Raft Point & Montgomery Reef

Aug 13, 2015 - National Geographic Orion


Wandjina rock art at Raft Point.
Glass of rum punch in the sand.

Raft Point receives its name after early explorers noticed Aboriginal watercraft fashioned from mangrove logs beached along the shores of the mainland, just a few miles from Montgomery Reef. A short yet steep hike from the beach will reward the curious with a visit to a very special place decorated with Wandjina rock art.

Before visitors can head up to the gallery, they receive an introduction from the Aboriginal caretakers, which includes a ceremonial application of ochre face paint to everyone. Thus adorned, guests are escorted up a slightly treacherous and very dusty trail. Those who make it to the top are rewarded when they arrive at a small rock amphitheater painted with variety of fanciful figures representing the spirits worshiped by ancient people. The modern caretakers continue the tradition of repainting the figures as needed, so many are bright and easily photographed.

In the afternoon, a cruise to see Montgomery Reef fills every available Zodiac as everyone is anxious to see what has been called the Eighth Wonder of the World. Almost 300 square kilometers of Montgomery Reef is exposed twice per day by the falling tide. The sea water on top of this huge slab of mud all drains off the edges in hundreds if not thousands of rapids and waterfalls, creating a spectacle that few in the world ever get to witness. Montgomery Reef becomes a daily banquet for Eastern Reef egrets that flock to the area, feasting on the crustaceans and other critters that live at the intertidal zone. Sea turtles forage in the swirling whirlpools, and fiddler crabs crawl out to see what all the fuss is about.

As the Zodiacs return to the National Geographic Orion, the hotel department has found a small sandbar to organize an impromptu sunset cocktail party! Flags, umbrellas and golden sand await as the boats arrive, and we celebrate another amazing day cruising the Kimberley coast.

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About the Author

Doug Gould

Naturalist

Travel and adventure were an integral part of Doug’s upbringing in a small town on the south shore of Long Island, New York. Growing up on the Great South Bay, his family claims Doug learned to sail before he learned to walk. Whether it was camping, sailing, birding, traveling across country or spending most of fifth grade living in Europe, Doug’s formative years left him with a love of wildlife, the outdoors, and a desire to keep moving. 

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