Kimberley Expedition July 2006 — Part 2

All photos by Jean Weber unless otherwise noted. Click on a thumbnail image to see it larger. Note: not all thumbnails have larger files linked to them, and some file sizes are fairly large, so not recommended for people using dial-up connections.

Albums of photos from the trip — more than are shown on these pages.

See Part 1 of this report for maps. You can also look up the Google Maps reference for the area.

Day 4 – Numburi (Raft Point), Yawajaba (Montgomery Reef), Langii (Thursday 6 July)

Steep Island and Leeuwin II, seen from Raft PointBeach at Raft PointAfter anchoring overnight near Raft Point, we rose early to discover the Leeuwin II, a 55-metre, 3-masted “tall ship”, nearby once again. We’d seen this ship once or twice earlier in the trip, and spotted it several more times before we reached Darwin; it had left Broome the day before us, and was scheduled to arrive in Darwin the same day as us. A sailing vessel, replica of a craft from another century (though sporting engines as well as sails), seemed very fitting in these waters — rather more fitting than our own vessel, in fact.

Rock paintings at Raft PointMike explaining rock paintings, Raft PointWe landed at Raft Point (Map reference 7) in the Explorer and climbed a steep slope to arrive at some rock overhangs where we could clearly see paintings of the Wandjini. Mike Cusack told us the mythological story of the area, which involved Langii (where we would go in the afternoon), Steep Island, and this spot, among others. Those who saw the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics would have seen a depiction of one of the Wandjini, named Namarali, along with tall, slender, tasselled Gwion-Gwion figures. Donny Woolagoodja, creator of the Sydney Olympics’ Namarali, is the custodial heir to this area.

Returning from rock painting siteOn our climb, we saw kabok trees, boabs, a Kimberley Rose, and other examples of local flora. Despite the steepness of the path in places, it was a pleasant walk at that hour of the morning. I wouldn’t want to do it in the heat of the middle of the day!

Walking on Montgomery ReefWe returned to the Coral Princess for an early lunch, after which most of the passengers boarded the Explorer again for a trip to Montgomery Reef (Map reference 8). My left knee was giving me some trouble after the morning’s climb, so I chose to give it a rest rather than go on another walk. I could just see myself slipping in the wet conditions and falling on coral!

Coral at Montgomery ReefCoral at Montgomery ReefThese 5 photos of Mongomery Reef are Copyright 2006 by Len Zell and used with his permission.

Clam at Montgomery ReefConch shell (live) at Montgomery ReefHere is the Google Maps reference for the area. Raft Point is on the up-pointing peninsul; we landed on the beach you can see. Around Yawajaba Island you can see the reef, just under the water’s surface. Langii (our afternoon visit) is on the lefthand edge of the land mass above and to the right of the reef.

LangiiLangiiWhen the reef walkers returned to the Coral Princess, we attended an illustrated talk by Len Zell, “Introduction to Coral Cays”. Later in the afternoon, we were once again in the Explorer, headed this time for Langii and its weird and wonderful rock formations, sculpted by the sea. (Map reference 9.)

Rock formation at LangiiRock formations at Langii

Day 5 – Kunmunya, Camden Harbour, Port George IV (Friday 7 July)

Water hazard on Kunmunya walkKunmunya walkToday’s major event was a 9.3 km walk to the ruins of Kunmunya Mission, where Mike and Susan Cusack had spent their year in the wilderness. Sixteen passengers, plus three crew members and Len and Chris, set off very early, carrying a light lunch and large volumes of drinking water.

Need I say that I did not go? Not only was the length of the trip pushing my limits, but I am a slow walker, especially over rough terrain. The two photos of the area show here are Copyright 2006 by Len Zell, and used with his permission.

Sheep IslandNurse sharkOn board the Coral Princess, several of us watched a large (approx. 3m) nurse shark circling the boat.

Later we were taken by the Explorer to Sheep Island, once used by European settlers as a place for keeping sheep. The 19th-century attempts by Europeans to settle in the area are tragic stories of misplaced optimism (fueled by, in many cases, outright lies by promoters).

Barbecue at Port George IVAfter the return of the Kunmunya walkers, who had made very good time, we motored to a lovely beach on Port George IV, where a barbecue was set up and we dined on grilled crocodile, kangaroo, and local fish, as well as the more mundane beef and chicken, plus an array of fresh salads. Photo Copyright 2006 by Len Zell. The enlarged version shows the Coral Princess with its lights on, as well as the magnificent sunset. (Map reference 10.)

Day 6 – Mingunya (St George Basin), Gumallalla (Prince Regent River), King Cascade, Camp Creek (Saturday 8 July)

Mangrove lines the Prince Regent RiverKing CascadeOvernight we travelled to St George Basin. After an early breakfast, we boarded the Explorer for a run up the mangrove-lined Prince Regent River to King Cascade, a spot that must be really spectacular in the wet season. The photo (right) shows only a portion of the cascade, which is festooned with ferns and other plants. (Map reference 11.)

Camp CreekCamp CreekAfter a thorough inspection of the cascade, we backtracked to a side-branch of the river leading to Camp Creek, where we were met by an off-duty staff member in a Zodiak. We walked up the dry margins of the creek for a short distance to some refreshing pools of water. A few people dashed further up the creek to another swimming area.

After lunch, Mike Cusack gave an illustrated talk “Our Year in the Wilderness” about the year he and his wife Susan spent at Kunmunya, an incredible story.

Mermaid treeThen it was off again in the Explorer to Careening Bay (Map reference 12), where we saw the beach on which PPKing had repaired his boat the Mermaid, and a bifurcated boab tree on which the words “HMO Mermaid 1820” were carved. There was a Dept of Conservation and Land Management sign by the tree! The first evidence in many days of human involvement in this area. Among other things, it said: “King had been given instructions by the British Secretary of State for the Colonies to ‘take care to leave some evidence which cannot be mistaken of your having landed.’ Times have changed. We ask that you leave no evidence of your having landed here.”

Continued in Part 3.


Page last updated 21 December 2006.