Cruising the Kimberley: exploring crystal beaches

It’s an early start on Day 7 of our cruise aboard the Reef Prince – we’re in the tenders at 6.30am for a tour of the stunningly beautiful Hunter River.

Flocks of corellas and brolgas swoop over our heads and we catch a glimpse of a pom-pom tailed short-eared rock wallaby. The air is blissfully cool and the scenery is stunning – soaring sandstone cliffs are all around us, their overhangs hiding indigenous art.

The Reef Prince raises its anchor at 8.30am and we motor to a beach, hoping for a “Kimberley splash” and a little beachcombing.

But, as we step ashore, a crocodile cruises past. There goes our swim! We explore a cave a few steps off the beach instead, then clamber back onto the Reef Prince to cruise to Prudhoe Island, which is off the beaten track for most cruises.

Lunch is an Asian feast of Singapore noodles, spring rolls and marinated chicken wings, with a side of animated conversation. Afterwards, Paul gives a photography lesson to everyone with a camera rather than an iPhone.

We arrive at Prudhoe Island in the late afternoon. I am eager to get ashore and explore as we’ve been told the island contains a crystal beach that Paul discovered with his wife three years earlier.

It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. The rocks above the beach are filled with crystals, with many scattered on the sand around them. I am entranced by their beauty and wish that I could spend hours exploring the shore. But we need to return to the tenders and motor around to the other side of the island to view petroglyph indigenous art that’s been etched into the basalt rocks.

As National Museum Australia notes: “The first humans arrived in Australia at least 65,000 years ago. Aboriginal rock art has been dated to around 30,000 years ago.

“Petroglyphs are created by removing rock through pecking, hammering or abrading in order to leave a negative impression.

“Broadly speaking, rock art in Australia employs two main design types. The first uses engraved geometric forms, such as circles, concentric circles, arcs, dots or animal tracks.

“The second creates figurative forms, such as painted or engraved silhouettes of humans or animals. “

As we search for starfish and whales etched in the rocks, the sun begins to set beside us, flooding the sky with dramatic colour.

I don’t want to leave this beautiful side of Prudhoe Island either, but we need to return to the Reef Prince before dark. We gaze at the incredible view for as long as we can before heading back to the tenders after another incredible day in the Kimberley.

The Thirsty Travellers booked their adventure on the Reef Prince with Expedition Cruise Specialists.

YESTERDAY: Kings Cascades

TOMORROW: World War II plane wrecks & Bradshaw art

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