We motored out of Darwin on a clear sunny day, taking some dayhops down the coast before crossing the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf. From what we’ve heard, motoring is something we had better get used to, as at this time of year there is not much wind around.
We slowly chugged across the border into WA to very a warm welcome – in more than just the weather. Dolphins came to greet us and humpback whales were breaching right in front of us. Simon got quite a shock exclaiming, “there’s either whales up ahead or a plane just crashed into the water!” Apparently they are not usually this far north so I guess we were just really lucky. Both of us were longing for a swim and what started out as a joke began to form into a cunning plan, “So cunning, you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel”. Let’s pull the sails down and jump in I suggested. A few hours of sweating in the cockpit pass before Simon says, maybe we should go for a swim you know. Before he could say any more, I was up on deck pulling our limp main down - now employed as an overpriced shade cloth. I turned to find him streaming ropes behind, while at the same time tearing his shirt off and diving in. I didn’t need much encouragement, and after quickly grabbing the spear gun, followed him in. The water was crystal clear and despite being 26 degrees felt lovely and cool. It was so calm we even had a chance to scrape the prop and bottom. Thanks for the great welcome WA!
We timed our passage across the Gulf well and arrived into Koolama Bay early afternoon allowing us to pick a nice anchorage and survey the sand banks to find the deepest path into the King George River.
Leaving all the other keelboats in the rolly bay, we awoke a little late… oops, after high tide but we decided to risk entering the river on the ebb. There turned out to be just enough water (for the keel) and before we knew it we were cruising right next to the dramatic red cliff faces you see in all the tourist brochures, except we were the only boat in the river.
We were only going to have a few days to explore the river as the tides would start dropping off towards the end of the week so we set off early with a packed lunch to explore the East arm of the river, where there is said to be some fresh water pools (ohh… could we be so lucky and have another swim???) and some aboriginal art.
Wow – the East arm was amazing. After a very daunting climb – up the waterfall cliff face – with Simon hanging over the top after monkeying up the cliff in seconds and saying look up for a photo and look scared (like that was hard) I clawed myself over the last rock with shaky knees and ragged breath only to be blown away by the most serene pool protected by red cliffs all around and another waterfall.
We decided to leave our packs at the pool and swim to the next waterfall, which again we had to scale, but this time without ropes and from a swimming start to look for the aboriginal rock art. After about 2 hours clambering around in the raving in the searing heat, Simon gave up and lay in the shade while I kept up the pace heading inland. I finally found some of the art but by this time was wet with sweat, my face was burning and I was wishing I had carried my pack with water after all and couldn’t stomach heading back for the camera Simon had cleverly held onto. We gratefully returned to the pool and spent the afternoon wallowing in the chilling fresh water.