Distance Driven: 406 km (return)
Distance Flown: 1 hour (return)
Bucket List Items Achieved: 2
Additional bonus: First seaplane trip
Our overnight trip to the Horizontal Falls in the Kimberley was high up on our bucket list for the whole holiday. We left the caravan in Broome and drove two hours to Derby, arriving about 1pm. The drive was quite interesting as we crossed a number of rivers, and twice the road narrowed into a single lane bridge and you had to give way to oncoming traffic. Not quite what we expected for a highway.
We parked the car at a motel in Derby and met with some of the other guests who were going on the trip with us. Then the bus picked us up and took us to the airport where our seaplane awaited us. Although the plane comfortably seated the 10 of us, it was a tight squeeze to get into the seats. I got to ride in the co-pilot seat and chat to our pilot, Emma on the half an hour flight out to the falls. The landscape is full of mudflats and hills and emptiness. We flew over the Horizontal Falls but the tide had just changed so there wasn't much water rushing through them.
The water landing was very cool as we came at it between two hills and landed in the creek.
After being shown to our rooms on the houseboat, and a quick safety briefing, we got to swim with the resident 'pets' - the sharks and fish that hang around the pontoon. We were in a shark/crocodile cage and the sharks were mostly tawny sharks but there were a couple of bull sharks that made an appearance, and our hosts mentioned they once found a crocodile sunning itself on the pontoon in the morning, so the cage was definitely welcome. The water was a perfect temperature to cool off since the day was 39 degrees (102 degrees Fahrenheit).
We then jumped in the speed boat and headed over to the Horizontal Falls. The Falls are two gaps between the rocks where the incoming and outgoing tides rush through, causing a waterfall and the boat with its 900 horsepower engines is designed specifically to handle the currents and force of the water. Our skipper has been working at the falls for 8 years so I figured we were in good hands. We zipped through the wide (20m) and narrow (7.5m) falls several times and sat in the wide falls for a bit.
When we went back this morning for another pass, we could only go through the wide falls, because it was too dangerous to go through the narrow falls. The difference in water height was 3m.
After the falls, we cruised up the waterways with our skipper telling us about the geology, flora and fauna of the area. It was absolutely beautiful.
Arriving back at the houseboat, there were some nibblies waiting for us and they were cooking fresh barramundi for dinner. The water was flat in Cyclone Cove though the tide was still going out and it was incredibly peaceful. As we ate, the sun went down and it was so dark outside. We turned out the lights so we could see the stars and could see the Milky Way. Then the moon rose over the hill, making the water glow.
Fish jumped in the water and the sharks swam around the boat looking for a snack. Not the place you want to accidentally fall overboard, but it did give me some wonderful story ideas! 🙂
This morning we had breakfast at 6 am so we could do another run at the Falls before the plane arrived to take us back to Derby.
Honestly, put it on your bucket list and start saving now. It was so worth it. The staff were all so friendly and helpful and we had a wonderful group of people to share the experience with. Check out Horizontal Falls Adventures for all the details.