Sunday Territorian 12 Jun 2016
Sunday Territorian; NewspaperNT
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
Nationwide News Pty. Limited
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
SUNDAY JUNE 12 2016 TRAVEL FRONTIER 43 V1 - NTNE01Z01MA luxury attended by ones own butler. Off the ship, its speedy zodiacs take us out on regular excursions, on water and on land. The stunning Kimberley backdrop its ancient rocks, its impossibly blue skies, its everchanging seas, here flat and wide as a chefs special pancake, there rushing in a foamy, frenzy through narrow gorges is a constant companion. But the daily expeditions augmented by additional, optional helicopter and speedboat explorations are wonderfully different. Our first stop in Australian waters is Wyndham (pop 800), a fascinating boom-bust town which successively grew fat on gold, then meat, then shifting local nickel. Significantly, it was the setting for the 2010 movie Mad Bastards. Its only hotel closed several years ago and today it is the launch point to other tourist attractions: local birdwatching, World War II wrecks and, an hours drive away, the Ord River Irrigation System. A boat-trip from Kununurra a pleasant town whose population soars after the Big Wet from 7500 to 25,000 up to the huge, artificial Lake Argyle reveals a monumental feat of engineering and a plethora of wildlife. Tourist-friendly freshwater crocodiles. Barramundi, cat fish and archer fish, which shoot down land-based insects with a spurt of water. Trees, full of funereal flying foxes. And more birds than you can point a pair of binoculars at, including the famous Jesus bird, which walks on water. Moving silverly south there is another change of pace, of focus, to visit caves containing two very different styles of rock art. The first stop, Jar Bay, is to seek out examples of Bradshaw or Gwion Gwion art. It is named after the pastoralist who recorded them in the 1890s and the bird, a sandstone shrike thrush which, according to myth, used its beak, bloodied from pecking the red rock, to paint the dainty figures. The second stop, Raft Point, involves a steep climb into caves decorated with wonderful examples of Wandjina art, similar to that featured at the opening of the 2000 Olympics. We are welcomed on the beach with a smoking ceremony and dreamtime stories told by the creator of the Wandjina symbol seen at the Games, Donny Woolagoodga. Such is his fame he has been helicoptered in from Derby. All too soon it is time to head south again towards the conclusion of the cruise in Broome, where we spend a memorable night at the famous Cable Beach Club and Spa but only after experiencing two of the Kimberleys most magnificent sights. The first is the unique 400 sq km Montgomery Reef, raked daily by tidal changes of up to 10m. The second is the exhilarating Horizontal Falls. Both have been described by British naturalist David Attenborough as among the greatest natural wonders of the world. They provide a spectacular conclusion to the Kimberley, a destination that just keeps on giving. The writer was a guest of Silversea Expeditions.
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