May 16, 2014 - National Geographic Orion
This morning we awoke to a spectacular Kimberley sunrise where Mother Nature created a few new colours never seen before just for our visual pleasure. Our intrepid adventurers boarded the Zodiacs at dawn and made our way across a calm Koolama Bay to the mouth of the King George River.
As our flotilla of Zodiacs snaked its way along the river, we saw the stunning beauty of the gorge and the natural colours of the sandstone, exposed by the erosion taking place relentlessly. As we journeyed upriver, we observed osprey nests, eastern reef egrets, pied oyster catchers and of course saltwater crocodiles. The sandstone canyon was spectacular and we took a plethora of pictures that we knew would not do the scenery justice.
Close to the edge of the river and the falls, we saw great examples of ‘honeycomb erosion’ where water whipped up by the wind has dried within the sandstone structure, dislodging particles one at a time.
A number of us had chosen the five-hour tour that included a hike to the top of the falls. After a brief chance to take photos of the waterfalls, we motored toward the northeastern bank to commence the climb up the side of the gorge.
With our expedition leader Darrin Bennett leading the way, we trekked up the steep track to the plateau from where we made our way to the top of King George Falls. The view was stunning and the clicking of camera shutters could be heard constantly. We saw the Zodiacs cruising along the sandstone walls, our fellow guests peering upwards in awe and the Zodiacs leaving a white trail of foam as they journeyed to their destination at the end of the gorge.
Despite the knowledge of fresh water crocodiles inhabiting the pools on top of the falls, we could not resist the call of the inviting water and slipped in for a refreshing swim. Once fully rejuvenated from our climb, we slowly made our way back down 100 meters below to our waiting Zodiacs.
To our surprise, the ships galley had organized a treat for us once we had returned from the falls. Tucked in behind a rocky cliff hid a refreshment Zodiac, with champagne, orange juice, and gourmet croissants being served.
After this quick refreshment we wanted to be doused by the falls. Most of us were all too keen to get wet, so we packed away our camera gear, and headed towards the twin 80 meter high waterfalls.
To our amazement, the expedition team did not just give us a small spray – they drove us completely under the plummeting water. We all got completely drenched by our ‘Kimberley baptism’ and screams of joy could be heard echoing around the canyon. Everyone was having a ball and after a few trips under, we had all sufficiently cooled off in order to make the trip back down river much more comfortable!
The final Zodiacs arrived back to the National Geographic Orion just as the sun was slipping below the horizon and we were all treated to yet another amazing display of colours that were unknown to us before our expedition in the Kimberley began.
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