Day 5 Kimberly Exploration 16 May 2014
King George River & Falls
This was another day we were really looking forward to as we were off to see the King George Falls. Our plan was to hop into the zodiac, motor up the King George River and when we arrive at the falls, to walk up the cliff face so that we can see the falls from above and at different angles. We were looking forward to a swim as well.
All that happened. The scenery along the river was spectacular. The sun was shining on the massive cliff faces, with brilliant reds, ochre and black (from the algae). The weather was hot but we had hats and sunscreen on and the breeze was lovely as we motored along in the zodiacs at differing speeds. The 60hp outboard could handle anything.
We stopped to see birds, crocodiles and to talk about the formation/geology of the rock structure. The expedition team are a well oiled group with extensive knowledge on the area. This tour in an expedition 1st and a cruise 2nd. You can wear anything and get away with it. This is not a boat where you
need your little black cocktail dress and tuxedo - excellent!.
The headwaters of the King George River rise to the west of the Ashton Range. It flows in a northerly direction through the Drysdale River National Park and drops 80 metres at the King George Falls and then discharges into Koolama Bay and the Timour Sea.
The reason it is called Koolama Bay is on 20 February 1942, a day after the 1st Japanese bombing of Darwin, the passenger and general freight ship Koolama was off the coast of the Kimberly, when it was attacked by a Japanese Kawanishi H6K flying boat near Cape Londonderry. Three bombs hit it over 30 minutes and so the Captain decided to beach it. It was later sunk in the Bay.
We arrived at the Falls in 1 hour. The Falls were in 2 parts. As the wet season had only stopped 4 weeks before, there was still a lot of water coming over the Falls. It was very impressive. We got off the zodiac to the right of the Falls and started our climb up the top. We went as slow as the slowest person so it was very 'cruisey'.
There were boulders to climb over, trees to dodge but all made it up to the top.
As soon as we got to the top we could see how expansive and flat it was. Very soon we reached the top of the 1st section of the falls. I felt the water and it wasn't cold...which you would expect after it had come from the headwaters for 150 kms, in the northern Australian heat. We looked over the side of the falls and took some great photos.
We then walked further along the top to the 2nd main section of the Falls. This was absolutely spectacular. The river was wide and shallow, with many, many rock pools. After walking up to the side of the cliff face and taking more fantastic photos, we just sat a looked back down the River. It was beautiful, and so restful looking at this scene.
We drag ourselves away from the edge and walked back to one of the rock pools and sat in the small rapids which was like a spa. The water was beautiful. Then Darrin our Expedition leader announced that we had to leave.
We again, all made
it down the cliff which needed to be navigated cautiously - it's always harder to go down that to climb up. We then hopped back into the zodiacs (there was only 25 of us who did the zodiac tour AND walk - most just did the zodiac tour) and then motored closer to the Falls for about 30 minutes.
During this time, we cruised around a large cliff face and there was another zodiac with an umbrella and 2 of the Philippino crew members holding up bottles of Champagne and croissants. We couldn't believe our eyes - so unexpected, and a great extra touch.
After we got lots of photos and gave the Champagne glasses back, we motored back to the boat. What a great day.
When we got back to the boat, we had a late lunch then attended a presentation by Jeff Mauritzen, a National Geographic Photographer on "The life of a travelling photographer". Later we had our usual recap on the day showing many of the photographs taken by the expedition team and a briefing on the next day's events.
Day 5 was another wonderful day.
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