Day 9 Kimberly Exploration 20 May 2014
Montgomery Reef, WA
We were about to see, what is sometimes is unofficially titled the 6th wonder of the world - Montgomery Reef. It was named by Phillip Parker King, a key explorer of the region, in recognition of Andrew Montgomery, the surgeon on his 1821 voyage.
We hopped in the zodiacs again after another beautiful breakfast. The weather was overcast, and in fact it rained just before sun rise. I didn't see or hear the storm but saw sunrise.
It is a true spectacle to behold as the entire reef appears to rise from the ocean on a falling tide. With tidal differences of over 10m over a single spring tide cycle, nearly 5 m of reef gradually emerges from the ocean, as water cascades down numerous channels. Nearly 4 metres could be seen today.
The reef, which covers an area in the region of over 270 km2
, is some 80 km long and Australia's largest inshore reef, containing large areas of shallow lagoon, seagrass beds along with a host of marine life which live in and around the safety of coral structures.
We saw lots of
green turtles waiting at the end of the rapids for food. There were lots of eddies and miniature rapids. It was fascinating. Our zodiacs road the rapids from time to time. We went up the river next to the reef for about a kilometre, seeing 2 large yachts who were fishing in small 'tinnys'.
The Montgomery Islands lie among the extensive areas of sandbank that occurs at the centre of the large Montgomery Reef formation. This was where the Orion staff set up their umbrellas and tables which we called into on the way back to the ship. They served Bloody Marys (at 9.00am !!!) and sausage rolls. It was a fantastic touch, which is starting to be expected!!!!
After drinks and nibbles on the sand we went back to the ship.
After lunch we went on a walking tour to Raft Point to see rock art Wanjina art. We went by zodiacs once again arriving at another lovely beach which had lots of large boabs sprinkled along it and up the cliff face. We were met by the local aboriginal group of 4 women and 3 blokes. We had to have ochre paint streaked on our
faces to remove any evil spirits that we might have bought with us.
The aboriginals had displayed their cloth paintings along one of the cliff faces, all of which were for sale.
It was necessary to walk for about 30 minutes up to the cave over-hang where the art was being repainted by one of the tribal elders. His young nephew told us about some of the family's history and dreamtime stories while we took photos of their art.
The walk down the hill was pretty easy. Back on the beach 3 of us 'hugged a boab tree'. The girth of the tree was about a 4-person tree! We all hopped back into the zodiacs, to go back to the ship.
That night dinner was a degustation menu. There were 7 courses all of very small portions. However, I felt as if I was going to burst. Again we had great company at the dinner table, trying to sit with different people as much as possible. I promised myself that I must go for a run in the gym tomorrow.
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