier than others and quite a few were just overnight stops as part of an ongoing journey. (Note: We take no responsibility for the safety of any vessel or individual that tries to anchor in the same locations as those listed below).

Location Latitude longitude
Blaze Point Not recorded
Anson Bay 13°26′.551S 130°04′.039E
Port Keats 14°07′.884S 129°32.828E
Yelche Beach 14°18′.699S 129°23′.229E
Reverley Island 14°22′.018S 127°48′.255E
Berkeley River 1 14°28′.402S 127°41′.327E
Berkeley River 2 14°23′.405S 127°43′.838E
Berkeley River 3 14°21′.740S 127°45′.786E
Seaplane Bay 14°06′.064S 127°32′.312E
Kalooma Bay 13°56′.403S 127°19′.964E
King George River 1 14°02′.280S 127°19′.623E
King George River 2 14°00′.798S 127°21′.225E
King George River 3 13°58′.905S 127°21′.705E
Glycosmis Bay 1 13°53′.411S 127°04′.978E
Glycosmis Bay 2 (inner) 13°54′.361S 127°03′.768E
Jims Bay 13°46′.486S 126°59′.614E
Cape Talbot 13°48′.543S 126°45′.397E
Mission Bay 1 14°06′.687S 126°41′.466E
Mission Bay 2 14°06′.919S 126°42′.600E
Honeymoon Bay 14°05′. 922S 126°40′.959E
Governor Islands 13°57′.521S 126°41′.144E
Sir Graham Moore Island 13°54′.303S 126°32′.927E
Jar Island 14°0’9.324S 126°13′.699E
Freshwater Bay 14°00′.768S 126°10′.965E
Parry Harbour 13°58′.826S 126°04′.396E
Osborne Islands area 14°21′.016S 126°03′.499E
Mitchell River 1 14°34′.005S 125°40′.532E
Mitchell River 2 14°37′.400S 125°39′.700E
Wollaston Island Not recorded
Palm Island 14°34′.050S 125°25′.897E
Swift Bay E 14°31′.336S 125°35′.800E
Swift Bay W 14°32′.004S 125°33′.197E
Bigge Island 1 Wary Bay 14°27′.903S 125°08′.734E
Bigge Island 2 South 14°38′.597S 125°07′.527E
Hunter River -Porosus Creek 1 15°00′.440S 125°24′.728E
Hunter River 14°59′.256S 125°29′.342E
Hunter River- Porosus Creek 2 14°59′.116S 125°24′.591E
Careening Bay 15°06′.185S 125°00′.312E
Hanover Inlet 15°19′.133S 124°46′.427E
Sheep Island 15°29′.704S 124°36′.969E
Sampson Inlet 15°29′.861S 124°29′.501E
Deception Bay 15°38′.924S 124°26′.112E
Red Cone Creek 16°06′.609S 124°36′.910E
Raft Point 16°04′.529S 124°27′.498E
Montgomery Reef 15°58′.334S 124°16′.965E
Melomys Island 16°09′.571S 124°04′.242E
Dugong Bay 1 16°24′.539S 123°53′.610E
Dugong Bay 2 16°23′.462S 123°53′.444E
Dugong Bay 3 16°22′.498S 123°51′.303E
Horizontal Falls 16°22′.235S 123°58′.361E
Talbot Creek 16°18′.386S 123°47′.718E
Silver Gull Creek 16°09′.889S 123°42′.291E
Coppermine Creek 16°12′.535S 123°36′.611E
Dunvert Island 16°16′.898S 123°31′.809E
The Graveyard 16°21′.271S 123°41′.011E
Crawford Bay 16°29′.709S 123°29′.336E
Catamaran Bay 16°27’.532S 123°00′.891E
Cape Leveque 16°23′.033S 122°57′.443E
Beagle Bay 16°54′.507S 122°29′.752E
Broome

Commercial Tourist Operators

Apart from one notable exception, all interaction with commercial tourist operators has been terrific, some crew quite inquisitive, and all friendly. Listed below are the commercial tourist operators we came across during our three-month journey. Each has its own appeal (and its own price tag!).

True Northhttp://www.truenorth.com.au
Ocean Dream – www. oceandreamcharters.com.au
Eco Abrolhoshttp://www.ecoabrolhos.com.au
Great Escape -www.greatescape.net.au
Caledonia Skyhttp://www.aptouring.com.au
L’ Australhttp://www.ultimatecruising.com.au
Kimberley Quest IIhttp://www.kimberleyquest.com.au
Lady Mhttp://www.ladymcruising.com
Coral Discovererhttp://www.coralexpeditions.com
Kimberley Explorerhttp://www.kimberleycruise.com.au
Diversity Charters -www.diversitycharters.com.au
Reef Princehttp://www.kimberleyexpeditions.com.au/reef-prince

Other paces of interest…

Honeymoon Bay Campground – phone (08) 9161 4378
Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventureswww.horizontalfallsadventures.com.au
Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm – www.cygnetbaypearlfarm.com.au
Cape Levequehttp://www.kooljaman.com.au

The Bird list

Whilst we weren’t on a ‘bird watching tour,’ we did however take the binoculars just about everywhere we went. Of course we saw many more birds than we actually identified and on some days I’ve listed our daily bird list, whilst on other days I haven’t listed any at all. The list that covers the entire trip is below (they are in no particular order)..

  1. Brown booby
  2. Darter
  3. Pied cormorant
  4. Least frigatebird
  5. Great billed heron
  6. White faced heron
  7. Great egret
  8. Intermediate egret
  9. Eastern reef egret
  10. Striated heron
  11. White ibis
  12. Pacific black duck
  13. Osprey
  14. Black kite
  15. Brahminy kite
  16. Whistling kite
  17. Collared sparrowhawk
  18. White bellied sea eagle
  19. Wedge tailed eagle
  20. Peregrine falcon
  21. Orange footed scrub fowl
  22. Buff banded rail
  23. Brolga
  24. Beach curlew
  25. Pied oyster catcher
  26. Sooty oyster catcher
  27. Masked lapwing
  28. Mongolian plover
  29. Oriental plover
  30. Red capped plover (dotterel)
  31. Black winged/pied stilt
  32. Ruddy turnstone
  33. Eastern curlew
  34. Common sandpiper
  35. Curlew sandpiper
  36. Emerald ground dove
  37. Peaceful dove
  38. Bar shouldered dove
  39. Common bronze wing pigeon
  40. White quilled rock pigeon
  41. Red tailed black cockatoo
  42. Sulphur crested cockatoo
  43. Red winged parrot
  44. Sacred kingfisher
  45. Collard kingfishers
  46. Rainbow bee eater
  47. Black faced cuckoo shrike
  48. Mangrove robin
  49. Sandstone shrike thrush
  50. WiIly wagtail
  51. Purple crowned fariy wren
  52. Little Friarbird
  53. Singing honeyeater
  54. Brown honeyeater
  55. Mistletoe bird
  56. Red browed pardalote
  57. Yellow oriole
  58. Great bowerbird
  59. Pied butcherbird
  60. Toresian crow
  61. Channel billed cuckoo
  62. Diamond dove
  63. Double barred finch
  64. Chestnut fronted manikin
  65. Broad billed flycatcher
  66. Rufous whistler
  67. Mangrove gerygone
  68. White gaped honeyeater
  69. Red backed wren
  70. Red collared lorikeet
  71. Little shrike thrush
  72. Silver Gull
  73. Common bronze wing pigeon
  74. White quilled rock pigeon
  75. Red tailed black cockatoo
  76. Sulphur crested cockatoo

6 thoughts on “The Kimberley – 2017

    • Thanks Chris. The birds were frustrating – you can hear so many – you just can’t see them! On the outer reaches there were lots of terns but as yet I am unable to differentiate most of them. Hopefully by the time we get down south I will be better at it – they all seem to have the same amount of black on their heads!

  1. Looks wonderful. Is the operator who was ‘the exception’ to the nice, helpful type in your list, or did you leave them off? Lol.

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