Travel Story Kimberley cruises: paradise is now within reach

King George Falls. Picture: Tourism WA.
Photo of Angie Tomlinson

Ever wanted to cruise the Kimberley but thought it'd be too pricey? 

Cruising the Kimberley is often thought of as expensive but changes by operators and new players in the market mean there is now a range of prices and styles of coastal expeditions. 

Kathy Veech, general manager of travel wholesaler Broome, Kimberley and Beyond, says some operators are offering shorter options — perhaps four days to give travellers a Kimberley experience, without it being hugely expensive. She says prices now range from $3400 per person twin share for four nights to the most expensive, a 13-night luxury cruise at $29,995. 

“When the subject of Kimberley cruising comes up, people immediately say, ‘but doesn’t that cost $20,000’, which seems to be the magic amount out there. Some of the cruises do cost this much, but there is a whole range from $4000 to $20,000 with different styles, from a relaxed expedition style right up to five-star expedition cruising,” Ms Veech says.

She says the shorter cruises tended to be at the end of the season in September, when the barramundi are running. The best time to see spectacular waterfalls is at the start of the season around March, following the wet season.

While there has been some shift in prices, there has been no change to the ancient landscapes and attraction of the Kimberley. 

“The Kimberley is a pristine and unique coastline where some of the best bits, like the waterfalls and rock art, can only be accessed by boat,” Ms Veech says. “It’s such a rich experience and tends to be a real bucket-list item for people.”

The top Kimberley attractions include experiencing Horizontal Falls in a tender boat, the tidal phenomenon of Montgomery Reef, a helicopter ride over Mitchell Falls, fishing for barramundi, Aboriginal tourism experiences, ancient rock art, and the birdlife and fauna.

Ms Veech says the vast majority of travellers to the Kimberley were Australians, but most came from the Eastern States. “Traditionally it’s been hard to sell WA to Western Australians. They already have their favourite spots and, of course, you are competing against the cheap Asian destinations.” 

Cruise boat sizes in the Kimberley generally run from 12 to 200 people, with most offering an expedition style of cruising similar to that in the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica. 

At top: Montgomery Reef, Kimberley. Picture: Tourism WA

Some Kimberley cruise options

Among the many options available are:

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