We set our alarms for Day Three of our Kimberley cruise aboard the Reef Prince to catch the sunrise and are rewarded with a stunning sight. There are just enough clouds to create magnificent colours, while the water shimmers with shades of pink and orange.
Trip Director Paul later rates it among the top five sunrises he’s ever seen in the Kimberley. At 7.30am we head to Montgomery Reef, which has been described by David Attenborough as the eighth natural wonder of the world due to the rapidly falling tide that creates a series of rivers and mini-waterfalls off the reef.
The tide isn’t low enough when we arrive to get the best view of the water pouring over the edge of the reef. While we wait, the crew put one of the tenders into the water and take a few keen fishermen trawling for Spanish mackerel. The rest of the passengers sit on deck, watching as the reef appears to slowly rise up out of the ocean.
Waterfalls form every few metres as the water rushes off the reef. We climb into tenders and head along the main channel, as turtles pop out of the water, their heads looking like little submarine periscopes.
The fishermen catch – and return – several barracudas and a shark to the water, while the rest of the passengers pose for selfies at the reef’s waterfalls.
Afterwards, we motor to a sand “island” that has emerged near the reef during the low tide and wander along its virgin shores.
Following a lunch of samosas and salads it’s time for the fishermen to head off again, while the rest of the passengers enjoy boat tours around Steep Island and Raft Point.
We’re awed by the soaring peaks of red sandstone and mysterious caves. Osprey swoop and dive above us as we head past the shore. Tour Director Paul points out a path that leads to an incredible cave system filled with indigenous art. However, cruises are no longer permitted to disembark, so we gaze instead at the other worldly boab trees dotting the island, some of them more than 1000 years old.
The anchor is pulled up again and we head to Ruby Falls for an afternoon dip. The pool at the bottom of the falls is a favourite one for crocodiles, so we haul ourselves up the cliff with ropes to explore the waterhole at the top.
Lily pads float in the cool water as we paddle and float at dusk. All too soon, it’s time to clamber down the rocks again and speed back through the mangroves to the Reef Prince, which is silhouetted against a glorious sunset.
Dinner rates as the best roast lamb and veg we’ve ever tasted, complete with superb homemade jus, pumpkin puree, cauliflower cheese and crispy potatoes.
YESTERDAY: Horizontal Falls
TOMORROW: Fishing at Sampson Inlet
The Thirsty Travellers booked their adventure on the Reef Prince with Expedition Cruise Specialists.
Main image courtesy of Tourism Western Australia.