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Explore the Kimberley's Golden Coast

Fleur Bainger reveals how nature turns on a spectacular show along Western Australia’s Kimberley Coast
They make things big in the Kimberley: immense fiery cliffs, extensive Indigenous rock art galleries, bulbous boab trees and towering waterfalls that peel off the vast, baked land to smatter pure whitewater onto outstretched arms. The feeling of being soaked to the skin brings as much joy as it does sweet relief from the toasty northern sun. Is there any better sensation? 
Zodiac along the waters of the King George River and view the dramatic colours of the Kimberley
The only way to loiter beneath the outpouring at King George Falls is to visit by expedition Zodiacs. The 80-metre-high walls from which the twin cascades fall are found at the end of a gently curving river, one that the Kimberley’s lusted-after expedition cruises always visit. Little wonder that tracing the mottled Western Australian coastline and its beguiling inlets has become one of Australia’s top bucket-list experiences
A 1,000-nautical-mile cruise along the crust of the continent is more than just sightseeing. It’s an adventure of almost spiritual proportions. There’s something about travelling through the two-billion-year-old landscape, stained with an Outback rainbow of rusty reds, rhinoceros browns and cornflower blues, that stays with you. 
A typical journey starts with plenty of wow factor as you glide north-west towards the King George Falls, WA’s highest single-drop cascades. Exiting via a curtain of red sandstone, cruises weave between isles lapped by translucent waters, stopping at Bigge Island to witness one of the most extraordinary rock art galleries in the Kimberley. Hidden inside a time-sculpted cave are ancient human, animal and spirit figures, including an intimidating painting of a ghostly white Wandjina spirit, its arms raised as if to spook those who come its way.  
Image of people pointing at Indigineous art, Kimberely
Zodiac along Montgomery Reef on the Kimberley Coast from your small ship expedition cruise
Another day, Zodiacs trace the mesa-edged Prince Regent River to an opening that most would miss. Between the natural gap are terraced falls that froth into a crocodile-rimmed pool. From there, a significant, plus-sized attraction: Australia’s largest inshore reef. The tides that suck water away from Montgomery Reef each day create a waterfall of a very different kind. As turtles and fish swim for the edges, the reef appears to slowly rise from the spirit level-flat ocean. 
Those same tropical tides – some of the largest in the world – also create the famed Horizontal Falls. Torrents of water push and pull through gaps in twin ranges that lie parallel. The result is flat, churning water that steams like a waterfall. If you’re so inclined, you can strap into a high-powered fast boat to skate over the bubbling mass and follow it through the narrow column of rock. As you’d expect, it’s quite a thrill. 
Embark on a high-powered fast boat ride through the Horizontal Falls from on board a Kimberley Coast small ship expedition cruise
Calming the nerves is easy once you reach the more than 800 islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago. Rock-rimmed waterholes give way to tropical greenery-topped landforms and footprint-free sandy stretches. With formations twisted over millennia, it’s here that you get a particularly keen sense of the Kimberley’s time-bending geology. 
View of pelicans
This is also where the Adele Island seabird breeding sanctuary is found. Migratory birds that have flown from China, Korea and Japan find refuge in this remote wilderness alongside their Australian feathered friends. Huge rookeries of lesser frigate birds and masked boobys exist alongside breeding pairs of red-necked stints and grey-tailed tattlers, as well as cormorants and pelicans. 
From there, it’s a reluctant journey back to civilisation – luckily, beachy, easy-going Broome sweetens the return. 

On APT's 10 Day Grand Kimberley Coast cruise, comb this untouched coastline with your expert Expedition Team, who explain the natural wonders found along these shores in fascinating detail. Zip in and out of coastal treasures aboard a Zodiac, delving deep into coves and inlets that larger ships can not reach, and fill each day with the thrill of discovery.