Wildlife Group Tour

Australia Cruise with Chris Packham

Luxury Kimberley Cruise with Chris Packham

17 days

from £16,500pp
  • Travel aboard the luxury expedition small ship, True North, in the company of Chris Packham
  • Take a helicopter journey to the top of Eagle Falls for a picnic lunch
  • Learn about the 'Bradshaws' - ancient rock art, possibly the oldest paintings known to man
  • Chris will be joined by local birding expert, George Swann to maximise birding potential

 Following our successful charter of the True North in Papua New Guinea, we are excited to offer another exclusive adventure on the True North with Chris Packham, this time in the Kimberley. Located in the north west of Australia, the Kimberley are renowned for being a region of outstanding beauty, dotted with spectacular waterfalls, billabongs, enigmatic rock-art and home to an array of extraordinary wildlife.

Our luxury Australian cruise covers over a thousand nautical miles, travelling from Wyndham in the east to Broome in the west. The Kimberley’s most iconic sites are included in the itinerary such as the King George Falls, the Hunter River, the Prince Regent River, Montgomery Reef and the Horizontal Waterfalls…all explored from the luxury platform of the True North.

Explore the Kimberley by helicopter

On this charter, the cost includes a helicopter excursion to Eagle Falls on the Drysdale River, a location only accessible by helicopter. After a short flight across the rugged Kimberley landscape, touch down at a secluded location where the True North’s friendly crew will be waiting. Take guided walks in search of rock art before cooling off by swimming in and around waterfalls. The landscape here is remote and untouched, providing a beautiful vista for photography. While the group is busy exploring, the ship chefs will be busy preparing a sumptuous bush barbeque. There are approx. 20 other helicopter flight excursions that can be booked on this cruise however please note that the cost shown only includes the Eagle Falls excursion outlined above.

What will the Kimberley be like in late April?

We have chosen to charter our trip to coincide with the end of the wet season. At this time the waterfalls are in full flow, thundering off the edge of Kimberley’s iconic sandstone cliffs and provide a dramatic backdrop for photographers. The electrical storms at this time of the year can also be very dramatic providing spectacular light shows.

Viewing rock art in the Kimberley

Much of the rock art visited on the cruise is only accessible by water or by helicopter and some examples are believed by many to be the oldest paintings known to man. There are excellent examples of both Wandjina and Bradshaw art, depicting images of human like spirits and in some cases, the Rainbow Serpent. Staff on board the True North have good knowledge of the rock art and can help in giving modern day interpretations of what is seen. There is no question, the rock art in the Kimberleys is of profound importance to our understanding of human occupation across Australia and gives fascinating insight into early man’s perception of his place in the world.

The Kimberley Foundation’s chief executive, Cas Bennetto believes the rock art in the Kimberleys “contains evidence of Australia’s earliest settlement and it’s a remarkable and unequalled historical resource for the world. Rock art is central to answering some of the big questions about human migration.”

Birding in the Kimberley

Over 300 species of birds can be found in the Kimberley, from endemics to migrants, pelagic birds and waders, colourful parrots and cockatoos to herons, egrets, ibises, bitterns, geese and ducks. Other specific birds of interest are rainbow bee-eaters, great bowerbirds, spinifex pigeon, blue-winged kookaburra and possibly the sacred kingfisher which is a migrant that lives in the Kimberley during the wet season.George Swann has been studying the birds of Kimberley for almost 27 years and will be on hand throughout the cruise to identify the birds that are seen. George knows the best spots for birdwatching and along with Chris Packham, will lead dedicated birding excursions, from tenders and on foot.

Chris Packham's role

Chris's knowledge of natural history is second to none and he imparts this knowledge in an eloquent and engaging fashion when on board. Whether talking over dinner, providing narrative in the field, delivering a lecture on board or giving a spontaneous chat over drinks in the bar, what Chris has to say is always worth hearing.
Opportunities for birding are abundant in the Kimberley and with Chris Packham and George Swann on board, there will be excursions ashore to discover local fauna and flora. Having spent the day exploring, return to your floating boutique hotel and have a drink in the bar with Chris Packham and the North Star team. Chris will be giving talks on board and will also be on hand to assist with any photographic tuition you might need.
Feedback from Steppes Travel's Papua New Guinea cruise with Chris:

"Chris Packham delivered unusual and interesting bites of information throughout but was equally happy to stay in the background when appropriate. He was approachable, sociable, humorous and generous with his advice when asked"

"Chris Packham exceeded our expectations. He was generous with his time and knowledge - and even shared some photos."

Fishing and Crocs

Our Kimberley cruise provides ample opportunity for big game fishing. The Drysdale River is renowned for mangrove jack while the Mitchell River and the Roe River are famous for being home to some of Australia’s biggest barracuda. The crew on board the True North know these waters extremely well and will give as much help and guidance as is needed. All fishing equipment is provided – you just need to provide patience along with a bit of luck of course.

Crocodiles will be permanent companions on this trip and there will be several opportunities to photograph Australia’s most infamous resident. Water levels will be high at this time of year but it is still likely that crocs will be seen both in and out of the water, making for exciting photographic opportunities.



Departing on:
  • 19th April 2018

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

DEPART UKARRIVE UKPrice Excluding Flights (£)Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
19th Apr 2018 5th May 2018 £ 16,500 call £ 9,900 Chris Packham Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accompanied by Chris Packham whilst on board the True North
  • Accompanied by ornithologist George Swann
  • Cruise on board the True North from Wyndham to Broome
  • Fishing, boat and land based excursions
  • Full board on the True North
  • Non alcoholic drinks whilst on board the True North
  • One helicopter flight at Eagle Falls

what is excluded

  • Additional Helicopter flights
  • Alcoholic drinks on board the True North
  • Australian Visa
  • Domestic flights within Australia
  • Gratuities for on board crew
  • International flights
  • Internet connection on board
  • Laundry
  • Post cruise accommodation
  • Pre cruise accommodation (Perth accom on 20th Apr)

PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE FLIGHT COST IS A SUGGESTED FROM PRICE. FLIGHT COSTS WILL BE CONFIRMED AT TIME OF BOOKING. ALL FLIGHTS ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Dubai

Day 2

Fly Dubai to Perth


You will be staying at Crown Towers Perth

Day 3

Fly Perth to Kununurra


Kununurra to Wyndham & Embarkation
Travel by coach from Kununurra to Wyndham to board the True North. Embarkation is at 1700 in time for a cocktail with fellow travellers before departing at approximately 1830. Dinner is served shortly after leaving port and then it's an overnight cruise to the King George River.

In the far northwest of Australia lies The Kimberley; an ancient landform of rugged ranges with deep, spectacular gorges, pristine sandy beaches and mighty river systems that produce cascading waterfalls during the wet season. Unexplored caves hide Bradshaw rock paintings, so old that even the aboriginal people do not know their origins, and cattle stations are so large that your next door neighbour can be 2 hours away! Most famous of the Kimberley towns is Broome, a relaxed seaside town which was established as a pearling port in the 1880’s.


You will be staying at True North Boat

Day 4

King George Falls
As soon as the tide is high enough today, the True North will cross the sand bar at the mouth of the mighty King George to reveal a breathtaking river vista. Journey upstream to the 'jewel in the crown' - The King George Falls. Once anchored at the base of the Twin Falls there are endless places to explore. Climb to the top of the falls for a cruise highlight or for those wishing to travel to the top by helicopter, this is possible at additional cost.

This afternoon learn about the history of the wreck of the Koolama and take a stroll on the beach at Tranquil Bay.


You will be staying at True North Boat

Day 5

Vansittart Bay & Cape Londonderry
This morning the keen fishermen among the group will rise early and head into the beautiful waters of Vansittart Bay, in search of mangrove jack and the prized barramundi. There will also be opportunities for some bird watching and beachcombing and for an additional charge, the option of joining a scenic flight to Cape Londonderry - the northern most point of Western Australia.


You will be staying at True North Boat

Day 6

Bradshaws & Eagle Falls
Today visit the "Bradshaws" - ancient rock art that pre-dates other examples of Aboriginal culture and are possibly the oldest 'paintings' known to man. Take a breathtaking helicopter flight up to Eagle Falls for a gourmet picnic lunch alongside a picture-perfect waterfall. This experience is a highlight for many people and is included for everyone onboard.

This afternoon explore local beaches and rivers on board the expedition boats and visit an isolated site in the rainforest where a lone bomber crashed during WWII.


You will be staying at True North Boat

Day 7

Mitchell River & Falls
The Mitchell River is renowned for big barramundi and even bigger crocodile. The expedition boats will head up river to the scenic Surveyors Creek - a beautiful and safe place for a swim. Any keen fishermen can again join the hunt for the elusive barramundi and, for anyone wishing to pay for additional helicopter rides, there will be more opportunities for flights over this ancient land, including the spectacular Mitchell Falls.

This evening join the crew for cocktail hour before experiencing another unique dining experience.


You will be staying at True North Boat

Day 8

Oysters, The Voltaire Passage & Pearling
After an early morning breakfast, join the 'hunt for the black-lip oyster'. Savour their unique taste direct from the rocks with a little freshly squeezed lemon. There are also some excellent examples of both Wandjina and Bradshaw art nearby and the waters are alive with light game species such as queenfish, giant trevally and mackerel.

This afternoon explore Voltaire Passage and the many surrounding islands. Back on board, the crew will explain the fascinating process of pearl farming before the on board pearl party. Enjoy a glass of bubbly and a taste of pearl meat, whilst trying on exquisite pieces of jewellery created by the artistes at Allure, Jewels of the Kimberley and Kimberley Fine Diamonds.


You will be staying at True North Boat

Day 9

Roe River & onwards to Prince Frederick Harbour
Explore the Roe River, which boasts one of the highest crocodile counts in the Kimberley and offers another great opportunity to catch barramundi. The Roe was named after the Surveyor-General of Western Australia - John Septimus Roe who conducted numerous expeditions along the Kimberley coast between 1829 & 1849. For those wishing to explore the dramatic maze of creeks and endless coast from above, this is possible from the ship's helicopter, at additional cost.

In the afternoon sail into Prince Frederick Harbour for sunset drinks on Art Island.


You will be staying at True North Boat

Day 10

Hunter River
Wake this morning on the magnificent Hunter River. The Hunter is about as far away as one can get in Australia - a stunning river system that is lined with dense mangrove forests, surrounded by rainforest encrusted mountains and home to many crocodiles. The Hunter has it all - fishing, mud crabbing, bird-watching and simply exploring where few have been before. Join one of the expedition boats, take a short hike to Jackson Falls or for those wishing to take to the skies for fabulous views of the mangroves, board the ships helicopter at an additional cost.


You will be staying at True North Boat

Day 11

Prince Regent River & Kings Cascade
Today on the Prince Regent River there is another chance for some fishing, before continuing onto Kings Cascades where the True North will manoeuvre right under the falls. Stretch the laces on your hiking boots and swim in a crystal-clear billabong before spending time with renowned ornithologist George Swann, searching for the black grass wren, a notoriously shy bird that is endemic to this region.

Back to the expedition boats to cruise upstream to the amphitheatre, a tall drop waterfall fringed by mangroves and ferns, that flows into a narrow tributary of the Prince Regent River.


You will be staying at True North Boat

Day 12

Prince Regent River
Today there are a number of optional helicopter excursions on offer at additional cost, including a breath-taking flight to a hidden billabong for a picnic lunch. For those seeking alternative activities there is the option for some barramundi fishing at the mouth of the river, further exploration of the river and tributaries on board the expedition boats or maybe take a hike to Camp Creek for a swim. Guests not joining the helicopter picnic will be served lunch on board the True North.

Once everyone is back on board, the ship will sail to its overnight anchorage.


You will be staying at True North Boat

Day 13

Raft Point & Montgomery Reef
This morning wake to the impressive silhouette of Raft Point. Here, join the crew for a moderate climb to an art gallery with a difference and, the well-preserved Raft Point Wandjina paintings.

Take lunch on board as True North begins the short cruise to Montgomery Reef. Montgomery is a unique eco-system that must be seen to be believed, as 140 square miles of coral reef rises out of the ocean right before your eyes. Water cascades from the reef as the tide falls exposing a privileged glimpse of another world. Turtles, dugong, manta rays and every imaginable sea creature abound. It is also possible to view the reef from the air on board the ships helicopter, at additional cost.


You will be staying at True North Boat

Day 14

Horizontal Falls & Silica Beach
Today visit the Horizontal Fall and experience the awesome power of the region's huge tidal range in an exhilarating expedition boat ride. There is also the option to view the falls from the air at additional cost.

This afternoon take a swim at Crocodile Creek and a walk on Silica Beach.


You will be staying at True North Boat

Day 15

Lacepedes Islands & Cruise to Broome
Overnight the True North will cruise down the Dampier Peninsular to the remote Lacepedes, a group of four islands located approximately 120km's north of Broome. These guano-soaked islands were once claimed as territory of the United States but ownership long-ago returned to the original inhabitants. The landscape is low coarse sand and coral rubble, lying atop a platform coral reef and the horizon is treeless. However, amongst the scrub we will find squadrons of brown boobie nests. The brown boobie colony found here is recognised as possibly the largest breeding colony for Brown Booby in the Indian Ocean and even the world. Roseate Terns also number in the tens of thousands. Other birds breeding on the islands include masked boobies, Australian pelicans, lesser frigatebirds, eastern reef egrets, silver gulls, crested, bridled and lesser crested terns, common noddies, and pied and sooty oystercatchers. Visiting waders include grey-tailed tattlers, ruddy turnstones, great knots and greater sand plovers. The islands are also an important rookery for green sea turtles.

Before landing George Swann and the ship's biologist will give a talk advising on the do's and dont's whilst on the islands, in order to avoid disturbing the nesting birds.

Back on-board enjoy a farewell dinner as the ship sails down the Dampier Peninsula towards the final destination of Broome.


You will be staying at True North Boat

Day 16

Disembarkation in Broome
Arrive into Broome this morning and disembark the True North. Board a coach transfer to your accommodation or connecting flights.

Fly Broome to Perth

Fly Perth to Dubai

Day 17

Fly Dubai to London

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

True North Boat

True North Boat

True North is a luxury adventure cruise ship which was purpose built to access shallow coastal areas that are unreachable by larger vessels....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Australia

Amy Waters, Travel Expert

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Charles Knights, Travel Expert

"Charles was most attentive without becoming intrusive, he changed the schedule several times to meet our changing needs."

"Charles was extremely helpful, swift in replying to emails and when he was away another consultant carried on the good work."

"Charles Knights was superb. He gave us all the information we requested, was very patient with the number of queries we had running up to our trip and was extremely helpful throughout from the start thinking about our trip to taking off. Fantastic service."

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Host

Chris Packham

Chris Packham
An accomplished photographer, cameraman, writer, conservationist and presenter, Chris Packham has become synonymous with natural history in the UK. His photography is innovative and thought provoking and has been shown at various exhibitions around the world and in numerous books. His TV work started with the award winning Really Wild Show in 1986 and has been prolific ever since. Credits include Wildshots , Wild watch , and Go Wild. His most recent works are BBC 2’s SpringWatch, AutumnWatch, and WinterWatch and Nature’s Weirdest Events.



Chris has explored many habitats from Antarctic Islands, rainforests, deserts, the Everest range, the deep oceans and some of the planet’s most notorious nightclubs and drinking dens. He has the honour of being a pro-active president, vice president and patron of some notable conservation charities and regularly expounds his entertaining, pragmatic, enthusiastic, and occasionally controversial view, on the environment and its care.
Enquire about this Wildlife tour:

Group Size:

Min 24 / Max 31

Tour Expert:

Chris Packham

Departure Date (S):

  • 19th April 2018

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