When we reunited with our friends the Blockshoppers in Broome, they raved about the Horizontal Falls tour they did only days before in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Their parents had joined them for a few weeks traveling from Darwin to Broome and they all agreed that it was the highlight of their time together.
Well, we better do the Horizontal Falls trip then we all agreed!
It didn’t let us down.
It was a treat to be flying back over the Buccaneer Archipelago to the falls at Talbot Bay, which is almost around the corner from where we once worked on the pearl farm in Kuri Bay. We’d moor the work boats in Talbot Bay when a cyclone came whipping through.
But, back to the Horizontal Falls trip.
It started with a 90-minute scenic flight over the Kimberley coastline from Broome to Talbot Bay, our commute path when we worked at Kuri Bay. My excitement to be back on a seaplane overrode the pain of a 5:30am take off.
A sea plane is my favourite way to fly; the landings and takeoffs are so smooth you don’t even realise you’ve done them.
The girls were so excited to be experiencing it for the first time. Although, after this small plane flight on Fraser Island that terrified Kalyra she was a little shaky.
On our pearl farm commute we’d fly quite high over this region, but on the Horizontal Falls tour, we took off over famous Cable Beach and then flew quite low for a closer look at the stunning coastline.
This alone made the trip worthwhile.
It was amazing to get a birds eye view of those red cliffs, the white sand and turquoise water. More people need to come and see this stunning region of The Kimberley (or maybe not!)
Then we flew low over the Buccaneer Archipelago, which is a series of over 800 small islands.
We were looking for whales and crocodiles but had no luck. We only saw pristine and isolated rocky islands with high cliffs, some sparsely vegetated with patches of rainforest and beaches and fringed by mangroves (the perfect croc habitat.).
Kalyra had relaxed by now and was pretty amazed by it all and had her head pressed up against the glass for most of the trip.
But the best was yet to come.
Our scenic flight ended with a fly over the Horizontal Falls before gliding into the calm waters of Talbot Bay and came to a halt at the permanent mooring to get ready to see the falls up close by jet boat.
We’d heard so much about the falls during our time at Kuri Bay, but had never gone to visit. You can only visit the falls on a tour and with an experienced boat driver.
The Horizontal Falls are a natural phenomena!
The horizontal waterfalls are created by two narrow openings between two escarpments. The tides in this region are some of the biggest in the world and can reach a difference of up to 12 metres.
As the tides change from low to high (and vice versa) they are sending an immense amount of water from one bay to another. The build up of that water forms a drop of up to four metres, hence creating a horizontal waterfall.
Jet boat through the Horizontal Falls
Yeah! It was thrill time.
I was a little nervous with the girls, but I held Savannah tight and Kalyra squeezed her daddy.
You can only go through the Horizontal Falls on the boat when the drop is no higher than one metre, otherwise, it’s too dangerous. We were there just in time before it got higher and we went screaming through the first one.
Once Kalyra knew it was safe she threw up her hands and squealed, “this is so much fun!”
The second opening was much narrower than the first (at 12 metres) and kinda made you hold your breath a little bit, hoping he was going to pick the gap with all that gushing water. As I said, you have to do this with experienced drivers.
We kept going back and forth speeding through the gap and getting a feel for the immense power of water.
Our driver and guide was very knowledgeable and stopped to tell us a lot about the region and the falls and allowed us a slower move through to get an understanding of how that water moves and changes.
The rest of the half-day tour was a little more sedate.
We had a breakfast of bacon and egg rolls with stunning views of the bay and then headed down to the netted pool for a swim with sharks.
About three tawny nurse sharks came up to the cage for some feeding. They are very careful to feed them only a small amount so it does no affect their normal hunting habits.
It was pretty awesome to be so close to these sharks.
Kalyra went under water with Craig with snorkels on to try and get face to face with them, but she only caught the swish of its tail – and was excited!
We finished off the tour with a calm boat tour up Cyclone Creek through the mangroves and past the stunning landscape of The Kimberley.
I loved sitting back and soaking up this region that I love so much.
Working at Kuri Bay was the most exciting, exotic adventure I ever had. The Kimberley region is like Africa, it gets under your skin and into your heart and you can’t ever get it out of your system.
It’s just an ancient, magnificent wonder.
We were all a little sleepy on the return seaplane home. We flew back over inland so didn’t feel like we missed much of a viewing opportunity. Although coming back into Broome over Roebuck Bay to see that palette of emerald green, turquoise blue, and red pindan just blew my mind.
The most magical place on earth.
Like our Blockshopper friends said, the Horizontal Falls trip was a highlight.
Thanks to the guys at Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures for covering the cost of our half day tour. It was the day before my birthday, so I’ll claim it as a special birthday treat!
The Horizontal Falls trip is expensive, but if it’s a bucket list experience for you, then it’s worth it.
I think this region is one of the most special in Australia and deserves to be experienced. And described by David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”.
Horizontal Falls Tours:
Cost: Half day tour $795 per adult or $695 per child (4 – 12 YRS). You can also do a full day tour combining Cape Leveque $895 per adult or $745 per child, although I think this could be a really exhausting day if you have young kids. Prices are slightly cheaper for a full day tour if you depart from Derby, $695 per adult or $595 per child
Cost: Half day tour $795 per adult or $695 per child (4 – 12 YRS).
You can also do a full day tour combining Cape Leveque $895 per adult or $745 per child, although I think this could be a really exhausting day if you have young kids.
Prices are slightly cheaper for a full day tour if you depart from Derby, $695 per adult or $595 per child