Friday, 1 October 2010

Horizontal Falls

Took another day trip today – this time to Horizontal falls. Horizontal falls are about 150 miles north of Broome in the Buccaneer Archipelago. The Buccaneer archipelago is an area of pristine wilderness consisting of about 1000 uninhabited bays and islands and is one of the remotest areas of the Kimberley. The area has one of the biggest tidal ranges in the world and the ‘falls’ are two places where a bay has only a narrow outlet to the sea and so there is a pinch-point where the incoming or outgoing tide can’t drain fast enough through the narrow gap and there’s a build up on one side. There can be a difference of up to 5 metres but its only safe to take a boat through when the difference is around 1 metre max.
The only way to the falls is three days on a boat or a sea-plane. Since it was a day trip and not a ‘three-day’ trip we took a plane.

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There were about 15 people and I got to sit in the co-pilots seat. There was actually a pilot sitting next to me (you can just see his hands). We flew up over the Dampier peninsula, over Cape Leveque then across King Sound and into the archipelago.

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We landed in a bay where there’s a floating platform, had some lunch and some people swam (but only in a shark cage) for obvious reasons. We did feed the bat fish but then a bull shark turned up and ate them.

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Its quite hard to explain the feeling of isolation the place gives you - knowing that we were the only people for possibly 100 miles around and the sense of a vast wilderness that been unchanged for millions of years. Other than the floating platform there was absolutely no sign that man has ever existed – and hopefully that is the way it will be allowed to stay.

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After taking a very powerful boat through the falls a couple of times in each direction (both with the current and against the current) we cruised round some of the isolated bays for a while. The force of the current through the falls was very impressive – a column of water 90m deep moving about 1,000,000 gallons per minute! The boat had to be really powerful otherwise we’d have got stranded on one side of the falls!

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Found some fish that were quite happy just to let you lift them out of the water!

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We finally had to leave archipelago and take the sea plane for the hour’s trip back to Broome. I could have quite happily stayed there.
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After arriving back in Broome, I headed over to Cable beach to take a final few sunset pictures as I leave tomorrow….:(

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