Hunter River, Kimberley, Australia

Peter Carey, Expedition Leader

  • Daily Expedition Reports
  • 12 Aug 2015

Hunter River, Kimberley, Australia, 8/12/2015, National Geographic Orion

  • Aboard the National Geographic Orion
  • Pacific Islands & Australia - OLD

As the sun rose over the Mitchell Plateau, the National Geographic Orionsailed into its anchorage. The dawn silence was broken by the echo of rotors as our flight-seeing helicopters wove their way through the canyons toward our beach rendezvous. For those aboard, the early morning light made for a spectacular flight from Naturalist Island to the Mitchell River Falls.

On our first Zodiac expedition of the day, the water’s glassy surface was broken by a pod of dolphins hunting baitfish around us. After working together to drive the fish to the surface, each dolphin took a turn diving through the school and gulping fish. Teeming with small fish, the bay also attracted ospreys and white-bellied sea eagles.

Then it was onwards to Thor’s Hammer. The low tides of the new moon afforded us a rare treat, an opportunity to explore a cave that cuts its way into the sandstone cliffs. Two Zodiacs tentatively explored the dark confines of the cave. For those lucky enough to venture inside, this peek deep into the Kimberley’s geological wonders was a highlight.

Before we knew it, the afternoon was upon us. Dropping tide conditions were perfect for exploring Porosus Creek, a large tributary of Hunter River. The creek lived up to its namesake Crocodylus porosus, with saltwater crocodiles appearing to lurk in every corner of the tributary. With our resident croc expert Adam Britton leading the Zodiac fleet, we scoured the edges of the mangrove-shaded inlets with cameras in hand, hoping to catch a glimpse of our first crocodile. Small streams flowed out of the mangroves draining the last of the water from the forest. With the water level now at its lowest, the crocs were revealed, wedged into these tiny streams, open mouths facing the current, catching the last of the fish as they rushed from the mangroves to the “safety” of deep water.

The radio sprang to life. “Guys, there is a big croc sliding down the bank over here!” naturalist Christina Damiano excitedly informed us. The Zodiacs descended on her location. A large croc (three-meters plus) left an impressive set of tracks as it slid down the muddy bank into the water. In seconds, the water was still and the croc was gone. We waited intently scanning the bank for any sign but to no avail. Suddenly, it appeared behind us! With such stealth, it snuck up on us while we were fixated on the muddy banks. In Porosus Creek, you always have to keep your wits about you.

Descending to the water line, the sun was a perfect orange orb igniting the surrounding cliffs of the Mitchell Plateau. As darkness descended on Naturalist Island, we sailed eastward in search of tomorrow’s destination.

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Kimberley Expedition: Australia’s Wild Northwest

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