Derby – Horizontal falls

There are no bad experiences on this trip but some are more memorable than others. Today’s trip is one such example.
We are up and on it, showered, breakfast and double checked everything we are taking with us. Our transport is picking us up at 8.00 am and taking us to the airport where we will board a sea plane for our flight to the Horizontal Falls. Today is not cheap and we do worry it will be money well spent but everyone we talk to insists that it is a must do experience.
We are picked up dead on time and are at the airport in no time. No booking in or security, it’s walk straight on to the Tarmac and after a safety demo we take our seats and taxi to the runway. Now call us stupid but we had no idea that a seaplane had wheels and takes off like any other plane. The flight lasts about 30 mins and flys over the Buccaneer Archipelago with some amazing views and lands wheels up on to the beautiful waters of Talbot Bay where the pontoons are located. It reminds us a bit of the Barrier Reef set up but this is very much high end and it shows. We are given a warm welcome with tea, coffee and water in addition to fresh fruit whilst we are briefed on how the day will pan out. We have opted to do the day tour but there is an option to stay in the floating rooms available and spend the night there with all food drinks and entertainment provided. Just off to the side is a huge French cruise ship who’s passengers are taking helicopter flights.

First we will swim in the shark cage. Yes, shark cage, where as the sharks are fed we snorkel next cage along. These sharks are wild and visit every day for an easy feed. Amazingly, or maybe not we are the first to don snorkel gear and get in. The sharks are huge and we grab the GoPro and do some filming both on top and below the water. We then get changed ready for our first ride of the day in a 900 HP jet boat (fastest boat in the Kimberley) which as it sounds is ridiculously fast but need to be as the water in the falls is a cauldron. We were given advice by someone we met a while back, that we should sit at the very front of the boat and and soon as we done our life jackets we make sure we are first on and we grab the front as planned.
The Falls are created by both outgoing and incoming tides which meet at a large and an extremely small opening in the rock and as this happens chaos ensues in the water as both tides fight for the same spot. The water here is 40 metres deep and is as chaotic below as it is on top. Today we are very lucky as the tide times are in our favour and we will get to go through both gaps which only 10% of people get to do.
With everyone ready and hats removed the pilot nails it and this thing takes off like a drag racer and we are doing 90 km an hour on water. We then bank round and do some hoon type manoeuvres then we come to a stop facing the large opening before once again we are flying in to a cauldron of water with huge rips and sinkholes that are capable of pulling this huge boat below the surface according to jet pilot. We now find out why the boat has to have this huge power as it fights to get back out and in to the semi calm water ahead. We race in and out of this part three times and it’s a blast. That was the easy one apparently and we gun it toward the much narrower gap and if the other one was scary but fun, this is right on the edge of crazy. The water is doing the same as it was at the large gap but in a very much reduced space which creates bedlam and there is a very short window for this part as when the tides settle down there will be a three metre drop and the boat must be on the high side or a chopper would have to come get us because as powerful as the boat is, we are not jumping three metres high. Once again we do some fast laps then crazy guy takes us in to the centre of the gap and sits there controlling the boat for photo’s. The tide is now creating the drop and we get to the upper end thankfully but he the takes us back to the chaotic water and reverses in to the now raging waterfall and the engines are screaming on full power stopping us being sucked back in to and under this torrent. We take the chance to get a pic over his shoulder and then we are glad to be hooning again as we make our way back around to now do a calm sail around the magnificent waterways. The rocks here are billions of years old and were apparently nearer Madagascar a long time ago. The rock looks like it has been forced in to an almost vertical aspect from what would be the usual horizontal plane. There is even rock formations that look like they are waves frozen in time. We get around and see the huge mangroves where our usual friends the crocs hang out but we don’t see any. We also get round to Cyclone bay where the latest addition to this amazing set up is moored. A huge boat complete with helicopter on the roof along with sailing and fishing boats. This can be hired for 24 hour stays with all these toys and pilots at your disposal for as long as you can afford it.
The sun is beating down on us and the heat is intense so we are quite happy to be returning to the pontoon where a barbecued Barramundi lunch awaits us on the top covered deck. Little did we know that we are about to eat what is the best cooked Barramundi ever and there is just heaps of it along with salads and all that other good stuff.
As usual we are the youngest amongst our party and so pig out on second helpings of the Barramundi. There are sea planes arriving and taking off constantly, choppers doing the same, jet boats and even jet ski’s flying around as this place is going off. No sooner did our last inhale of fish hit our stomachs we are called back on to the boat for more of the same manoeuvres except this time the small gap is not available not sure how but we managed to keep our lunch intact and fly around like kids for a while before we get back to the pontoon to clean up, have some water, take some pic’s and wait for our plane which duly arrives to take us back on a different course via King Sound back to Derby airport where we are returned to our accomodation. We get cleaned up and head for the local pub two street away and sink a cold on or maybe two. We then head back knackered and sit out having watched yet another sunset on a fantastic day.

*A wee note just to say that the words and pictures here can in no way get close to describing today’s trip*.

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