King George River and Falls
Jun 23, 2015 - National Geographic Orion
It was a very early start for some of our intrepid explorers just after we arrived at Koolama Bay. This bay was named after the tragic but heroic story of the coastal transport vessel Koolama, which took place here early in World War II. We quickly headed upstream following a spectacular eroded valley, with towering sandstone walls leading to the famous King George Falls.
Just at the entrance of the King George River we scanned the cliffs and were rewarded with a sighting of a Narbelek, one of the Kimberley region’s three Rock Wallabies, sitting out on a rock ledge for all to see. While we were all enjoying the lovely little creature’s antics and agility amongst the rocks, another Narbelek joined in and we were treated to a wildlife spectacle as they chased each other up and down the incredibly steep sandstone escarpment.
The spectacle woke us all up and we were now fully primed as the Zodiacs entered the mighty King George River. Low and behold, someone shouted “Dugongs!” and sure enough a couple of these gentle sea mammals surfaced next to our Zodiacs several times. Some of our guests were very excited to have such an up close experience with one of the rarest and most fascinating creatures of the northern Australian waters.
After passing an impressive Osprey nest on a protected ledge three-quarters of the way up a sandstone escarpment that has been used for well over 10 years by the same pair, our next stop was at the end of the accessible part of the river adjacent to the twin falls. Sadly, as a result of the relatively poor previous wet seasons, the water coming down the falls has been severely reduced to a small trickle.
Our intrepid group of hikers stepped off the Zodiacs and made their way slowly and carefully up to the top of the escarpment. The reward at the top was breathtaking views down the King George River and the across the magnificent sandstone escarpment. After spending a good hour on top it was time to descend the escarpment and meet up with the other Zodiacs exploring the King George River.
We were back on the river again and many Zodiacs were carefully guided up directly below the waterfall and some of the braver guests were completely immersed in what we call a ‘Kimberley Shower.’ Hoots and hollers followed with much laughter. This morning was turning into a day where everything was awesome!
But wait, there was more in store. On our way back, a three metre crocodile was spotted splayed out on a rock. What a sight! It was captured by numerous cameras and immediately became a croc rock star.
Finally, completely exhilarated by the morning’s activities it was back to National Geographic Orion and for a well-earned scrumptious lunch.
After lunch we had an expedition afternoon with Zodiacs taking guests to the secluded white sandy beaches of Tranquil Bay and Koolama Bay. Tranquil Bay has a lagoon with a magnificent sandstone escarpment backdrop while the beautiful Koolama Bay is the famous site where the Koolama made its way after being attacked by the Japanese during World War II. Many animal tracks were identified in the sand and a Dingo was spotted at top of the escarpment looking and wondering at all the people in its territory. All in all it was a peaceful and relaxing end to a totally awesome day of adventure and exploration.