THE KIMBERLEY, wESTERN aUSTRALIA
Rhiannon Taylor, December 2014
One of the most exclusive places in Australia, not because it screams luxury, but because it gives you something you can’t buy: untouched privacy. This was one of those once in a lifetime experiences. You don’t go to the Kimberley for a relaxing getaway. You don’t go to stay in a luxe resort (although I will point you in the right direction). You go to get Australia under your skin. Everything about the region seeps inside you. The air, the heat, the humidity, the dust, the danger, the silence. If there is one thing that is humbling, it’s being somewhere that seems to be controlled by God. You can be climbing the cliff of your life, in ninety percent humidity, thinking you cannot sweat any more, only to be pummelled with monsoon rain at the top. It felt like someone was trying to put me in my place. But it’s worth it.
There are no tracks, no safety signs. If you lose your way, you’re most likely screwed (the boat companies I recommend have excellent staff so it wont happen). It takes a while for it to sink in that, I am all alone out here, and no one is ever coming to find me (unless you're on a super swish cruise, with a Bear Grylls guide and champagne at the end of the day).
So while this is more a travel post, as opposed to my normal hotel reviews, the experience is about booking accommodation that will take you there. There are many ways to explore the Kimberley. You can take a Landcruiser across the Gibb River Road (next on my list), fly in and out of Broome (see my Broome post) to see the King George Falls or cruise the coast. A two-week cruise was a way to stay in hotel style accommodation and explore the coast thoroughly. The Kimberley isn’t smattered with resorts, accommodation is few and far and wide, so this experience was unexpectedly comfortable when looking at the harsh land in front of me.
With many options available to you with cruises, it’s hard to say what’s the best. Two weeks is a long time, and requires a lot of energy. There was hiking every day, getting in and out of dinghy boats, and while everything was provided and done for by the staff on my boat, there is a certain challenge you mentally need to overcome. Stuck on a boat for two weeks, there isn't an option to give up. The experience really does make you stronger.
My trip was on the tail end of the wet season, which is one of the best times of year to go, because the waterfalls are still full. The heat and humidity is almost unbearable, but addictive at the same time. I gave up on my painful hair and make-up routine after three days, and subsequently refused any photos of myself.
Standing at the top of King George Falls, after a vertical climb on unstable rocks, bashing through the wild, my breath was taken away by the view. No one could take that away from me. Peering over the edge my heart was racing. The slightest slip and I'd be falling to my end. But in that moment, in the blistering heat, ninety percent humidity, I just felt free. I hope to get back to that spot one day.
It's hard not to get wrapped up in the bird watching, Bradshaw Art, and Salt Water Crocodiles who stalk you for miles on end hoping to snap a limb, but I felt most educated on the region when the sun was going down, having a BBQ on an island with fresh Barramundi we had caught that day. There was something about eating the local produce and just watching the sky, which would change from blue to orange, to purple then red, giving us a grand finale of a full moon reflected on the ocean. It was there I felt the Kimberley had invited me in to it's home.
I stayed courtesy of Kimberley Quest on their 14 day Ultimate Quest, departing from Broome and finishing in Kununurra. Prices during the wet season for a twin cabin start $13,305 per person including food. More information can be found at their website.
Also recommended: True North Cruises
Qantas flies twice daily to Broome from Perth