November 28 - December 4, 2021: Issue 520


Kimberley Country part 2 
by Robyn McWilliam

In our tinny we surge off in a flurry of spray to check the crab pots. As we cruise among the mangroves, I notice a jellyfish stranded in branches after a rapidly dropping tide. Trees form a latticework of roots in the taupe mud. One of the floats marking a pot has been chewed by a crocodile. We are vulnerable in a small boat. I remind our driver that up in Kakadu crocs have been known to launch themselves into boats. As a pot emerges from murky water, we hear the scuttle of crabs. Their pincers snap. We deliver our catch to the chef.

Stranded jellyfish

Crab in pot

Back on Homer, we wend our way through mangroves again towards a rocky outcrop. A waterfall, Ruby Falls, bursts through a crevice, misting the air. We climb across rocks and sink into a black swimming hole. Such a pleasant relief from the heat! Descending water smatters our bodies like a massage. On the way back we see four jabirus, high in the blue sky, soaring the thermals.

Ruby Falls

The rocky landscapes we motor past reveal spectacular geological movements of eons earlier. Some strata are tilted or buckled; other headlands of red rock rear upwards. Along the waterline is mud-smeared conglomerate rock with its rounded pebbles showing in clusters.

Our blokes spend the afternoon fishing. It seems only giant fish inhabit Kimberley waters. Ian holds his queen fish aloft; Malcolm presents a Spanish mackerel over a metre long and Pete finally catches a prized barramundi.

Ian’s queen fish

Malcolm’s Spanish mackerel

Pete’s barramundi

One island we anchor off is reminiscent of Ayers Rock surrounded by sea. Burnished by afternoon sun, it glows red. That evening our mud crabs are served. After dinner we chatter on deck till darkness surrounds us. It’s so peaceful in these waters we hardly see another boat. The lower platforms are locked at night for our safety. Lights from the vessel’s stern shows up a crocodile calmly waiting for anything that goes overboard.

Our burnished island

At Raft Point we’re dropped off on a pebbly beach and walk a bush track to a massive cave. Wandjina rock art covers the sandstone surfaces, a mix of eerie figures and sea creatures. We are fortunate to be shown such special places.

Buckled rock strata

Mud stained conglomerate in the tidal zone

Wandjina rock art

Our cave of art

Most days our exercise ashore is climbing and rock-hopping rewarded with a swim high above the reach of the numerous crocs that inhabit the whole area. Sapphire Falls is one divine spot with tree roots dangling over rocks. Foliage provides shade from the sun while we float and drift in cooling water.

Each excursion is an adventure before returning to the comforts of our mother ship. We recap over a wine before another delicious dinner.

The Kimberley is certainly an environment to savour.

Photos: Robyn McWilliam