On deck there is a flurry of activity. “what the hell?” There is a mad scramble to find out what exactly is headed for our ship.
“Grab the binoculars!” Someone shouts. Theories come thick and fast — so, is it just rope, or maybe seaweed? But when she drifts off on the gentle ocean, it turns out that it is, in fact, a gigantic sea serpent.
It’s not the first eye-catching sight we’ve seen here on the waters off Australia’s Kimberley coast. Our 12-night cruise, which stretches from the ancient pearl-fishing town of Broome to the lively seaside town of Darwin, has already taken us past horizontal cascades, into mirrored coves where rocks harbor ancient Aboriginal art, and along wild valleys where ospreys look out from the rocks. In vermilion cliffs And crocodiles bask, with open jaws, In the intense heat of the sun.
The Kimberley, in Australia’s far north-west, is one of the Southern Hemisphere’s last great wilderness destinations – home to vast deserted plains, towering mountains and a remote, nearly impenetrable coastline. The area is almost twice the size of the United Kingdom, yet it has less people per square meter than almost anywhere else on earth.
Its big and bold landscapes, lashed by monsoons in the wet season and baking red under sweltering heat in the drought, are imbued with fascinating history, from tales of pearl diving to frontier wars and Aboriginal creation myths. Some of the world’s largest tides wash away the empty beaches here, and thousands of interesting islands are scattered like shards of broken pottery along its coast. Not surprisingly, this is a place best explored by boat.
Sights worth seeing: Lizzy Book joins a 12-night cruise aboard Le Laperouse (above) around the Kimberley in far northwest Australia
We are on a really good ship. Le Laperouse is a 184 capacity mega yacht perfectly designed for exploring the kind of places few have the privilege to visit. It features 92 rooms and suites (all with private balconies), a spa, butlers, butlers, and comprehensive helicopter tours.
The food is great too. We start each day of adventure with a feast of Benedicts, pancakes and omelets, while dinner of king fish fillet, lobster and wagyu beef with Artemis Domaines’ best wines is served under the moon at Le Nautilus restaurant.
But the most spoiling thing isn’t the food, nor the luxury suites, nor the lashings of champagne at breakfast. Without a doubt, it is our skilled expedition team that winds us seamlessly into the zodiac boats and takes us to this dramatic, heart-pounding landscape.
Lizzie travels on a luxury expedition ship called Le Laperouse. Pictured is a ship sauna
The ship has 92 rooms and suites, all with private balconies
Lizzie enjoys dinners of King Fish fillet, lobster and wagyu beef “served with Artemis Domaines’ best wines” while on board
As we wind our way through the fearsome aerial mangrove channels of Poroscis Creek one day, expedition leader Brad Clempson regales us with stories of crocodiles shooting their entire bodies out of the water to snatch prey from low hanging branches.
While dipping into the bright blue-green waters off Ashmore Reef, surrounded by sea turtles, manta rays and baby tiger sharks, scientist and wildlife filmmaker Dr. Frederic Olivier takes us to a very special island.
As we approach, the entire land seems to quiver, crack, and then float upward. Suddenly we realize that tens of thousands of seabirds — knotweeds, boobies, and frigatebirds — flock around us, filling the skies above us. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen, and I half expect to turn my head and see Sir David Attenborough bobbing in a boat behind us, binoculars raised.
Spectacle: Lizzie experiences the thrill of the Horizontal Falls at Kimberley
Le Laperouse (pictured) is “perfectly designed to explore the kind of places few have the privilege of visiting”
Lizzie Book has been a guest on Abercrombie & Kent. The 12-night Kimberley Cruise: Australia Last Frontier 2023 costs from £12,699 per person (based on 2 shares). The price includes flights to Broome via Perth, transfers, Broome excursions, on-board activities and accommodation in a private balcony with butler service on a full board basis (abercrombiekent.co.uk). Lizzie Book’s historical novel Moonlight and Perler’s Daughter (Picador) is set in Kimberley.
Held in the ship’s theater, the Nightly Lecture Series helps us put into context what we’ve seen on our daily voyages. In addition to talks by geologists and naturalists, anthropologist Dr. Shirley Campbell helps us interpret the amazing Wangina rock art we encounter while on Earth every day. This landscape may look empty, but people have lived here for tens of thousands of years.
Bart Pegram, a guide in Yawuru and curator from Broome, speaks enthusiastically and engagingly about his family’s history with pearl diving, explaining that these natural treasures came at great human cost, with many indigenous workers losing their lives while being forced to dive for shell sea pearls. lucrative south.
It is a real honor to learn first-hand from those who have dedicated their lives to the study of this environment and its rich human and natural history. These conversations provide us with a deep and invaluable understanding of Kimberly.
Each day ends in proper style, with a cocktail hour on Le Laperouse’s observation deck. As we chat excitedly about the amazing things we witnessed—keeping our eyes peeled for more visiting sea serpents, or watching flying fish clamber over the flat ocean—the sun slowly sinks, setting the skies ablaze with purple, amber, and gold.
The famous sunsets in Kimberley are one of the most unimaginably wonderful things ever. A visit to this remote and exhilarating part of the world is worth it for that beauty alone.