Editor’s note: After years of working on superyachts all over the world, Dave Saul and Corina Wilson realized Australia was undervalued as a cruising destination. Therefore, these Aussies decided they were in an ideal position to assist in attracting more superyachts not only to Australia, but also to the South Pacific. Their yacht agency, Superyachts 153°, assists visiting yachts with their needs, including itinerary planning. When we asked for their insider recommendations for superyachts, without hesitation the Kimberley cruising region was it, especially for experiencing true wilderness. This two-week itinerary takes you from Broome to Darwin, each with domestic airports. Darwin further has international flights from many Asian countries.
Three times larger than England and with a population of less than 40,000, the Kimberley spreads over Australia’s entire northwestern corner. It’s one of the world’s last wilderness frontiers. In fact, you’ll ﬁnd proliﬁc wildlife, majestic canyons, freshwater swimming holes, and some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in Australia. If you prefer sipping vintage Bollinger on the sun deck in Monaco, well, Kimberley cruising via superyacht may not be your ideal experience.
Day 1: Broome to Cape Leveque, 130 NM
Broome has a lot to offer and therefore is well worth a few days of sightseeing before cruising. Visit pearl farms, for instance, and idyllic beaches, go boutique shopping and crocodile spotting. Come nighttime, you’ll experience the most incredible astronomy tour. Specifically, during the dry season, a phenomenon occurs around the full moon, “The Staircase to the Moon.” Reflections on the mudflats provide an illusion of stairs.
Then, start your Kimberley cruising with an overnight voyage to Cape Leveque, due to the distance. The contrasting colors of Cape Leveque’s turquoise waters, bone-white sand, and iron-red rock formations will blow you away. Enjoy a morning of snorkeling or pristine beach walks. From July through October, you can see the annual humpback whale migration, too.
Your captain can set off from Cape Leveque in the early afternoon for Silica Beach on Hidden Island for a sunset beach dinner and cocktails.
Day 2: Silica Beach to Talbot Bay, 40 NM
Make an early start from Silica Beach through the maze of islands to Talbot Bay. From there, a popular tourist destination is the Horizontal Waterfalls (below). They get their name due to enormous tides—up to 43 feet (13 meters)—funneling through small gaps in the rocks. Local tour operators run high-powered RIBs through the gaps.
Day 3: Talbot Bay to Doubtful Bay, 55 NM
Kimberly cruising lets you meet local First Nation guides, who’ll show you the significance of their land and the ancient rock art, dating back 4,000 years. Additionally, they’ll show you some incredible views of Raft Point and Doubtful Bay.
Angling enthusiasts can go Barramundi fishing along the mangrove-lined estuary of the Sale River. It’s in the northern part of Doubtful Bay. Alternately, enjoy the local flora and fauna, especially ancient boab trees. Farther to the north, make your way up Red Cone Creek to Ruby Falls for a freshwater swim in the rock pools atop the falls.
Day 4: Montgomery Reef, 25 NM
Montgomery Reef exposes up to 13 feet (4 meters) of reef at low tide. Furthermore, as the tide falls, a river begins appearing between sections of the reef. Well worth taking the yacht here to watch the spectacle. For a closer look, and the chance to spot turtles, black-tip reef sharks, stingrays, and even dugong, take the tender to explore farther into the reef. However, don’t dive or swim, because of the strong, ridgy currents and proximity to crocodile-friendly locations.
Day 5: Montgomery Reef to Prince Regent National Park, 100 NM
Enjoy a day passage past ancient lands and islands to Prince Regent National Park. The park is an important conservation area and contains half of the known bird and animal species in the Kimberley. It’s home to Kings Cascades, too (see below), a Kimberly cruising must-see.
Day 6: Kings Cascades
Kings Cascades (above) oﬀers opportunities to sneak right up to the falls on your yacht and take a freshwater shower on the bow! Go on a moderate hike to the billabong at the top for a refreshing, picture-perfect dip. Also: Never take a dip in the main Prince Regent River, since it’s a known saltwater crocodile estuary.
Days 7-8: Day Passage to Hunter River, 87 NM
The changing sunset colors on the rock walls towering above the Hunter River are bigger and better than any Hollywood movie. The river is home to a healthy population of saltwater crocodiles, suggesting the river may be full of plump Barramundi. Notably, Barramundi are a ﬁghting ﬁsh and great on the grill!
If you feel like getting your heart rate up, walk to Donkin Falls. There is no deﬁned track to follow. Regardless, after about a 1-mile (1.5-kilometer) walk upstream, you’ll come across them. We particularly recommend doing this in the early morning, before the heat of the day turns the boulders into hot rocks!
That evening, your captain will embark on an overnight passage of 95 NM to Kimberley Coastal Camp.
Day 9: Kimberley Coastal Camp
Kimberley Coastal Camp is the perfect location to take a helicopter ﬂight to see the huge expanse of the Kimberley region and one of its most beautiful waterfalls, Mitchell Falls.
Yet another overnight passage this evening takes you to Vansittart Bay, 75 NM away.
Day 10: Vansittart Bay and Guided Cultural Tour of The Bradshaw
The Bradshaw, or Gwion Rock Art, are sophisticated paintings dotted across approximately 100,000 sites across 19.300 square miles (50,000 square kilometers). Estimates are they date back 17,000 years, and perhaps more than 25,000 years. Compare this to the famed Egyptian hieroglyphs, which are a mere 5,000 years old. Today, the Ngarinyin people are the custodians of this art form. We can arrange a private tour while you are on this Kimberley cruising adventure. The ancient Bradshaw rock paintings (above) are quite different than any other Aboriginal rock art in Australia. They depict graceful human figures engaged in display or hunt, wearing tassels, hair ornaments, and even clothing.
Days 11-12: Cruise to King George Falls, 85 NM
Spend day 11 cruising to King George Falls and the following day ending your Kimberly cruising experience in spectacular fashion. The cruise down the King George River (top of page) is impressive enough. Seven nautical miles upstream, the King George Falls (above) await. These twin falls are even more impressive after rain. If you’re adventurous, scramble up the rocks to enjoy a crocodile-free swim in the pools at the top of the falls. Then enjoy the majestic views back down the river.
Days 13-14: Cruise to Darwin, 225 NM
If your Kimberley cruising superyacht time needs to end, you can fly back home from Darwin. If you can extend your travels, though, any of the locations already mentioned have so much more to offer. Plus, even more destinations in this naturally wild region are worth your time.
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