Ready to tick that that once in a lifetime Kimberley expedition cruise off your bucket list but unsure about the best time of year to experience Australia’s wilderness coast? Our guide outlines each of the Kimberley’s three distinct seasons to help you choose the time of year that is right for you.
As a starting point, cruises on the Kimberley Coast only operate between mid April and October each year, so you can put a line through October to March straight away as its simply too hot, humid and wet, not to mention the added danger of the cyclone season.
The Kimberley’s three seasons:
Waterfall Season (April & May)
One of the main drawcards of the Kimberley Coast is its iconic waterfalls - including the towering 80-metre King George and four-tiered Mitchell Falls. Most of the coast’s falls are fed by the Kimberley’s drenching wet season rains, so the earlier in the season you go the more spectacular the falls are. The landscape will also be covered in a brilliant green hue, as vegetation regenerates thanks to the downpour. It’s not uncommon for the occasional grey and rainy day during this period, and it can still be quite humid, which can make walks ashore a bit more taxing. In our view seeing (and hearing) the full force of the falls more than makes up for the extra humidity and an occasional wet day.
Peak Season (June, July and early August)
The most popular time of year to travel to the Kimberley, probably because the ‘dry season’ weather is characterised by clear blue skies and balmy days, which makes for a welcome escape from the southern states’ winter chill. Depending on the amount of rain during the wet season, there might be some water still flowing over the big falls as late as August, but it will be a trickle at best. One notable exception is the iconic King Cascades on the Prince Regent River; these falls are spring fed and will have a flow year round. If you can’t bear the thought of another chilly winter then June and July are probably your ‘go to’ months to experience the Kimberley Coast.
Whale / Wildflower Season
From August to early October each year the Kimberley Coast is the world’s epicentre for whalewatching. Up to 30,000 humpbacks make their way from the Antarctic feeding grounds to the warm tropical waters of the Kimberley Coast to breed and give birth, and you will have the best seat in the house when travelling on an expedition cruise. It’s common practice for the skipper to idle the ship’s engines and drift with the tide whilst these majestic mammals put on playful displays around the ship. This late in the season it’s likely that Mitchell Falls and King George Falls will be dry (you can always see Talbot Bay’s Horizontal Falls at least!), but you’re likely to have more wildlife encounters due to native fauna having to travel further, out in the open in search of water. Wildflowers are also blooming, covering the ground in a carpet of colourful native blooms.
So which should you choose? It really comes down to where your interests lay; waterfalls or whales. But we think it would be a real pity to miss the grandeur and jaw dropping beauty of some of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls. So if we were forced to choose, then May, when the humidity has started to drop off, is the ideal time to explore the Kimberley Coast on a small ship cruise.
For more top tips or to book your 2018 Kimberley Cruising call us on 1800 90 20 80 or contact us via email