The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

31 July, 2013

Horizontal Falls

We have just returned from an overnight tour to the Horizontal Falls ....... what can I say, other than AWESOME.  This was one trip on my bucket list and it's been ticked off .... wow!!

We had decided to make the trip from Derby and chose to stay on the luxury houseboat overnight to make the most of the tour. As the Kimberley coast is very remote it has to be accessed by plane or boat, so for us to fly in and then stay on the house boat was a great way to go.

We flew direct from Derby to the Horizontal Falls and landed on Talbot Bay.  We were greeted by the crew and quickly ushered to our cabins before a quick safety brief and on board the Jet Stream fast boat to experience the exhilarating ride through the Horizontal falls.

Boarding at Derby airport, come on Hels it will be ok.


Kimberley by air as we approach the Horizontal Falls

Horizontal Falls with incoming tide, Talbot Bay is at the top.

Some how we flew down between the Gorge and landed in Talbot Bay

The pilot said "the flight won't scare you but the sharks circling the plane when we land will'' we thought he was joking!.

Once we had unloaded, they took another group back to Derby and left us there for the night.

On board the fast boat - 600hp and off to the falls.

The narrower falls gap

You can see the difference in water level, about a metre

Apparently when they first started taking tours they lived on this pontoon.  In the background is the creek opening into a sheltered bay where they leave the houseboats during the wet season.

Called "spaghetti" rock 

This is the bay where the boats are left during the wet season.

From the fast boats to the shark cage for fish feeding.  Then settled back for nibbles and drinks to watch the Kimberley sun set before BBQ Barramundi for dinner on the top deck.

In for a dip to feed the sharks

You get an opportunity to pat the more placid sharks

Then it's happy hour, to watch the sunset

As the sunset over the pontoon

we watch and we drink

Dinner is served, BBQ barra on the top deck
Woke up as the sun came up (5.45am) over Talbot Bay and reflections of the sunrise on the Kimberley coast.

After breakfast we had time to go through the falls again before the sea plane arrived to take us back to Derby via the Buccaneer Archipelago.

What a great trip ...... back at Derby by 8.30am and coffee before a quick nanna nap to catch up on a few zzzzzzzzzzz.

The morning sun on the Kimberley coast with some sea mist in the distance

We had the opportunity to go out again in the morning as the tide was going out

The morning sun on the rocks

Hels was very attentive listening to the guide.

From Derby we flew direct to the Horizontal Falls then on return via Buccaneer Archipelago, as shown in blue flight path.

View of the islands along the coast

Derby jetty, built out into the deep water to allow for the 8 metre plus tides

22 July, 2013


We had been fortunate enough to meet Michael & Kate at the Zebra Rock Mine camp site, who live in Kununurra and have a lake side block which we were offered if we would like during our stay in the area.  As we had initially thought we may only do our shopping and quickly pass through we thought this could be a great opportunity to a look at some other points of interest around Kununurra. After following Michaels mud map we found the spot.   Well this is a dream camp site and we could not believe how lucky we were to be able to say there :0)

It was then that we also decided to do the Triple J Tour on recommendation from Norm and Michael.
Our dream camp site on Lake Kununurra

Hels could not believe .... how lucky!!

Even the odd V8 rumble and wakeboarder

Looking east along the river at sunset

Our panoramic view
The van well protected by beautiful big trees
We booked onto the Saturday Triple J Tour which picked us up from Freshwater Apartments at 9 am for the boat cruise along the Ord River to Lake Argyle and returned us back to Kununurra at 3.30pm by bus.  We travelled 55km by boat, just the boat ride was exhilarating enough with the 3, 350 V8 Yamahas pushing us along and the ride had the feel of a jet boat as we travelled through the rapid water in the upper section climbing 10m to the base of the dam wall.

Commentary was given by Grant the tour guide stopping at various points of interest along the way and using the drop down map to point out the locations. Our tour included a smorgasbord lunch, not knowing exactly what to expect we were again gob smacked as we stopped at their remote site to find eco friendly toilets and tables and benches.  As Grant hurried around to get the lunch out on tables we had nibbles and drinks.  Another amazing lunch with special Triple J pickled egg salad, no one went hungry and I only heard compliments as Grant quickly packed all the empty dishes and cutlery back in the eskys as we boarded the boat.

As it turns out our tour coincided with the 50 year celebration of the Diversion Dam being built in 1963, this also forms part of the road you travel over when heading west from Kununurra.  The diversion dam controls the level for irrigation going out to the Ivanhoe irrigation area while always maintaining a flow in the Ord River and the level in Lake Kununurra.  It was because of this dam that the town of Kununurra was established.  Later in 1972 the second dam was constructed 55km up stream from Kununurra which created Lake Argyle.  As a result of Lake Argyle the wet lands which we travelled through on the Zebra Rock Mine tour (previous blog) became into existence.

It is difficult for me to describe how great it was to travel along this section of river, it's very remote and only accessible by boat so another Kimberley wilderness.  I hope the piccies help but still it's one of those experiences that you can't really capture in a photo.  We did pass some canoeists who had their swags to travel down camping along the way ...... maybe next time.

Triple J cruise boat
The lower section of the trip

3 Yamaha 350 V8's

One of many stops when Grant provided detail commentary

Our lunch stop, green eco friendly loos

This is the narrowest section along the 55km of the Ord.  In a good wet season this can rise 6 meters.

Grant on the job .... what an office

Our first glimpse of the Argyle Dam wall.
Once we reached the base of the dam wall we thanked Grant as we disembarked to get on the bus which took us to the top of the dam wall and on to visit lake Argyle caravan park and the

From the top of the dam wall looking across Lake Argyle

Looking back on the Ord where we had disembarked.  The hydro powerstation on the right 2 units 30MW.

The caravan park pool over looking Lake Argyle, as you cam see a great photo opportunity that couldn't be missed.

The original Durack homestead (Durack being a pioneering family) site is now under water in Lake Argyle however prior to the Lake construction the stones from the homestead were dismantled, marked and stored until such time as it was rebuilt in its current position.  Grave site headstones were also relocated to its present position.  Was interesting walking through the homestead as doorways were aligned to create a breeze way from all sides. 

Headstones of the Durack family were also relocated to the grounds

From the homestead we were transported back to Kununurra with the driver giving us commentary regarding history of the Durack Family.  If anyone has the opportunity to visit Kununurra we would thoroughly recommend the 'Triple J Tours'.

Sunday we travelled into Town checking out a few sights before heading out to Ivanhoe Crossing.  Couldn't spot any crocs so headed back to camp, set up the chairs and with drink in hand, watched all the week-end river traffic coming back from a day of fishing, sightseeing, skiing & wakeboarding.

On Monday we were up early (even Hels is up as the sun comes up around 5.30am) and drove up to Wyndham, approx. 100km north of Kununurra for the day.  Sad to see a lot of the buildings closed and vacant as when we first visited the town back in 1980 the meatworks was still operational and the town was 'alive'.  Hels was looking forward to visiting the Bakery as she remembered sitting at the lookout eating the biggest vanilla slice she had ever seen!  Unfortunately the Bakery is long gone so had to visit the look out empty handed!  Was back in Kununurra for late lunch at the Kimberley CafĂ© before coming back to camp for relax and watching the River run by and another sunset (moon rise).

Wyndham pioneer cemetery, contains 12 workers who died during the construction of the meatworks

Wyndham from the lookout

Some cool dude looking at Wyndham harour

Same cool dude tickling the Wyndham croc

Our view while having happy hour drinks

We set off for Derby on Wednesday after a great 6 days on the banks of the Ord River.