We wake to the sound of chains rattling on the fourth day of our Reef Prince cruise – a tender is being lowered for a dawn fishing expedition.
The sun is rising over the cliffs of Sampson Inlet as we sit on the front deck of the Reef Prince sipping coffee as the sky streaks with pink. Birdsong drifts across the water from the lush hills surrounding us.
DJ heads off to try his hand at fishing and returns with a 10kg Spanish Mackerel, which the chef later turns into crumbed fish pieces for a lunch of soft tacos with pineapple salsa.
After breakfast, we clamber into the tenders to explore our surrounds and are rewarded with a close up of a crocodile sunning itself on the rocks, plus views of birds and a brief glimpse of a rock wallaby. The crystal-clear water around us teems with fish. First Mate Fritz is both delighted and disappointed by the clarity of the water, he admires its beauty but bemoans that it means the fish won’t bite his lures.
We relax on deck until our fish lunch, then make our way to Hanover Bay for our first beach swim of the cruise – nicknamed a “Kimberley splash” by the crew, who carefully supervise us and keep a sharp eye out for sharks and crocs.
I wander along the sand, admiring the beautiful seashells and coral scattered on the shore.
The air is still and the sun is hot, so it’s a relief to take a quick dip in the turquoise shallows for a few minutes to cool off.
At 3pm, the Reef Prince raises anchor and heads through Treachery and Whirlpool Passages on its journey to St Patricks Island, within St George Basin, to shelter for the night.
Most passengers settle onto the front deck to drink cider and beer as we gaze at the stunning and constantly changing scenery along the shore. We are silent and awed, the only sound to be heard is the clink of cheese knives when afternoon tea is served.
As the sun begins to set, we wander to the back of the boat and discover Fritz smoking Spanish mackerel to make pate for our afternoon tea. We gaze across the water as the sun goes down and take endless photos of the beautiful pink sky.
Dinner is herb-crusted Spanish mackerel, followed by apple crumble. Our fellow passengers are in a festive mood, most settle onto sofas after their meals rather than heading wearily to bed. Cocktails are sipped, photographs are air dropped and tales are told as we reminisce about the events of the day.
But it’s another early night for us all, as tomorrow promises to tick off a bucket-list highlight – Kings Cascade.
The Thirsty Travellers booked their adventure on the Reef Prince with Expedition Cruise Specialists.
YESTERDAY: Montgomery Reef
TOMORROW: Kings Cascades