Matthew’s Cruise Diary: Kimberley Quest II
It’s all about the people! The Kimberley Quest II only takes 18 passengers & has 6 crew on their Kimberley cruise, so a small group such as this could create an extra-ordinary experience.
We had a group with different age groups, different walks of life & different ideas on life. Our group included 2 geologists (a wealth of knowledge), 3 country folk who gave us that down to earth philosophy of ‘what a wonderful world’ and a few city slickers, like me, who were spellbound with every day’s adventure. The cruise was the adult version of a kid in a candy store. Every day was a new experience to savour!
The one thing that brought everyone together on this — and I’m sure all Kimberley cruises are similar — is that everyone’s philosophy was to ‘experience the Kimberley coast’ and what it has to offer; raging waterfalls, indigenous rock art, bird life, wildlife and the incredible escarpments and landscapes.
Kimberley Cruise season
This cruise was the first one of the season, right at the end of March.
What could we expect from the weather? What could we expect from the seas? What could we expect from the rivers? All 3 didn’t let us down.
Whilst it was still a little humid it certainly did not dampen the spirit and enthusiasm of all on board. We were travelling just after a cyclone had hit the top end of Australia, so we did find a couple of days where the ocean was ruling the roost with some turbulent swells. On those days we minimised cruising & explored a smaller region of the coast.
When the ocean calmed down, we made up time by steaming overnight. Cruising straight after on of the biggest wet seasons in memory, gave us the most exhilarating experience of seeing the rivers in full flow. If anyone has white water rafted, this was Class 4 rapids. Not that attempted to take these rapids on but to see them up close when we were touring on the land was just thrilling!
One of most treasured memories of the cruise was experiencing Glycosmis Falls at sunset with a glass of champagne in hand onboard one of the 3 ‘tinnies’ (expedition tenders). The peace, tranquillity and gentle lapping of the sea against the side of the tinnie created a wonderful moment on our cruise. Take me back!
Another memory centres around the wonderful Kimberley Quest guides. On our cruise was a lady in her 70s, who had developed glaucoma. One of the excursions was a walk up the side of King George Falls, about 45 minutes to an hour, clambering over rocks, under low branches on trees and a relatively steep climb to go with it.
The lady was determined to do the excursion, but was warned of the difficulty of the walk. The crew promised to look after her!
One can only admire the dedication and determination of the lady to complete the excursion, and also the dedication and support the Kimberley quest crew gave her.
The crew physically assisted the lady in climbing over some large boulders, as well as providing a human chain gang to assist in her climbing the steepest sections. After an hour or more, the lady gleefully raised her arms at the top of the King George Falls on a triumphant completion of the walk. And the Kimberley Quest staff had a very wide smile in the knowledge of helping the lady complete her challenging walk. The assistance given by the staff was such a caring, thoughtful gesture.
Cruising at the start of the season enabled us to experience the coast at its most fertile and most rugged. When I say fertile, I mean the vegetation was lush, green and vast. Some of the walks we completed highlighted the major wet that had occurred as we made our way between the overgrown vegetation. And the ruggedness came from the raging torrents on the rivers and the waterfalls.
I have a vivid memory of watching the Drysdale River bellow and bruise the many rocks it was rushing over. My thoughts varied from ‘I’d love to take on these rapids in a white-water rafting group’ to ‘It may just be beyond the skills of most’! Whichever way you looked, it was just exhilarating to have the views of the raging rapids.
Probably George Costanza of Seinfeld fame put it best: “The sea was angry that day, my friends — like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli. I got about fifty feet out and suddenly the great beast appeared before me. I tell you he was ten stories high if he was a foot. As if sensing my presence, he let out a great bellow.”
That was the Drysdale River that day!
Certainly, the King George Falls was a major highlight of the cruise. Being the end of March after a massive wet season had the falls in full glory. The twin falls made a thunderous roar as you headed towards them on the Kimberley Quest. And the water spray from the falls saturated you in a matter of minutes.
Whilst we were lucky enough to see Kings Cascades Falls in ‘full bloom’, the other highlight of the region was a walk myself, Captain Ben and one of the crew took behind the falls. We followed a stream running at the top of the falls bout 2kms upstream. We then floated back down in the stream below a canopy of Pandanas plants, making sure we didn’t collide with any plants due to their sharp fronds. We made it back unscathed — an additional highlight of our already spectacular cruise.
Captain Ben was also a keen fisherman, so many opportunities were availed to have an early morning chase of those elusive barramundi. Floating down the estuaries through the mangrove trees in silence trying to attract our sea creature… it was a beautiful way to start the day.
No chocolates for me, but we had a couple of experienced anglers who were able to boast they ‘tamed the beast’ with a well-earned catch — returned to the water after the obligatory photo of proud man and surprised fish, our barra lived on to enjoy the clear waters of The Kimberley.