Friday, 19 August 2011

Horizontal Falls - 6 hr flight, jet boating, swimming & fun, fun, fun

The Horizontal Falls aren't actually waterfalls,but a very fast moving tidal flow between two narrow gorges of the McLarty Range located in Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago, north of Derby & Broome in WA.

There are 2 gorges, created over millions of yrs from a small crack in the range to now being  20 metres wide in 1 &  and the other is 12 metres. Above each of the gorges are natural reservoirs of between 6 and 8 km long which fill and empty with seawater through the gorge openings. As the water passes through the narrow openings, changing tides can give rise to a couple of metres height difference in the sea level between both sides. The direction of the flow reverses with each turning tide. As the tides in the Kimberley can run up to 10 metres, so the flow on a large tide is spectacular.

To get to these spectacular falls we needed to spend up big on a ticket for the trip, take a 40min flight in a sea plane, hop onto their pontoon in Talbot Bay near the falls once we land on the water, & take a 600HP boat ride through the gaps in the range that create the 'falls'. Thrown in is a shark proof cage to swim in & a Barramundi BBQ lunch.
The sea plane is just a little bigger than our last plane trip over the Bungles - this 1 is 14 seats!!
We flew out from Derby - I have taken a pic of the brochure to give you an idea of where we are going.
We fly over the tidal mud flats of King Sound that joins the main land, following the right hand flight path on the pic.

I didn't realize how flat this area was with the tidal creeks & rivers forming amazing patterns in the mud.

After about 40 mins of amazing views, we fly over what we've paid lots of $$ to come & see. The tide was coming in & you can see the rush of the water through the narrow gaps. it was about 0900 & high tide was expected to be about 2pm.

This is the bay we land in.

The pontoon, shark cage & overnight accommodation vessel, fast boats & another slower boat all attached as 1 unit. Our sea plane also is roped to our little Island.

Sharks & smaller fish are swimming around us, there are no side rails to stoop us falling into the water, so we watch our steps carefully.

We weren't on the pontoon long, when we don our safety jackets & board our 600HP boat. Rod must have been a little shy this day to have his pic taken. I get to sit up the back - best seat on the boat I thought. :)
Everyone else sits on cushioned straddle seats for support in fast cornering during our ride.

We face up to the wider of the 2 falls.
With the motor just idling for a bit, you can feel the pull of the tidal flow. Then the driver powers up the 2 motors again & off we go, through the gap to the other side into  amazing washing machine like whirlpools.

He takes up through this 1 twice before heading off to the next falls. The feeling is exhilarating.
The camera is taking too many pics & the video camera was getting it's fill as well!!

A short distance away was the narrower 2nd falls.

Check out the apparent drop in the water levels :) This boat driver only looks 25yrts old, so I hope he's a competent driver  :)

The turbulence in the water in the narrow gap is amazing.

Through we go again & the feeling is still exciting!

Back to our base pontoon again after what was an amazing ride. This boat is used for overnight trippers.

Lunch is a while away, so we watch out guide feed some smaller friendlier sharks. 

Another sea plane comes in to land at the pontoon.

& takes off with it's load of passengers - fortunately not us.........yet

Our guide takes us in the slower boat up a creek that feeds into the area. 1st he shows us his & a colleague's home for 10 mths whilst doing the tour guide thing on the pontoon. The 'house' is a 50yr old pearl pontoon. He & his mate have added their own touches to make it more of a home to them - mirror ball, sound & flat screen equipment to name a few. The only thing they don't have is internet!!!

He's been living here for the 10mths each yr for several yrs & has made friends with several Bat Fish which he feeds & gets to hold. Once 1 get a hold, the rest of it's 'friends' follow suit. They can only be out of the water for a few mins at a time.

Don't let those docile eyes mislead you, 'cos they can suck up a piece of wet bread in  less than a blink of an eye...........demo was done out & in the water
cruising around the bays also was amazing.

After our Barramindi on the BBQ lunch, our young guide took us out to the falls again for another ride through them. The tide hadn't yet reached it's dangerous levels of 'no go zone' yet.

Of course the ride & views were just as exciting as it was earlier.

Our journey was nearly finished. We were loaded into our little sea plane again, with life jacket attached to our waists once more for the return journey back to Derby. This time we flew over more of the 1,000 islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago & King Sound.

Some of the 1,000 islands of the archipelago - spectacular.

Islands in the King Sound

Reaching the mainland again

The mud flats are mostly dry during the 'dry' season, so lots of people love making patterns in the dried mud surface with their vehicle tyres. Several like this were seen from the air.

We landed safely again in Derby after an amazing 6 hr journey. We had a great day & loved every minute of it. Spectacular stuff, known by only a few, & seen by less folks due to it's remoteness & cost to get there.

Makes you wonder why mining companies want to rip  it up to mine copper in  Talbot Bay & within 100 mtrs from the actual falls. 'NO' is what I say.
Why does Oz have to be treated like a quarry for the rest of the developing world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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