While in Broome, we booked a scenic flight and day tour out to visit the Horizontal Falls. What a fantastic adventure!
Once described by David Attenborough as “Australia’s most unusual natural wonder”, the Horizontal Falls are situated 220 kms north east of Broome, in the unbelievably turquoise waters of Talbot Bay. The ‘falls’ are created by the powerful movement of tidal waters rushing through two very narrow gorges, which produce ‘waterfalls’ – albeit horizontal ones! The tides up here in the Kimberley can rise and fall up to ten metres each time, with the directional flow of the falls reversing with each tidal rise and fall.
We chose Go Horizontal Falls Tours as it offered a great balance of both scenic flight and boat options – including viewing the falls from the air, before landing and boarding a boat for a white knuckle ride back and forth multiple times through the falls.
We boarded our 13-seat Cessna Caravan aircraft in Broome, bound for Cockatoo Island. The map below gives an indication of the route and points of interest on our Go Horizontal Falls cruise (although, technically, in the reverse order, as we flew there across King Sound and over the Horizontal Falls, while the return flight took us over the beautiful Buccaneer Archipelago and Cape Leveque).
The flight over King Sound up to Cockatoo Island took us over spectacular ‘Top End’ coastal scenery.
The plane landed at remote Cockatoo Island, once an operational iron ore mine and also one-time luxury resort built by Alan and Eileen Bond in the 1980s.
The next part of our wonderful tour saw us climbing aboard a custom-built 750hp Air Rider for a cruise from Cockatoo Island through Yampi Sound to the Horizontal Falls, approximately 40 kms.
The cruise took us through pristine waters and past islands, sandy bays and estuaries.
But the highlight was the much-anticipated (twin) Horizontal Falls, seen in the next two aerial shots.
In the end, we went back and forth through the falls five times! It was incredible fun! (And, in truth, we suspect our skipper enjoyed it just as much as his passengers!)
The cruise out to the falls and back took us past the hematite iron ore mines on Cockatoo Island (now abandoned) and also the larger still-operational mine at Koolan Island.
The cruise also stopped at a beautiful secluded sandy beach, where we had to climb down the ladder and wade ashore. The geological formations on the beach had to be seen to be believed, and changed again just metres away on the other side of the island.
On the way back to Cockatoo Island, we sailed through this ‘mangrove creek’ separating two islands. There is next to no water at low tide … you could walk it (as long as you kept a vigilant look out for saltwater crocodiles!).
As is the case right across the Kimberley, we saw spectacular rock formations – and wondered in amazement at the incredible geological forces that happened millions of years ago to make these land forms.
Our flight back to Broome took us over the incredible Buccaneer Archipelago, which comprises somewhere between 800 and 1,000 islands, and delivered us back in time to enjoy yet another Broome sunset.
What a way to tick off another item on the bucket list! A spectacular day!
Check out a video highlights of the day …