CHILDHOOD memories watching Malcolm Douglas explore the Kimberley by trailer boat, canoe and kayak really cemented that part of Australia into my bucket list at a very early age.
One trip I watched Malcolm and friends spend two weeks floating, dragging and carrying canoes along the Charnley River before finally reaching the Walcott Inlet.
It was here the canoes, around 4.5 m in length, were fitted with outriggers and small outboard motors and they were turned into sea going craft which travelled down to Cockatoo Island to drop of their aboriginal companions before heading back out to explore Montgomery reef and other stunning locations before making their way back to Derby.
It was really rammed home to me then, you don’t need a large vessel to experience this wild remote section of Australia, but you do need to possess that yearning for adventure.
For me the idea of swagging it on one of the hundreds of Islands in the Buccaneer Archipelagos or camped alongside one of the creeks that pour into an inlet along the mainland had more appeal than a luxury suite on of the tourist cruise boats that plies the coast during the tourist season.
Finally, the plans had finally come together and this bucket list trip was about to begin.
The trailer boat had been launched at Broome and now lay at anchor off Cable beach.
Three of us were on the boat and we were all pretty much happy to have a predominantly fish diet while we traveled the Kimberley, but this diet would also include fresh oysters and mud crabs and some places yielded wild bananas and figs.
We also carried a few packs of sausages for a break from the seafood diet, along with rice, wraps, mayonnaise, condiments and plenty of fluids to keep hydrated.
Our first leg would be north towards Cape Leveque, fishing along the way. There were the sailfish grounds to fish off Willie Creek. We fished these hard but it soon became apparent any fish we hooked would be lost to the voracious packs of sharks that dogged us for this leg of the trip.
Cape Leveque is one of those jaw dropping places, so stunning that Qantas used this location for its ad which would screen across our tellies and inflight screens drumming home the message that “I still call Australia home “.
The community at One Arm point gave us the chance restock up of fuel and food for this next leg of the trip. Cape Leveque is the start of the spectacular Kimberley coast line, such famous places as King Sound, Whirl Pool Passage, Cascade, Cone and Strickland Bays along with probably the most famous location, the horizontal waterfalls in Talbot Bay.
We were to visit these and many more other places, the islands of the Buccaneer Archipelagos.
Montgomery Reef, Raft Point and many of the freshwater streams and inlets over the course of our travels.
Like Malcolm Douglas your preparations might just be as simple as a canoe or kayak, swag, a box of matches and some fishing gear.
When Malcolm explored the Kimberley, he quite often had a 44-gallon drum of fuel tied in the centre of his boat or he arranged for drums of fuel to be dropped off to pre-arranged destinations.
We are spoilt these days. A fuel barge at Dog Leg Creek meant a refueling stop for us on the way up along the coast and again on our return trip.
Days spent cruising the incredible cobalt blue waters of the Kimberley, fishing blue holes amongst the reefs, swimming in the gin clear stream above the waterfalls where it was a crocodile free zone. Fishing the lumps of reef that showed thick with fish on the sounder.
Cruising and fishing the magnificent Montgomery Reef system where the 10 metre tides make for a spectacular vision as the water drops so quick that water cascades off the edge of the reef making for an exceptional fishing location.
The Kimberley experience is within reach of most small boaties. Do your research; make sure you have a good plotter and chart program along with communications equipment and don’t forget your fishing gear and sense of adventure!