Have you heard of the amazing natural wonder of the Horizontal falls?
Or, perhaps you have heard about the Horizontal falls boat trip?
I hadn’t, but Greg sure had. He put visiting the Horizontal Falls at the top of our must do list in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Here is our review of our overnight trip to the Horizontal Falls.
As retirees enjoying travel around Australia we kept meeting people talking about the Horizontal Falls. The discussions heated up as we entered the Kimberley, particularly as we moved towards the west. We met countless people who said they were going, or had been, to the Horizontal Falls. Out of all the Kimberley tours,the Horizontal Falls seemed to be the most popular.
About The Horizontal Falls
The Horizontal Falls lies in Talbot Bay, within the Buccaneer Archipelago, on the Western Australian coastline. This is one of the most remote areas of the Kimberleys and can only be accessed by boat, seaplane or helicopter from Derby or Broome.
There are two horizontal waterfalls. Water gushes horizontally, rather than vertically, between the narrowly aligned cliffs as the tides change. The tidal change at it peak can be 5 metres. This creates the spectacular horizontal falls.
Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures
Derby Overnight Tour
We decided to do the overnight tour from Derby. There are various Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures tours available from Broome and Derby.
The cost of the Derby Overnight Tour for us as a couple was $1,790.00 per couple (June 2017). That is expensive! But this was something Greg had been wanting to do for a long time. We decided if we were going, we might as well stay overnight.
Courtesy transfers to and from our accommodation
A mini bus picked all passengers up from the various accommodation sites around Derby. The courtesy transfer to and from the Derby Airport was included in the price.
Scenic Seaplane Flights
At Derby Airport we boarded a seaplane to take us out to Talbot Bay, in the Buccaneer Archipelago.
Let me tell you, we were excited. And we were not disappointed. The scenery on the way to Talbot bay was wonderful. We enjoyed views of the huge tidal mud flats out from Derby.
Then we flew onto the Buccaneer Archipelago. A highlight was flying over the Horizontal Falls before coming in for a water landing on Talbot Bay. The turquoise water in Talbot Bay was calm and we experienced a very smooth landing. This was when we caught our first glimpse of the houseboat complex where we were to stay. What a set up!
Three houseboats are connected to form one large hotel type complex. The houseboat includes overnight accommodation, meal, entertainment,and walkway areas, plus a helipad and shark viewing area.
Once on the houseboat, we were introduced to staff and allocated an air-conditioned small double bedroom. Bathrooms and toilets were communal.
The first activity was observing the sharks being fed. The sharks swam into the cage to eat the small amounts of bread being thrown into the cage.
Anyone interested could get into an adjoining tank and observe the sharks from underwater.
Cruise into Cyclone Creek
Then it was time for Horizontal Falls boat trip. We excitedly stepped onto the custom built fast boat with 4 x 300 HP Yamaha outboard motors. That is massive!
Firstly, we toured sections of Talbot Bay and into Cyclone Creek. Cyclone Creek is an protected safe haven where boats go to sit out cyclones.
Here we saw the incredible natural environment. The cliff faces show dramatic evidence of geological uplifting.
It was in Cyclone Creek that we first experienced the amazing rapid tidal movement – as seen above.
Horizontal Falls Boat Trip
Then it was onto the two Horizontal Falls. By this time it was late afternoon. Yet we probably spent ½ to ¾ of an hour at the falls. I have to admit I wasn’t watching the time.
Our highly experienced skipper navigated us safely through the first Horizontal Falls. We were taken through several times. What a great thrill be travelling in a speed boat going over the rough and tumble fast flowing tide. At all times felt safe. The boat was very stable despite the pressure from the huge body of rapidly passing water.
At the second Horizontal Falls the cliffs are much closer together. So the tidal flow and drop is greater. It was not safe to go through the second falls, as the tidal drop has to be less than 3 metres. But the skipper took the boat up close to the waterfall and we hovered in the fast flowing tide. That was amazing!
The tidal variations change throughout the month. We chose to go when we knew the tidal variations would be at there peak.
We enjoyed watching the sunset over Talbot Bay.
We were entertained by a vocalist and enjoyed a BBQ Barramundi Dinner. It was an early start the next day with a cooked breakfast served at 6am.
Optional: A Helicopter flight over the Horizontal Falls was an optional extra. We didn’t do this. But those that did said it was worth the extra money.
Then we enjoyed a sunrise tour of the Horizontal Falls. We didn’t realise we would go out twice to the falls. What a lovely surprise!
Then we flew back to Derby Airport. Taking off from Talbot Bay was great. On this flight we returned to Derby via the Buccaneer Archipelago. Now this scenery was simply breathtaking, with around a thousand small islands in the beautiful turquoise water.
The Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures took us on a experience of a lifetime. For us this was a highlight of our time in the Kimberley’s. It was rather like our little James Bond type experience. We flew in on a small seaplane, over picturesque country, to a stunningly beautiful bay. There we found a secluded little getaway, with helicopter and speed boat waiting. Wow, we felt so special. Then we enjoyed the thrill and excitement of going through the falls. We could even get in a shark tank to observe sharks being fed. All this was followed by great food and very attentive, professional staff. What more could retirees enjoying travel ask of an overnight trip!
The tour was a photographers dream. The views from the seaplane are a pure delight to say the least. The scenery at Talbot Bay, Cyclone Creek and at the Horizontal Falls is simply breathtaking.
Yes, the Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventure was expensive. Everyone agreed. But everyone we spoke to on board also agreed the trip was worth the money. People commented they could see the infrastructure would be very expensive. Our seaplane to return to Derby wouldn’t start. We simply jumped on board another seaplane. They had everything covered and we were very impressed with the organisation of the tour.
The only complaint we heard was from some people who had difficulty sleeping. Noise of water lapping against the boat or people moving about seem to echo and be rather noisy.
In our opinion this was a Kimberley experience like no other. If you are considering a Kimberley holiday put the Horizontal Falls onto your travel bucket list.
What About You?
Have you been to the Horizontal Falls? If so, which tour did you go on and how was it? What adventure tours can you recommend? Have you been to a secluded getaway? Where else is a photographers dream? Love to hear your suggestions. Please join in the discussion.
Safe and happy travels
From Estelle and Greg – Retirees Enjoying Travel.